Tag Archives: Paul Dano

My Favorite Scene: There Will Be Blood (2007) “I Drink Your Milkshake!”

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.

There Will Be Blood's Bowling Alley

Movie Review: Love & Mercy (2015) *I Want to Lie in Bed for Three Years Now*

Paul Dano, Brian Wilson, Love & Mercy


Love & Mercy, the biopic of Beach Boy Brian Wilson, has the distinction of being the only movie I’ve ever seen that contains four fantastic performances from great actors and yet manages to fail completely in every other aspect of film-making.  It’s a frustrating, grating look at the troubled musical genius that in all seriousness was so unpleasant to watch that I went home with a migraine Continue reading Movie Review: Love & Mercy (2015) *I Want to Lie in Bed for Three Years Now*

Movie Review: Prisoners (2013)

Hugh Jackman, PrisonersSurely there can be no greater horror in this world than harm done to a child.  I don’t think of anything that raises more dread or horror in me instantly than the prospect of harm being done to a child.  It’s late at night here in the States as I write this.  I’m writing as much to try to cope with what I’m feeling as to review this movie, because no film has left me so disturbed, shaken and wrenched as this did in years.  Probably since the last time Denis Villeneuve made a film (Incendies, which made a list I made a while back of Top 5 Best Movies I Never Want to See Again.  I’ll have to revise that, because Prisoners was worse.

It’s hard to separate the feeling from the evaluation of the art, but Villeneuve has some kind of ability to tap into the darkest and vilest parts of human nature and peel them back slowly, as layers from an onion until you’re left starkly gaping at what humans are capable of becoming, of committing, of being.

Prisoners, Hugh Jackman, Jake Gyllenhaal, Denis Villenueve

Prisoners begins with a Thanksgiving between two families of friends, but quickly slips celebration to frantic tragedy as the two youngest girls in each family go missing.  Police arrest a man in a RV who was seen near the disappearance (Paul Dano), but the lead detective (Jake Gyllenhal) has to cut him loose after a 48 hour hold turns up no evidence to charge him.

Prisoners, Paul Dano, Jake Gyllenhaal

Convinced, beyond all doubt, that this man took his daughter, one father (Hugh Jackman), kidnaps the man and imprisons him, determined to get from him what the police couldn’t.  The two parents of the other girl (Terrence Howard and Viola Davis) also become complicit in the interrogation.   They continue to question Dano and Gyllenhaal searches desperately against a ticking clock for the missing children while balancing growing suspicions about the parents’ actions.

That’s all I will say about the plot.  From that point, the spiral into unspeakable human behavior, pain and suffering in ways and from directions both predictable and completely unexpected, takes the viewers on a white-knuckled ride to a chilling and brilliantly executed finale.

Paul Dano, Terrence Howard, Hugh Jackman, Prisoners

Hugh Jackman has done plenty of films as Wolverine, and that’s what he’ll be most remembered for when his career is complete.  Make no mistake about the level of his talent, though.  Jackman in last year’s Les Miserables and here in Prisoners shows himself among the best actors in the world.  The entire cast is stellar.  Paul Dano, Melissa Leo, Gyllenhaal, Maria Bello and the entire ensemble deserve praise, but Jackman’s vengeful and desperate father is the razor this movie slides down.

It’s hard to recommend Prisoners.  “Hey, do you want to be incredibly engaged and simultaneously shaken to the very core of your soul?  Here’s Prisoners!”  I’m sitting on my couch looking at our Christmas tree and the sight and the experience are so incongruous that the juxtaposition itself seems wrong.  Prisoners may be the best movie I’ve seen this year, but it’s also a film experience so scarring that to give it a “10” somehow seems wrong.  I don’t know why.  I’m still working it all out as best I can.  I don’t think I’ll ever quite get there.


Trailer Time: 12 Years as a Slave (2013)

I’d honestly heard nothing about this one, but the cast is outstanding. Brad Pitt, Michael Fassbender, Chiwetel Ejiofor (who is always the bad guy in Serenity for me), Paul Giamatti, Benedict Cumberbatch and Paul Dano among others. This may be one to look for this fall. Official description below:

Set for release on October 18, 12 Years a Slave is based on the 1853 autobiography of Solomon Northrup (Chiwetel Ejiofor), a free black man from upstate New York, who was abducted and sold into slavery. Facing cruelty (personified by a malevolent slave owner, portrayed by Michael Fassbender), as well as unexpected kindnesses, Solomon struggles not only to stay alive, but to retain his dignity. In the twelfth year of his unforgettable odyssey, Solomon’s chance meeting with a Canadian abolitionist (Brad Pitt) will forever alter his life.

12 Years as a Slave, Brad Pitt