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The year I was born was the same year Predator and Robocop came out. When I was finally old enough to appreciate films, Little Nicky was in theaters. I know, believe me, I know; rocky start. And often I would watch older films, or specials on older films, and be dazzled. You know the ones. Remember when they made Spartacus? Remember sitting in the movies and watching Gregory Peck play Atticus Finch in To Kill A Mockingbird? Remember the first time you heard "I could've been a contender" through theater speakers? Well I sure as hell don't. But I'll tell you what, now I feel somewhat caught up. Let's begin with the obvious. Daniel Day Lewis. No one's arguing about this. The man is a veritable God among ants on the screen. He takes his role by the reigns and I don't doubt him for a second. In fact, at times, I was downright afraid of the man. Lewis gives what is easily, EASILY the best performance of the past five years. But let's get serious about it. Lewis' Daniel Plainview is the most convincing, awe-inspiring, and downright mortifying character to take the big screen that I can remember. Here, perfectly in his element and at his best, Lewis could go toe to toe with Brando and Kinski, playing a part that oozes enough skill and pathos to earn him a place among Hollywood's, and perhaps the world's, greatest performances of all time. He gives those of us who missed out on the craft, depth of character, and technique of classic cinema a chance to admire a tour de force portrayal of a memorable, identifiable, and completely despicable character, and it's so damned refreshing that I can't stop singing the man's praises. Paul Dano has been taking a lot of fire for this whole thing. People continue to spout their disapproval of the film's casting, saying that Dano has no business rivaling the seasoned Lewis on the screen. Listen, lay down your swords a minute and consider the obvious. The guy was cast opposite the performance of the decade, he's not going to outshine Lewis and you'd be crazy to expect him to. In fact, I think that he and Lewis' back-and-forths are the films highlights, as we see the juxtaposition not only in the characters themselves, but also in their acting techniques. And the cinematography? Welcome to the old days of film. The glory days of Hollywood. Anderson gives us one of the most beautifully shot and directed films in recent memory, truly at the top of his craft on this one. Every moment feels more epic than the last, until the film becomes such a towering cinematic spectacle that the end leaves the viewer exhausted. It's truly an experience not to be missed. Yeah, we missed out on A Street Car Named Desire. And Casablanca isn't gonna be in theaters again any time soon. But in the meantime, There Will Be Blood is just about as good, and will likely haunt our generation as much as the Hollywood studio epics of the past...
PT Anderson delivers perhaps his best work with "There Will Be Blood". Unlike "Magnolia", the film's daunting runtime is not very daunting whilst watching it. All acting in the film was solid, even the work of the child actors. Daniel Day-Lewis in particular delivered a truly phenomenal performance, capturing the power of greed, fear, insanity, and comedy simultaneously, at many points throughout the film. At no point does the time period distract from the power of the film. Sometimes period pieces cannot be appreciated because they delve too deep into historical details -- turning the experience into more of a documentary than a narrative set in the past. This is not the case for "There Will Be Blood", as human interactions are the focus of the film. Johnny Greenwood's chilling score is very strong, benefiting from the elegant minimalism that he show's in the band Radiohead. The cinematography is also spectacular. Robert Elswit beautifully captures the essence of the environment and the tension amongst the characters. All in all, this is truly a perfectly crafted film.
This film raises the game for everyone out there. I have loved all of Paul Thomas Anderson's work, including his greatly underrated Punch-Drunk Love, but this is a huge leap from any of the previous movies into a realm, as others have said, inhabited by classics such as Treasure of the Sierra Madre - and then some. Every element of this film is astonishing, from the opening twenty minutes, which feature virtually no dialog, to Jonny Greenwood's score, which I have heard criticized as too imposing but which seems just about perfect to me (and brings to mind the non-Blue Danube elements of 2001 at its most experimental). Daniel Day-Lewis' performance is in a league of its own: his voice, his mannerisms, his physical movement, his stunted emotions, are flesh and blood, and hauntingly so, in a way that even Tommy Lee Jones in In The Valley of Elah (which I thought was a pretty staggering performance) can't quite attain. I will watch this film again and again simply to see something so raw and so moving and so gut-wrenching. This is why I love movies; this is what made me want to make movies when I was fourteen years old.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
With all of the hype surrounding Daniel Day-Lewis' performance (he was,
in fact, given a Best Actor nod from the San Diego Film Critics
Society, for whatever that is worth) in the P.T. Anderson-directed tale
of early American oil speculation, "There Will Be Blood," I can only
relate my extreme disappointment.
This would have made an interesting 90-minute movie, but, unfortunately, it runs over 140-minutes, most of which is smeared with plasma and petroleum to the extent every character is sullied and unrecognizable as a human being.
Perhaps Anderson wanted it that way, after all, it's really only Day-Lewis¹ character (the lubricious Daniel Plainview) that even comes close to developing; the others are simply there to keep him company and accept his violent tirades.
Yes, times were tough in the early hardscrabble years of the American West, but this guy makes Jonas Cord ("The Carpetbaggers") look like Mother Theresa.
We first meet Plainview in 1898 mining for silver in Arizona. After a nasty fall in which he breaks his ankle, he discovers oil in the shaft. After a few years, he has a crew and a few successful wells.
One day, a fellow worker there with his infant son (for some reason) is killed and Plainview adopts the boy, H. W. (Dillion Freasier) for no other reason than to have a cute face to show while he cons the public (see "Paper Moon").
These are some of the movie's best scenes, with Plainview - and H.W. in tow - visiting backwoods bergs and convincing a gullible populace into signing away land rights for a fraction of what they were worth. Plainview, with a sinister soft-spoken demeanor plays psychological games until the rubes are all but ready to GIVE him the oil rights in perpetuity.
Several years later, a visitor tells Plainview about a ranch in California that is soaking in oil, so Pop and son head out there, under the pretense of hunting quail. There they meet the Sunday family, addled dad, Abel (David Willis), a few non-descript females and an Evangelist son, Eli (Paul Dano, "Little Miss Sunshine").
Plainview and Eli do not hit it off at all, and this is the conflict that sets up the second act. It doesn't take much to finagle Abel out of the Sunday Ranch, as well as the surrounding property, but several tragedies cause many in the town especially the young preacher to wonder if they made the right move in letting Plainview into their midst.
When H.W. is rendered deaf in an explosion and disastrous fire, we wonder if the whole enterprise is worth it.
Up until this point, I was willing to go along with this film as not only a historical drama relating the days of the early oil industry, as well as a chronicle of rural religious fervor, sort of "Oklahoma Crude" meets "The Apostle."
The problem is, the picture does not continue to walk that thin line. We are now subjected to scene after scene of Plainview¹s descent into madness and murder but with little or no motivation for either.
For example, he beats Eli severely and mocks his church; meets a man who claims he¹s his brother; abandons H.W. and generally spirals out of control.
He's business savvy, however, and plans to build a pipeline to transport his vast oil reserves to the coast (thus eliminating the cost of railroad shipping). To do this, though, he has to build through a local hermit's (Hans Howes, "Seabiscuit") land.
The only way to accomplish this is to humble himself before Eli and the congregation and be baptized, obviously a fate worse than death to Plainview who seems to have no morals, whatsoever.
Now that he¹s joined the church and gotten his pipeline built, does he enjoy even one iota of his success? Absolutely not.
In one of Day-Lewis' many monologues, he gives us his motivation for being such a bastard, "I do not just want to succeed, I do not want anyone else to succeed."
Still, that does not explain his psychotic, murderous frenzy, and the longer the film goes on, the less cohesive it became.
I can accept his tirades early on, and even a bit of his unmotivated violence near the middle of the film, but Anderson pushes things to the extreme limit. He's even admitted that he watched "Treasure of the Sierra Madre" before beginning to film "Blood" - yet he still did not learn anything about coherent film-making.
Friends, this is by far one of the most depressing and oppressive films of the year. In fact, it makes "No Country For Old Men" look like "Mary Poppins."
Then, at the conclusion, after watching more than two-plus hours of this evil, hateful man succeed over and over again, we're treated to another brutal, pointless murder - this one coming out of nowhere.
Like "The Last King of Scotland," in which Forrest Whittaker won the Best Actor award, this is another performance-driven, but deeply-flawed motion picture.
Day-Lewis will certainly be nominated for this, and he may actually win, but that does not mean one will enjoy the experience of watching that performance.
People did not like this movie for a simple reason: too negative. I can
understand that this movie is so depressing in so may ways.
What it shows that Big Fish eats Litte Fish and none of us want to think about that anymore than most of us experience it in our daily life. It shows the battle between the evangelicals and the corporate business man. Or maybe even the battle between evangelicals of today and the non-religious people or atheists of today. Even worse is that this movie shows that religious people, priests are or can be as bad as a corrupt oil man. Maybe why people did not like this movie is because it might have offended them. Especially Paul Dano playing the priest. Both Daniel Day Lewis and Paul Dano are wrong and too extreme on their opinions. People are able to accept this. What people cannot accept is though that these same extremities and same misguided opinions from both characters are very much true in that they are heavily believed still today. Not all Christains are like Paul Dano's character and not all business man are like Daniel Day Lewis's character but many are like them. That is the world we live in.
Now is their any alternative or positive side? The answer is yes and that is H.W. the son of Daniel Plainview(Daniel Day Lewis). He epitomizes hope. He shows that despite being deaf and having a father who uses him as a ploy for better business he can still break free of the chains that he is being tied down by. What separates H.W. from the residents and evangelists of Little Boston? The difference is that he and his father are educated and they are not. That is how Daniel Plainview is able to manipulate and cheat them the Sunday family, even Eli Sunday(Paul Dano) the priest and preacher of Little Boston. From what H.W. sees and experiences he sees that much of what is around him is just wrong. He uses his experience that he had gained as a kid to break free of the corruption and chaos that could have taken over him. That is one aspect of the education I'am talking about: our experiences and understanding of what is happening around us.
Now to get to the technical aspects of There Will Be Blood. It is just truly spectacular in every way. First off the acting was amazing. Daniel Day Lewis gave arguably the best performance of his career playing Daniel Plaiview or ever since movies began to be made. He freaked me out and probably shocked many people. His thirst for power and money was at such a high level that it made me wonder about what people are really capable of. The deceiving, the greed, the thirst for power and the every man for himself attitude actually looked more real than ever to me. Without Daniel Day Lewis I don't think this movie could have achieved what it has. Paul Dano gave a great performance as Eli Sunday though people tend to disagree. I think he gave a great portrayal of an extremist evangelical priest of how he himself had his own thirst for power and how he was more blasphemous then respectful and gracious to god then how you would expect a priest to be. How could people not be shocked by these two characters, I was myself.
Why was the music for this movie not liked. I thought this was among the top five musical scores I have ever heard. The music perfectly gave you the feeling of the corruption and deception setting into the movie. It perfectly intertwined with the rest of the movie as the movie itself was ever growingly becoming more and more chaotic and surreal. Probably too shocking though.
Paul Thomas Anderson I believe gave the best directing job of the year. He was able to show the oil fields and its processes, the rise of an oil man, the way everyone can be bought even a priest and the hope that H.W. represented. This movie was never boring and it was as stunning of a directing job as Daniel Day Lewis gave as a performance for his role in this movie. The intensity of this movie was as high as a movie could possibly be and some of the credit for this has to go to the director. The cinematography and the music seemed to intertwine perfectly like the rest of the movie. It gave the sense of the time period and as said before the greed, deception, etc. The cinematography did not just give you a negative feeling but a feeling as if what you are watching is real.
You should not like this movie just because of the great technical achievements as you should not for any movie but for what it says and how it says it. I'm not even sure if you should enjoy this movie in general but you should not be blinded by your opinions. I applaud you whoever out there who can somewhat understand this movie and get past the lying and deceiving we do to ourselves. This movie really shows the humanity of human beings. Why is this rated-R?It has so many intense scenes that if you get inside this movie it is truly haunting. Now maybe this movie was too powerful for many people, it was probably even shocking for realists. Maybe though its not that surprising that so many people don't like this movie because the truth hurts. Not the truth about corruption or about people but the truth about ourselves.
What is evil? What is hate? How low can an individual go with one's
actions and still be considered human....? These, quite possibly, are
the biggest questions raised in There Will Be Blood.
Paul Thomas Anderson and Daniel Day-Lewis, the tycoons at the helm of this dig for moral oil, tell a story that takes the archetypal anti-heroes of 'Citizen Kane' and Travis Bickle of 'Taxi Driver' to a whole new, 21st-century level. The film, using Lewis's character Daniel Plainview, walks through incredibly dangerous cinematic territory that questions religion, plays with the nature of greed and hate and evil, and with it all, draws terrifying parallels to the world we live in today. The film and its main character claw so deep through the limits of humanity and the landscape of hell, that you'll be thanking the Good Lord for the silver screen that divides you from this horrible world Paul Thomas Anderson has portrayed. But despite how safe you may seem in your cushy seat, you will undoubtedly walk out of the theater with all kinds of new demons and ghosts buzzing in your head and ripping away at your subconscious. In this way, Anderson has abandoned his primary previous influence of Robert Altman to take more of a Stanley Kubrick direction, creating moral allegories that creep into your psyche and don't ever leave. You should be scared. Very Scared.
PT Anderson's name already means something, or I should say something else. His self assuredness alone gives me shivers. A modern artist with such clear and severe vision of the world. Boogie Nights, Magnolia, even Punch Drunk Love have an Wellesian disregard for what's in or out. His films are landmarks that may infuriate some, confuse others and mesmerize the rest of us. Here, with the rigorous tale of an impervious oil man, PT Anderson outdoes himself. He has Daniel Day Lewis as his accomplice in a performance that would be as difficult to match as it is difficult to describe. There is a monstrous beauty here that not even a broken nose can disguise. The saga is filled with long silent moments of tension that take place in a cinematic canvas and an actor's head. PT Anderson must have known that this was going to be, not only not a mainstream opus but a hard pill to swallow. I for one stand up to applaud his daringness.
Who is Paul Thomas Anderson? There is something about him that does't belong to this earth. That could be a compliment or not, it's all up to us. That's what make his cinema so damn unique. At the end of the day it's all up to us. But the abrasive way in which he visits universes and throws his views to us is so powerful, so arrogant, so enthralling, so infuriating that the experience leaves you baffled and suspicious. but also enchanted, transformed. Here, Daniel's saga could very well be the saga of a Hollywood maverick. So little time for sentimentality. Daniel Day Lewis seems to understand it all and he adds his unmistakable humanity to another monster, after his butcher in Gangs Of New York. His performance goes beyond anything we've seen recently anywhere. From Upton Sinclair to Paul Thomas Anderson via Daniel Day Lewis an unmissable work of art.
If Daniel Day-Lewis doesn't win an Oscar for this performance, there is something horribly wrong. His performance and this film were amazing. I don't give this kind of accolade out generously. I was at the screening at the Chelsea West. We waited outside in the cold and rain for a good two hours to get in there and get some good seats and I can honestly say, I would have waited double that amount of time. Enough of my rambling though. In regards to the film itself; it was very well done. The cinematography was amazing as well as the set design. As usual, PTA gives us a flawless script with terrifying, humorous, and compelling dialogue. All of the acting was spot on. Paul Dano played the role of a two-faced, maniacal, and power hungry preacher. The young man who plays H.W. Plainview was also very solid. As PTA stated during the Q&A last night, he seemed to know everything about the story and his character and seemed to be a natural. Daniel Day-Lewis. Need I say more? He was breathtaking in TWBB. Amazing is all i can say. You will need to see the film to see for yourself. Some may become bored with the film at times, which is what i gathered from the people sitting around me. I had no problem with the "slow" scenes, but the general public may have a problem grasping this film. If anything, this will be the reason if it gets snubbed at the Oscars.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
First off, I'd like to say that I have enjoyed most all of PTA's films.
I loved Boogie Nights, thought Magnolia was an ambitious, but not great
picture, and thoroughly enjoyed Punch- Drunk Love. I, like many others
have eagerly awaited Paul Thomas Anderson's latest film, There Will Be
Blood. In fact, I drove almost 120 miles and waited 2-3 hours in line
to see it, as that was the closest showing of it. I bought into all the
hype, read almost every review, watched any and all interviews of it
that I could, expecting a "masterpiece" as so many IMDBers put it.
People even had the audacity to say it's one of the best films of the
decade. Some big words and shoes for a film to fit.
Nevertheless, after the wait, I found myself disappointed and terribly bored with this film. The movie's pacing and editing was SO slow and too long (nearly 3 hours), I felt that the editor should have had another much needed run in the cutting room. For instance, certain shots in a scene went on forever as the camera stays with a character for 5 min or more, never changing angles, creating a needlessly slow pace. There were many scenes with little to no dialog adding another dull layer. Now I appreciate films with silence that present cinematic art ( "3-Iron" and "Spring, Summer, Fall, Winter...And Spring", two movies that are nearly all silence) yet here it granted the film unevenness. People are claiming this film had beautiful cinematography, yet I fail to see what was so unique. Perhaps the theater I was at had an inexperienced projectionist, bad print or something, but the shots, lighting, and composition were rather dull and the camera movements uninteresting. I mean how hard is it to shoot wide-angle barren landscapes and campfire scenes and follow actors with steadicam/tracking scenes? Although this wasn't a stylized movie, rather an attempt to take you into the 19th century, I thought the cinematography was mediocre at best. I've seen better work from Robert Elswit and other DPs.
Worse than mediocre however, is the music/soundtrack, which was so obnoxious and used out of place, that it just may have worsened the viewing experience. The horror-like, intense and unnerving score that was mixed way too loud in the soundtrack, doesn't even seem to match the images or the story. The music isn't "bad", but it does not fit well. The music, which attempted to create tension among the characters exemplifying greed and corruption, seemed extremely forced and vexing. Here is this rather slowly cut/paced movie displaying an ugly landscape or early America undeveloped showcasing a man being SLOWLY corrupted, scored side-by-side with this imposing, experimental, enormous, horror-like score that was woefully out of sync with the film and apparently wanted to call attention to itself, not assist the story.
Acting... Well, although there is praise left and right for Daniel Day Lewis and Paul Dano, I felt both performances were lackluster, Paul Dano's being much worse. There were many times that I felt like Dano was just reading from a script and not embodying the character, for instance, the first time we are introduced to him, his lines are weak and artificial with strange speech pauses and insipid facial expressions. DDL was also nothing special. His accent was, well... certainly not mind-blowing, and didn't make me think of anything uniquely "American" as that was what he was supposedly trying to portray. In many scenes he was overacting and Dano was underacting, or vice versa. I couldn't get into the two personality types as they were undeveloped. Although the audience is supposed to dislike DD Lewis, I didn't care for any of the characters and completely lost interest in the film about 40 min to an hour into it. DD Lewis is a great actor and that may be an understatement, but he certainly did not shine in this picture. Yet at the same time, he may have been the only redeemable thing in this movie.
I can only assume that since PTA is known for giving minimal direction and following his scripts closely (he has stated this during commentaries of his films) the acting was flawed and pulse nearly-dead, due to the weak script/adaptation. There were some major/minor holes in this film, but I didn't care. I was too bored, and couldn't care about any underlying tones of greed and religion since the characters neither really embodied either very well. Some characters appear, some disappear never to be seen again, certain scenes that were supposed to be climactic and intense came off as comedic (the audience I was with, laughed a great deal during these scenes) and I wondered if that was the way PT Anderson intended it, or it being the audience I sat with. I don't know. For example, during the final scene where DDL and Dano's "discussion" turns into a near fight, the scene comes off as if it were slapstick and had the audience busting out in laughs.
In summary, this film was a major let down for me as I had high hopes for it, and was a fan of all of PTA's films. The film's execution, writing, and direction was empty and flawed, resulting in an uneven, and painfully boring film. I suppose there are different strokes for different folks, but the film really stinks.
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