Wednesday, February 14, 2007

We Can't Wait #1 There Will Be Blood

Writer/Director Paul Thomas Anderson finally unveils his 5th Film this fall called, There Will Be Blood. It's an adaptation of the novel "Oil" by Upton Sinclair. Surprisingly Anderson has jettisoned most of his trusted company of ensemble actors from his first four films. This turn of the century drama about a Texas prospector (played by the estimable Daniel Day-Lewis) is an ambitious saga of family, greed, and religion.

OK, my "We Can't Wait" compatriots, what's your favorite P.T. film and why are you so looking forward to this, our #1 most awaited film of 2007?

Joe: Boogie Nights remains my favorite. I have a tempestuous relationship with Magnolia, though certain moments of that movie are as good as anything he’s ever done. The pairing of Anderson with Daniel Day-Lewis is something of a perfect storm of artists who are famously stingy with their time. And I’m somewhat in love with the idea of Paul Dano as a ... didn’t I read this somewhere? preacher.

Lulu: For reasons I can't justify, I've only seen Boogie Nights. (I know I know yeah yeah yeah.) That said, 2006 marked the year that I officially became a huge Paul Dano fan. So I will henceforth follow young Mr. Dano wherever he elects to appear...

Robert Elswit (?) on the set of There Will Be Blood from the ambiguous and untitled
gallery of images from the production at Little Boston News

Nathaniel: Because P.T. is not using his normal troupe of actors I'm more focused at this point on the production team. The terrific undervalued cinematographer Robert Elswit (Good Night, and Good Luck, Punch-Drunk Love), editor Dylan Tichenor (Brokeback Mountain, Magnolia) and composer Jon Brion (I Heart Huckabees, Punch-Drunk Love) are all on board again with P.T.

Gabriel: I would follow P.T. Anderson into the Himalayas, I would follow him into the Amazon rain forest, I would follow him anywhere. My least favorite of his movies, Punch-Drunk Love, is STILL brilliant. Magnolia and Boogie Nights bring Altmanesque narratives into a contemporary context, with often stunning results. He is one of the most interesting artists of my generation, and I hope he'll fulfill the promise his movies have always signaled.

JA: Punch-Drunk Love is GENIUS! I love Punch-Drunk Love as much as any movie you could name from the past 10 years. I love it as much as Brokeback, as much as Eternal Sunshine. I never in a million years thought it would be possible for me to say that about a movie starring Adam Sandler, but I do; I am so in love with PDL it pains me. Add Magnolia and Boogie Nights (and to a lesser extent Hard Eight), not to mention that terrific Fiona Apple video, and PT Anderson can do no wrong. None. I'm dying to see what he'll do with something that seems so different from his previous work.

Nathaniel: Me too. And hear hear on the Fiona Apple shout out. I'm so sad they broke up. In fact... let's play the P.T. Anderson directed Fiona Apple videos right here and now from happier days (Across The Universe, Fast As You Can, Paper Bag, and Limp)

Ahhhh, Fiona. But back to P.T. for the record Boogie Nights woulda won my Best Picture prize back in 1997 and I've never been less than very impressed with one of his films. I just wish he'd work more. And I'm happy to see this film (which was my actual #1 'most awaited') get the top spot. I didn't even have to rig the voting.

previously on "we can't wait"
#2 Zodiac, #3 Sweeney Todd, #4 Evening, #5 Lust, Caution, #6 I'm Not There, #7 Margot at the Wedding, #8 moved to 2008, #9 The Golden Compass,#10 Grindhouse, #11 Bug, #12, Sunshine, #13 Southland Tales, #14 300, #15 Hot Fuzz, #16 Stardust, #17 The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford, #18 Spider-Man 3, #19 Rendition, #20 The Bourne Ultimatum Intro -films that didn't make the list

tags: Paul Thomas Anderson, oil, Daniel Day-Lewis, boogie nights, films


Anonymous said...

Oh my God, I love P.T. Anderson. Tough for me to choose between Boogie Nights and Magnolia as my favorite, but he's come up with some stellar scenes (in no particular order):

- That sequence in Boogie Nights with the ominous repetitive "gong" sound, especially the part focusing on Burt Reynolds and Heather Graham and their audition of the would-be porn star

- Any scene featuring Julianne Moore, really, in either Boogie Nights or Magnolia (I love everything from that camera glide that follows her as she kisses Jason Robards on the forehand through her narration of her Dirk Diggler documentary to her infamous breakdown in the pharmacy)

- The dirty talk in Punch-Drunk Love, or that kiss in silhouette

I could go on and on.

Anonymous said...

And it is complete.

Great top ten. I can't wait to see There Will Be Blood, I'm Not There, Margot at the Wedding and Zodiac!

This year better not suck. Out of all the films released in 2006, I can count all my favorites on one hand.

Jacob said...

I have no reason to doubt that There Will Be Blood will be noting short of stellar. The man is a genius and I cannot wait until this film is released. Thanks for the write-up!

Beau said...

Never caught Boogie Nights, sadly. Punch Drunk Love was manic as can be, but a brilliant experiment.
And "Magnolia" is just one of the best films of the last decade. Period.

Sid said...

PT is one of my 2-3 absolute favorites among the directors from the last decade or so.

I'm never able to pick between Boogie Nights and Magnolia (despite all its flaws). Punch-Drunk Love for me is as great as those two if not better -- one of my favorite movies from the 2000s.

I'm expecting great things from There Will Be Blood.

Glenn Dunks said...

I mostly liked Boogie Nights, but the two times I tried to watch Magnolia I decided "Hey, I could be doing something better!" and turned it off. Never even started Punch-Drunk Love.

Anonymous said...

A PTA film without Luis Guzman? What's the point of bothering?

Anonymous said...

I love the way There Will be Blood looks like the movies by Coppola or Scorsese. Everybody can see how much Altman there is in Anderson's movies, but, when I was seeing Boogie Nights, I could only remember The Godfather, with some Raging Bull. When I was seeing Magnolia, all I could see was Scorsese. I think it is all about moviemaking style. Ideas apart, Anderson's way of shooting his movies is between Scorsese and Coppola. Is it only me?

- cal roth

par3182 said...

loved boogie nights, hated punch drunk love, wanted to gouge my own eyes out while watching magnolia

so, mixed feelings on this #1

Glenn Dunks said...

Surely the absense of Luis Guzman from any movie is cause for celebration.

...or maybe I'm missing something when it comes to him.


i can take or leave Guzman but I do think it odd that he's abandoned everyone he usually works with (at least in FRONT of the camera) I don't think even one of the regulars is in this.

Anonymous said...

Haven't seen Punch Drunk Love yet. I need to. Boogie Nights was my #1 of 1997 too. Masterpiece. And I'm gaining a great deal of admiration for Magnolia now. It's just amazing writing. For those of you that hate Magnolia, take another look, and really pay attention. You have to stick through the whole 3 hours. The last hour just about turns every thing around and makes the whole film worth it.

J.J. said...

It's done all the time, but comparing PTA to Altman is preposterous. The only thing their films have in common is big, shifting ensembles. Every shot in a PTA movie screams "Look at me direct! Look at me direct!" Altman, on the other hand, is breathlessly absent.

I'm only looking forward to There Will Be Blood because of Daniel Day-Lewis. Maybe his sensibilities will rub off on PTA.

Anonymous said...

Yes! I was hoping this would make #1. I greatly enjoyed Boogie Nights, thought Punch-Drunk Love was brilliant and consider Magnolia one of the three best films I have ever seen.

Thanks, Nathaniel & Co.

P.S. What of Eastern Promises?

Jason Adams said...

Mikadzuki, I briefly touched on Eastern Promises in my post right here at the start of the countdown about movies I voted for but didn't make the final cut.

Anonymous said...

I actually think that Punch Drunk Love is P.T. Anderson's most successful film. While it doesn't quite reach the cinematic highs of Magnolia or Boogie Nights, it never seems to lose control of itself the way those two do. He loses control of both of those movies as they reach their denouement. While their final moments both provide amazing sequences (Magnolia's plague of frogs and the "Wise Up" sing-along and Boogie Nights' Alfred Molina drug deal gone bad set to Rick Springfield sequence, which is still one of the most unsettling sequences from any movie I have seen) it seems that Anderson doesn't really understand what to do with them so he just piles on more and more bravura sequences.

Punch Drunk Love, however, achieves what it sets out to do: namely deconstruct the Adam Sandler persona (a loner manchild plagued by fits of uncontrollable rage that can only become an adult through the help of a beautiful woman, seriously that is pretty much the central plot of all of his movies with a few variations). People were so shocked when Adam Sandler was actually good, but it was more because the movie surrounding him made use of his persona in artistically interesting ways. Adam Sandler has always been a great performer, its just his movies and taste (despite his skills as a comedic actor, he did have a hand in the creation of most of his movies) have been awful.

Anderson also used Punch Drunk Love to pay homage to movie musicals (in many ways it is a musical without singing, the color bursts at the beginning are like an overture and Jon Brion's score constantly appears to reflect Adam Sandler's character's inner moods) like the Umbrellas of Cherbourg (in both Robert Elswit's breathtaking use of color and Jon Brion's score serving a similar purpose to Michel Legrand's sung-through score) and Robert Altman's unheralded masterpiece, Popeye. In addition to the obvious adaptation of Shelley Long's "He Needs Me" from that film, the character of Popeye is a close analogue to the Adam Sandler persona.

Indeed, while many people like to compare Magnolia to be Anderson's most Altmanesque film (big ensemble in LA it must be Short Cuts 2!!!), I think Punch Drunk Love is most directly indebted to his work. I mostly agree with people who say that Anderson is radically different from Altman in terms of his "look at me!" style, but that doesn't mean that his movies can't be riffs on earlier Altman works. Also, Altman did choose Anderson to be his backup director on Prairie Home Companion (although that may have been because Maya Rudolph was in it)so the comparision isn't too much of a stretch.

Finally, I admit Punch Drunk Love is not without its flaws (the pudding cup thing is completely dropped as a plot device), but upon repeat viewings, I find fewer of them. I truly think Punch Drunk Love is P.T. Anderson's masterpiece.

Anonymous said...

I'm with JJ here. Anderson has more in common with Brian DePalma than he does with Altman. What sets Anderson apart is his writing. It's rarified and quite special.

Alanna said...

I'm baffled by all this PTA love. He's so... self-indulgent. His movies are swollen melodramas. Magnolia 100% nonsense except for the Aimee Mann soundtrack. Fiona's probably better off now.

Anonymous said...

I think P.T. Anderson is a genius, and each of his films have been absolutely brilliant. I have trouble selecting a favorite, though I can easily say that 'Hard Eight' is the least satisfying overall, but then he was just starting out. Having said that, it was also a pretty excellent film.

As for the list, the one film sorely missing in my eyes would be 'My Blueberry Nights'. Wong Kar-Wai and Jude Law, I can inly imagine how beautiful the film could be.


Alanna the funny thing about your criticism is that it's totally true. but isn't that the case with all auteurs. the weaknesses are strengths or vice versa depending on who you talk to. I would never argue that he wasn't self indulgent. But I love his films.

adam p the absence of blueberry nights is probably my fault. I worked up a spreadsheet of releases for the guys to choose fromm and on the first draft I'd forgotten it. so that mighta put a damper on its chances.

totally understand what you're saying about PDL. I mean it's the one I enjoy the least but I really felt it was directed with SUCH a sure hand (which is why I nominated him for Best Director in my own awards even though the film didn't make my top ten) surer than Magnolia though I prefer that film.

Anonymous said...

I get the feeling I wouldn't like PT Anderson as a person, but whenever I see one of his films (doesn't matter which), I'm astonished at some of the cinematic highs he reaches. The "Wise Up" sequence in Magnolia alone makes up for any of the film's deficiencies; Moore's performance is so daringly unhinged, and Walters' is heartbreaking.

Anonymous said...

arkan = arkaan. typo.

Alanna said...

Interesting Nathaniel. He DID get some wonderfully bizarre shit out of Tom Cruise, so I give PTA props for that.