26 February 2008

Where I complain about the Oscars and other oblique issues

I’ve found a new and improved way of living, which leaves very little room for anxiety. Basically, you put your overstuffed iTunes on shuffle and stop worrying about who made tea for whom and who should you make tea for today?

Am I on the tea train? Am I not on the tea train? Who cares! I’ll make a cup of tea for myself when I feel like one or, hell! I’ll make everyone a cup of tea! Hey! You over there on the south side! You want a cuppa too?! O! Kay!

And then you stop worrying about what everyone thinks of you and just do your job the best way you know how, and if they don’t like it, well, stuff ‘em, hey?

Easy fucking peasy.

Yesterday I felt like Carrie Bradshaw in the opening credits of Sex and the City – walking along the city sidewalks, very much in my element, feeling sorta fabulous, when all of a sudden: WHOOSH! A bus flies by, flinging muddy puddle water at my designer pink chiffon dress, rendering me decidedly un-fabulous.

But then I got over it, because know what? Once you’ve hit your stride in life, a little bit of mud doesn’t make much of a lasting impression. Cover me in the stuff and I will still be fa-bu-lous. Oh I’ll cry a bit! But not for long.

Can I complain for a few minutes though? Okay good thanks.

So what was up with the Oscars? I mean, I know what’s up with the Oscars – they take an okay film, clock it on the head with a gold-painted statuette and raise it to the height of the Mother Theresa of all filmmaking, whilst giving nary a hat-tip to anything worthwhile. But what was up with the nominations, even?

Once There Will be Blood flickered up onto the big screen, it took me nearly forty-five minutes to catch my breath. I mean, wow! Wowowowowow! This is not the type of film critique that won me awards back in University, I know, but I have no other words! I was completely mowed down by the film in general, and the one thing about it that struck me the hardest was the soundtrack.

Did anyone notice the la-la-lackadaisical tippy-tap of the score in Atonement? Me neither!

But There Will be Blood has replaced The Conversation for me as the ultimate film soundtrack (barring any soundtracks containing pop tunes I might actually play at home), because, better than the cinematography, better than the mis-en-scene, this element exemplified the queasy ignorance of the period and the crushing impassiveness of the setting. It reminded me of the way Wisconsin Death Trip made me feel as I was reading it. Really, you couldn’t ask for more from a soundtrack.

But the Academy would still rather heap praise onto a conceptually uninteresting piece containing the innovative sound of…a typewriter. Because guess what. OMG she is TYPING the BOOK of the FILM we are WATCHING on a TYPEWRITER! *We faint at the ingeniousness of it all*

Meanwhile, There Will be Blood doesn’t even make the cut for notable soundtracks.

And that is the way of the world, good peeps. Mediocrity will rise to the top to sit upon the ornate heads of artists. It keeps the little guys feeling like big guys without ever asking them to lift a finger.

Whoops, and I’ve officially taken my complaint and upgraded it to a rant. Ah well. It's my soapbox, I can rant if I want to.


palinode said...

Apparently, Jonny Greenwood didn't write enough material in the film to be considered for an Oscar. I don't get it either. But even if he'd written nothing but that gigantic 34-instrument opening chord, he would still have deserved that award.

I thought There Will Be Blood and Paul Thomas Anderson got screwed over, myself. This year's crop of nominees were all excellent films - okay, four excellent films and ten minutes of Atonement - but There Will Be Blood was unearthly.

Anonymous said...

The ten minutes you're referring to was when Keira Knightley's nipples entered the wet t-shirt contest by the fountain, right?

I don't recall a wide variety of typewriter-inspired melodies to be honest, but I'll accept that excuse, so long as next year they give the award to someone who incorporates the sound of Joe Wright being flogged to death on their soundtrack.

There Will Be Blood must be the most perfectly executed film ever, as it does precisely what it sets out to do, even for the unversed among us (in film, oil drilling, psychotherapy, you name it). You could get a few dozen theses out of it for sure (Thesises? Thesisisis? Not from me, evdiently).

Anonymous said...

Evdiently I made up a new word.

palinode said...

Evdiently you have.

Keira Knightley has nipples? She's a mammal?

The more I think about Atonement, the more irritated I get. It's just so relentlessly literary, to a point where I couldn't believe in it. The camera would focus on an object - a broken shard, a cufflink - and I would think, "Oh, an image. Kudos." (When the camera focused on an object in There Will Be Blood, I just thought holy crap that's cool.) The funniest part was Vanessa Redgrave explaining the literary trick at the movie's end. She should have been saying, "I'm in this film for five minutes, and my face and voice are more interesting than anything you've seen in the last two hours. Now I will collect my paycheque, thank you".

For the record - the blog comments record, which I'm certain is kept somewhere - the ten minutes of Atonement I enjoyed were the five minute tracking shot of Dunkirk and the five minutes of Vanessa Redgrave. Some critics complained that the Dunkirk setpiece stalled the story, but it was already pretty stagnant.

Atonement is a good example of what novels do extremely well and films do poorly.

Anonymous said...

As usual, you hit the nail on the head. Whereas I just go about describing the nail and the hammer and then the act of hitting a nail on the head with a hammer, at which point everyone gives up and goes out to see Atonement.