Started by Gold Trumpet, April 07, 2008, 01:19:04 PM
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QuoteThe film simplifies his meaning when it shows him as just God-less and semi-disturbed. That is how the townspeople of Little Boston view him. The film makes his problems with his supposed brother and illegitimate son to be signs of his evil when they are indicators of deeper beliefs a lot of people held back then. There Will be Blood takes no consideration of the deeper history to Daniel's character and instead views all of his actions at such a close barometer that they are meant to outweigh its context.
QuoteTheir characters are both the symbolic representations of their respective beliefs and ideals. There Will be Blood is about both the personal and cultural clash that happens. The societal comment is a significant part of the film. The film has to balance both elements when sculpting the portrait of the characters. The end result is a completely divided picture.
QuoteThe fact that the end hangs on Eli's "dramatic" revelation is a joke. The scene is more explanatory than dramatic because it includes so much new information about Eli. It has to because it didn't have a character outline to base his demise off of.
QuoteAn epic in the realist format isn't impossible. It's just that the story cannot be chronological.
QuoteThere Will be Blood has to be given some due. It has a very deep dramatic identity but it does many things to try to escape easy categorization. There Will be Blood also exists to defy structural recognition by taking a difficult subject and filming it with a style and tone that distinguishes it from any other film today.
QuoteThere Will be Blood has a few nods and references to Paul Thomas Anderson's other films, but the only recognizable development is the tone of the film being more important than the story. The film lingers through the story with few shot adjustment and very little editing techniques. The composition of the film is based on camera angles and a methodical tone. The actors have a lot of room for movement because the camera is always well centered, but many scenes don't end when the dialogue does. The camera continues on with the scene because the tone it creates within the film is the most important feature.
QuotePaul Thomas Anderson creates a style in There Will be Blood that is a mixture between McCabe and Mrs. Miller and Days of Heaven. Anderson wants the tone of the film to be observant and peaceful with respect to highlighting the landscape, but he also favors graceful movements of the camera to go in between the action and the scenes. The surprise with Anderson's decision to mix his filmmaking with these two films is that the story in There Will be Blood has both too much story and action to be the best fit.
QuoteThe style is so bad because it takes so many basic ideas of how to shoot a Western period piece and does so with little direction. The general assumption could be that Anderson looked at the backdrop of his story and made a film to look like other films that dealt with similar historical periods, but didn't know how to make the adjustments to fit into There Will be Blood.
Quotewhen H.W. looks through Henry's diary and then mysteriously lights fire under his bed. What the audience sees H.W. sees in the diary gives no clue to why he does what he does. It's revealed later on, but is just a random action at the time.
QuoteThen there is the presence of Paul Sunday. Paul Dano plays both Eli and Paul Sunday, but it's never revealed they are twins. The casting was accidental in the first place but the film never tries to distinguish their differences or even make a theme out of the uniqueness they are twins. The story just goes on, but it does so with such scant characterization of Paul Sunday that the subplot is confusing. The film has a lot of information to convey to the audience but fails to do an adaquate job because better relaying it because that would force the film to deconstruct its lingering camera movements and provide a denser, more adaquate editing structure.
QuoteThe camera shows their reunion in the distance, but instead of cutting closer to the scene when it becomes fiery, the camera continues to weave down an oil pipeline. It does this while the characters are having a troubling moment. The reason for this choice of filmmaking is to highlight the oil pipeline which Daniel later shows off to H.W. and also to show the new found distance between the characters. The problem is that highlighting the oil pipeline really has little significance to what matters in the scene.
QuoteIt's hard to sum up There Will be Blood... Critical comment about the film is so scattered that most are impressionistic jubiliations without being detailed and specific. There even isn't an agreed upon argument about how the film is good.
Quote from: Alexandro on April 10, 2008, 04:55:26 PMi read a review of this film talking about, like plainview himself, there will be blood "doesn't like to explain itself". i thought that was a stroke of genius, and everything you say in your essay (children with angels) rings true to me in that respect. it is a subjective film with a narrowed point of view, and the way it surrenders itself to it is masterful. as you, i find a lot of what GT says strangely lacking of arguments. i dont' know where the affirmation of the town's people feelings towards daniel come from, and i don't understand how the film presents daniel plainview only as an evil, godless individual. in my view is way more complex than that. I also wouldn't call Plainview semi disturbed. He´s more in the totally pretty disturbed realm.
Quote from: children with angels on April 08, 2008, 06:57:44 PMI don't think we are given enough context to know what Little Boston as a whole believes at all, and certainly not enough to align that belief (whatever it might be) with how the film views Daniel. The fact that the film gives no history or context for him is I think entirely appropriate to the fascinatingly narrow point of view the film establishes, as I argue in my piece.
Quote from: children with angels on April 08, 2008, 06:57:44 PMI don't think it's useful to see these characters as symbolic representations. We can say that they reflect a number of impulses associated with elements of their society (or ours), but to say that they wholly represent them is a gross simplification, and doesn't stand up to what we see in the film. Though the movie has certain allegorical overtones, I think the temptation to read the entire film and its characters as allegory should be resisted. Whatever political commentary the film might be making is secondary to its situations and its characters, both of which certainly have clear political dimensions (as everything does), but neither of which is clear-cut, or constitute a political 'statement'. Thus, I don't think that the accusation that the film is divided in this way stands up, since I don't think it is trying to be a 'character piece', nor a 'societal comment' picture. It contains elements of both (though its ability to be a traditional character study is again challenged by its point of view, as I argue), but its peculiar power comes partly from not being reducible to either.
Quote from: children with angels on April 08, 2008, 06:57:44 PMI don't see how you could argue that the final scene hangs on Eli's 'revelation'. To me it doesn't seem to be a revelation at all (if you're talking about his renunciation of his faith), and the ending certainly doesn't hang on it: he has been forced to say what he says, and he is shaken by it, but it's not a revelation. If there is a revelation, it is of Daniel, and of how truly psychopathic his character is/has become. Again, my piece argues for why we haven't been given the context necessary to understand Eli's actions in the last scene in the way you suggest (or, indeed, to truly understand Daniel's).
Quote from: children with angels on April 08, 2008, 06:57:44 PMI'm not sure why you're so concerned with the clash between the 'epic' and the 'realist platform' (I'm also unsure of what you mean by the latter). From the loose way you're using the word 'realism' I don't think it constitutes a specific mode that you can judge the film's success or failure against. I also, incidentally, don't know how you could possibly argue that a 'realist epic' mustn't be chronological – if anything, non-linear narrative points towards non-'realist' impulses.
Quote from: children with angels on April 08, 2008, 06:57:44 PMIt DOES escape easy categorization: that's one of the reasons why it's so fascinating. It uses conventions and codes from recognizable sources – classical Hollywood westerns, revisionist 70s historical epics, political 'message pictures' – but it isn't reducible to any of them, and finds a new and effective and powerful way of relating them. That to me is one of the hallmarks of a great film: using familiar contexts and modes and conventions intelligently, and also adding something new and powerful to them. This is something that the best classical Hollywood filmmakers did again and again with genre pictures, and – incidentally – something that great art has done since the beginning of time.
Quote from: children with angels on April 08, 2008, 06:57:44 PMI think here you're trying to rationalize and compartmentalize the film into what it might have done rather than make an effort to understand what it actually does do. Yes, we can see that there are influences of Malick and Altman on this film, but Anderson is making a film that doesn't try to finally be like either of those filmmakers' works. He tells his story in such an original and fascinating way, whilst incorporating these influences, that to try to make it fit into the paradigms you're attempting to force it into here makes little sense. You can only argue that the story isn't a good fit for the techniques of Malick or Altman if you think that the style of these directors is all he's trying to emulate, and they aren't: he's come up with a method of storytelling that is totally alien to them, and it's that that makes the movie so unique. Again, he's effortlessly de-familarizing things that we think we understand (e.g.: Hollywood Renaissance film styles) by placing them in another context (e.g.: the psychopathically tight point of view he sets up, as I argue for). This also relates to what you say later, here:
Quote from: children with angels on April 08, 2008, 06:57:44 PMIn one sense I'm surprised to see you resisting the creative impulses of a visionary filmmaker who is challenging convention, because this is something that you yourself often argue is necessary for great film art (and I, on the other hand, might resist); in another sense, I can see why you might, since you also value being able to understand and explain films in relation to existing and established paradigms. Could it be that you're more open to experimentation when it has already been championed and explained by previous film theorists, rather than when faced by a new example of it that you have to confront alone?
Quote from: children with angels on April 08, 2008, 06:57:44 PMH.W. setting fire to the shack almost certainly isn't motivated by what he reads in the diary. Someone intelligently pointed out in the Blood thread that he looks at the diary upside down, which suggests that he can't even read (as would be highly probable). It's more likely that it comes from H.W.'s frustrated desire to communicate with the outside world (and his father in particular): he is acting out violently, recklessly – in fact, in a similar way to how the emotional/social cripple Daniel himself will later act out.
Quote from: children with angels on April 08, 2008, 06:57:44 PMI make a case in my piece for why the Paul subplot, and many other subplots/ character motivations, etc. might be obfuscated.
Quote from: children with angels on April 08, 2008, 06:57:44 PMOF COURSE the pipeline has significance for the scene: it conveys the essential conflict at the heart of the film: Daniel's relationship to others and his relationship to his work/capital! The film is continually stylistically powerful and economical in this way: to capture the essence of what a scene is about through camera placement, etc.
Quote from: Alexandro on April 11, 2008, 04:24:39 PMI understand both Plainview and Eli live in a context, and their status as symbols is certainly present. PTA has said when confronted with this that he's "no dummy", but it's obvious from him and the film itself he's not that concerned with that. He's way more interested in the personality of Plainview than anything else. Eli is explored only to the extent that his doings affect Plainview. He's only fleshed out from the point of view of Plainview. We mostly see him as Plainview sees him. This is nothing new, no breaking of any barriers here, and it's not a mistake or miscalculation from the filmmakers part either.
Quote from: Alexandro on April 11, 2008, 04:24:39 PMWe all know no one is going to convince you of anything else, of course.
Quote from: The Gold Trumpet on April 11, 2008, 06:59:15 PMI don't buy the legitimacy of the narrow viewpoint argument. If you look at Daniel through a tunnel vortex and put his personal experience as yours, you get an alien character of zero personal resemblance to yourself. The whole point of movies that are tunnel versions of the personal experience is that they speak to your experience.
Quote from: The Gold Trumpet on April 11, 2008, 06:59:15 PMThe stories are suppose to be experiences of the modern man. Bernard Shaw said that a work of art should only last 100 years, as times change and so do the perspective of people. Daniel represents a dead culture. He represents an old ideal. There is nothing personal to get out of his viewpoint so the whole point of making his experience personal is to find some way to tie it to our perspective.
Quote from: The Gold Trumpet on April 11, 2008, 06:59:15 PMI understand I am not criticizing the film for what it is its, but I don't care to. Doing so means I have accepted all the choices of story and content as is. I most definitely have not. The major issues taken with reading your essay (and I will make direct comments on it), i find that you also want to align the film with certain criterias in film history to justify the dominance of style over content
Quote from: The Gold Trumpet on April 11, 2008, 06:59:15 PMBut basing sympathy on a character because of a few scenes like how he fondly reads his brother's diary and sincerely regrets sending his son away isn't much meat at all. Besides, if the reason of the film is to make someone unexpectedly sympathize with a horrible person, then it's not much of an ambition.
Quote from: children with angels on April 15, 2008, 04:54:11 AMWe should always aim to understand and evaluate a film in relation to what it is, and what it attempts to do: otherwise we're fundamentally misrepresenting it. However, I'm not arguing for style over content (God forbid, right?! There are plenty of style-over-content that I love!): I'm arguing for style supporting content. Nevertheless, I AM arguing that one of the things that makes this film (or any other) great is how the film's form communicates and carries the film's meanings. I am equally interested in the 'how' as in the 'what'. If all you're interested in is the 'what' then you aren't engaging with what makes cinema cinema: you might as well be talking about a novel, or an unproduced screenplay. I know that you're not entirely uninterested in style, but I would argue that if you're really interested in cinema as an artform you should consider 'form' to be as important – if not more important – than 'content', because if content (i.e.: what a film 'says') is your main concern, then you could just as well be talking about any artform.
Quote from: w/o horse on April 15, 2008, 06:30:48 PMA great moment not to be missed, even if you aren't going to read the whole thread:Quote from: children with angels on April 15, 2008, 04:54:11 AMWe should always aim to understand and evaluate a film in relation to what it is, and what it attempts to do: otherwise we're fundamentally misrepresenting it. However, I'm not arguing for style over content (God forbid, right?! There are plenty of style-over-content that I love!): I'm arguing for style supporting content. Nevertheless, I AM arguing that one of the things that makes this film (or any other) great is how the film's form communicates and carries the film's meanings. I am equally interested in the 'how' as in the 'what'. If all you're interested in is the 'what' then you aren't engaging with what makes cinema cinema: you might as well be talking about a novel, or an unproduced screenplay. I know that you're not entirely uninterested in style, but I would argue that if you're really interested in cinema as an artform you should consider 'form' to be as important – if not more important – than 'content', because if content (i.e.: what a film 'says') is your main concern, then you could just as well be talking about any artform.
Quote from: children with angels on April 15, 2008, 04:54:11 AMThis is a good example of what I mean: you want the film to make you relate to it, drawing a connection between it and your own personal experiences/ life. This doesn't at all have to be what art in general does, and is certainly not the 'whole point of movies that are the tunnel vision of personal experience'. It's a basically romantic connection that you desire with art (and thus with its authors?) here, and while this can be one way in which a film works, it's certainly not the only valuable way. Nevertheless, having said that, it's clear from what Alexandro has said, and from how I feel about Plainview, that the film DOES give us enough to empathise with Daniel, and relate to his experience – it just does it economically (and economy is something that I often greatly value in art).
Quote from: children with angels on April 15, 2008, 04:54:11 AMWHOA! That is a hugely narrow statement you're making there. 'The perspective of people', 'modern man', and what constitutes the 'personal' or 'our perspective' are hugely flawed and exclusionary concepts, and can never truly exist. Because you and I, and Alexandro, and my next-door-neighbour, and a friend I have in France, and a friend I have in Canada, all live in the same period we are expected to share some kind of perspective?! No work of art is ever going to speak to everyone 'personally' in the same way: that idea was thrown out of aesthetics over half a decade ago. What you're asking for is an impossible goal, and it betrays the nature of your assumptions. You essentially don't like There Will Be Blood because it doesn't speak to you personally. Because it doesn't do this, you then construct a critical (romantic) schema that states that it fails to be good. Every point you make is thus in support of this one central fact: that the film didn't move you, or make you connect with it. Rather than try to understand the film on its own terms (which you say later you refuse to do), you are trying to fit it into a model that it has no interest in, or chance of, achieving. As you say...
Quote from: children with angels on April 15, 2008, 04:54:11 AMThis again relates to economy. Although the film denies us much access to Plainview's psychology or history, we are given enough hints to begin to construct a picture of sorts of him. That it is narrow and incomplete is one of the fascinating things about the movie, but that it is there is undeniable: it just happened not to speak to you and your life personally, so you disregard it. One thing that neither of us have touched on yet is DDL's performance: through the nuances of his body, eyes, voice we get a lot of hints about Daniel. The brothel scene, for example: he is simultaneously angry and completely paralysed, almost fearful, here – a combination that bespeaks something very wrong with how he relates to women and sexuality. This is also communicated to us through the tight framing and blurred background that I talk about in my piece. I would much rather be given the chance to extrapolate from a condensed moment such as this than have a scene in which we get a more detailed account of this part of his life. This is because feature films – because of the nature of their length, etc – are an artform that have to be able to communicate quickly and economically, hinting rather than explaining: showing rather than telling. And again, I would argue that much of the 'meat' comes from the way the story is told: the narrow point of view is making us feel and understand Plainview's view of the world continually.
Quote from: The Gold Trumpet on April 11, 2008, 06:59:15 PMYou say understanding him would make it "explanatory", but that's bogus. Creating an outline of a character is developing emotions and ideas that give him meaning. Explanations happen when films try to give easy answers to explain their ends, but giving no information about who they are is useless. Emotional connection with a character comes in both an intellectual and emotional context. The character has to radiate with some earmarks of personality. Daniel Plainview is a character of mere situations. His son loses his hearing and so he misguidely sends him away. Someone who comes as his brother isn't him so Daniel kills him. Hardly the deepest track to bond with the core of a man.
Quote from: Redlum on April 16, 2008, 12:16:28 PMSo. We've only morsels to go on when trying get to the core of Daniel Plainview and what core there is to get to is diminishing with every minute of the films runtime. The slight sense of guilt or remorse evident when he sends H.W. (the one character he has any kind of relationship with, a child) away is completely extinguished by the time he disowns him. What little sense of relief he feels with his brothers arrival is destroyed by an imposter and his opinion of humanity is further vindicated. Is there a core to get to or is it just pretty simple?
Quote from: The Gold Trumpet on April 25, 2008, 02:07:19 PMArt should symbolize inner feelings one can have.
Quote from: The Gold Trumpet on April 25, 2008, 02:07:19 PMthose comments relate to very basic feelings all humans have. You made the analogy how my feelings can't be the same as your friends across the world. That has to relate to experience, not basic feelings.
Quote from: The Gold Trumpet on April 25, 2008, 02:07:19 PMInterpreting standard business scenes from the camera angles is probably looking too much into what is just a lot of standard scenes.
Quote from: The Gold Trumpet on April 25, 2008, 02:07:19 PMContent and style are equal in my book, but that goes with specifications. [...] You might say you believe content and style are equal as far as There Will be Blood is concerned, but I'm trying to point out how the content is severely lacking in the film.
Quote from: The Gold Trumpet on April 25, 2008, 02:07:19 PMThe fact that Daniel says the things about himself later that he does hate people separates him, but it's one of the very few actions that distinguishes the personal Daniel from the businessman. The film shouldn't be reliant on pieces of dialogue to distinguish the animosity he feels from his ability to glad hand local citizens.
Quote from: The Gold Trumpet on April 25, 2008, 02:07:19 PMMost of his dealings with the townsfolk are too business ordinary to be self reflective of him. The film could speak more about his personal isolation if it decided to devote more study to his deeper conflicts from the outset, but it does not.