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There Will Be Blood (2008)

Drama movie directed by Paul Thomas Anderson

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A Long, Dark Journey into the Soul of Greed and Power

  • Apr 10, 2008
Rating:
+3
Upton Sinclair's epic novel OIL! has been successfully transformed to a film by screen writer/director Paul Thomas Anderson ('Magnolia','Boogie Nights', etc). The film is a long song (158 minutes), covering a fascinating span of time in turn of the century California when oil gained the lure of gold and transformed the land and the people into creatures of capitalism and greed and lust, and were it not for the presence of Daniel Day-Lewis' powerful performance as the man who makes it all happen, the story itself would become tiresome. It doesn't.

Daniel Plainview (Daniel Day-Lewis) is a silver miner in 1898, but soon discovers oil and begins on a mission to become wealthy, owning most of the oil fields from the mountains of central California to the Pacific Ocean. With his medicine man manner of getting people to do what he wants he pursues his greed relentlessly, disrupting small sleepy towns like Little Boston as he gains access to the wealth of the black gold. There are odd characters along the way, such as the evangelist Eli Sunday (Paul Dano) who become crushable clods beneath Plainview's boots. The progress of the story is well known to most: it is the telling of the tale in the hands of wholly credible, completely physically immersed Daniel Day-Lewis that makes the story seem new.

The film's grimy atmosphere is well presented in Robert Elswit's cinematography and the odd musical score by Jonny Greenwood is as ominous as the vantage of Plainview. Greenwood elects to weave classical works into the fabric of the film: when young HW falls deaf after an explosion the silence is partnered by one of Arvö Pärt's 'Fratres', and the film's credits are displayed over the Anne-Sophie Mutter/von Karajan recording of Brahms' Violin Concerto. Strange bedfellows, yes, but entirely appropriate to the overall mood of the film. The journey is long and depressing, but the power of Day-Lewis' performance is magic. Grady Harp, April 08

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More There Will Be Blood (2008) reviews
review by . May 31, 2008
Many a year goes by without a movie of this quality, importance, and lasting value being made. 2007 saw two: No Country for Old Men, and this one. Both were richly and rightly rewarded at the 2008 Academy Awards.    Whatever one's notions of the subject matter, the director, the writers, or the actors involved, Blood punches you in the gut and won't stop until it winds down to its abrupt and astonishingly right ending. Like the best of classic movies, it compels your attention. …
review by . April 22, 2008
Since hitting it big with 1997's critically-lauded "Boogie Nights," Paul Thomas Anderson has stood in the front ranks of American filmmakers. Actually, Anderson has crouched in the front ranks, dreaming about what would make a great shot and how he could do this scene or that scene, while all the other filmmakers stand around and chat. For his fifth film, "There Will Be Blood," Anderson has set aside his trademark Altman-esque lushness for a style which recalls Francis Ford Coppola in his prime. …
About the reviewer
Grady Harp ()
Ranked #97
Grady Harp is a champion of Representational Art in the roles of curator, lecturer, panelist, writer of art essays, poetry, critical reviews of literature, art and music, and as a gallerist. He has presented … more
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Unmistakably a shot at greatness, Paul Thomas Anderson'sThere Will Be Bloodsucceeds in wild, explosive ways. The film digs into nothing less than the sources of peculiarly American kinds of ambition, corruption, and industry--and makes exhilarating cinema from it all. Although inspired by Upton Sinclair's 1927 novelOil!, Anderson has crafted his own take on the material, focusing on a black-eyed, self-made oilman named Daniel Plainview (Daniel Day-Lewis), whose voracious appetite for oil turns him into a California tycoon in the early years of the 20th century. The early reels are a mesmerizing look at the getting of oil from the ground, an intensely physical process that later broadens into Plainview's equally indomitable urge to control land and power. Curious, diverting episodes accumulate during Plainview's rise: a mighty derrick fire (a bravura opportunity that Anderson, with the aid of cinematographer Robert Elswit, does not fail to meet), a visit from a long-lost brother (Kevin J. O'Connor), the ongoing involvement of Plainview's poker-faced adoptive son (Dillon Freasier). As the film progresses, it gravitates toward Plainview's rivalry with the local representative of God, a preacher named Eli Sunday (brimstone-spitting Paul Dano); religion and capitalism are thus presented not so much as opposing forces but as two sides of the same coin. And the worm in the apple here is less man's greed than his vanity. Anderson's offbeat take on ...
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Details

DVD Release Date: April 8, 2008
Runtime: 158 minutes
Studio: Paramount
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