I’m running a little contest over on idrinkyourmilkshake.com: for a chance to win one of five There Will Be Blood DVDs, grab your camera phone or webcam and upload a video of yourself saying the line that gave the site its name. The video above is the entry by IDYM regular EatHimByHisOwnLight. As a matter of fact, EatHimByHisOwnLight is the only person who has entered the contest so far, so the field is still wide open — even though he did set the bar pretty high.
My review copy of the Blood DVD arrived today, and I probably don’t have to tell you that I’ve been spending the better part of my day with it. Head on over to idym.com for details on the contest — after all, who doesn’t need more outtakes of the napkin scene in their life?
“You’ve got a serious artist crush,” Marcy remarked — a statement, not a question — when I sent her a link to a gallery of adorably geeky photographs of Paul Thomas Anderson during the Hard Eight period. Guilty as charged: I’ve been rewatching and reassessing and obsessing over all five of PTA’s films, reevaluating Punch-Drunk Love (which I originally hated), rediscovering the ending of Boogie Nights (much different from what I remembered), and unable to resist the pull of Magnolia even on a matchbox-sized iPod screen.
Sez Dennis Lim:
If the Altman comparisons seem grossly reductive, it’s because Anderson is liberal when it comes to borrowing from the greats. Why not combine Altman’s panoramic outlook with Stanley Kubrick’s formal bravura with John Cassavetes’ messy candor? While Anderson fits the profile of a “hysterical realist,” to evoke the pejorative literary buzz-phrase of a few years ago, his films never indulge in excess for the sake of excess. He’s a born showman—his first three films bore the Barnumesque credit “A P.T. Anderson picture”—but his go-for-broke tendencies are tied to an expansive, humanist impulse.
Lim’s entire appreciation of Anderson is spot-on, and before I swipe his video clips, I’d just like to expand on his last point: seems to me, the unifying theme underlying all of Anderson’s films is the desperate need for human connection. Yes, that’s a cloying phrase, and perhaps that’s why it’s dressed up in such unlikely garb: the incendiary monologues, the sweeping steadycams, the assaultive music, the undulating colors. What all of Anderson’s characters really need is a family, but their real families rarely work: in Hard Eight, Jack’s father is dead, Dirk Diggler’s mom throws him out, everybody in Magnolia is messed up six different ways, Barry Egan’s seven sisters are worse than the furies, and we all know that Daniel Plainview’s an oilman, not a family man.
Instead, Anderson’s heroes create impromptu families. Jack finds a father figure in his father’s killer, porn gives Diggler not just a dad (Burt Reynolds) but a sister (Heather Graham) and a mother (Julianne Moore), too. In Punch-Drunk Love, Adam Sandler and Emily Watson start their own family, and Magnolia ends in an orgy of characters coming home to each other. And Plainview? His salvation would have been an impromptu family with a bastard from a basket for a son and a brother who wasn’t his brother-from-another-mother. That he refused them is the tragedy of There Will Be Blood.
Can’t leave you without another word about Anderson’s breathtaking audacity, and you better believe I’m lazy enough to quote Lim again:
The prominent bursts of music—and the way the narratives rely on musical principles like rhythm, tone, and phrasing—result in a kind of delirious synesthesia. His movies set off a crazy multitude of sensory triggers, leaving the impression that Anderson is working from a larger palette than most filmmakers.
Hard Eight/Sydney. Paul Thomas Anderson, 1996. ***
Boogie Nights. Paul Thomas Anderson, 1997. ****
Magnolia. Paul Thomas Anderson, 1999. ****
Punch-Drunk Love. Paul Thomas Anderson. 2002. ****
There Will Be Blood. Paul Thomas Anderson, 2007. *****
More from Stu VanAirsdale, who kept notes on his marathon Anderson retrospective. After the jump, videos with choice clips from Boogie Nights, Magnolia, and Punch-Drunk Love.
Via idrinkyourmilkshake.com, where Blood obsession is still in full swing. Some recent favorites:
- Incredible revelations: the Peachtree Dance and Henry’s diary are both derived from East of Eden.
- Eli doesn’t get to bless the well, but he blesses Daniel’s house. More on the Greystone Mansion.
- Napkinface: “There is no sex.” More.
- Drinking, eating, smoking in There Will Be Blood, with screenshots.
- Running into this painting… and the way There Will Be Blood is infiltrating our lives.
- We still can’t agree it’s water, what Daniel says after the baptism, why he sleeps on the floor, and why H.W. sets the house on fire.
- Daniel Plainview as anti-hero.
- Best non-milkshake line?
- The Bible, Kubrick, and the opening sequence.
- David Bordwell takes a close look at Paul.
- And, of course, the Oscars (“Robbery! A base crime! WTF is wrong with these people?“)
- Milkshakes all around! SNL, NPR, Lego, and the New York Press.
Homewrecking karate teachers, hard-partying Finns, and two thumbs up from Daniel Day-Lewis: I’m having a fine time at the Berlin Film Festival. My latest update, sent from woefully sparse wifi hotspots between marathon screenings and hurried curry sausage meals, covers six more movies: Black Ice, Auge in Auge, Shiver, Gardens of the Night, Chiko, and Transsiberian.
Read Berlinale Journal, Day 3 on About.com.
The promising first half of George Stevens’ Texan epic sets up a tiresome three-and-a-half-hour descent into mediocrity. Displaced northern bride Liz Taylor slowly fades from the center of the story, nouveau riche James Dean is woefully misused, children come and go, and Rock Hudson’s stubborn cattle rancher is granted an improbable redemption. Giant keeps pulling its punches, and in the end, it’s home sweet home and upstart Jett Rink lies under a table where he belongs. After 201 minutes, we have arrived in the cornball fifties, cheated out of any kind of pay-off, and that’s the real tragedy.
No doubt There Will Be Blood owes more to Giant than just the Marfa location; in fact, Anderson’s film feels like Giant’s evil twin, made up of all the scenes the other movie suppressed: the real drama, the truth of the matter. You know, the good scenes. After the jump, screenshots from both movies that seem to talk to one another, in the spirit of Kevin Lee’s influence spotting. Don’t click if you haven’t seen the movie yet: There Will Be Spoilers. For more Blood talk, I Drink Your Milkshake.com is the place.
Giant. George Stevens, 1958. ***