I finally watched Training Day. Yeah, I know: I’m like ten years late. That happens. It’s one of those movies I’ve intended to watch for a long time but never got the chance. Pretty sad when you go to watch one like that, one you think came out a few years ago, and then see it’s been out ten years. Well, that’s how it happens when you get older.
Right before that, I watched, or tried to watch, There Will Be Blood. My daughter said it was long and boring and she was right. I don’t mean that sound like I think she’s always wrong. It’s just that we have different tastes, and I’ve liked movies/books that she hasn’t. Don’t mean either of us is wrong or right. Just different tastes, that’s all.
Both movies were supposed to be good. Antione Fuqua, the director of Training Day (and I don’t know how many other movies since), knows how to keep a good story going. And, it didn’t hurt that the screenplay’s writer, David Ayer, grew up in Rampart, so he knows the streets. Training Day involves gangs—both black and Hispanic—and if it wasn’t done right, it would fall on its face. But Antione was able to get Crips and others to participate, along with being able to film in places that had never seen cameras before.
So Training Day moved. It went places, and it didn’t pull punches to do it. With cast members like Snoop Dogg, Dr Dre, and who knows who else (I saw a lot of familiar faces, but couldn’t place names), it had better move. No matter what you think of gangsta rap or hip-hop, people like Snoop and Dre aren’t going to be associated with inferior product, and Training Day is a good story, first and foremost. It’s about choices and crossing the line and what’s good and bad.
There Will Be Blood seems to have some of the same things going for it, though it’s hard to say. I shut it off after an hour or so. It was moving too slow. I think I’ve been ruined in some respects by reading crime novels. The good ones move and they don’t stop. Though not a crime novel, strictly speaking, Creepers, by David Morrel, will leave you breathless. It starts out at a jog and only increases speed as it goes. I recommend it highly. It shows how to write a novel that never lets up without losing the reader in all the frantic activity. But, we’re talking about David Morrel, too, the author of First Blood. He’s considered the father of the action/thriller novel. He literally wrote the book on how to do this kind of story.
I think There Will Be Blood was supposed to be some kind of a character study, and I’ve been losing patience with those kinds of stories. Don’t get me wrong: a well-rounded character is one of the best things you can have in a story. But Training Day shows how it can be done without dragging things out. I could have done without a lot of that hour set-up time in order to get to the main story.
Anyway, this wasn’t supposed to be so much a movie review as a story review. There Will Be Blood won two Academy Awards: Best Actor for Daniel Day-Lewis, and Best Cinematography for Robert Elswit. I gotta say that Day-Lewis did do a good job with his part. A good actor can usually transform a mediocre script (though I have to say Sean Connery and Michelle Pfieffer couldn’t save The Russia House), and maybe if I’d finished the movie, I’d say that Day-Lewis had done that for this movie. But I couldn’t finish it, because my daughter was right: it’s boring. Why should I care about a guy who made it big as an oil man in the early 1900s, and did it by lying to people in order to get their land, all while pretending to be as honest as can be. I can see that in the daily news. I don’t need a 158-minute movie to tell me that story.
Of course, I also watched Twilight (just so I could talk to my daughter about it and understand what she means), but we won’t even go there. I’m not going to waste blog space on that, thank you very much. Let’s just say it’s very instructive on what not to do and leave it at that. Yes, Stephanie Meyer is probably crying all the way to the bank, and I’m happy for her success. End of story.
So, if you haven’t already, check out Training Day. And you can even check out There Will Be Blood, if you want. Maybe after that first hour, it improves. Maybe your tastes will let you like it. I’m not going to be so arrogant as to say you shouldn’t watch it just because I didn’t like it. I’m not that way. These are just my recommendations and my thoughts on how to tell a story. Slow stories like …Blood just don’t appeal to me like they used to.
I want a story that moves and I want it now. I hope that’s the kind of story I give readers.