Gawk at celebrities in Will.I.Am’s new Vote (for Obama) video.
Maybe I’m just cranky, but I thought There Will Be Blood was overrated. Don’t get me wrong — I thought it was really, really, really good, great even. But if the Oscar comes down to a battle between this and No Country for Old Men, I’m giving it to the Coen Bros., dudes.
Obviously there were some big, epic themes at work in the movie, Oscar-worthy themes. And all the acting was amazing — sure, I squirmed in my seat a few times when Paul Dano started ranting, but I think that’s what we were supposed to do. The beginning was great, all the oil drilling sequences were oddly thrilling … yeah, there’s a lot of good stuff here. And I really enjoyed the threatening title — the movie promised blood, and it delivered.
But ultimately, when I walk out of the theater, I asked myself, “what was the point?” And I can’t figure it out. Sure, this was made to entertain, but what’s the message? Not everything needs to have a message, but the movie had that epic vibe, and when you think “epic Oscar contender,” you think message. (Spoilers ahead.) I just think I would have enjoyed it more if Daniel Day-Lewis’s character started out as a mostly moral person, and then degenerated when corrupted by greed. Yes, I know that would be a much more conventional film. But without that character transformation, you’re left with the portrait of a sociopath, and that to me is a tad underwhelming.
To be sure, the character had a lot of contradictions — he’s affectionate with his son, feels guilt when he sends him away, overreacts when the son ultimately starts a new life apart from him. This contrasted with his expressed desire to live absolutely alone, that he hates all people. He also has this deep attachment to family, as evidenced by his confessions to his “half-brother” and subsequent violent reaction to the truth — even though he abandoned his true family in pursuit of riches. There’s a lot of interesting stuff here, but … but … why? It’s not a corruption thing; the man was terrible to begin with! So why, then?
I also would’ve enjoyed a more dramatic clash of the titans-ish war between Day-Lewis and Dano, but there wasn’t really enough parity between the two. Deluded Narcissist vs. Batshit Crazy = Crazy wins every time. So, yeah, I was entertained, but I wasn’t blown away.
Whereas, with No Country for Old Men, you also have a man struggling in vain against a sociopath, but the emotions elicited in the viewer are completely different, and the themes are clear. Tommy Lee Jones character expresses everything we’re supposed to be thinking about: the choice to become a part of violence, the unpredictability of life — at one point he says, “even in the contest between man and cow, the issue is not certain.” Which sheds a lot of light on that movie’s ending. I’m not saying everything has to be completely spelled out, ambiguity is okay. But I like to be able to figure out why the screenwriter decided this story had to be told.
The final complaint I have about There Will Be Blood, and it’s a tiny one, is the score that everyone’s raving about. It’s a personal thing, but I didn’t like some of the choices. The really dissonant strings blaring really bothered me — I felt like it was cheating. It’s much easier to create a creepy mood with loud dissonant violins blaring in your ears, very unsettling. It’s much more difficult to do that with silence, or a subtler score. In a lot of ways, it was like taking a Hitchcock movie score and pushing it too far — when you think of Vertigo, you hear those creepy strings yelling at you, and you’re like “tense!” but then the mood of the music changes and through repetition, creates this great sense of foreboding. But in this movie, it was like: “hey, check out these mountains. They’re evil mountains, because the violins are now screeching in your ears. Oh hey, here’s our protagonist, look at him digging. Crap, he broke his leg. You’re starting to identify with him, aren’t you? DON’T! He’s BAD! And you can tell because the LOUD ASS VIOLINS are back!” That being said, I really liked the score in other parts of the movie, subtle and creepy.
In conclusion: There Will Be Blood, brilliant but flawed. No Country for Old Men, just brilliant.
Obviously, I’ve taken a little break from posting. And by “little,” I mean “over three months.” Don’t hate, I’ve been busy. But here’s a quick rundown on where I’m at these days:
Television: Man, this WGA strike sucks, huh? Just give the writers their internet residuals and let’s be done with it. Still in love with Friday Night Lights, 30 Rock, House, and The Office. And South Park! Honorable mentions to How I Met Your Mother and Pushing Daisies. Scrubs has been unusually weak, but I still won’t miss an episode. Grey’s Anatomy and Ugly Betty are fine, I guess. Favorite new show that I actually don’t watch much: Dirty Sexy Money. Most of the new shows were pretty zzzzzzz, right? Chuck‘s okay but despite Zachary Levi and Captain Awesome, I don’t watch that very often either. Sad that sexy Michael Vartan’s show was cancelled, and also sad that Rob Thomas couldn’t turn it around.
Movies: Loved Atonement, No Country for Old Men and Michael Clayton. Really liked Enchanted, Gone Baby Gone, and American Gangster. Thought Casey Affleck was awesome in The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford, but the rest was totally overrated and snooze-inducing.
And what else? Celebrity gossip has been totally boring lately. I’m sick of Britney (though I’m down with Gimme More) and I need a break from Lindsay. I kind of want to make out with Shia LaBoeuf, which is, frankly, a surprising turn of events.
So, that’s all for now, but I’ll get back into the swing of things in January. Hopefully with something interesting to say! But no promises.
I’m extremely concerned about Heath Ledger as the Joker in the new Batman film The Dark Knight. Still, I’ll admit that these photos of Heath in character do look pretty scary. Oh, and you can check out Jack Nicholson’s Joker for comparison purposes in Tim Burton’s Batman, tonight on AMC at 8 pm.
And when you’re done, head over to E! Online for their interview with Chris Lowell, late of Veronica Mars, who will be playing the surfer/receptionist (and possible midwife?) on the Grey’s Anatomy spinoff Private Practice.
Here’s the trailer for Wes Anderson’s new film, The Darjeeling Limited:
Anderson always has a good trailer, but I don’t find this movie as intriguing as The Royal Tenenbaums. Maybe Anderson’s work is best when Owen Wilson co-writes the screenplay? But nice to see Adrien Brody joining the Wes Anderson Players. He needs better work.
Transformers kicked ass. Seriously, I loved it. Shia LaBoeuf is the next Tom Hanks (and I didn’t steal that from Vanity Fair. I’ve been saying it for a year now. I swear.) Also, really enjoyed Rescue Dawn, with Christian Bale and Steve Zahn. It’s a simple, well-told escape story set in Vietnam, and the two lead performances are definitely Oscar-worthy, particularly Zahn. Ratatoille was a cute story, and the animation was beautiful.
Finally, just got back from seeing Harry Potter: The Order of the Phoenix. IT ROCKED SO HARD. Of course, I’m a big fan of the books, so I can’t really speak to whether it stood on its own as a movie. But as a companion to the book, I think it completely succeeded. I didn’t mind any of the story changes, and Daniel Radcliffe’s acting is quite strong now. I was really worried about Emma Watson — last movie, she kept overacting and twitching her eyebrows. She kept it up in the initial scenes, but afterwards really toned it down and got a lot more natural. Such a relief.
Zac Efron just landed the lead in a Footloose remake, which will be directed by Kenny Ortega (Dirty Dancing, Newsies, also does the High School Musical franchise). Hopefully, they figure out a better plot than the original, cause you can dance everywhere in America these days. As for High School Musical 2, you can watch a video for “You Are the Music in Me” from on the Disney site.
In other news, I am way too interested in the lives of teenagers.
The Sex and the City movie is a go! I figured it would be an HBO special, but it’s getting a theatrical release, distributed by New Line Cinema.
It’s just kind of a shame that everyone’s so old now. I’d like to see Carrie and Big get married, but I don’t want to see the wedding night, if you know what I mean. How about just “… and the city”? Thanks.
For those who didn’t catch HBO’s new series Flight of the Conchords on Sunday, you can watch the whole premiere here. Act soon, since HBO will take the video down after a week or so. The show is weirdly charming, kind of like Napoleon Dynamite meets Extras meets, well, New Zealand. (But with music.) Below, you can watch one of their songs from the first episode, cheerfully entitled The Humans Are Dead.
The guy on the left has an indie film coming out called Eagle vs. Shark, which looks even more Napoleon Dynamite-y. Check out the trailer here.
The juggernaut of High School Musical 2 is almost upon us, and to celebrate, here’s the music video for the opening song:
Quick movie recommendation — maybe the ads and glowing reviews didn’t convince you, and this will push you over the edge. Go see Knocked Up! It’s consistently hilarious, and really sweet. I had my doubts about Katherine Heigl, but she did a great job, and Leslie Mann is fantastic. I’m so glad she married Judd Apatow. I had no idea she was funny until he started sticking her in his movies. Also, it must be said: Paul Rudd is so unbelievably good-looking in this movie. Remember back when Clueless came out, and we were all like, “aw, new imaginary boyfriend!” And then he was a douchebag in Wet Hot American Summer, and then had a stupid mustache in Anchorman, and it was like he became that guy you used to have a crush on, but you’ve been friends for so long that you couldn’t see him that way anymore. Well, no more — I can’t explain it, but Paul Rudd looks AMAZING in this movie. Go see it. You’ll thank me. (If you’re into dudes.)
Michael Cera (Arrested Development) gets hilarious behind the scenes of Knocked Up. He’s also in the hilarious-looking Super Bad, out later this year.
Over at Jim Hill Media, you can find the fascinating tale of how Johnny Depp ended up as Captain Jack Sparrow in Pirates of the Caribbean. Fun fact: originally, Disney was looking to cast Matthew McConaughey.