Sunday, January 27, 2008

Bit of a downer

So our close friends L&L and ourselves decided to get together yesterday and go see a film followed by supper at the new PF Chang's that's just opened near us.

What to see, we mulled. What to see.

I suggested There will be Blood. First, because Daniel Day-Lewis is a first rate actor, second because it's been nominated for eight Oscars, and third because there's been buzz that it's a brilliant film.

Everyone agreed on my choice.

Day-Lewis as Daniel Plainview is magnificent (as usual), but I'm afraid one actor does not a brilliant film make. Director Paul Thomas Anderson's film is one great amorphous chasm of darkness. The plot, what there is of it, is basically dirt-poor, ambitious early twentieth Century American strikes gold (in this case oil) in California, becomes a tycoon, and retains his ruthless, competitive nature right to the last scene of the movie. We've had so many of these Hollywood stories I can't believe they think the public's going to hail it cutting edge cinema because of the cat-wailing musical scores and effects, which include an oil derrick burning and the deaths of a couple of oil miners and the murder of a man who claims to be Plainview's half-brother. (I will say Day-Lewis is nothing other than spell-binding when he realizes the man is not who he says he is--the tiniest facial expression speaks volumes and it is this scene which will probably win him the Oscar.)

A few twists are thrown in--the fact that Plainview's son is not his son, but rather an orphan whom he picked off the street and called his son because the presence of a fresh-faced child would help him cheat the farmers of their land, and a preacher who's nothing but a cliche--does nothing but highlight the lack of a riveting plot.

At two hours and thirty minutes, the film is bloated and could have done with the services of a good editor. The last scene is gratuitous. And there is much repetition in case we're such a dumb audience we won't pick up some 'vital' point and we are required to suspend reality. For example, the son has an accident and loses his hearing and we are then expected to believe he loses his ability to speak immediately.

By the time the movie ended, we were ready for PF Chang's and a few glasses of wine. Thankfully, the meal was wonderful and the overall somber spirits sitting through this film had invoked were rapidly dispelled.


rainyday said...

What did you eat at P F Chang's?

Damian McNicholl said...

Something not usually on a Chinese menu--lamb. It was delicious.

But best dish of all was a chicken and eggplant dish.

And we were able to order brown rice--proving it's a bistro as opposed to a typical Chinese restaurant.