Sunday, March 8, 2009

Cerebral Violation

Rotten Tomatoes gave it an A-. Roger Ebert gave it 4 1/2 stars. His critique is apt and hard to say any clearer:

Watching [There Will be Blood] is like viewing a natural disaster that you cannot turn away from. By that I do not mean that the movie is bad, any more than it is good. It is a force beyond categories. It has scenes of terror and poignancy, scenes of ruthless chicanery, scenes awesome for their scope, moments echoing with whispers and an ending that in some peculiar way this material demands, because it could not conclude on an appropriate note -- there has been nothing appropriate about it. Those who hate the ending, and there may be many, might be asked to dictate a different one. Something bittersweet, perhaps? Grandly tragic? Only madness can supply a termination for this story.

Visit his website to read a full review.

The NY Times reviewed it as an enigma of film as well, proclaiming the title An American Primitive, Forged in a Crucible of Blood and Oil.

And The Rolling Stone calls it a "beautiful beast of a movie," and states that, "[s]eeing There Will Be Blood is like going ten rounds with a raging bull. You feel so pummeled it's hard to get your head clear." The article goes on to describe the main character, Daniel Plainview, as "the dark underside of the American success story, or, if you want to extend the metaphor, of America itself. He rapes and pillages in the name of progress and winds up estranged from the human species he has long ago forgotten to call his own." The article closes with the summation that this film "hits with hurricane force. Lovers of formula and sugarcoating will hate it. Screw them. In terms of excitement, imagination and rule-busting experimentation, it's a gusher."

I just watched it last night. I know, I came out in 2007 and I'm just getting around to watching it. I'm slow when it comes to contemporary entertainment. But truly...I'd never heard of it until I was flipping through Netflix's library and thought, dismissively, "Enh...I guess...maybe Devin will like it." It finally came up in our que and it still ended up sitting next to the DVD player for a month before we watched it (something about it's near 3-hour run-time that made it less appealing than our other entertainment options).

It's been a long time since I reacted so emotionally to a much so, I actually dreamed scenes from it over and over during the night. This one made me curious, suspicious, expectant...I hated it. But, since hate is so far from indifference, there must have been something wonderfully viral about downright violated my cerebral cortex. And you don't recover from something like that quickly. Or forget it.

There have been few films that have struck me so profoundly. Possibly films like Platoon, Shindler's List, Life is Beautiful, Trainspotting, Kids, Lolita, and link. I vaguely remember feeling about this sick to my stomach and yet rabidly continuing to turn the pages of The Jungle.

P.P.S. I'm so proud that I finally figured out how to use the link function in html. Yay for me, the techno-dope.

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