There Will Be Blood
December 26, 2007
Movie of the Day for Wednesday, November 14, 2007
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On the Big Board
||P.T. Anderson's truly epic film is anchored by Daniel Day-Lewis' near-legendary performance.
||Paul Thomas Anderson takes his great leap forward. Totally riveting with a superlative performance by Daniel Day-Lewis.
||No-one makes better films about The Golden State than P. T. Anderson
||A tightly scripted feat with tremendous acting that brings together multiple themes, though the closing argument could have been a little more impressive.
||This is a love-it or hate-it movie, and I was mostly annoyed by the irritating music, overlong scenes, and overacting without much of a story.
Maverick director Paul Thomas Anderson is only 37-years-old, yet his career has already included some amazing feats. He has turned the premise of a home filled with porn stars into an end-of-year awards sensation; he has told a story where the actions of the characters are fundamentally altered when frogs fall out of the sky; and he has somehow gotten Adam Sandler to play an understated role. We'll leave it to the reader to determine which of these feats is the most impressive.
His return to the director's chair trumpets a new round of PTA storytelling the likes of which either cannot (or is that should not?) be duplicated. The story this time around is much darker than his last outing five years ago, Punch-Drunk Love. Whereas that tale followed the travails of a meek young man who just wants to have a nice bit of phone sex before falling in love with the perfect woman, this one is brutal enough to make the producers of A History of Violence blush.
Based on an 80-year-old novel by legendary scribe Upton Sinclair, it examines the life of an oil tycoon (Daniel Day-Lewis) who faces an uprising from the local residents once they start listening to a passionate preacher (Paul Dano of Little Miss Sunshine). The novel was an examination of the impact of opposing political views between a rich father and his socialist-in-training son. It's unclear if that storyline will translate or if Dano's character will be given the same story purpose of creating philosophical strife. What is certain is that the trailer goes out of its way to establish that the oil tycoon hates all living creatures and seems to want to see them all in misery. This dark tone may alienate mainstream audiences, but it's right in the wheel house of the indie crowd Anderson's previous works have attracted.
The western has made a bit of a comeback in 2007 with the releases of The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford and 3:10 to Yuma. There Will Be Blood is not a pure western, but its examination of an age gone by in California will certainly play upon some of those themes. As such, it feels like a timely release for 2008 awards season. (David Mumpower/BOP)