Posted by: kfugrip | January 17, 2008

Give ’em what they want: There Will Be Blood

At the risk of being an apologist… this coming year’s potential blog is uncertain. I am ready to watch some films but I’m not ready to write about all of them. As 2007 wound to it’s completion I felt less and less like writing about the films that I’d seen. I think it’s a combination of things. I put too much pressure on myself to write a post that reflects the level of thought that often goes into my viewing experience, which is an effort. The other factor is that I have some creative endeavors on the horizon that are monopolizing my thoughts. With that said, on with the show!

There Will Be Blood, written and directed by Paul Thomas Anderson, is a masterpiece and my favorite film of 2007. I could probably leave it at that.

There Will Be Blood is about Daniel Plainview (Daniel Day Lewis) and his journey from silver prospector to oil mogul bent on destroying not only the competition but crushing any man’s drive for success.

What I liked: Everything. I’ll join the chorus in trumpeting Daniel Day Lewis’ performance. The guy is amazing and good in everything. He is the ultimate career manager as well. Even when he is in a bad movie (I didn’t like Gangs of New York) you can see why he took the role. I’ve noticed the same methodology in Matt Damon but Lewis takes it to Olympian heights because he is in far fewer movies and they are getting noticed by the Academy. Lewis plays larger-than-life really well and better in There Will Be Blood than any of his other roles. Plainview is a character who doesn’t emote like Bill the Butcher in Gangs of New York, everything is interior but Lewis conveys the subtext so beautifully and makes it so clear that I think this film would have been as successful if it were shot from a static camera like a filmed play. Lewis is a storytelling machine.

This wasn’t a filmed play though, it was the work of a powerful visual director, and contains stunning cinematography. Anderson has honed his style to a fine point and uses it to etch one of the great American tales, a tale of the drive and breadth of capitalism. There is subtlety in Anderson’s choices in this film that counterpoint the enormity of the story and visuals. Oil wells are huge structures and oil itself is dark and deep as the abyss, two cinematic visuals that aren’t beaten into our heads with low angle establishing shots or long bubbling takes. Even the character loosing his hearing, H.W. Plainview (Dillion Freasier), is followed by only a few frames, not more than a second, of silence to indicate what has happened. It’s a tool that nearly every filmmaker uses but Anderson doesn’t dwell there, he dwells only on the visage of Daniel Plainview, and rightly so.

What I didn’t like: Nothing. I suppose that women would have been a factor for this man and these people but they have no presence in this film. Could the focus on Plainview vs. Eli Sunday (Paul Dano) been heightened? Probably but, while that is an element of the film, I don’t share people’s view that it is the main thrust.

5 stars

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Also, Daniel Day Lewis has achieved the rank of badass.

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Responses

  1. This is a great review. I couldn’t agree more.

    Are you sure you don’t want to tell everyone about your newfound talent for leaving a movie either at the inciting incident or for the sexy nude scene…?

  2. While I agree with most of what you’ve said, I do feel you are overlooking a few of the film’s (minor) flaws.

    That being said, I will totally drink the shit out of your milkshake!

  3. You have to play something other than the trumpet to get into Daniel Day Lewis’s chorus. HAYYYYYYYYYYYYYY.

    I really loved this movie. Alot. Thought it was beautifully photographed and lit with Anderson drawing clear allusions to great American films, thought there was alot of the Godfather and Apocalpyse Now in this movie, but maybe thats just me, and putting elements of those movies into a another movie is S-M-R-T!

  4. […] the category. The best and most obvious being There Will Be Blood, which I’ve written about here. The other, perhaps holding a more vaulted status, especially by the Hollywood Foreign Press, is […]


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