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Dark: The Paradise (2020)
Irgendwie Irgendwo Irgendwann
A finale with a flourish. It has left me flooded with nostalgia and unease; and it is that the shot where Jonas and Martha disappear is emotionally powerful.
If I do not put a 10 it is for the choice of music. I did not like the version of What a Wonderful World, and I honestly would have ended the series with the disappearance of Jonas and Martha. Anyway, Dark has been one of the best series I've ever seen.
Rupert Pupkin and Travis Bickle
In valuing Todd Phillips' film I have mixed feelings. On the one hand, I think this film is precisely a significant leap in quality within the superhero film industry. On the other hand, it seems to me that it drinks a lot from Scorsese's cinema, and in particular from two films: The King of Comedy and Taxi Driver. Basically, it has been to insert Travis Bickle's mind into the Rupert Pupkin story, but with the backing of a beloved comic character like the Joker.
I have to say that Todd Phillips seemed too condescending to me. Impressive is the infrequent use of narrative ellipsis (especially in a particular scene, which clarifies the relationship between our protagonist and his muse). It seems like an over-digested dish that is presented to the viewer.
Lastly, I think this is the path that superhero feature films should follow. Enough of the ad infinitum reiteration of the typical superhero plot that, between Marvel and DC, have filled theaters in the last decade.
There Will Be Blood (2007)
Search for Transcendence
Why do we do what we do? What is the ulterior meaning of our acts? These kinds of questions constantly haunt my head, and it was in one of those thoughts that I found what underlies Daniel Plainview's character: life is only worth it when you have a reason.
It is no wonder that the American ethos has been built on an ambivalence: religion, the worship of the god of Christianity; and capitalism, the cult of "self-made" man. Max Weber (in 1905, the year that surrounds the setting of the film) originally established the relationship between the evangelical creed and its influence on the prevailing economic system today through the religious value of work and discipline. One of the interesting places of Weber's analysis is his prophetic spirit with respect to the capitalist essence: in modernity, human beings would be engaged in their work, in technique, but devoid of any sense of transcendence (that Protestantism allowed with life after death). Modern man would be thrown into consumption for the simple fact of consuming, work and survival as ends in themselves, without any further meaning. Modern man would be Daniel Plainview.
We are, mainly, before the man in search of meaning; a radical modern Charles Foster Kane. The film is a faithful reflection of the human condition; that, we could say, that underlies every human being: wandering aimlessly through life, without a sense of transcendence, subject only to our instincts (the desire for distinction and protection, mainly).
Faced with this apocalyptic scenario, it is essential to direct efforts in the search for a meaning that consoles existence. Our protagonist finds that consolation in the family, and that is the only possibility of escaping from the existential abyss in which he finds himself.
Returning to Max Weber, the figure of Eli Sunday would represent precisely American society. Protestantism has become a simple servant of the capitalist spirit, the sense of transcendence with which it once ingratiated its faithful has been replaced by mere instrumentality. Eli Sunday is one more representation of the disease that afflicts modern society: his efforts are exclusively focused on the search for power and distinction. And it is from the inherent competitiveness of the society in which this dispute between Daniel Day-Lewis and Paul Dano is forged. Plainview sees in Eli Sunday a representation of himself ... and Daniel Plainview detests himself.
Needless to say, in terms of execution the film has no errors. I mention some of its virtues:
- The maturation of the well-known sequence shots of Paul Thomas Anderson towards multiple frames (where the most characteristic is the Paul Sunday scene); and the masterful elaboration of the scene with which the film opens.
- The photograph of Robert Elswit who conceived one of my favorite scenes: the fire of the drilling rig.
- The best soundtrack that Jonny Greenwood has composed to date, where I highlight "Open Spaces", "Oil" and "Proven Lands"; obviously impressive is the extract from Brahms that appears when they open the oil derrick and with which the film closes.
- The inclusion of amateur actors gives the film an enviable naturalness, the church congregation and the oil workers are more than correct. It is enough to appreciate a simple detail: the position that HW (Dillon Freasier) takes when firing the shotgun.
- And Daniel Day-Lewis, who is simply spectacular. You can blame him for whatever you want but there is a detail in his performance that forces me to classify it as my favorite male performance: his eyes; how is such a level of independence of the eyes possible!