To be clear, I think, as a whole, There Will Be Blood is an extremely dull movie. I don’t like Paul Thomas Anderson. I think he’s self-indulgent and I’m not the kind of cinephile that can try to find deep meaning in five minutes of just watching someone walk around land staring at it. Looking for oil. Got it. Let’s get to the next time Daniel Day-Lewis is onscreen. Just when you though Gangs of New York’s Bill the Butcher couldn’t be topped for scene chewing lunacy, Day-Lewis gives us Daniel Plainview: an oilman, alcoholic, and amateur bowler.
Whether you like or hate There Will Be Blood the thing everyone took away from it was the final scene, in which Plainview explains to Paul Dano’s character how he’s completely stolen any oil that might have been on his church’s land using possibly the best metaphor in movie history: the milkshake monologue. Then he beats him to death with a bowling pin, but that’s less funny. The milkshake speech itself isn’t even that funny the first time because of the spell Day-Lewis casts over viewers, but upon subsequent viewings, became a 2007-2008 cultural phenomenon. I did the milkshake speech until my wife threatened to beat me to death with a bowling pin. Fortunately, there were already people online working on making weird remixes of the scene (some of the best set to the hip hop song “Milkshake”), and I’ve included just one to remind you that great scenes can come out of dull movies and take on a weird milkshakey life of their own.
Defying the logic of diminishing returns on franchises, the Mission Impossible team is currently working on the sixth film for next year. That will put movie six out 22 years after movie one with largely the same cast intact. It was a franchise that didn’t really explode until JJ Abrams and Brad Bird delivered movies three and four, and they stand as two of the best action movies in recent memory. Christopher McQuarrie’s Rogue Nation wasn’t quite up to par with those two, but delivered a tremendously good time starting from this: the very first scene in the film. You have Simon Pegg freaking out in a ghillie suit while everyone on the team is screaming at him, which is a nice bit of reminding everyone of the current IMF team. All in pursuit of getting poor Ethan Hunt (Tom Cruise) from OUTSIDE the giant plane he’s currently dangling off like a wind sock to INSIDE the giant plane before he becomes meat paste. It’s Mission Impossible at its finest.
There was a time, oh so very long ago, when Johnny Depp just made indie movies. His casting in a movie about a ride at Disneyland was odd. This was during barrel scraping days when they were making movies about their rides (Eddie Murphy’s Haunted Mansion ring a bell?). Pirates of the Caribbean was getting rave reviews though. I know the sequels have dulled the magic of the first film, and likely the fifth (which comes six years after the fourth and no one seems to be excited over it) won’t help. However, remember back to 2003 when you first beheld Johnny Depp as Captain Jack Sparrow: the worst/best pirate to grace the screen. His character’s entrance is rivaled only by Wilder’s Wonka as the best of all-time. One of my favorite shots period is the slow descent of his boat to perfectly time his lurch on to the dock. The Curse of the Black Pearl is one of the best action/adventure films of the 21st Century. Nothing that followed can change that, and that this film inadvertently sent Depp on a career plunging spiral of self-indulgent nonsense, doesn’t take away from this performance and this moment. I could watch it a thousand times. Never fails to make me smile.
Since La La Land‘s Oscar coronation is on its way, musicals and movie songs are in popular discussion, so I thought this week I’d feature one of my five favorite movie songs of all-time: 1979’s The Muppet Movie‘s “The Rainbow Connection”. As a song, take away the fact that its sung by a puppet frog in a swamp, it’s one of the most touching songs that I’ve ever heard, and it’s been covered by many artists over the years (my favorite was Sarah McLachlan’s a few years ago). It’s an odd way to start the Muppets first feature film, but then the Muppets have always been this mad magic that should in no way work, but does. Jim Henson was one of the most brilliant creative minds of his time, and merging his love of puppetry with a subversive sense of humor he created essentially vaudeville in felt. Continue reading My Favorite Scene: The Muppet Movie (1979) “The Rainbow Connection”
Again, like I said when I did Braveheart, sometimes your favorite scenes ARE the obvious ones, and there is a very good reason why this became The Sixth Sense‘s most iconic scene: it’s brilliant, brilliantly acted, brilliantly written, and it flat out tells you the secret ending of the film (which people were awfully good about not spoiling in 1999-probably not so much today) and you still don’t get it. The Sixth Sense is everything a scary movie should be: smart, tense, has a “gotcha” moment or two, but mostly builds a sense of suspense from the brilliant opening with Donnie Wahlberg (still the best Wahlberg actor, Mark, still) until the famous finish that we all should have seen coming. A lot of people will tell you they knew right away, but I didn’t, and the test scores say I’m fairly bright. Haley Joel Osment’s performance stands among the best child actor performances in film history, and I’m still mad he and Michael Clarke Duncan didn’t tie for the Oscar that year, because the two of them side-by-side holding Oscars would’ve been the greatest picture ever. Alright, so let’s talk about what happened to M. Night Shaymalan. Continue reading My Favorite Scene: The Sixth Sense (1999) “I See Dead People”