On these blogs, for those of you that don’t have them, it keeps track of how people come across your site. It can be very flattering in some cases and make you feel like a completely uninteresting person with nothing worthwhile to say in other cases. Like the things you want to talk about don’t really matter to anyone else.
Posts Tagged ‘The Shining’
While “There Will Be Blood” hasn’t been a box office stud it’s being called a movie that will never be forgotten, which it may become, whether anyone has seen it or not.
The people that do never see it will think that it has something to do with milkshakes and bowling pins. Of course those that never saw The Shining will always remember that movie being something about an axe and Johnny Carson. It’s no surprise to me that Blood has entered into the public consciousness as The Shining did, as through my eyes I can confidently say that the former has influenced the latter exponentially.
Aside from quotable lines some of the other similarities include a larger than life performance by a highly regarded actor; performances that while the films were still fresh people complained they were perhaps too exaggerated. Then there’s the unsettling wide shots and long takes with drawn out silences and the post modern music that heightens the tension; some incidental moments are even by the same composer. When P.T. Anderson claimed his movie was more like a horror film in last week’s issue of Entertainment Weekly it’s obvious he wasn’t lying.
It’s one of the things I love about Blood. Its willingness to really let loose and unhinge itself from anything human. These character’s represent the worst of their kinds.
Over at Jim Emerson’s Scanners (“Biggest Acting, Best and Worst; Over the Top, Ma!”) there’s talk about over acting and when it’s applicable and when it isn’t. (He also makes comparisons to The Shining.) I responded to the article with this: “If there’s a level of truth in the performance, and when I say truth, I mean emotional truth, then as far as I’m concerned the actor can be as over the top as he wants.” In some instances it’s left up to the viewer to find that truth. It doesn’t help if the creator of the films cheats…will come back to this. Being truthful and unlikable are two different things. Truth can sometimes be even more poignant when the character isn’t likable in the least.
With wunderkind writer/director Paul Thomas Anderson at the helm of a movie there are certain levels of expectation to be met. With one of our finest method actors Daniel Day-Lewis in the same movie the expectations are that much higher. Even without those two elements with a title like There Will Be Blood expectations are already set high. There has to be blood spilled. Now with the existing creative team the expectation is that when that blood is spilled it should mean something, or have some level of effect on us. An impact, be it anti-climactic or Rober DeNiro with his head hanging out a car screaming bloody murder climactic (I think Robin Williams said that in his stand up — I just quoted Robin WIlliams.) When I left the theatre this evening, I felt slightly short changed on both accounts.
The first thing I have to speak about, because it sets the tone for all things to come in Blood, is the music by composer Jonny Greenwood who composed that lush score for Children of Me. (This is incorrect and has been amended in the comment section below.) In Men there’s a moment when the characters are heading through the prison camp to get to the boat that will get them to their final destination, but first there’s an empty shot of a tunnel. Just as that image comes up, before the characters enter frame, we’re met with a collision of stringed instruments that tell you things aren’t going to go as planned. The very first shot of Blood has that same beautiful car wreck of unnerving symphonic wonderment. It gives everything in its path an unhinged and terrifying soul. We don’t trust the landscape we see. We get a strange feeling about Daniel Plainview (Daniel Day-Lewis), even though he says nothing. The music creates a hypnotic spell as Plainview digs towards the heart of the earth looking for silver, almost as if he were digging towards hell. But when he hits instead oil, it pools like black blood on the surface of that dead landscape. And he’s a wealthy man. Already our expectations have been met, blood has been spilled. But the music itself also builds an expectation, that things no matter how well they go will always carry with them for Plainview (an ironic name if I’ve ever heard one) a misery that will send him spiraling into the worst kind of apathy, digging his way closer to hell. And all this is apparent from that first chord struck. It reminded me in many ways of the use of music in Kubrick’s The Shining.
This is the second year in a row I’ve broken the New Year in with a Guillermo del Toro produced film, I’d like to make it a tradition. The Orphanage (or El Orfanato) is probably the most frightening horror film I’ve seen this year and more frightening than anything I saw last year. It’s a ghost story, one that follows in the footsteps of some of the best; Poltergeist, The Innocents, The Haunting, The Shining, The Sixth Sense, The Devil’s Backbone and most recently The Others. Only it’s better than The Others and not as good as some of the others. It’s about a woman, Laura, who goes back to the orphanage she grew up in to start a home for the mentally disabled, only to find that there are children already living there. Cree-ee-py! But it’s not Laura, it’s her son, Simone, that sees what’s happening around them first. See, he has harmless invisible friends. So Laura and her husband think nothing of it when he meets a couple more. Simone has also been adopted and suffers from a disease that’s only hinted at in the beginning, but turns out to be surprising – something I wish the film had dealt a little more directly with as a theme, but the movie isn’t ambitious in that sense. In the end it could have been any life threatening disease or illness.
In every good ghost story there’s a reason for ghosts to exist. There’s a reason why certain people can see them. There’s always some theory about traces being left behind because of a murder or suicide. It’s the mystery, the unknown. A filmmakers way of doping it up for the audience. Something that’s become common because of the rise in Japanese horror films like The Ring – here it’s far more clever than most films. Is the ghost good or bad? What’s its motivation? What do we see and what’s implied? Is it really evil? The Director Juan Antonio Bayona and screenwriter Sergio G Sanchez, know when to hold their cards. They tease and poke and prod the audience and they do it well. The pacing swings like a pendulum, back and forth, every now and then the blade dropping suddenly closer to your gut. And you feel it as Laura becomes more encapsulated in this dark world. And it’s not only that you see it, you hear it. The camera moves along the halls like it did in The House on Haunted Hill. The sounds rattle and rumble from within. There’s a whole sequence in which we see nothing, but hear everything. How much is in their world and how much is in ours we wonder? It’s a question that has ramifications.