I had the pleasure of attending a DGA event for Paul Thomas Anderson's There Will Be Blood the other night. I was just as mesmerized the second time through this mysteriously potent monster and --oops, I didn't take notes. But a couple of things from the interview afterwards stuck with me.
Martin Scorsese was the interviewer, Paul Thomas Anderson the interviewee. Their conversation vacillated from working with Daniel Day-Lewis (both seemed rather awed by him and from the examples cited he sounds more than a little bit like a co-director on his films rather than just an actor) to the difficulties of location shooting and the complex tasks of cinematography, scoring and editing. Scorsese was such a fine choice to interview Anderson and he was well prepared with fascinating questions and anecdotes of his own. It was also amusing to see an old school filmmaking giant paired with a still rising young auteur, both coasts represented. NY: Scorsese; LA: Anderson. One of the draws for Anderson to make There Will Be Blood was that the history of California (his home) has always fascinated him.
They talked influences as artists often do. Robert Altman, to whom There Will Be Blood is dedicated, was cited (of course) and Anderson talked about his understudy gig on A Prairie Home Companion. Though he was there for insurance purposes, Altman too frail during filming to be properly insured, the young director didn't get to do anything but watch. During the conversation they name checked so many films I lost track but I remember hearing The Treasure of the Sierra Madre mentioned a few times and they spent some time discussing the great epic Giant (1956) which is also about oil men.
P.T. said that he rewatched Giant (1956) before filming and found it "a hundred times better" than he had remembered it being though he'd always liked it. I wanted to pop Giant in the DVD player right then and there. It's been ages since I've seen it, too. During the recent screening Anderson found himself most impressed by Rock Hudson. Liz Taylor was also praised but he revealed that he had, as a younger film fanatic, always been firmly focused on James Dean whenever he watched it.
The best movies always do that though, don't they? They shift and shape change, growing right along with us. The best ones reveal themselves anew whenever we pop in for a visit.