Sunday, January 06, 2008
And they're like, it's better than yours -- damn right, it's better than yours:
Before New York Press completed its death march into pointlessness and irrelevance -- figure 2003 or so, entrenched forever in 2006 -- its signature was its casual assignment of sterling, unconventional writers to monotonous, cliche-filled alt-paper beats. From 1997 to 2000, the blatant, deliberate mismatch made the Press the best weekly in the country. Restaurant criticism, in the hands of Andrey Slivka, became a forum to imagine God scratching his greasy back with a compass made of the stars. George Tabb told Roach Motel stories under the deliberately flimsy pretext of a video game review. Tanya Richardson on rock n' roll. Alan Cabal and Jim Knipfel on city shoe-leather reporting. And Matt Zoller Seitz on film.

I saw There Will Be Blood last night. It's great. So great that its moments of imperfection hurt. Chris Orr says the final scene comes thisclose to ruining the movie, and Matt Yglesias says Chris is wrong. I can't decide. During the walk to Solly's, my friends and I puzzled through the scene and didn't come to any solid conclusions. So I turn to MZS. He's more skeptical of Blood than I am, but he's got major elements of the film -- and its director, Paul Thomas Anderson -- all figured out.

Daniel has human potential, but it can't be tapped because his drive is so intense and his emotional armor so thick. You can see it in the way that Daniel dotes on H.W. in during [sic] their initial train ride together in the 1902 sequence. Even though he's probably already thinking of ways he can amortize this profound emotional investment -- sure enough, in the 1911 section H.W. accompanies Daniel on business meetings, enabling Daniel to declare, "I'm a family man" before he commences screwing whoever he's dealing with -- from the start, the connection between boy and man seems intuitive, elemental, real.

Yeah, that's perfect. So is MZS's take on the most interesting and complex character in the film, the charlatan pastor Eli Sunday. I also didn't catch that Daniel's father is named Ernest, a magnificent detail. But that's MZS for you. And to think I had the privilege of factchecking this man's copy at NYP when I was 19. Whatever depths to which the paper has descended, it bequeathed us more than its due share of enduring brilliance. 

--Spencer Ackerman
Not to mention that it was the first U.S. outlet for the great Matt Taibbi.

Glad to see someone giving the old NYPress some props.
Blogger Marcus | 1:38 PM