Saturday, January 26, 2008


So no Film Club this week, instead Skunkcabbage went out to the theatres to see There Will Be Blood. Those of you who have seen it know that it's a pretty intense film, with a pretty intense final reel. Right as the credits started rolling, we were treated to Bonus Intensity: a middle-class-looking man in the row right behind us stood up and declaimed, to seemingly no one in particular, that he had a "white dove" above his head "that was sent by Jesus Christ." From there he began quoting the Bible, particularly the much-beloved-by-insane-people Book of Ezekiel, declaring that he "in this jacket" was the amber at the midst of the fire described in that book. And from there he went on to say that within the next 121 days he would be shot to death by Osama bin Laden.

"So," I said to H., "the movie actually drove someone insane."

It is perhaps my testament to the film's strength that I don't find this thesis entirely improbable.


PS: It has been a real pleasure, over the last ten years or so, to watch P. T. Anderson's emergence as a filmmaker: last night as I was falling asleep I realized that I'm hard pressed to think of another Promising Young Filmmaker who doesn't have at least one dud or disappointment among their first five features. Hell, I'm hard pressed to think of any filmmaker working in the last ten years who released five great films in a row. Discuss?


PPS: My capsule review of There Will Be Blood, along with many other films, is on my 20 Most Recent page.


Chet Mellema said...

I'm probably a little more hesitant to call each of Anderson's first four films great, but they are at least all very good and strive to be great, which is more than you can say for 95% of the domestic releases in the last 10 years. Ambition goes a long way with me, and Anderson has never lacked for that quality.

But addressing your question, I am finding it difficult to come up with another filmmaker who released 5 solid pictures in a row right out of the gates. Certainly Godard comes to mind, but Les Carabiniers, which I believe is his 5th film, is insufferable. If you count filmmakers like Malick and the Dardennes, who make so few films but they're all of such high quality, they would be in the mix. And Wong Kar-Wai's and Zhang-ke Jia's films since the late 90s and early parts of this decade are all brilliant. But you're right, it is really tough to keep turning out film after film that impresses and stays fresh, and especially for a self-taught filmmaker just now finding his true voice.

jpb said...

Lynch has a pretty solid first five, but right in the middle is Dune. Ugh.

You could make a good case for the Coen Bros.—the weakest link there probably being The Hudsucker Proxy (No. 5). I like it, but I'd be hard pressed to say it's as good as even the weakest of the Anderson films.

This whole line of inquiry makes me realize that there's a lot of foreign-language filmmakers whose early work I haven't seen, or at least can't rattle off in consecutive order in the same way I can do with many of the American Independents.