A psychologically troubled novelty supplier is nudged towards a romance with an English woman, all the while being extorted by a phone-sex line run by a crooked mattress salesman, and purchasing stunning amounts of pudding.
Paul Thomas Anderson
Philip Seymour Hoffman
The intersecting life stories of Daniel Plainview and Eli Sunday in early twentieth century California presents miner-turned-oilman Daniel Plainview, a driven man who will do whatever it takes to achieve his goals. He works hard but also takes advantage of those around him at their expense if need be. His business partner/son (H.W.) is, in reality, an "acquired" child whose true biological single-parent father (working on one of Daniel's rigs) died in a workplace accident. Daniel is deeply protective of H.W. if only for what H.W. brings to the partnership. Eli Sunday is one in a pair of twins whose family farm Daniel purchases for the major oil deposit located on it. Eli, a local preacher and a self-proclaimed faith healer, wants the money from the sale of the property to finance his own church. The lives of the two competitive men often clash as Daniel pumps oil off the property and tries to acquire all the surrounding land at bargain prices to be able to build a pipeline to the ... Written by
Huggo / edited by statmanjeff
Two traditional Christian hymns are heard during the film, both sung by Eli Sunday's Little Boston congregation. The first is "What a Friend We Have in Jesus," which is heard preceding the scene in which Eli tells Plainview he will bless the oil well. The second is "There is Power in the Blood" which is sung immediately after Plainview's baptism. See more »
In the early scenes where the two miners are hauling buckets up the wells, a modern "bow" shackle is used to hold the bucket to the rope. See more »
Mr. Bandy has a grandson. Have you met his grandson William? William Bandy is one of the finest members we have at the Church of The Third Revelation. He's eager to come to Hollywood to be in movies. He is very good-looking. And I do think he will have success.
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There are no opening credits, except for the title See more »
I'm going to argue against celebrating this movie.
It isn't because it is not effective. It is. It is extremely honed so that every horse is hitched to the same plow, so that power is achieved.
It isn't because we don't marvel at the actorly gymnastics of Day Lewis. Its because it doesn't matter. I will truly forget this film in the sense that none of it will change me, indirectly lead me somewhere or trick me into some discovery. In preparation for this, I saw "Siberiade," another oildrilling epic where kinship is central and the drive to the earth is a retreat.
(The "blood" in the title is associated with family, not weeping veins.)
Elements of that Soviet film will stick with me forever, though the film has less explosive emotion. (It does have a far more dramatic oilrig fire real instead of from ILM. And it has teasingly seductive songs, not the edgy, spineraising tension of here.)
The one element that should have grabbed me was undeveloped. Here is a man who we see is broken. There are no events to follow. He becomes a success and remains broken. The only story for us to seek is why. We know he had peculiar feelings for his sister and left home traumatically. That he prefers isolation of the most remote kind. That given any opening for bond, for blood: HW, the discovered brother, the child Mary, he will grab it with both hands and look for disappointment.
We know going in that the business of twins appeared only late, but it could have been central to this mystery of sucking and discarding both blood and oil. I really thought Anderson would exploit this ambiguity of identity. After all, he's made one and a half of the very best films which explores this. Films that are multilayered and reach out and penetrate instead of a barrelling locomotive.
I would ask you to differentiate. First differentiate rubbernecking over a disaster from exploring and knowing a dangerous situation. Second, differentiate masterful storytelling from stories that have their own lives and catch fire in your heart.
Ted's Evaluation -- 2 of 3: Has some interesting elements.
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