blog, Jack's Stuff

What’s Jeremy Lin Doing? Also, Revisiting a Modern Classic

I have to wonder what Jeremy Lin was thinking, signing a 2-year $4.3m deal with the Charlotte Hornets. He has said that he wants the opportunity to prove himself as a starter…and though he’s played the past two years with two of the worst possible backcourt mates for a pick and roll creator to have (James Harden and Kobe), why would he now sign to be Kemba Walker’s backup on a mediocre team in Charlotte? What about feeding post touches to Al Jefferson while not having shooters (except…Kaminsky? Hawes? Batum?) to space the floor or an obvious pick and roll partner appeals to Lin’s playstyle and desire to prove himself?

Also, Lin, his agent, and whoever is helping him make these decisions must surely realize what kind of contract climate they just signed this deal in. He’s making barely above the veteran’s minimum, in a time where teams are splurging in anticipation of a rising salary cap that will increase the value of talent over contract efficiency. Demarre Carroll, an efficient but not super-productive veteran wing playing in an awesome free-flowing system in Atlanta, just got paid to the tune of $60m over four years by Toronto.  You telling me Lin couldn’t have gotten more from someone (such as Dallas, for example, who needed a starting point guard and were interested in him), or signed a shorter or player option deal as a bet on himself? Would you rather start for Rick Carlisle and Dallas, or be a second unit point for an eastern conference also-ran? I’d be really interested in hearing what led to his decision.

Now just a post or two ago, I was bitching about how increasingly awful and vapid modern movies seem to be becoming. It’s safe and profitable to rehash comics and reboot franchises, so it’s going to happen every summer, whether it’s Terminator or Jurassic Park or something else. On a whim, I decided to re-watch one of the movies that really stuck with me from the past few years: There Will Be Blood, released in 2007.

I can’t sing the praises of this film the way career critics and reviewers can, I’m not from their tribe. But this has got to be my favorite movie of the past decade, probably in the 21st century. The scenes are patient, detailed, and grittily evocative of the time period and setting. Daniel Day-Lewis absolutely fucking owns being Daniel Plainview. There’s so much humanity and character here, and it’s a clash for power between two men using different avenues of influence: Plainview with oil and money, preacher Paul ‘Eli’ Sunday with religion and demagoguery. I have no fucking clue what it’s like to be a frontier oilman during America’s growth spurt, but I could feel and imagine how difficult it would be, how much these people had to suffer and toil and scheme and swindle. If you like Steinbeck’s portrayals of the American west, Plainview is that kind of story and person in moving image.

There’s also other aspects of the movie that are difficult to describe, but things that you don’t feel most of the time in theaters. There’s a tension in almost every scene, even when nothing disastrous or deadly actually happens. There’s always conflict, whether it’s between man and nature or man and man. The music paired with the scenes is fucking amazing. Most movie scores and soundtracks, if they’re good, are stirring and make you automatically associate with the film, like the soundtrack for Gladiator or Rush or The Time Machine, to name a few good ones. But they’re like pairing wine with meat: the wine can be enjoyed on its own, but you’d probably care more about whether or not the meat sucked.

You wouldn’t get as much mileage out of listening to There Will Be Blood’s music on its own, because it’s tense and jumpy and probably not meant to be savored by itself. Instead, it’s just fucking perfect for the scenes, the tradeoff being that it elevates them in a way that almost no other soundtracks do, but cannot survive without them.

The movie took in a humble $76 million at the box office, nowhere near the kind of windfall that today’s giants make when they sell the something-for-everyone swill that Plainview dished to the California townsfolk. But I can’t remember the last time I felt this way about a movie, and I don’t know when there’ll be a next time.

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