Sunday, January 6, 2008

Paul Thomas Anderson's "There Will Be Blood" : Yes, but Will There Be an Original Film?

Paul Thomas Anderson's newest, "There Will Be Blood" watched as a large-writ investigation of the mythologies
that comprise the two major formative 'industries' of America, being religion and oil. But also as a character
study in which the men/institutions behind those industries go about their 'business' and to what degree obsession
and the singular criteria for success cloud the judgement/create obsession in those who go about achieving 'great
things' within the world of industry. The conversion of peoples faith, the harvesting of oil from the earth, the money,
influence and power gained through the business of these pursuits...

I have to say, my overwhelming impression of the film was that P.T. Anderson failed to depict these forces embodied
through rich characters or a complex, internally friction/conflict -filled or ultimately compelling film. "...Blood" aspires to
be of a particular tradition in cinema, namely Robert Altman, Terrrence Malick and Kubrick, but the emulation was simply
that, a surface recreation of the visual appearance, stylistic gestures (especially in the editing/cinematography) and the
dramatic mood of those significant films/historic period in American cinema. For all the praise and film-culture enthusiasm
that's being lavished on "There Will Be Blood" - I found it to be a hollow facade of an experience, and spent most of my
2 1/2 hours waiting for Anderson to introduce content that was more rich, compelling, or simply WORTH MY TIME. By
the end of the film, it had yet to deliver on any of those things. Needless to say, I'm confounded as to why so many informed, film-knowledgeable persons have come away with anything positive to say on the subject of Anderson's
newest. In essence; he's a pretender, and this film is the greatest art-cinema spurious imitation of the past decade.

The whole experience, from the soundtrack (obviously Bartok/Messiaen/Ligeti inspired homage? plagiarism? mimicry?
by Johnny Greenwood) to the film itself came across as a new generation trying to become part of an existing tradition,
but lacking the 'intellectual soul' to convincingly pull it off. At best, it could be given credit for being a intricately precise
exercise in studied auteur-recreation. Unlike a lot of other seemingly well-informed perspectives on the film, there's
nothing here to compel me to believe there's anything genuine at it's heart. Not in the least.

Link to official 'There Will Be Blood' site