10 January 2008

For a long time, I was worried that Paul Thomas Anderson, the director I had once acclaimed (in public, no less) as the most extravagantly talented young filmmaker of his generation, had taken his eye off the ball. No more worries. His latest movie opens with a mingled nod to Kubrick and John Ford, and was evidently shot with The Treasure of the Sierra Madre playing continuously in the background. More than anything else, it's an attempt to outdo Gangs of New York and The Aviator in a single movie. And it succeeds. This is the high point, to date, of a career that can only get better.

It's clear to me that Anderson is one of the few directors under forty—Alfonso Cuaron may be another—who understands the scope of the game involved, and is truly interested in challenging the gods. There Will Be Blood is a great movie—possibly one of the best of the decade, although it's a bit too early to be sure. For me, the ending is what puts it over the top. For a lot of other people, it will be what sinks it. And yet the last scene impresses me as necessary and perfect. I like my films to end abruptly, with a full stop, and this huge, incredibly weird and complex movie concludes with a curtain line and a cut to black. In my eyes, it's a home run. Or, more precisely, a strike.

1 comment:

esq. said...

completely agree that the ending nails it. I'm not a person who usually remembers last lines, but that one is stuck in my head! the words as well as his tone and intonation as he said it. oddly, to me he sounded like a echo of Kevin Kline's character in A Fish Called Wanda.