It was a case of oversight on my part, assuming that I would eventually watch all the Academy Award nominated best pictures. I had a pretty good track record. But something happened back in 2007, and I managed to whiff on There Will Be Blood. Perhaps I was too busy with the affairs of the day. Or maybe I was so pleased with Martin Scorsese's The Departed that I did not have room in my heart or schedule for the epic tale of one man's epic descent into madness as he drills for oil in turn of the century California. Over the past fourteen years, I had not created a spot for Paul Thomas Anderson's loose adaptation of Upton Sinclair's novel, Oil!
When the "milkshake scene" became a pop culture water cooler moment, I played along. Without the slightest notion about the context. I didn't want to appear out of touch. That was not, however, enough to get me to sit down and take in all two hours and thirty-eight minutes of the saga of Daniel Plainview.
Until I was trapped on a bed with needles jammed into both forearms and no place to go while I had my plasma sorted from my platelets. This donation process takes approximately two hours. And a little more, given the need to label and prepare and sterilize and insert the tubes and start the machine. So there I was, sitting in front of a television, though not a plasma screen, with a wealth of Netflix choices that could be made.
I decided that, after all these years, while my blood was being processed, that There Would Be Blood. As I lay there, entranced by the cinematography and Daniel Day Lewis' performance, I kept squeezing the foam rubber cylinder in my right hand. I was only periodically aware of the pinch I felt in the crook of each arm, and only glanced down once at my precious bodily fluids leaving my right side and returning on my left. Behind me there was a whirring machine doing its magic, but I could not hear it over the sounds coming through the headphones.
At last, the phlebotomist returned and said that I had about two minutes left. I was so caught up in the story, I hardly noticed, but I became concerned when I realized that I still had not seen "the milkshake scene." Would I be asked to move on and make room on the bed for another donation?
I needn't have worried. I my needles were removed, and the tiny holes cleaned and dressed. I was offered a cold bottle of water. Which I drank as I watched the conclusion of the film. And witnessed the milkshake scene for myself. In context.
It was an amazing movie. I am glad that I finally gave myself a chance to see it. And for my trouble, I got a free T-shirt.