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David Poland

By David Poland

Holiday & Award Film Spoiler Thread

A couple of funky little things occured to me in recent days… neither is spoiler material, but it made me think that we should have a place to discuss all these films.
First, I finally saw Hellboy 2 trailer on DVD instead of Quicktime and the difference is of note, considering how visually dark the footage is. Much better on a bigger screen. Also, Del Toro offers an homage to John Landis in the trailer footage. Have you noticed?
Second, watching Sweeney Todd, which finally arrived on DVD (it’s been landing all over town and beyond since last Friday), I was reminded that one of Depp’s last beats in the film the film – which I will not mention in any detail here – but which you can in comments, where SPOILERS will be the order of the day – shares an idea with a Daniel Day Lewis moment in Gangs of New York… more so in the earlier cut. And now, they are duking it out for awards.
Since it’s not just one movie, please NAME THE FILM at the top of your comment, skip a line, and then start commenting. I know it’s a hassle, but others will appreciate it.
When Edna Turnblad has sex with Velma Van Tussle…”
And so on…

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34 Responses to “Holiday & Award Film Spoiler Thread”

  1. Rothchild says:

    Your weeks late on the Landis reference.
    It is interesting that they both end with the lead character sitting in blood. That last scene of There Will Be Blood is completely brilliant and really what sends the film into masterpiece territory.

  2. LYT says:

    The Hellboy 2 trailer looked good online, but way better on the big screen.
    It is now officially my most anticipated blockbuster-type movie of 2008. LOVED the first one.

  3. Krazy Eyes says:

    I don’t think Rothchild read the instructions very well . . .

  4. mutinyco says:

    Okay, how’s this…
    I think Daniel Plainview’s secret is that he’s a repressed homosexual. There’s never a single woman in sight of him. Not when he becomes successful. Not even when he’s older. Not even whores. There’s no explicit point of this made, so much as
    it’s just de facto. It’s this repression — his inability to be himself — that affects his ability to connect with other people. And it’s this secret that plays into his explanation to H.W. that he’s not his son (!) — that H.W., married to his childhood sweetheart, and a good person as well, doesn’t have any of Plainview in him.

  5. Noah says:

    There Will Be Blood
    Mutiny, I think that’s an interesting theory, but I don’t know if there’s enough evidence to support it. Although, it does make for some intriguing conversations and debates. I viewed Plainview as simply being asexual, or rather than his only love and appetite was for more money as a means to an end: being alone, away from people (although he’s never more alone than when he has nothing at the beginning of the film; its probably his happiest time, alone in a dark cave in the middle of nowhere). I think more than anything that desire shows a kind of fear of vulnerability and perhaps it could be homosexuality but perhaps it is some kind of childhood trauma, perhaps his father abandoned him. Perhaps, perhaps, perhaps.
    Also, someone I believe makes a passing reference to his womanizing ways. Either way, I think women are of little important to Daniel Plainview.

  6. mutinyco says:

    The whole point is the lack of evidence.

  7. Rothchild says:

    You’re totally projecting. Matt Damon in The Departed? Totally gay. DDL? He’s a sociopath that loathes humanity. He’d last five seconds on a date before grumbling and storming off into the distance without a word. There’s just a complete lack of desire there. The lack of women in the film is just a conscious effort to only focus on what is necessary. There’s already a lot of shit to cover in a little under 3 hours.

  8. Noah says:

    “The whole point is the lack of evidence.”
    So, the lack of evidence helps prove your point? I’m not following. If you want to bring up some more scenes or dialogue that you think helps bolster your argument, I’m all ears. But until then, it’s just an interesting notion that doesn’t have a single scene that points to that fact.

  9. mutinyco says:

    Noah, my point is that this observation isn’t based on anything explicit. It’s not about: hey, look at this piece of evidence, look at that. It’s inherently based on the lack of something, and what’s missing is a single woman. Do the math. It doesn’t affect the plot, and it isn’t materially important. It just makes sense. And it gives him an undercurrent of disconnect to begin with.
    And Rothchild, I don’t believe Plainview is simply a sociopath. We’re talking about somebody who raises an orphan on his own. Do you actually believe his entire interest in H.W. was to use him to promote his business? That’s dumb. Cause raising a baby by himself would’ve been more a hindrance to his success than anything. And, considering that he stopped one child’s abuse, I think he was devastated that he couldn’t prevent H.W.’s accident (when he leaves him on the train it’s not because he doesn’t care, it’s because he simply can’t face it emotionally — and that was the easiest thing to do.)
    He’s basically a ruthlessly determined self-made business man. What traits do you think that requires and ultimately reinforces? Invariably, you’re tough, you don’t trust people — not just out of business principle, but because you know how hard it was to achieve success and always look over your shoulder with paranoia that you’ll wind up where you began. It can consume you — especially if you’re incapable of creating an honest life for yourself outside of your work. And he was incapable of doing that.
    I would argue that his character goes through quite a progression throughout the picture. You see the moments when events happen to him and he makes choices — each one disconnecting him further from humanity. He’s not Alex DeLarge.

  10. Noah says:

    Okay, but just because there isn’t a woman in Plainview’s life doesn’t necessarily equate to him being a homosexual. It could just as easily mean that he isn’t interested in sex or a relationship outside of the bonds of blood family. I think the trauma that has caused him to be scared of vulnerability is in a scene that you point to, however.
    When he stops Mr. Sunday from beating his daughter, maybe that speaks to something in Plainview’s past that makes him shudder at the thought of a father hitting his small child. Perhaps that is the secret that he is carrying around with him and I found a scene that backs up that claim. Your claim is backed up by nothing but a lack of information provided by the film and that lack of information doesn’t necessarily mean that we should think anything of it. Most of the film takes place before women’s suffrage anyway, at a time when women were relegate to the background, especially for a businessman.
    I do appreciate your point of view, though, don’t get me wrong. I think there is definitely some merit to it and I think it speaks to how well-crafted the film is and how it leaves little things open for interpretation.

  11. mutinyco says:

    You keep referring to an event or a trauma that helped shape him from his past. I never buy that type of thing. I don’t think things like that “explain” people. It’s bad movie psychology.
    It just seems pretty pragmatic to me to argue that a man who avoids women, but spends his time digging holes in the ground and erecting giant phalluses definitely has some sexual issues. It’s not explicit, it’s inherent.
    Like I said, it’s pretty much immaterial to the narrative.
    It doesn’t point to a specific event in his life — it just adds a layer that affects his character: the suppression of himself.

  12. Noah says:

    But Mutiny, you said yourself that you are searching for some “secret” to help explain what makes Daniel the way he is, or at least to add another dimension to his character. The fact of the matter is that there is zero evidence to support your theory. Yes, the derricks are giant penises that spew goo, but those images are kind of inherent in making a film about oil. And if you want to read into that symbolism, it could just be another way of Daniel exerting his power as a man, building giant penises across the land, as symbols of dominance over everything.
    Then again, comparing oil derricks to phalluses to begin with is, in your own words, bad movie psychology. You’re right, his sexuality is irrelevant to the narrative but you were the one who brought it up. The onus should be on you to prove your point.

  13. mutinyco says:

    Noah, I’ve said all that needs to be said. I’m not searching for the “secret” that explains him. It’s a secret only insofar as it’s not spoken of. Functionally, he’s not homosexual. The whole point is that he’s suppressed himself. It’s very simple: no women plus self-suppression suggests some type of sexual dysfunction. Maybe he’s impotent. That’s a possibility too.
    But obviously, something’s going on with this guy — a suppression that keeps building and building, bursting out at various moments, until the very end. To me, that suppression is sexual by nature.

  14. mutinyco says:

    BTW/ I was being sarcastic about the phalluses. Sarcasm never seems to read well on blogs.

  15. William Goss says:

    “Sarcasm never seems to read well on blogs.”
    Diablo Cody begs to differ.
    But back to TWBB: a fellow viewer said that he had read most of the script prior, and was waiting for Plainview to utter a line akin to “My cock doesn’t work.” So, shall we swap sexual orientation out for plain old impotence?

  16. mutinyco says:

    Either or. I’m sure he’d have been a nicer guy if he was gettin’ some…

  17. mutinyco says:

    Actually, if he’s impotent, then yet another Kubrick homage would exist as an undercurrent: Dr. Strangelove. Poor Plainview can’t get it up, so he takes out his frustration on the world around him…

  18. scooterzz says:

    now that i have the image of an oil derrick shooting goo into the air as a giant penis i’m going to go watch rock hudson and james dean in ‘giant’ knowing full well why they took the roles…….

  19. Devin Faraci says:

    This is a long, unfunny episode of THE OFFICE where Dwight pretends he has a girlfriend and then, when pressed, brings a Real Doll to the company picnic.

  20. mutinyco says:

    So what’s Lars’ problem? Repression or impotence?

  21. David Poland says:

    You mean Devin’s?

  22. Devin Faraci says:

    Wokka wokka, Dave.
    More spoilers!
    How much money does it cost to send a doll to the hospital in an ambulance and then bury her? I imagine this is easily 12 grand right there. One must assume Lars’ Blue Cross isn’t picking it up. I don’t get why Ryan Gosling keeps making movies aimed at my grandmother.
    And Lars’ problem is a quirky sitcom level script.

  23. Devin Faraci says:

    Oh, and I’m bitching about this film now because I missed it in theaters and just caught it on a screener tonight.

  24. IOIOIOI says:

    Ambulance rides can run up to 15gs. Aiding someone’s psychosis with a 5000 dollar silicon doall… PRICELESS.

  25. David Poland says:

    I would say you are bitching about the film because you looked at it on a pretty narrow spectrum. But to each their own.

  26. Devin Faraci says:

    Spoilers again
    I’m looking at it through the only spectrum that I can – that it’s the story of an emotionally crippled man living in a fairy tale town where no one reacts to a lunatic with a fuckdoll to which he talks in a matter consistent with what I have observed of human nature, and whose big breakthrough comes at the expense of thousands of dollars on the eve of his sister in law giving birth – where that money could have been better spent – and then leads to him hooking up with the only person as emotionally crippled as he is, ie the girl who will settle for a man who has spent the film’s whole running time talking to a fuckdoll. There’s not a single honest or real moment in this whole movie.

  27. doug r says:

    was made in Canada, they probably made up an OHIP number for her-then it’s all covered by healthcare. Also, if Lars could afford her in the first place, I’m sure he can afford the funeral-besides, I’m sure the town would pitch in.

  28. jeffmcm says:

    Devin: I basically agree with you. SPOILERS:
    To enjoy the film required me to enter a state of willful ignorance as to very many aspects of authentic human behavior and to replace honesty with sentimentalized mythmaking, and for what? I can accept that in a Capra movie where the sentiment is earned and where the films are about deeper emotional and personal issues, but this was a film about a sullen loner who mysteriously is enabled in his delusion by a bunch of people he doesn’t know, and the filmmakers’ insistence on removing sex from the equation through an act of conscious avoidance/repression is downright pathological.
    Like I said before, this would have been a good movie if Cronenberg had directed it.

  29. Joe Leydon says:

    OK, liked the movie. But I have to ask… and, come on, be honest… how many of you thought, when Lars’ sister-in-law came out to talk with him while he’s chopping wood after his “girlfriend” goes out without him… how many of you thought, “Right, now this is where he kills her,” and then were genuinely surprised when he didn’t?

  30. jeffmcm says:

    Joe, I wish that had happened, because that would have been a proper narrative surprise, and not the pre-digested ‘everything’s okay’ program that the movie followed overall.

  31. TMJ says:

    Devin pretty much nails it. I was willing to give LARS the benefit of the doubt until the ambulence ride and hospital stay. Ridiculous, even by ridiculous-movie standards. Where’s Michael Moore and crew when you actually need them?
    And while I’m at it:
    “Let’s say you have a milkshake. And I, too, have a milkshake. But I also have A STTTRRRAAAAWWWWWWW!!!!!!!!””””
    Off the rails ….

  32. jeffmcm says:

    Yeah, that was awesome.

  33. LexG says:

    Maybe this is a retarded question, but my bladder was bursting, so maybe that discomfort had this sailing right over my head:
    So, when Plainview snaps up all of Little Boston, there’s one holdout that he blows off at the time, then later meets. The old dude says if Plainview will confess his sins and join the Church, he can have his land. Plainview swallows his provide and endures Sunday’s “baptism.” So I assumed this meant he made good on his deal, as did the old man?
    But in the 1928 epilogue, Sunday shows up promising that land again, via the old guy’s actor son or something. Why didn’t Plainview end up taking ownership once he had gone through all that Church-joining ruse?

  34. mutinyco says:

    He didn’t buy the guy’s land — he simply leased it to run his pipeline through.
    BTW/ this thread made Cinematical:

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It shows how out of it I was in trying to be in it, acknowledging that I was out of it to myself, and then thinking, “Okay, how do I stop being out of it? Well, I get some legitimate illogical narrative ideas” — some novel, you know?

So I decided on three writers that I might be able to option their material and get some producer, or myself as producer, and then get some writer to do a screenplay on it, and maybe make a movie.

And so the three projects were “Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep,” “Naked Lunch” and a collection of Bukowski. Which, in 1975, forget it — I mean, that was nuts. Hollywood would not touch any of that, but I was looking for something commercial, and I thought that all of these things were coming.

There would be no Blade Runner if there was no Ray Bradbury. I couldn’t find Philip K. Dick. His agent didn’t even know where he was. And so I gave up.

I was walking down the street and I ran into Bradbury — he directed a play that I was going to do as an actor, so we know each other, but he yelled “hi” — and I’d forgot who he was.

So at my girlfriend Barbara Hershey’s urging — I was with her at that moment — she said, “Talk to him! That guy really wants to talk to you,” and I said “No, fuck him,” and keep walking.

But then I did, and then I realized who it was, and I thought, “Wait, he’s in that realm, maybe he knows Philip K. Dick.” I said, “You know a guy named—” “Yeah, sure — you want his phone number?”

My friend paid my rent for a year while I wrote, because it turned out we couldn’t get a writer. My friends kept on me about, well, if you can’t get a writer, then you write.”
~ Hampton Fancher

“That was the most disappointing thing to me in how this thing was played. Is that I’m on the phone with you now, after all that’s been said, and the fundamental distinction between what James is dealing with in these other cases is not actually brought to the fore. The fundamental difference is that James Franco didn’t seek to use his position to have sex with anyone. There’s not a case of that. He wasn’t using his position or status to try to solicit a sexual favor from anyone. If he had — if that were what the accusation involved — the show would not have gone on. We would have folded up shop and we would have not completed the show. Because then it would have been the same as Harvey Weinstein, or Les Moonves, or any of these cases that are fundamental to this new paradigm. Did you not notice that? Why did you not notice that? Is that not something notable to say, journalistically? Because nobody could find the voice to say it. I’m not just being rhetorical. Why is it that you and the other critics, none of you could find the voice to say, “You know, it’s not this, it’s that”? Because — let me go on and speak further to this. If you go back to the L.A. Times piece, that’s what it lacked. That’s what they were not able to deliver. The one example in the five that involved an issue of a sexual act was between James and a woman he was dating, who he was not working with. There was no professional dynamic in any capacity.

~ David Simon