There Will Be Blood

Like Jonah, I caught up with The Master over the weekend, and will simply observe that it’s the kind of movie you’re glad they made and you’re glad you saw but probably won’t ever see again — but maybe you will, just to figure out what the hell it’s about. It’s a kind of interior version of Paul Thomas Anderson’s earlier film, There Will Be Blood, with Joaquin Phoenix in the Daniel Day-Lewis role, a story of two men (the titular character is played by Philip Seymour Hoffman) locked in a sado-masochistic relationship and condemned to repeat the same scene over and over again, on land and at sea, imprisoned in a Sartreian room with no exit and living out Santayana’s famous dictum. And, no, I have no idea why all the women are suddenly naked in that party scene.

But now that I’ve got your attention, might I suggest End of Watch, the brilliant new LAPD cop movie written and directed by David Ayer, who penned Training Day back in 2001. The picture has already come in for ideological criticism from the usual drive-by suspects (does the Times have to politicize everything, even a movie review?), mostly because it paints the two beat cops, played by Jake Gyllenhaal and Michael Pena, as heroes.

Like The Master, it’s a male-buddy movie, but of a completely different sort. Where the Master and his deeply disturbed disciple are constantly at each other’s throats, cops Brian Taylor and Miguel Zavala are thin blue line brothers from another mother, fiercely protective even when they’re busting each other’s humps. You probably won’t see a more realistic onscreen portrayal of two guys in a black-and-white, one Anglo, one Latino, and Ayer’s gift for naturalistic dialogue has never been on better display. Unlike The Master’s spinning top of a story, which finally wobbles to a kind of end (or is it just the beginning?) in a London bed sit, End of Watch reaches its brutal conclusion on the streets of el barrio, the only place it could end — in blood.

Most Popular


Romney Is a Misfit for America

Mitt’s back. The former governor of Massachusetts and occasional native son of Michigan has a new persona: Mr. Utah. He’s going to bring Utah conservatism to the whole Republican party and to the country at large. Wholesome, efficient, industrious, faithful. “Utah has a lot to teach the politicians in ... Read More
Law & the Courts

What the Second Amendment Means Today

The horrifying school massacre in Parkland, Fla., has prompted another national debate about guns. Unfortunately, it seems that these conversations are never terribly constructive — they are too often dominated by screeching extremists on both sides of the aisle and armchair pundits who offer sweeping opinions ... Read More

Fire the FBI Chief

American government is supposed to look and sound like George Washington. What it actually looks and sounds like is Henry Hill from Goodfellas: bad suit, hand out, intoning the eternal mantra: “F*** you, pay me.” American government mostly works by interposition, standing between us, the free people at ... Read More
Film & TV

Black Panther’s Circle of Hype

The Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU) first infantilizes its audience, then banalizes it, and, finally, controls it through marketing. This commercial strategy, geared toward adolescents of all ages, resembles the Democratic party’s political manipulation of black Americans, targeting that audience through its ... Read More