There Will Be a Proliferation of Titles that Begin “There Will Be”

[When I first wrote this a couple of days ago I thought it might be too mean, but then I saw that I’m not the only one that took issue with the review.]

On over at Books&Culture, Jean Bethka Elshtain writes a review of “There Will Be Blood” that is a little overwrought (is that a criticism I get to make?), but appropriately gushing toward the film. There are several comments I have however.

“When I saw [Magnolia] in a theater in Chicago, there were murmurs of perplexity from exiting filmgoers. “Like, what the hell was the frog thing about?”, I overheard one fellow say, a statement objectionable for two reasons: first, the ubiquitous, distracting, and slightly demented repetition of “like”; second, the illustration of complete biblical ignorance. Ever hear of the plagues Moses called down on the Pharoah and Egypt?”

Yeah, except neither had Anderson. He got the idea from reading a book on weird phenomenon.

And as a sidenote is it really necessary to mention Martin Luther, Hannah Arnedt, Alexis de Tocqueville, and St. Augustine? You could just have a sidebar of the books you’ve been reading recently.*

“In large part, Plainview’s tragedy is that he needs other people the way an addict needs a fix: to triumph over, to kick in the balls (sorry, crude but necessary), to bury, all too literally at one turning point.”

I’m sorry? Why is it necessary? What I’m saying is that stylistically, using words like “lugubrious” and “stentorian” with “balls” and “bejesus” results in a tone problem.

“After a ritualized danse macabre between the two protagonists…”

I love the pointless interjection of foreign languages, tres chic, muy beneficio.

Continue reading “There Will Be a Proliferation of Titles that Begin “There Will Be””

Violence in the Future Tense: a Review of There Will Be Blood

Daniel Plainview is a new messiah, bringing bread, education, and wealth. Daniel Plainview is a Satan, an accuser, a murderer, a liar, and a drinker of blood. Both Christ and Antichrist, Daniel Plainview, embodies America, our industrialism and our greed, our benevolence and our violence. One part Flannery O’Connor, one part Rene’ Girard, passing Upton Sinclair through St. John’s gospel, Paul Thomas Anderson orchestrates a film that captures the American zeitgeist, that recapitulates our founding, this time in Little Boston, and the tea party replayed with Texas tea.

[There Will Be Spoilers]

Continue reading “Violence in the Future Tense: a Review of There Will Be Blood”

NYT Movie of the Year List

This is the list of A.O. Scott. There’s quite a few surprises.

His number one film 4 Months 3 Weeks 2 Days looks absolutely chilling.

Ratatouille is a brilliant choice for number two. Brad Bird certainly has it out for bland equality and mediocrity. The scene in which Anton takes his first bite of ratatouille ranks as one of my favorites of the year.

I’m a little surprised that he ranked Sweeney Todd up there with PTA’s “There Will be Blood”. Tim Burton has a penchant for going schlocky. Also I’m surprised that “No Country for Old Men” was not coupled with TWbB.

Glad “Das Leben der Anderen” (The Lives of Others) made this list. Bold choice in putting “Knocked Up” in there. I keep hearing good things about “Into the Wild”; it continues to strike me as a little Brother Bear. “The Diving Bell and the Butterfly” doesn’t grab me, but I approve of Explosions in the Sky in the soundtrack. I will put it on the Two or Three Witness list. I can’t find the trailer to “12:08 East of Bucharest” or “Live-in Maid”. Anyone know where I can? Excited for “Before the Devil Knows You’re Dead” and will watch “Charlie Wilson’s War” only because of Philip Seymour Hoffman.

This is the list of Manohla Dargis.

She puts “There Will be Blood” at the top (alongside Zodiac). I can’t wait to see this film. There will be blood if There Will be Blood doesn’t come to Monroe.