Skip to main content

Paul Thomas Anderson: more of the same

After seeing Boogie Nights and Magnolia I decided not to see movies from Paul Thomas Anderson again. I found both movies hard to watch for one simple reason: the writer/director hates his characters and revels in seeing them suffer for no apparent reason. It's really hard to watch a film where the characters go through bad stuff when you don't care about them at all. And you can't care for them, because the director does not care for them. It all becomes a spectacle of suffering for suffering's sake. I don't have time for that.

But I thought "There Will be Blood" would be different. It has good reviews (for some reason all his movies do), it has Daniel Day Lewis (always good) and to top it off, a music score by Jonny Greenwood. So, we went to see it.

What we found was more of the same. No love for any of the characters. The insane-for-no-reason oil man, the minister, the son, the brother... you can't get attached to any of these characters. And therefore, when they start suffering, it feels pointless again.

The film was interesting for the first hour or so, as it explores the rough life of early oil explorers and the mechanics of finding oil, the real estate dealings, etc. After that, the movie focuses on the madness of the main characters and it becomes self indulgent with intimate scenes that end up just boring because you don't care about the characters at all. The level of intensity goes out of proportion, and while that's good for winning an Oscar (think Forest Whitaker as Idi Amin), it feels contrived in this story.

The movie is too long (by 45 minutes to an hour) and by that time you've forgotten the interesting first hour. It would have helped to do the Magnolia trick of ending a very painful film with a whimsical final segment (raining frogs). No such luck in this one.

For me it all comes down to my main criticism: the director hates his characters and enjoys seeing them suffer for no apparent reason. This time I've learned the lesson: no more PTA for me.


Popular posts from this blog

The Best Online Traffic School?

After paying my red light ticket, the epic story described in a previous post, the San Mateo County Southern Branch Court provided me with a list of about 80 approved online schools. Which one to choose? I expected the Internet in all its collective wisdom to provide the answer with a comprehensive site of traffic school reviews including all sorts of evaluation criteria (price, time to complete, use of animations, etc) and user rankings. To my disappointment, no such site seems to exist. I was faced with scanning a large list of URLs to pick a traffic school.

The first approach was to start entering URLs in the browser and try to deduce, from the home page, whether the traffic school would be right. Here's the list of schools approved by San Mateo County:

An ideal traffic school for me would be:

Responsive. Pages load fast. No stupid artificial delays like I experienced many years ago when I tried an online tra…

High Def, Low Def and Now Ultra Low Def TV

High Definition TV is great, amazing, a must have for sports. How did we ever manage to watch soccer games without it? Unfortunately, I'm forced to remember the horror every weekend, where I move from Barcelona's glorious HDTV courtesy of GolTV HD to Boca's horrific, ultra low def, courtesy of TyC Sports.

I claim that the video quality we get from TyC for these Argentinean soccer games is lower than Low Definition. Games look, really, really bad, much worse than low definition games you see on ESPN or even Univision. I don't know why, but here's the evidence.

What follows is snapshots of my LCD TV, with signal from DirecTV, comparing High Definition to whatever this other thing is. I used my digital camera, taking pictures at max resolution.

First, a snapshot of this weekend's Barcelona Vs. Osasuna game.

Very pretty. Now here's the capture of today's glorious Boca Juniors victory over Huracán.

To highlight the differences even further, I took a picture …

My red light ticket story

Where I recount my true experience with a red light ticket and the San Mateo Country traffic court system...

The Infraction

About a month ago I received in the mail a notice of a red light violation. The notice included four photographs: one of me from the front, one of my license plate and two from the back showing the traffic light (already in Red) and my car about to enter the intersection and then half way across the intersection. The pictures  contain timing information highly relevant to the case. The first picture:

Location: El Camino Real and Glenwood Ave., Menlo Park, CA
Date: Friday, 13th March 2009
Speed Limit: 35MPH
Lane: 2
Vehicle Speed: 36MPH
Elapsed time: 0.00

The next picture shows my car half way into the intersection, and the data shows:

RED: 0.86
Elapsed Time: 0.75

The notice does not explain any of this, but we can interpret it as follows: when the light went red I had not entered the intersection yet. This is clearly shown in picture 1. The second picture shows that 0.75 seco…