Tuesday, January 22, 2008

movie minute

Blood Brother: In the new film by Paul Thomas Anderson (Boogie Nights, Punch Drunk Love), an oilman gets everything he wants and then some while at the same time losing everything that's most important in life. There Will Be Blood (R) is an epic about Daniel Plainview (Daniel Day-Lewis) who, in 1898, is searching for oil in the hills of California. Soon, we see him hit the motherlode and begin going from town to town in order to get people to sell their land to him so he can dig for more oil and, at the same time, guarantee that they will reap the rewards.

When Daniel is approached by a stranger named Paul (Paul Dano) claiming that he knows of a place that has more oil than Daniel can imagine, Daniel is intrigued yet skeptical. He sets off for parts unknown and encounters the Sunday family. Paul Dano shows up again as Eli (Paul's preacher brother) who has some skepticism of his own when it comes to Daniel. He urges Daniel to have the drilling site blessed before it commences, however, Daniel plays by his own rules. When bad things start happening, Paul is convinced it is because the site was not properly blessed. Daniel's personal luck goes downhill from there. His financial luck looks brighter than ever.

Daniel takes with him on his trips his adopted son, H.W., whom he took as his own when the boy's father died in a rigging accident. H.W. is played by newcomer Dillon Freasier and he is Daniel's confidant and ticket to wealth for a while before tragedy strikes.

Daniel Day-Lewis is playing a repulsive megalomaniac and yet watching him one cannot take their eyes off of him. He commands attention even while committing vile acts. What he does with this character is not elicit one ounce of sympathy and yet demand that we watch him to see what he will do or say next. Not a small feat for a character this unlikable.

Paul Dano is also compelling as Eli Sunday, a faith healer preacher who keeps going head to head with Daniel in a battle of wills. The electricity and tension between Day-Lewis and Dano is palpable. Originally Dano was only cast as Paul and another actor was cast as Eli, however, Anderson decided to make the brothers identical and have Dano also play Eli; smart choice. Dano is a revelation her and I'll be surprised if this role does not propel Dano to the next echelon. Dano was seen last year as the brother in Little Miss Sunshine; a role which hinted at the talent he shows off here.

The movie continues with Plainview experiencing more and more success and becoming more and more unbalanced with power; much to the detriment of those around him. It spans the length of 29 years and we see how wealth and power has affected Daniel.

There are a lot of terrific scenes in the film. One of which is the scene in which Plainview is baptized. Another is the last scene in the film which is polarizing and I'm still not sure whether I thought it was spot on or completely untrue of what came before.

There Will Be Blood is loosely based on Oil! by Upton Sinclair. I never read Sinclair's novel so I'm not sure how much of the book is in the movie. However, the film is, in my opinion, Anderson's best and the score is discordant and imaginative and is one of the best scores of 2007.

Day-Lewis is magnificent and funny as Plainview and I would say that he is a lock for the Best Actor Oscar; if he doesn't turn off voters with his repugnance.

Bags of popcorn (out of 5): 5



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