Friday Movies: There Will Be Blood

Union Square at the worst time of the year.

This week, I shall be very brief. I went to see There Will Be Blood because I hoped that it would disprove my discomfort with this year’s Academy Awards nominations. Three of the five best-picture nominees are intensely violent, male-centered dramas. (I say this without having seen No Country For Old Men.) A fourth, Atonement, offers a distinctly unsympathetic critique of the male hierarchy of class background, but it is not without its cataclysms. Only Juno resists this rampant guyism.

There Will Be Blood turns out to be about nothing more than how awful a man can be — and how symphonically that awfulness can be represented on the screen. Potential background stories about such things as the imaginative poverty of the American frontier, cavalier attitudes toward workplace safety, or the anaerobic deadweight of extractive economies are muddled by the protagonist’s bewilderingly inconsistent sociopathy. What this film boils down to is the virtuosity of Daniel Day-Lewis’s acting — and of the men and women of the film’s Makeup Department.

What was the Academy thinking?

4 Responses to “Friday Movies: There Will Be Blood

  1. Father Tony says:

    I don’t think there’s a “good time of year” for Union Square. It’s an unsettling place where looking carefully behind you puts you at risk of what might be coming at you directly. Sometimes, coming up out of the subway (and that is always disorienting at Union Square) I do a 360 and try to renovate/redevelop the whole mess of it in my head. I come up with nothing but in-fill. Oh, and, C disagrees with me entirely about this.

  2. Ellen says:

    Dear RJ,

    I’ve stopped going to the movies of late. In my local theatres there is nothing but these male-centered superviolent films, and I wrote about what I thought of _Juno_ on my blog.

    I stay home and watch masterpiece mini-series.


  3. Yvonne says:

    We’ve managed to miss *all* of the Best Picture Nominees so far!

    Have been working my way through Netflix’s Danish films. There is more research to be done, grant applications to be filled out, graphs and pie charts to be executed — but my preliminary conclusion, based on the films I’ve watched, is this: Denmark is filled with wonderfully crazy people. I love that in a country.

  4. LXIV says:

    Union Square is disconcerting for many people. My mother almost always gets lost when coming for a visit; we have agreed that I must meet her on the platform and escort her up. Still, for me, it’s home and I can navigate it in my sleep, or even through a crowd of 20 something Superbowl fanatics. It is like everything else in life, something you must first get used to before you are able to explore its subtler charms and whimsy…