Archive for August, 2008

Horseplay

August 19, 2008

“What is the point,” I wondered as I walked to Burger King for my dinner, “of mounted police in the City of London?”

As I queued for my Whoppa I mused that surely a horse was an obsolete technology for the front line in the war against crime and terror in the 21st century.

I mean, what are horses good for? Is it sensible for an expensively trained, well-equipped police officer to be seated on top of half a ton of sentient and volatile semi-domesticated herbivore inches away from speeding traffic and any number of sudden distractions?

In a crowd a motor vehicle becomes an obstacle and a liability. In a crowd an officer on foot is barely visible and can only influence a handful of people. In a crowd a horse is a vantage point, a form of transport, a signalling platform and an icebreaker….A horse can run faster than a man. A horse can wade through deeper water than any motor vehicle. A horse emits less carbon than an internal combustion engine per hour (depending on diet, I suppose). A horse can be reassuring, but assertive and it appreciates small treats and gentle patting.

There are some old technologies that still have their place.

I reminded myself to look carefully at legacy systems and not to shoot the police horses when we change things….What do they do with police horses once they get too old?

My burger was rather tough.

There Will Be Blood

August 11, 2008

This was certainly an intelligent and intriguing piece of filmmaking – unnerving and dark in with skilful moods contrasts. However, the media hype comparing the film to Citizen Kane or The Godfather fall a little flat, it’s just not as densely complex and occasionally falters. That being said, Daniel Day-Lewis’s performance is immensely enjoyable and very good. The imagery and symbolism is powerful but the message required much further development to place it in the list of truly “great” films.

This is the story of a wilful man fuelled by anger and hatred of his fellow man with a fierce competitive edge that moves him to stop at nothing to achieve total dominance. There was a very meticulous revelation of Lewis’s character, Daniel Plainview: to begin with he seemed to be a normal, good man, but events underline how seriously disturbed he actually was. Daniel Plainview was a perfect part for Lewis: his thin, rickety posture reflects his brittle heart and nature.

The story was good, the acting, especially Lewis, mainly very good and it was perfectly scored but the dialogue and the directing were lagging at times.

Many of the characters feel too awkward and while there were areas of engaging dialogue there were too few. In parts it’s strange and baffling, but at times brilliant, captivating, raw and realistic. A sinister score enhances the dark horror that this film brings to the oil industry of that time, at times I felt quite mad myself.

The pace of the film was stunted, and overlong dialogue took over just as you expected some action or drama. There are few actors today that can do what Lewis can, though, he transforms into the character and takes you along with him. Astounding when you consider he’s spent the past few years making furniture at his home.

In the end you almost feel sorry for Plainview, the very character strengths that allowed him to accumulate great wealth, were the very same ones that led to his downfall (spoiler – sorry). A twisted tale of madness and corruption, an experience of the depths of human desire, emotion and greed. This was reasonably engaging but not up to scratch so if I had 10 thumbs – which would be odd – I’d stick six of them up for this film.