Tag: narrative

August 17, 2010 / / Main Slate

There Will Be Blood – 2007 – dir. Paul Thomas Anderson

A film such as There Will Be Blood only comes around every decade or so.  It is a picture that transcends the contemporary (and often times, overemphasized) allusions to current issues, eventually revealing the true heroics of man.  Usually, films such as these relish in the battle of man with the world around him.  This time, Paul Thomas Anderson has taken a step back, graciously inviting his audience to participate in his fantastic allusion.  There Will be Blood is our modern American epic.  Already resonating with films such as Citizen Kane, the personal psychology has an intrinsic connection with today’s audience.  All corporate evil aside, this is film is about competition.  To go even farther, There Will Be Blood is an objective look at the driving force of ambition, and the right of man to climb to the top, however he may get there.  It all starts with Daniel Plainview.

January 29, 2010 / / Main Slate

By William Benker

Why Adaptations Still Work (When Done Properly).

Fantastic Mr. Fox – 2009 – dir. Wes Anderson

Adaptations of nearly forgotten children’s stories are a complicated process.  It requires certain tools, one could say, in order to “re-invent” the story in an appropriate way.  It must be done carefully, not daring too far from the original heart of the book, yet driving the narrative towards a more theatrical climax, properly combined to invigorate not only the audience, but the depth of the story.  While many other adaptations and remakes have both succeeded and failed to do this in the past decade, the stop-motion genre has invariably avoided such defeats.  Unlike recent hits Coraline & Tim Burton’s The Nightmare Before Christmas (both directed by Henry Selick,) Wes Anderson’s Fantastic Mr. Fox looks gritty, perhaps even haphazard, if fans weren’t aware of the director’s impeccable career (The style more closely resembles 1988 Czech film Alice by Jan Svankmajor). The Fantastic Mr. Fox goes beyond exploring the classic tale through a more contemporary perspective. Through the expansion of the original narrative, Anderson amalgamates the story into modern thought, meticulously transfusing both Roald Dahl’s original message and his own artistic vision, proving once again that the auteur is still at the top of his game.

January 27, 2007 / / Film Notes

by Paul Monticone

“See, death is the only ending I know. A movie doesn’t end; it has a stopping place. That story, those people don’t die then: they live on and have terrible lives if it’s a happy ending, or if it’s a sad ending, they may survive it and recover and have happy lives. So death is the only ending and I deal with death as an ending. The people I have die are usually the wrong people, the ones you don’t expect to die. That’s the way it seems when people die.” (Robert Altman, 1992)

Altman’s quote, initially describing his resistance to narrative closure before digressing into the sort of modest wisdom that marked all of his interviews, sprung to mind on November 2oth. To anyone who takes American film seriously, the passing of Robert Altman was the sort of news that makes the world seem a little smaller and dimmer. Whether one thinks Altman the greatest American filmmaker since John Ford or a self-indulgent provocateur, the vitality and exuberance of each of his films is beyond dispute, to such an extent that the death of a frail, old man, who had just made the perfect swan song, Prairie Home Companion, came as something of a shock. The prodigious output of the indestructible Hollywood rebel had inexorably stopped, and a world without future Altman films is still hard – if not downright depressing – to imagine. To quantify what it is that we’ve lost, we can look to the works he left us, and his films of the 1970s – a decade of filmmaking that many identify with Altman – is the most obvious point of departure.