Last night, we went to see There Will Be Blood, which has been widely touted as the best movie of the year. (Of 2007, that is. Naturally, we had to wait to see it till it finally made it to Austin in 2008.) I’m still wondering what the immense appeal of the movie was.
I mean, sure the cinematography and music were great. Daniel Day-Lewis chewed up the scenery and all that. But to what end? He started out venal and corrupt, willing to do anything to cheat people out of their land and money. He ended up equally venal and corrupt — just a whole lot richer, better dressed and better housed.
Wouldn’t it have made for a far better, more intriguing movie to follow someone who began his life as a fairly decent human being — but was eventually ruined by the lure of money and power? Wouldn’t that have aroused more doubts in viewers as to what, exactly, they would have done, how they would have changed and become corrupt and complicit, in similar circumstances?
Instead, the Day-Lewis character was a lonely monster who eventually became even more of a monster, even lonelier. Who identifies with that?
And the title — There Will Be Blood. What to make of that? Any of the other movies I’ve seen recently — such as, No Country for Old Men, Sweeney Todd, Before the Devil Knows You’re Dead — were far bloodier. You could have called them all There Will Be Lots of Blood. Aside from a rather tasteless scene in a home bowling alley, There Will Be Blood was about as messy as your average nosebleed. (Although hanging around oil wells a lot does seem to take a toll on the wardrobe. Hint: Don’t wear whites or pastels around gushers.)
Oh, well. At least we were fortunate enough to find ourselves in our favorite seats — front row, center. Funny how no one else but us and the occasional gang of adolescents seem to like those seats.
Most of the time, we go to movies with friends and they refuse to sit with us, preferring seats in the back. They just don’t understand: Half the excitement of a movie is sitting just a few feet away from the screen. Once you’ve been there — blasted by the noise, throttled into the action, more of a participant than a mere viewer — you can never go back. Even when you don’t like the movie that damned much.
(Copyright 2008 by Ruth Pennebaker)