Directors shoot down convention


In "There Will Be Blood," helmer Paul Thomas Anderson drills into the mind of a 20th-century oilman with a near-wordless 15-minute opening sequence, building a mood of physical and psychological menace with little more than the sounds of groping, digging and scraping. "Zodiac," David Fincher's sprawling, fact-based account of a serial-killer investigation, depicts only three of the actual murders -- all within the first half-hour, with the gore kept to a minimum. (Call it "There Will Not Be Much Blood.")

Less violent and action-driven than the season's other Western, "3:10 to Yuma," "The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford" is a mytho-poetic reverie whose leisurely pacing suggests the narrative equivalent of one of James' fateful horseback rides, meandering ever so slowly toward tragedy.

Each of these films clocks in at more than 2½ hours; each one, in its own way, takes a journey into a distinctly male heart of darkness from which women are almost completely sidelined. More to the point, each film is the work of a director willing to forgo the usual satisfactions of dramatic storytelling -- sympathetic characters, emotional arcs, brisk pacing and narrative momentum -- in order to evoke moods, ideas and tensions that resist simple explanation or resolution.

(Source: Variety)

Commentary, Directors

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