Monday, November 05, 2007

how to review a movie two months before it premieres

due to the wonders of san francisco, i was able to watch a sneak preview of the latest film from one of my favorite filmmakers. here goes it:

starring daniel day-lewis and paul dano
written and directed by paul thomas anderson
viewed at the castro theater, san francisco

first off: i am a huge fan of paul thomas anderson. when everyone killed "punch drunk love", i praised it as a rousing success - because i saw the chances he took by casting adam sandler in a dramatic role, and how amazing the movie was because of it. on top of that, you all know how i feel about both "boogie nights" and "magnolia". and his first film, "hard eight", is just wonderful. the point is that he challenges himself with each film, he takes the preconceptions and turns them around and his stories aren't conventional by any means. his films are what storytelling should be, but sadly aren't. they are not about box office receipts. they are about human truths told masterfully.

so yeah, i dig his work. and when i got a chance to see his movie a full two months before everyone else got a chance to, i jumped.

and, shockingly to nobody who's read this far, it's a brilliantly made film. each shot is truly epic. daniel day-lewis is amazing, and is the odds-on favorite to win another oscar. his counterpart, paul dano, is great too. the photography that framed them is just gorgeous. the opening fifteen minutes are just wondrous. and the score by radiohead's jonny greenwood is pitch perfect. these are the pieces of this film that are beyond approach, a complete masterpiece by a master virtuoso.

there's a problem, however, and a big one: there's no drama in this film. there's no conflict. there's not even a story arc for the main (and practically only) character. it's just...i'm not really sure what it is, really. i really didn't get the point of it all, until daniel day-lewis revealed his soul to another character. and, to be honest, that's a cheat. you don't tell in film; you show. maybe that's anderson fighting the preconceptions. i think it's just making sense of it all, but taking the easy way out.

yes, it's a human being just being. but there's nothing for him to strive for, to overcome, to grow into. unless it completely flew past me, i found it utterly lacking from start to finish. but it didn't. i got it. he explained it to me.

it just seemed like a missed opportunity.

maybe i'm wrong.

people are going to love this movie. my two friends did. i don't think they're wrong, but i think a lot of people will love this movie because paul thomas anderson is a great filmmaker, rather than he made a great film. and other people are gonna hate this movie for the same reason they hated "punchdrunk love" - they're expecting something previous.

so color me impressed and disappointed. i know that's possible, because i am.

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