Friday, January 04, 2008

January 4, 2008
Never fails: been writing 2007 for the past two days on my blog and in my sketchbook. Sigh. So damn stupid and predictable.

Had dinner last night at Earl's on Frank Lloyd Wright and the 101 with fellow Hat Nazis, Rusty York and Thom Ross. Thom had an art opening in Scottsdale and we got together to talk about all things Western. Ross has a big Indians on the Beach Show coming up next September in San Francisco. It's based on a famous photo of Buffalo Bill and his Indian performers posing on the beach. Thom expects to have over a hundred cut-out images for the performance piece (similiar to his Little Big Horn performance several years ago, mounted right on the battlefield, on Crow land).

After dinner they went down to the show and I went to see the last sneak of There Will Be Blood (it opens today). The opening of the movie is spectacular with Daniel Day-Lewis in a silver mine. No dialogue, just riveting images of him using a pick, setting fuses on a bunch of dynamite, breaking his leg, painfully crawling out with his ore sample. Brilliant exposition on his character without a word of dialogue! And oh, the landscape (Marfa, Texas) and the costuming and mining equipment is dead-on accurate to the times (turn of the twentieth century). Then comes a slew of the best hats I've ever seen in a Western themed movie. I'm not joking (Hey, I'm a Hat Nazi!) I mean, the main hat Daniel Plainview (Lewis) wears is just about the best ever: brown job with pencil curl and haphazard dents in crown (see examples, below).

Plainview had a kid with him (below, left) who he claimed was his son (don't want to spoil a plot point) and I read this morning that the Casting Director Cassandra Kulukundis shunned the usual Hollywood precious types and drove around Texas, finally finding a kid in Fort Davis, Texas named Dillon Freasier who knows how to shoot shotguns.

Believe it or not, I got a call in the spring of 2006, asking if I would audition for a part in the film (they saw my photo, top) and I thought about it, but ultimately decided I had no business being an actor (I have a hard enough time pretending to be an artist). In retrospect, I'm glad I didn't get caught up in the tornado of trying to audition for a part in the film, because I heard that they had to fire one guy and refilm a whole bunch of scenes because the poor guy was getting blown off the set by Daniel Day's intensity. I have a sneaky hunch, that even if I had gotten the part, I would have been humiliated by Lewis blowing me off the set in spite of my substantial resume ("Hey, I was the second lead in Arsenic And Old Lace in high school!").

The mining and oil rig stuff was just amazing and delightful for a history nut like myself. Lots of big action and small attention to detail. The little railroad siding town of Little Boston, was dusty, forlorn and perfect.

When I got home late, Kathy was in bed and she said, "How was it?" and I said, "Great hats, bad ending." She laughed at my absurd value system, but she understood the short review.

Here's Daniel Day in a bowler. Ain't that a sweet lid?

The first half of the film is just about perfect. Really strong story. But then, it kind of goes off the tracks at the end. It seemed overcooked to me. They had me, and they made their point long before the long, drawn-out ending. But hey, what do I know? I'm just a hat Nazi.

"'There Will Be Blood' is a masterpiece; Daniel Day-Lewis' performance as a ruthless oilman is without flaw. That doesn't mean it's easy to watch."
—Bill Goodykoontz, who gives the film five stars in The Arizona Republic

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