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2/2/08

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Paul Thomas Anderson has been one of my favorite directors for over 10 years now. His second film Boogie Nights was so perfect, so crazily wonderful that I instantly knew he was a filmmaker that would forever be remembered. His follow-up Magnolia was also a brilliant piece of filmmaking, his version of a rambling Altman film. With his fourth film Punch-Drunk Love, it was almost like he was taking some time off, doing something small and fun, it was far less ambitious than his previous films, but also very well made and a fully interesting film. There Will Be Blood is probably my favorite film of 2007, an incredible masterwork, something that I didn't even believe he was capable of. Which in my eyes, moves him among the all time greats, with only five films under his belt. My only complaint is that it takes him two to three years to make a new film, but they're well worth the wait.


Blood began as an adaptation exercise, P.T. wasn't sure himself that he was capable of creating an epic period piece, so he began by adapting some chapters from the book Oil!. Once he realized that something good was coming together, he wrote the entire film. He only saw one actor with the gravity to be able to play Daniel Plainview, Daniel-Day Lewis; and rumor has it that if he had said no, the film would have been scrapped. Let's thank the movie-making gods that it came together.


The film begins with Plainview working by himself deep within the earth, painfully digging out his silver-mine. On a trip back down the ladder a rung breaks free and he takes a long tumble, waking up with a broken leg he must claw his way out to survive. It's a gritty scene that shows us exactly what kind of man he is. The film moves to a few years later, when he discovers oil for the first time; another accident kills one of his workers, which leaves him with an adopted son. Time jumps again, to when he's really coming into his own, giving his already famous "I'm an oilman..." speech.


The film really takes off when he hears about some land ripe with oil and he moves into this small town, buying up all the land surrounding it, building the area's first oil rig and becoming a full blown oil barren. There is only one man that dares stand up to him, Eli Sunday, the local preacher and the son of the first man that Plainview bought land from. He feels betrayed because his family didn't benefit financially from the oil. He is constantly trod upon by Plainview, belittling him, even as he's becoming a well known religious profit.

The film is an amazing character portrait of a man drunk on his own power. Daniel-Day Lewis portrays Daniel Plainview as an incredibly cold man, he has absolutely zero compassion for anyone, except for his son; but he's even willing to throw him aside when it comes to his business. It's sickening, yet completely fascinating to watch as Plainview spirals down into his own lonely world, where only he and his oil exist. The film ends with him so caught up in it all, that human life means nothing.


The film will leave you feeling disgustingly refreshed, and give you a bit of an understanding of why the world is the way it is. These are the type of people that shaped the world, the ones with the lust for power and money, where nobody stands in their way on the way to the top. It's sad, but it's the truth.


There Will Be Blood is a full fledged masterpiece. Daniel-Day Lewis deserved the Oscar for best actor, while he's slightly over-the-top (I. Drink. Your. Milkshake!), he gives a fully realized performance, one that is also endearingly entertaining. Jonny Greenwood's score is so odd that it is a little jarring at first, but by the end, I couldn't have imagined another composer trying to capture the madness. Writer/Director Paul Thomas Anderson, proves that he can work in any genre; this is the best historical epic of the decade. The film is so beautifully made that you can practically taste the dust and oil. Every frame oozes reality, like we're witnessing history unfold before us.


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