Hello everyone! I’ve decided to resurrect the long forgotten “Recent Rewatches” posts. I’m trying to watch more movies in general, which means keeping up on all those new movies by revisiting them once in a while to reevaluate my opinion and keep my memory fresh. This is just too much to do every week though, as I only really have time for a couple a month. Hopefully I can keep these up in the months to come. As originally intended, these will be much less formal than my normal reviews (which aren’t even that formal to begin with) and will focus on my reactions to the films more than anything resembling an objective viewpoint. Links are to my original reviews (if they exist).
August 7, 2015: O Brother, Where Art Thou?
This got a full post seeing as I hadn’t reviewed it before, but I figured I’d at least list it here for completeness.
August 13, 2015: Donnie Darko
I watched Donnie Darko again as part of my (slow going) marathon of Jake Gyllenhaal movies with one of my roommates. Like another film I watched recently with Patrick Swayze, Dirty Dancing, Donie Darko is basically at the top of my guilty pleasure movie list. I understand that Donnie Darko is not a good movie, at all, but god damn it, it’s so entertaining! All that teenage angst, all those famous actors (Katherine Ross is in this movie, what?), and the cover of “Mad World” is like my favorite. I don’t think I was in as good of a mood to watch as I was when I first saw it, but it’s still hilarious. It makes no sense, but I don’t even care. I could do without all of those readings from the time travel book though. They bring the film to a stop and it’s not like they make anything clearer. Gotta love the Scorsese reference though:
I didn’t end up reviewing this like O Brother, Where Art Thou? even though I had originally wanted to. I just wasn’t feeling it for some reason, maybe because guilty pleasures are some of the hardest films to review. I always want to give them some slack or completely tear them apart; it’s hard to find a middle ground that actually reflects my opinion.
August 16, 2015: To Be or Not to Be
To Be or Not to Be is a film I reviewed last summer, and I found it hilarious then and found it hilarious now. I’ve never seen the Mel Brooks remake, but I honestly don’t see how it could be better than this film. I kind of wanted to do a double feature with Inglourious Basterds, as I don’t see how Tarantino did not have this film (or possibly the remake) in mind when writing it. The Nazis get defeated in theaters in both movies, even though To Be or Not to Be centers around the stage instead of the screen. I didn’t remember this but it takes a little while to get going, but by the end I was totally on board. I really, really need to see more Lubitsch films because they are just so funny. (Any suggestions?)
August 23, 2015: Rear Window
I’m not gonna say too much about Rear Window since I watched it for mine and Jon’s upcomming AFI Top 100 Discussion. I will say a couple things though. It’s kind of a cliche to say that such and such a movie is so amazing that I notice a new thing about it every time but Rear Window is the rare case where that is 100% true. Literally every time I see this movie, something pops out at me that I never considered. Perhaps this is partially because I had underestimated the film when I first saw it, giving it only a 3.5/4 because I enjoyed reading about it more than watching it. However, I was completely crazy with that initial feeling because holy shit is this movie great. Last time I notice the fades to black used as scene transitions, which seems to mimic someone closing their eyes before going to sleep. One of my favorite film studies professors said that this whole film might be a dream that Jimmy Stewart’s character is having, and the scene transitions definitely play into that. This time around, I noticed that almost all of the main characters have these very piercing blue eyes. Was that done on purpose? I don’t know, but it definitely helps their eyes stand out and therefore highlight the importance of watching in the movie. So yeah, I was wrong about Rear Window, it’s definitely a 4/4.
August 24, 2015: There Will Be Blood
(If you care to listen to the credit music, which is Brahm’s violin concerto and awesome, here’s a link. Not necessary to reading the rewatch review, but like I said, it’s awesome.)
I LOVE THIS MOVIE SO MUCH! There, got that out of the way.
So despite having loved There Will Be Blood when I originally watched it, back in the early days of the blog (March 2013), I had sort of forgotten it. I remembered that I really liked it, and thanks to my review, remembered my theory about what it all meant. But for some reason, I had just never gotten back to it. In fact, I would have thought Inherent Vice would have spurred me on to finishing PTA’s filmography finally, but it hasn’t. I only have two films left! I was on a pretty good streak in 2013 but then I watched Magnolia and really had no idea what to think about it. So I’m stalled out on PTA (and many other things) and would love to promise to get back on that, but school is about to start so making promises is just futile at this point.
There Will Be Blood, though. As I said, I was really afraid this film wouldn’t hold up, but it really, really did. This is a tiny little detail, like my thoughts on Rear Window above, but notice DDL’s hair in this film. When Plainview (repeatedly) says he’s an oil man, he’s not kidding. The voice is said to be a John Huston impression, which seems accurate, but it also sounds like oil, somehow. And then there’s his hair. It’s so black and shiny, it literally seems to be oil. A++ character design there.
Like the first time around, I found myself befuddled and confused by the main character’s relationship with his son. I still am, but this time around, maybe even because I had watched Schindler’s List, I was very concerned with trying to figure out whether Plainview was always using his son or whether or not it evolved into that. Now don’t get me wrong, I don’t think Plainview had purely humanitarian impulses when taking the boy in. The very next scene jumps about eight years and we see him helping Plainview buy up some land. I’m still stuck on this though; he seems to care about the kid, and enjoys having a son of sorts. Plainview isn’t trustworthy at all and that’s what makes him so hard to read, you seem him lying so much and getting away with it that you really don’t know when he’s being truthful. Did he just pretend to care about HW that whole time, and then just stop pretending? Or did he actually have a change of heart after he became deaf? It’s essentially the same question I had after Schindler’s List, are we witnessing character revelation or character development? Do we just get to know the character better, or does he actually change?
Then there’s the stuff with Eli Sunday, played by Paul Dano as alternating between creepily quiet and over the top nuts. His religious ravings still make me uncomfortable, and the final scene between him and DDL is the stuff of legend. In the film’s other central relationship between these two, I think you sort of have the seeds of what became PTA’s next film, The Master. It’s a classic power struggle between these two characters, though in a different way because I don’t think either of them can kid themselves into thinking they are friends. In terms of mind games and posturing setting themselves against straightforwardness, you can sort of see how one relationship in one film would develop into the other.
One more thought on There Will Be Blood. When I originally saw the film, I put out the theory that it is really about Daniel’s struggle to find any other human being he can identify with. Someone who can share his sense of “competition” and hatred. He fails with HW, probably because he (wrongly) perceives his deafness as weakness and therefore alienates him. He fails with Henry, the guy who turns out claiming to be his brother. The interesting thing is, he should be able to identify with Eli, another man who goes after what he wants no matter what the cost. This also fails, because he sets up himself in opposition to him from the beginning. Also, Plainview turns out to be better at it than him. Too bad Paul cut out at the beginning, perhaps that could have been the beginning of a beautiful friendship. But then again, probably not.
But not quite. I have to give a shout out to Keith’s post on the cinematography for the motivation I needed to finally rewatch this. Thanks!
Thanks for reading and bearing with me as I ruminate further on films I’ve already seen. Please, I’d love to hear your thoughts on any of these below, regardless of how many times you’ve seen them (even if you haven’t seen them at all)! Tune in next month when I’ll be watching a bunch of Tarantino, because it will take me that long to gear up for The Hateful Eight.