Upbeat Cynicism

what do you mean i lost my mind?

A mind-dulling work of staggering PC-ness

with 2 comments

So here’s Paul Thomas Anderson’s There Will Be Blood, and why should I give a damn?

And to be honest, I really, really don’t.

For starters, it’s based on an Upton Sinclair “novel” entitled Oil! and, though I haven’t read it, I have read some Sinclair, never will again, and am rather of the opinion that that exclamation point tells you all you really need to know about the socialist muckraker’s level of skill and subtlety in that (or any other) tale.

Ah, but Anderson’s adaptation, you might say, is very loose, to the point that a secondary character is now the protagonist of the story, and the main character is now secondary. And if that much has changed, how much else might be different, right?

Well, okay, but keep in mind that that character, Daniel Plainview (and oh, goodness, doesn’t that name just shriek with Symbolism and Import and Pretentiousness?), as portrayed by Daniel Day Lewis, is being sold to the public as not only a business man, but a ruthless, scheming, soulless business man! A wretched, manipulative, murdering business man!

Now, Daniel Day Lewis is a fine and wonderful actor. And PT Anderson is reputed to be a very talented filmmaker (I wouldn’t know, I’ve never seen any of his films, and if I ever do, it will pretty much be for the purpose of seeing Heather Graham naked). But even if this is career-best work from both, I couldn’t care any less to see it.

Because, honestly, no matter how well it is executed, we’ve seen this before. A lot. The latin phrase ad nauseum was invented for movies that make successful business men out to be evil, psychotic, sociopathic, wretched, soulless, and indicative of all that is wrong with the world.

It’s been done. It’s ventured beyond being tiresome, beyond cliché, beyond stock, beyond rote, into the realm of the dessicated, unsatisfying artifacts populated by such old unlamented storytelling devices as the deus ex machina and the mustache-twirling, black-hatted villain.

I’ve seen Citizen Kane, thank you. More than once. (Curse you, film school.) And I’ve seen just about every other business-as-social-blight movie that I could ever care to see. If reality were even slightly like this, our society and culture would have collapsed sometime before the War of 1812. Or, if you insist that the Industrial Revolution was the source of all badness, then call it the Mexican American War. In any event, this tired cliché is patently, provably false. I do not need my movies to correspond to reality all of the time, not even my movies about business. But for the love of whatever it is you might worship, is it too much to ask for a little variety in their themes?

So no, I do not care to subject myself to yet another movie that portrays the desire to be in business as a sign of mental deficiency, that sees success in the capitalist arena as a sign of moral depravity, no matter how well-done it might be. It just isn’t so, and I see no reason to support the latest inbred, ignorant leftist Hollywood smear job of the class of people who did more than any other to make our country and culture so great.

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Written by [IMH]

30 December 2007 at 8:52 pm

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  1. So no, I do not care to subject myself to yet another movie that portrays the desire to be in business as a sign of mental deficiency, that sees success in the capitalist arena as a sign of moral depravity, no matter how well-done it might be.

    How about another movie that portrays soldiers as either poor dumb schmucks who joined only because they couldn’t get a job otherwise, or bloodthirsty psychopaths with veins in their teeth squealing “kill, kill, KILL, KILL….” or, well, you get the idea.

    And, of course, the only reason the military gets sent to war is because of evil capitalists out to make a buck…

    Kevin Baker

    23 January 2008 at 8:02 pm

  2. That cliche is obnoxious, but it doesn’t hold through all of film history. I can count the number of films in which capitalism and business are indisputably good on one hand. Stretch it to calling business neutral, and I might have to take off my shoes, but I’d still have some toes to spare.

    Contrariwise, I can rattle off any number of films that portray soldiers as noble, intelligent, and other positives. I could do it without even including WWII-era productions. The soldier-as-psycho-killer is (mostly) a post-Vietnam War thing. (Even in anti-war movies, soldiers themselves may be portrayed well.)

    As for your last sentence… I’m tempted to ask if you were forced to view the Manchurian Candidate remake, but that’s only the most flagrant example of many.

    Ian

    28 January 2008 at 2:31 pm


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