Sunday, April 13, 2008

I drink your milkshake!

Over the weekend I finally had a chance to see Atonement followed by a re-viewing of There Will Be Blood. Atonement got off to a very slow start before getting very, very good and finishing powerfully. I generally disapprove of film/literature that "goes meta" and becomes a meditation on film/literature, but Atonement is an exception: a genuine story does break through the navel-gazing metatext about the uses and illusions of representation.

I still think There Will Be Blood was the class of the 2007 Best Picture Oscar nominees -- not to say the film I enjoyed most, but the one that came closest to the mark of Best Picture Oscar-worthiness. But Oscar or no Oscar, I was struck by how firmly each scene had stuck in my head over the months between the first and second viewing.

Question: are Paul and Eli really different people? Is there really an Eli Sunday and a Paul Sunday? I have not read the Upton Sinclar novel on which this film is loosely based (and will not - I got my fill of Upton Sinclair with The Jungle), so I don't know if the ambiguity carries through there. The same actor played both characters, little apparent effort was taken to visually distinguish them, and they were never shown side by side. I find it an interesting open question whether Eli and Paul are just two warring personalities in the same character, and how the characters in the fictional world who might care about the question -- Eli himself, the elder Sunday, and Daniel Plainview -- would see it.


thepoetryman said...

It is difficult for me to understand why I still have yet to see There Will Be Blood. I will relatively soon I'm sure, just not sure why I've not gotten around to it. I have heard many say it is as good as you have said here. I think I need to do something about rent it!

Atonement I found rather moving and a very powerful movie, as well.

thepoetryman said...

Plus... Atonement was a true modern style tragedy and there are so few of those that can actually pull off a real tragedy (in the Aristotle sense) like the tragedies written by Shakespeare and Marlowe and Webster. I think Atonement pulled it off superbly.

Dale said...

poetryman, you should definitely make time for There Will Be Blood. It's pretty remarkable.

I agree with your comments about Atonement -- a very well-crafted piece of work.