Wednesday, January 30, 2008

There Will Be Blood

There Will be Blood is a brilliant title that effectively ties together the themes of a fantastic movie by Paul Thomas Anderson - the blood of family, oil as blood, and literal blood.

Daniel Day Lewis, as oilman Daniel Plainview, is absolutely brilliant. So over-the-top, it may not be true to life but says more in it's excess than a more subtle performance would. I can't remember the reviewer or even the movie he was talking about, but I recall the review of a movie in which the reviewer stated it wasn't the job of a movie necessarily to be hyperrealistic. The use of color, camera angles, music, acting - they all there to evoke a certain emotion or feeling. And that evocation often does a better job of putting you in a certain time period or situation than a movie that tried to emulate reality.

There Will Be Blood, loosely based on Upton Sinclair's "Oil!" , follows Plainview's ascension to pinnacle of California oil discovery. To get there, he will sacrifice anything - friendships, happiness, even his family. To gain the trust of a town, he will feign religiousity. Dishonest, for sure, but in this action he also reveals the dishonesty of the supposedly pious man of God, Eli Sunday, played by Paul Dano.

Some of the film is darkly funny - uncomfortably so. And that's probably the point. Just such one of the ocassions is Lewis' "milkshake" outburst, cleverly mashed with Kelis here:


The music is dissonant and uncomfortable. A lot has been made about the soundttrack by Jonny Greenwood of Radiohead. It's neither as bad as some make it out to be or as brilliant as others do. The way in which it contrasts with the action on screen is intentional and ocassionally effective. But at other times, I really felt it was drawing too much attention to itself and detracting from the film.

The cinematography and pacing are great. It's a long movie but doesn't seem so.

It's not as topical as some of the films of this year. It's made that much more universal and timeless because of it. If there is any movie of this year that it is similar in tone and theme to, I would say No Country for Old Men. It shares with No Country the themes of greed and fate and also a sparseness in look.

Though, the subject matter is the early days of oil exploration in our country, there are no attempts to tie it in to any contemporary oil issues. Oil is merely the conduit for the character's greed and ambition. I highly recommend this movie. Grade: A


wunelle said...

I'm jealous. If it played in the backwater of Appleton, it came and went in a flash. Now I'm waiting for the DVD, or maybe I'll catch it on a layover in a real city.

Your comments about realism make me wonder about the Edith Piaf movie I recently watched. I criticized it for being not quite realistic, but your assessment might be used in its defense. I'll rewatch it at some point and will have to see.

But I'm dying to see "There Will Be Blood."

dbackdad said...

I wanted to La Vie En Rose, but have not even seen it come around to any of the local theaters. Maybe closer to Oscar time it will pop up.

My local AMC theater is doing a movie package where you can watch all 5 best picture noms back to back in one sitting:

I might actually be nutty enough to try and do it. I've seen 3 of them but would like to see them again and have not seen Atonement or Juno yet.

dbackdad said...

"I criticized it for being not quite realistic" - Believe me, there are a lot of movies where that is a very valid criticism. In Blood, it seemed to work but I've seen plenty where it didn't.

Kvatch said...

Liked it. Excellent acting, but...I was a little put off by some of the liberties they took with the history of oil exploration in CA. Haven't read Upton Sinclair's novel, so I don't know if they were in the original or not.