Decades Blogathon — 12 Angry Men (1957)

Thomas J

It has been an absolute delight getting to deliver a third round of film reviews for the Decades Blogathon! On behalf of my excellent co-host Mark, of Three Rows Back, I would like to give everyone another round of applause for taking the time to write something for our little event. You guys make it possible. With any luck we’ll be back again for another, so if you found yourself missing out this year, keep those eyes peeled. Without further ado, here is my take on Sidney Lumet’s 1957 courtroom drama, 12 Angry Men


Release: Saturday, April 13, 1957 (limited)

[On Demand]

Written by: Reginald Rose

Directed by: Sidney Lumet

Something I didn’t expect to take away from Sidney Lumet’s astounding feature debut 12 Angry Men was just how much perspiration would be involved in the deliberations. An equally fitting title would have been 12 Sweaty Men. Of course…

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Decades Blogathon – There Will Be Blood (2007)

Well, we’ve arrived at the final day of the Decades Blogathon – ‘7’ edition. Just as with the previous two years, it’s been a lot of fun with a host of fascinating and diverse reviews from across the board. Thanks to everyone who has taken part this year; you are all on my Christmas card list! However, my biggest thanks must go to by fellow blogathon buddy Tom – his site Thomas J is one I have followed as long as I’ve been doing this blogging game and his talent for insightful and engaging reviews has only grown over the years. This year’s blogathon focuses on movies that were released in the seventh year of the decade and for this final day, you’re getting a review of Paul Thomas Anderson’s 2007 masterpiece There Will Be Blood from yours truly. See you again next year!

Just as cinema became the preeminent art form of the 20th century, there can be little doubt its dominant source of energy has been oil.

As the Age of Oil begins its slow march towards death as the world’s reserves are sucked dry, Paul Thomas Anderson’s complex, frightening and wildly ambitious masterpiece There Will Be Blood shows us how this modern capitalist world came to be.

There Will Be Blood Poster

It also reveals to us how religion has, in turn, allowed itself to be perverted and ultimately usurped by unfettered capitalism and, in its final act reveals to us that, once there is nothing more left to consume, such a system will finally turn on itself.

Based loosely on Upton Sinclair’s satirical 1927 novel Oil!, Anderson’s Mephistophelian figurehead is Daniel Plainview (Daniel Day-Lewis), a singularly driven man whose insatiable hunger to possess what he doesn’t have and destroy whatever stands in his way are laid bare in the film’s incredible opening 15-minute salvo where nary a word is spoken but the intentions are clear.

Accompanied by an unsettling, otherworldly score by Radiohead’s Jonny Greenwood, this first reel is startlingly reminiscent of Kubrick’s 2001: A Space Odyssey as Plainview helps to usher in the Dawn of (Oil) Man. Just like the black gold he so covets, Plainview is a primordial force summoned out of the ground; in this case a makeshift mine.

There Will Be Blood

At times we see hints in Plainview there is more to him than pure unadulterated avarice. He takes on the guardianship of a baby he names H.W. after the boy is orphaned following an accident, while he takes in a man claiming to be his half-brother Henry (Kevin J. O’Connor), at one point opening up to reveal to him that: “I have a competition in me; I want no-one else to succeed. I hate most people.”

However, any hope of salvation or humanity is snuffed out on both counts, with H.W. being deemed by Plainview as little more than a prop to sell himself as a ‘family man’. Indeed, when a freak explosion robs H.W. of his hearing, Plainview is more focused on the “oceans of oil” the incident has revealed exist under their feet.

There Will Be Blood

The majority of the film takes place in a small Californian town which Plainview is first drawn to by Paul Sunday’s (Paul Dano) boastful claims of oil. There he encounters Paul’s twin brother Eli (also Dano), an evangelical preacher who understands what Plainview represents.

There is an argument that Eli and Paul Sunday are not twins at all but one in the same character. Although unlikely, there’s a logic to this theory insomuch as while one is a pastor and the other a businessman, both are opportunists.

Eli, like Plainview, is a salesmen, in this case one who hawks religion to a community ripe for exploitation. Plainview is also content to use religion to his own ends, stating that it is “the Lord’s guidance” he has arrived, referencing “the good Lord” as he makes lavish promises of grain, water and shared wealth to townsfolk who seemingly crave God’s love and material wealth in equal measure.

The film ostensibly follows the power struggle between the oil man and man of God. However, in reality the war is over before it begins as Plainview rhetorically enquires to an official “can everything around here be got?” and proceeds to get to work when given an enthusiastic endorsement.

The one time it appears Eli has bested his foe when he attempts to humiliate Plainview in front of his congregation by getting him to kneel and seek the Almighty’s forgiveness for abandoning H.W. is revealed as the hollow victory it is when he realises it’s merely served to shore up the support of the town – the look of anticlimactic disappointment on Eli’s face speaks volumes.

There Will Be Blood

That victory is itself revealed as empty in the film’s memorable final moments, however, when a desperate Eli comes to Plainview’s mansion years later foolishly seeking to sell a plot of land. Plainview’s demeaning taunts (“Drainaggggeee!”) and elaborate milkshake metaphor (“I drink it up!”) may be the final nail in Eli’s coffin, but the cost to a savagely alcoholic, embittered Plainview is plain to see.

Day-Lewis has been criticised for his scenery-chewing by some, but there can be little argument this is a titanic performance; one for the ages and then some. From his magnetic, full-throated drawl (inspired by John Huston so it’s said), to his coiled, wounded gait and full-blooded moustache, Day-Lewis’ Plainview leaves everyone in his wake, including poor Dano who gives it his all but, like his character, is paper standing up to a force of nature.

Anderson’s masterpiece will be studied by generations to come as a hypnotic account of how we came to be and what awaits us as the oil begins to run dry. It’s a work of pure cinema and one we should continue to cherish.

Decades Blogathon — Berlin: Symphony of a Metropolis (1927)

Thomas J

Here we are in the penultimate day in the 2017 edition of the Decades Blogathon. It’s been a really fun one to co-host yet again with the sterling Mark from Three Rows Back. With any luck this is a trend that will continue, it’s just so great having the contributions we’ve had three years in a row. So with that, I’d like to clear the floor for the featured reviewer of today — Charles from the wonderful blog, Cinematic. Please do check out his site if you have some time. 


Although cinema has always been continuously evolving since its inception, 1927 is perhaps the critical turning point in film. That year saw the debut of The Jazz Singer, the first major “talkie” that led to silent cinema’s decline and introduced the concept of spoken dialogue to the screen. 1927 also greeted audiences with the inceptions of F.W…

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Decades Blogathon – Jackie Brown (1997)

Welcome to the penultimate day of the Decades Blogathon – ‘7’ edition – hosted by myself and my partner in crime Tom from Thomas J. For those who don’t know, the blogathon focuses on movies that were released in the seventh year of the decade. Tom and I are running a different entry each day (we’ll also reblog the other’s post) and today I’m very pleased to welcome Natasha from it’s the turn of the one and only Zoe from Life of this City Girl who is too-cool-for-school in her choice of QT’s Jackie Brown.

Jackie Brown Poster

Plot: A middle-aged woman finds herself in the middle of a huge conflict that will either make her a profit or cost her life (http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0119396/)

A quick peek over at Tom’s blog alerted me to the fact that it was time for his and Mark’s annual Decades Blogathon. In the past I’ve been too petrified to take part – some seriously talented bloggers writing over here – but this year I knew I would have to take a shot at it. I chose Jackie Brown, one of the only Tarantino films I haven’t seen as my choice.

So I sat down with Jackie Brown. The film is very Tarantino – the long winding conversations characters have that seemingly have no point, the extremely long duration of the film, the presence of Samuel L. Jackson and a strong female character.  It lacks his typical violence and his perplexing need to appear in every movie he directs, but you won’t hear me complaining about that.

The cast is wonderful. Pam Grier as Jackie Brown was entertaining with her fast and sharp dialogue, her attitude and her sassy personality. What a woman. She was equal to every man on screen and smarter than all of them combined.

Jackie Brown

Samuel L. Jackson is back again as Ordell Robbie, the man with questionable hair and even more questionable morals. Ordell is an interesting guy. He has some of the fastest dialogue and sharpest wit and his choice of the women he keeps are so different that it only serves to make him more interesting. There’s Melanie (Bridget Fonda), by his admission his blonde surfer girl, who has zero ambition and zero class; Sheronda (Lisa Gay Hamilton), a country girl taken off the streets by him and who doesn’t seem all there; and Simone (Hattie Wilson), who is an older lady with a lot of curves. I don’t know, it was an interesting part to his character that he’d want such a different range of women in his life. He’s also a criminal who is smart and dangerous and doesn’t care to take out an employee if he himself is in danger of exposure. His only real affection is for Louis (Robert DeNiro), a man who has just been released from prison. Louis is quite a loser of a character, an excellent performance by DeNiro who manages to look pathetic and washed out.

More notable cast members include Michael Keaton (Ray Nicolette) and Michael Bowen (Mark Dargus), the two cops that are tasked with capturing Ordell. They are both eager and very young, and Keaton especially shows that energy of a young and optimistic police officer. The last important character, Max Cherry (Robert Forster), reminded me of old Hollywood with his classic handsome look and persona. He seems like a hero from the early 1950s, and his character was one of the cleanest and most honorable in the movie.

The movie moves quite slow. Once again, typical Tarantino. It requires constant attention or you might miss something, and the director again takes his time getting through the elaborate plan he has set out for his characters. Even at the end they were still leisurely discussing things and there were a few moments where I could feel the grey hairs forming on my head. On two hours twenty minutes I was convinced that they weren’t ending the movie. Would there be more blindsiding? Would Jackie turn her car around and return to Max? There were a few seconds where I thought she would kill him, but that would have been against her character.

Jackie Brown

I really enjoyed Jackie Brown despite the long, long, LONG time it took to get through the film. The strong female characters, Tarantino’s disregard of what movies usually look like and the typecasting they subject to, the sharp dialogue and the ’90s tone to Jackie Brown made it worth the watch. I am also now really close to having watched all his films, and of this feat I am rather proud.

Thanks for hosting me Tom and Mark!

Decades Blogathon — Empire of the Sun (1987)

Thomas J

Welcome back around to another week in ‘Decades.’ Lucky Number Seven may be entering into its final stretch these next few days, but it bears worth mentioning again — it’s been another really fun event for me and my wonderful co-host Mark of Three Rows Back. There were so many things to choose from — evidenced by the fact that no one claimed perhaps the most obvious choice, a certain Star Wars episode. Yet we do have another ‘Empire’ title in the mix though, and it is brought to you by Rob of MovieRob, who is returning for his third straight blogathon. His contributions have been greatly appreciated, and please do check out his site after you’ve read his piece! 

“Learned a new word today. Atom bomb. It was like the God taking a photograph. ” – Jim

Number of Times Seen – Between 5-10 times (Theater in ’87, video, cable…

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