January 21, 2008

"There Will Be Blood"

A brief excerpt from my film review in The American Conservative:

"Daniel Day-Lewis claims he felt like a discriminated-against outsider growing up in England because of his half-Irish and half-Jewish ancestry. In reality, his Protestant Irish father, C. Day-Lewis, was the Poet Laureate of England, while his Jewish grandfather, Sir Michael Balcon, was the head of England's most beloved movie studio, Ealing, when Alec Guinness made his comedies. Day-Lewis's combination of English privileged-class panache and American Method Acting self-absorbed intensity has made him possibly the most formidable of all contemporary screen presences."

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My published articles are archived at iSteve.com -- Steve Sailer

20 comments:

steve sux said...

this is a teaser, steve... u just want readers to subscribe to the american conservative.

Steve Sailer said...

Thanks for reminding me!

You can subscribe here:

http://www2.starrcorp.com/acm/

nzconservative said...

I always thought Daniel Day Lewis was a bit of a whiner, but this sounds truly pathetic.

It makes me thankful I was never born with such over-sensitive "artistic sensibilities."

Alex said...

I'm used to movie reviewers creaming unjustifiably over mediocrity but when I saw this thing I was dumbfounded. Two+ hours of a psychopath muddling around and every movie reviewer (or "film critic" as they like to call themselves) in the country thinks they're watching a drama. It was a like a slow Silence of the Lambs from the killer's point of view. It was like Batman from the Joker's point of view.

Steve Sailer said...

If you go, do stick around for Brahm's Violin Concerto over the credits.

Steve Sailer said...

NZ,

Never underestimate the artistic power of self-pity!

Fred said...

Steve,

If you haven't read it yet, you should check out the NY Times Magazine's recent profile of Day-Lewis. Nice life the guy has: working only when he's really moved by a project, etc. After one of his early films, he took a couple of years off to travel Europe and paint watercolors. Along the way, he had a child with some French actress. Now he's married to Arthur Miller's daughter.

The article also went into some of his method stuff: carrying a musket with him everywhere during the filming of Michael Mann's great remake of Last of the Mohicans; staying in character and glaring at Leonardo DiCaprio between takes on Gangs of New York, etc.

I don't remember it mentioning anything about him having Jewish ancestry, or being influenced by that. From the article, his outsiderness seemed to be driven more by his embrace of his Irish ancestry (he became an Irish citizen and lives there) and some vague distaste with the English upper class, in which he could have easily found a home.

Steve Sailer said...

He's Irish like the Duke of Wellington was Irish.

Black Sea said...

In Britain, where class consciousness remains fairly acute, there is a long tradition of artists and entertainers assuming class pretentions. Such people used to aspire upward, but now the trend is in the opposite direction.

Think of Mick Jagger, who sang "Street-fighting Man," despite having attended the London School of Economics. Or Joe Strummer, the voice of the embattled working class, who in actuality was the son of a British diplomat and attended a series of upper-class boarding schools before re-fashioning himself into a displaced proletarian. Sort of.

Daniel Day-Lewis is up to the same trick. After his father died, he was taken under the wing by Kingsley Amis (I believe he lived with the family for a while) and thus hung around with his spotty teenaged contemporary, Martin Amis, now a celebrated novelist, as was his father, Kingsley.

Those are the social circles Day-Lewis grew up in, but if you've followed his career, he's always romanticized Ireland and his connection to the Irish, real or imagined. He has also always positioned himself as an outsider, which he may feel, though I doubt that Jewish or Irish ancestry has anything to do with it. But if you fancy yourself an outsider, then you can always find something to hang that on. It seems that you have to allow artists some latitude for the exercise of the imagination, and, in my opinion, Day-Lewis is a very talented actor.

Several years ago, a friend of mine, who has absolutely no conection to the film industry or any other kind of industry, was invited to dine with Day-Lewis and his then "partner," the actress Isabell Adjani, after a chance encounter in a card shop. He found both of them to be incredibly approachable and welcoming. It was quite a weird evening. He happened to see both of them again years later, and not only did they remember him, but they extended the same courtesy and warmth. It was rather remarkable, since my friend, by celebrity standards, is an absolute nobody from Columbus, Georgia.

Grumpy Old Man said...

Everyone can feel put upon if he chooses to do so. It's especially easy in England. One of the royals, for example, was subjected to a mock beheading in a window frame at boarding school. Chris Rock says to a white audience, "You wouldn't want to be me, and I'm rich!" Middle-Western Protestants at my college felt they were boring because (as they saw it), everyone else had a culture, and they didn't.

They invented Valium for a reason.

James Kabala said...

I'm surprised no one has yet made the obvious connection between Day Lewis and Steve's repeated posts about Barack Obama. Sometimes it happens, as apparently it did with both these men, that a person who grows up privileged but is techinically a member of a less-privileged ethnic minority feels a connection with that minority despite his own wealthy surroundings. It doesn't mean either man is bad or wicked (although they may be for other reasons); it's just the way certain people are. I will say, however, that distinguished actor is probably a better choice of profession for such a person than presidential candidate.

Anonymous said...

The gritty beginning of "There Will Be Blood" held some promise, but the plot/script quickly took on (self conscious, high-IQ, Jewish) "writers in a brainstorming session" contrivance. I can't think of a single "business drama" that ever came off, and if TWBB is a guide, it's partly because the subject demands a maturity level from the writers that prevents their being young enough (pre-40) to have fresh ideas. I did find Day Lewis convincing in projecting the insincerity of a businessman bitten by (veiled) manic greed, in a fine piece of "universal" (i.e. Shakespearean type) acting. I'm not opposed to method acting in general, but it seems to be a crutch and a substitute for actors with pretensions to greatness but who don't channel spontaneous fictional feeling as naturally as, say, a high quality jazz player drops a beautiful, off-hand solo on the fly. A key element of the drama was Day Lewis' emergence as a character determined to crush the life and spirit of everyone around him. However, while this might have made for a subtle, enlightening, invigorating turn in our understanding of the character (such as with Blanche Dubois in Streetcar or many memorable Shakespearean characters who take on depth and danger as things move along) this had no real foundation in the earlier part of the film. The emergence of the insincerity of the young preacher seemed similarly to have been clumsily written in, and the final personality clash had little of the gravity and gut-gripping drama of, say, Stanley and Blanche toward the end of Streetcar. The ending is a fine parody of Shakespearean tragedy, with enough anti-Christian feeling to get some oscar consideration, yet I have to give this picture a "zero oscars" rating on the merits.

dearieme said...

But which "less-privileged ethnic minority" did he belong to? He's not Welsh, you know.

green mamba said...

the plot/script quickly took on (self conscious, high-IQ, Jewish) "writers in a brainstorming session" contrivance

The man who wrote and directed "There Will Be Blood" - whose artistic baby it is in every way - is Paul Thomas Anderson. Not a Jew. Get your facts straight, especially when they are so easy to verify.

Anderson is a bit of a cinematic wunderkind, having made "Boogie Nights", "Magnolia" and "Punch-Drunk Love" at a very young age. (For what it's worth, the latter film is the only one I liked, but there's no denying Anderson's talent and creativity.)

Opining about films without knowing who made them is a bit like opining about books without knowing who the author is.

Anonymous said...

Folks can go to Wikipedia and look up the movie and get its entire plot (which I like because I hate Hollywood).

Im so cynical in my old age, I actually enjoy reading the plots to the movies at Wikipedia when considering whether or not I should rent them when they available for such. The ending in the bowling alley, struck me kinda funny. Nothing like that to my knowledge has ever happened in our history of robber-barron-gazillionaires. The Billy Sunday preacher character was also a concoction and a half.

Hollywood probably is just beginning to realize it, but its audience is going to be shrinking for its self-aggrandizing penchant for making "artsy" movies. Our new underclass doesn't appreciate that kind of entertainment. They want more superhero-disaster-hood'-slapstick movies (or perhaps a new genre that combines all four) instead

Svigor said...

Seems like Micks and Jews will go in half on a baby at the drop of a hat. :) (I'm at least 1/4 Mick myself, so I get to say "Mick")

After watching Lewis play a Hallmark cover in Mohicans I despised him as a empty-headed pretty boy.

I was wrong. His performance in Gangs was riveting; I can't recall a character ever reaching out of a screen and scaring me like that.

Anonymous said...

Why does a guy who is "English",tho the location of his mothers vagina happened to be Ireland when he popped out,label himself Irish?? And he's half Jewish to boot. Like Charlize Therons boyfriend,Towne somebody. :)She is an Aafrikanner,which she doesnt seem anxious to remind people. In Hollywood,those white goyim South African dudes are usually evil killers and whats worse,racists!!! I probably wont see this movie,(the protaganist,Doheny,was really Irish;i understood his family fled the Famine to the USA. I dont imagine they passed too many high-born Englishmen claiming that they too were Irish,on the way out.),nope,most likely wont see this unless I happen to have insomnia some night a few years down the road and happen to catch it on cable while channel surfing at 3 A.M,( seen sonme good stuff that way)who knows if I will even be here 2 or 3 years hence? I havent even overcome my movie-going lethargy enough to see the Will Smith zombie movie,let alone No Country For Old Men,which I,at some level,really wanted to see! (You know how the porn guys sometimes take real movie titles and create porn versions? When I hear that title I always think of a mofidied version,"No C*** For Old Men". Ya think the author meant that as a pun??? ) As for Day-Lewis,when I heard he was married to Millers daughter,I thought that an odd coupling. The daughter of Artie Miller is not someone you imagine as sexy or alluring! (Unless he had had a girl with Marilyn!But I dont even think they did it. Or at least not much. "Uhmm...Arthur,er,are you through?" "-Gasp- yes dear- wheeze" ) -Josh

Atlantic said...

Re: outsiders

Everybody feels like an outsider at some point, particularly in adolesence. Even if you are part of the most popular clique in your school, you probably don't think you were the real "centre" of the group....and the exceptions are probably pathological narcissists. :)

Most of us eventualy get over this and stop taking our iddle widdle selves so seriously. Some don't.

Fred said...

"Anderson is a bit of a cinematic wunderkind, having made "Boogie Nights", "Magnolia" and "Punch-Drunk Love" at a very young age. (For what it's worth, the latter film is the only one I liked, but there's no denying Anderson's talent and creativity.)"

I didn't see Boogie Nights, but I also liked Punch-Drunk Love better than Magnolia. I thought PT Anderson did better within the tighter constraints of a shorter running time and lower budget. A former co-worker once described Magnolia as "like getting kicked in the groin for three hours". Not a bad description.

"After watching Lewis play a Hallmark cover in Mohicans I despised him as a empty-headed pretty boy."

His performance in Last of The Mohicans was excellent, though it didn't stand out as much as his role in Gangs of New York, for a couple of reasons: LOTM had other noteworthy performances (Madeline Stowe's, Wes Studi's) and his character in Gangs of New York was a more interesting one.

dearieme said...

One of the central problems with Ireland is that Irish nationalists (you remember them; the sort of terrorists the USA supported) simply declare that any other sort of Irishman isn't really Irish at all.