There Will Be Blood (2007) - Paul Thomas Anderson

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There Will Be Blood (2007) - Paul Thomas Anderson

Postby wpqx » Sat Jan 26, 2008 2:30 am

As far as I can tell there is no thread open for this film, so let's use it to that effect. I'll start by saying that no film was as anticipated by me in this award season. Paul Thomas Anderson is certainly one of the best American filmmakers working today, and you can reasonably assume he's only getting started. There Will Be Blood takes him into a world he hasn't gone before. Part frontier Western, period picture and intimate character study it is a film that isn't easily found in modern American cinema, and being based (loosely) on Upton Sinclair's novel Oil it is a rare literary adaptation for Anderson. More than anything though this film is dominated from beginning to end by Daniel Day Lewis. Undoubtedly one of the best actors of his generation he is also the most selective, and when he makes a rare film appearance its usually of a larger than life variety. Daniel Plainview is everything a Lewis role should be. He's commanding, multi-faceted, loud, brooding, and always seems to know more than anyone else. His performance is so commanding that anytime someone else has a line you almost feel as though they are stealing from Lewis.

It isn't hard to be on his side. We begin the film with him. An accident causes him to break his leg in the first scene. With that broken leg he crawls to the claim office with a deed for land and some coal. In a few years he's drilling for oil, and in a few more he's ready to ship it himself. This is the American dream we have always heard about. The self made man who gets his hands dirty and profits because of it, whose just a little smarter than anyone else to get what he needs. We never doubt his worth and his ideals. He's always on the job and never allows things to be handled by others. What also helps endear us to him is just how weak every other character is. They are either soft spoken pushovers or sheep allowing themselves to be handled as they may. The main antagonist to Plainview is Eli Sunday (Paul Dano) who never for even a brief second gets us to even tolerate him. Anderson did such a good job in casting Dano that I almost hated the film because this despicable character was in it. I mean I really hated every second of the film Dano was in. This allowed me to be rewarded on two occasions when Plainview finally slaps the hell out of him just as I had been praying for the entire film. In that regard the ending of the film was by far the most rewarding moment of the picture.

The idea that oil corrupts certainly isn't a new one. Nearly everyone is willing to turn their back on family, friends, and even their god for oil, or the promise of wealth. These aren't highly principled people, they speak well of their core values but have no problem sacrificing for their personal gain. An America of rugged individualism popular at the time, but perhaps the lack of principle isn't what Teddy Roosevelt had in mind. Just as in his previous films Anderson allows cinematographer Robert Elswit to take his time with shots. The great oil fire plays out largely in a lengthy master shot and this free and ever moving camera has been with Anderson since the beginning. Lighting is key here and if it isn't all natural lighting, it certainly looks like it. So much of the film is dark in wells, night scenes, with only a flicker of a candle, match, or fire to light the scene. Elswit also shot Michael Clayton but was recognized for his work here with an Oscar nomination.

The film was dedicated to Robert Altman, and at first this might seem the farthest thing from an Altman-esque film. However the muddy and bleak Western landscapes of this film seem at times to be straight out of McCabe and Mrs. Miller. As a film together There Will Be Blood is dare I say it, overrated? However when you enter into a film expecting the greatest thing ever, then meeting those expectations are nearly impossible. Dano was distracting and although he got his, it took far too long and the whiny preaching just wore my nerves down far too early. Lewis has gotten a well deserved Oscar nomination and based on what I've seen this year, I would have no objection to him winning. In many variations 2007 seems like the year of the Western, with this, No Country for Old Men, 3:10 to Yuma, and The Assassination of Jesse James all in one way or another touching on traditions of the Western.

Re: There Will Be Blood (2007) - Paul Thomas Anderson

Postby hengcs » Fri Feb 15, 2008 7:34 pm

I have watched this film.
I feel like procrastinating a review until I watched it again.

As of now, I can only say ...
(i) among the best selling poing has to be Daniel Day Lewis; somehow, Dano pales too much in comparison ... i am just wondering, would there be an actor that would match Daniel? Reason: Dano's role is so interesting that it shouldnt be difficult to garner a supporting role nomination, but he didnt ...
(ii) the various scenes dealing with religion can be rather "tricky" or even "disturbing" for some people. depending on where you stand, it may even affect your assessment of the film ... but for those who are willing to look beyond, the film does have several interesting themes/messages ... worth discussing ...
(iii) the soundtrack is rather different

Humbly ...
I think there is no clear winner this year ...
All the 5 films in Oscar (or 7 in Golden Globe) have their pros and some cons ...
Maybe 2 or 3 deserve more attention ... bet you guess it ...
Let me contemplate which of the 3 is better ... Atonement? No Country For Old Men? There Will Be Blood?

Re: There Will Be Blood (2007) - Paul Thomas Anderson

Postby wpqx » Fri Feb 15, 2008 7:57 pm

I'm slightly puzzled yet amused that somehow "I Drink Your Milkshake" has become the catchphrase for this year's awards, which rumor has it was a line used during the Teapot Dome scandal in a congressional hearing. It was interesting because talking it over with a teacher of mine he said the film was great until the end, and I thought the end was by far the best scene in the film. Paul Dano is not that great of an actor and I think he was grossly miscast in here. I never really bought him as a preacher and the film could have used a stronger presence, I disliked Dano so much that he was an overwhelming distraction every time he made an onscreen appearance. Lewis seems like a lock to win the Oscar and I can't even fathom another actor even coming close this past year. Since poverty isn't going anywhere I might just download Juno and Michael Clayton so I can confirm my Oscar picks.

Re: There Will Be Blood (2007) - Paul Thomas Anderson

Postby hengcs » Sun Feb 17, 2008 3:57 am

Another point ...

background: maybe becos i have kind of acted (in a classroom play) as Shylock (in Merchant of Venice), i recall then that ... unlike many people who feel that Shylock was a nasty guy and hence, when he was ultimately coerced to convert his religion (i.e., if i recall the ending correctly), some people thought he deserved it ... i recall that during then, i chose a diff take (after all, that is what "literature" as a subject is all abt) ... i decided to let the audience be more empathetic towards Shylock at that scene ...

my point:

(1) hence, when the two scenes of "coercion/convertion/bad mouthing" appeared in the film (i.e., Daniel's and Dano's) ... i always feel very upsetting ...

I have always thought ... if only the world respects one another religion a bit more ... it will be a merrier place ... and there will be unity amidst diversity ...

(2) i also mention this point becos i wonder how the voting academy will be affected by these two scenes ... will it antagonize any becos of the way the film views/depicts religion ... always a tricky issue ...

Re: There Will Be Blood (2007) - Paul Thomas Anderson

Postby justindeimen » Mon Feb 18, 2008 10:39 am


The ceaseless back and forth for attention between the two ominously titled magnum opuses of American cinema in 2007 are well deserved. The Coen Brothers' sublime "No Country for Old Men" and Paul Thomas Anderson's often times majestic "There Will Be Blood" share a great deal of attributes including their divisive powerhouse endings, but none of them more arousing than their shared Old Testament vehemence. The epic struggle between spiritual awakening and the primitive ambitions are at the centre of the film's tug of wars between oilman Daniel Plainview (Daniel Day-Lewis) and preacher Eli Sunday (Paul Dano), eliciting the most intimate yet profound fascination from its unholy communions. This turn-of-the-century period saga is frightening and attractive, mysterious and merciless.

The foundation is Upton Sinclair's "Oil!", the collusion of religion and politics amidst reservoirs of rapacious capitalism and slippery beliefs. Plainview's self-interested certitude in his lust for power and conquest is pitted against Sunday's faith in divinity. It is Sinclair's harsh indictments of the dark undercurrents running wild at the heart of the American Dream put through the ringer by Anderson's traditional inquiries into the paradigms of community, family, love and its tenets of salvation.

You don't watch Anderson's film so much as you experience it, be consumed by its ferocious lyricism and then left expended and shivering in its wake. With the masterly work from its cinematographer Robert Elswit, Anderson utilises quick, succinct bursts of penetrating dialogue and intense visual images. The spectacular ejaculation of oil and flame that punctuates the film's master sequence is ravishing, deformed in its connotations and eventually turns unearthly when initiating Plainview's baptism by fire. Anderson's own macabre surrealism (underscored by Jonny Greenwood's eerie score burrowing deep into naked skin) is less a showcase of auteuristic flourishes, but studded with cinematic touches that make the film's turbulent psyche much more trenchant than what its narrative promises.

The twin castles of the film's corrupted and corruptible, Paul Dano's comparatively rumbustious performance next to Daniel Day-Lewis's fired-up bluster is unique and effective in its filmic context. Dano becomes awkward, volatile, creepy, shifty, alluring and laden with suspicion and guilt. It's a performance that punctures the cretinous Eli's characterisation through its core, where hate and pity become inextricable. Day-Lewis erupts like a man possessed, via Anderson's exorcism of his material, in his mountainous and overbearing strides of pained fury, as his curse of obsession is brought upon the sun-scorched desert plains like a plague of locusts. The animalistic fervour compliments Anderson's raging beast, while emotion throws off Plainview's equation.

There's indefinable greatness apparent in the film, sustained by short bursts of throbbing fearlessness in its moral labyrinths. Expectations and sentiments run high for Anderson's most admirable and progressive film yet, but even with an overzealous momentum, "There Will Be Blood" proves to be potently powerful and startlingly poetic.

Re: There Will Be Blood (2007) - Paul Thomas Anderson

Postby R6dw6C » Tue Feb 19, 2008 4:19 pm

I just returned from the Cinema - after all, I couldn't resist to watch the film dubbed because I'll have to wait for a screening of the original version a few more weeks and I was sooo anxious to see it. The German dubbing fortunately was one of the best and most careful I've heard in a long time (probably since "Inland Empire" and "Death Proof") and it did the film no harm. (Just listen to the German Trailer, doesn't it sound adequate?)

Like A's, my feelings about the film are a bit uneven. It took my breath away and sometimes I couldn't believe what a timeless and grand piece of mature, pure filmmaking I was watching on the screen of a Multiplex - this film definitely has the potential to become a classic (I know that this has already been said by many but it's a miracle nevertheless - how many future classics came up within the last years, especially from the USA?) as it's not devoted to the stylistics and the criterias of today's cinema. But I had the feeling I was climbing a steep rock face without getting really hold of it, just finding a few ledges to climb further but slipping back all the time, only touching the surface of a film that was just to profound to be unlocked within one viewing.

If Anderson (I wasn't really a fan of his lately though I liked all of his films - now things may change) will develop himself further in the future, he'll might become one of America's most interesting auteurs - he just started his career, more or less. If he keep moving, I wouldn't guess what unearthly individual films he'll make in 10, 15 years...

In "There Will Be Blood", it's finally obvious which position he keeps upon his characters. He behaves like god - not in a spiritual or arrogant manner but in a moralistic. God loves the people but he doesn't love their sins - that's some kind of key sentence to receipe Anderson's films and while I wasn't sure if Anderson was just a strong, conservative moralist while watching "Boogie Nights" and "Magnolia" three years ago, I know think his position is beyond any self-righteous condemnation of his characters. He loves them.

9/10 (No 25-Point-Rating, the former is just an attempt to demonstrate my reverence to a film which left me with insecure feelings but a strong impression.) I'm looking forward to many future rewatches and the screening of the original version.

PS: I'll try to read nothing about the film until I feel confident enought about my own point of view, so I'll avoid your reviews for the moment, sorry. I don't like being influenced by others if my mind is a bit inconstant about a film.

Re: There Will Be Blood (2007) - Paul Thomas Anderson

Postby wpqx » Tue Feb 19, 2008 5:15 pm

Those are some mighty big shoes to fill dubbing Daniel Day Lewis so pardon my authenticity but I would strongly recommend trying to see an English language version.

Re: There Will Be Blood (2007) - Paul Thomas Anderson

Postby R6dw6C » Tue Feb 19, 2008 6:26 pm

Those are some mighty big shoes to fill dubbing Daniel Day Lewis so pardon my authenticity but I would strongly recommend trying to see an English language version. Of course, of course! As I wrote above, it almost broke my heart to be so unpatient and watch it dubbed but in the end, the dubbing was extraordinarily well done (especially as there aren't even average dubbings around today, usually) and I didn't have to regret my decision.

I'm already very nervous to see it in the Original version and on the big Screen again within the next two months. I could've watched "The Orphanage" today but there was only one film playing I really wanted to see bady: "There Will Be Blood"!

Re: There Will Be Blood (2007) - Paul Thomas Anderson

Postby A » Fri Mar 21, 2008 3:23 am

I found it very hard to write down my thoughts on this film. Like previous films who were clearly my most awaited cinema experiences of the year (e.g. The Matrix Reloaded or The Fountain ) I was quite disappointed, though I fortunately enjoyed the film and found much to be liked. I didn't think that Day-Lewis gave the best possible performance (though he certainly was great), and I actually preferred watching Paul Dano (possible Oscar for best supporting role imo) and also Dillon Freasier (as Plainview's "son").
Besides that, I thought that either I didn't understand the film, or the film was trying much without ever reaching it, because what it was trying to say was very simple, yet disguised as a "grandiose" epic. Perhaps an ironicaly playfull and self-conscious attitude, but I doubt that Anderson has started to follow the Coens' footsteps in this regard. Like R6dw6C I also need a second sitting, but i doubt that I'll ever think of the film as an " instant classic" or a masterpiece. I like it very much though, but less for what it's saying about America (which I think is only a small part of the film and even moreso Anderson's intention), than about the portrayal of its characters in a desolate world. Griping for a way out, some sort of humanity - as always in Paul Thomas Anderson's films. Same as usual one might say, only that Anderson progresses in terms of direction in a way that most other "mainstream" filmmakers can only dream of. He is truly doing leaps from film to film that would take decades for other directors. I probably still prefer his direction in Punch-Drunk Love (2002), though I'll probably have to admit that he HAS again gotten much better. It seems that the simple days of mimicking other directorial styles and too "orderly" compositions (like in Magnolia (1999)) are over once and for all. This definitely earns my respect.

So far from what I've seen I would rank Anderson's films this way (the first two are personal favorites):

1. Punch-Drunk Love
2. Magnolia
3. There Will be Blood
4. Boogie Nights

Nevertheless I think in terms of artistic vision ( though not the same as "execution") they are very similar, and are (thus?) also difficult to separate in terms of quality. Great is great is great.

As i can't seem to find the right words, here's an interesting review of the film which expresses some of my views very well (especially the first page). But I don't agree with the overly simple conclusions that are drawn at the end of the article and I'm also not in line with the dismissal of the film on (merely) the terms stated by the author.

Stephanie Zacharek on "There Will Be Blood"

PS: I watched the film in English without subtitles on a huge theater screen during the advance of a bad flu. That may explain some of my problems. LoL

Re: There Will Be Blood (2007) - Paul Thomas Anderson

Postby arsaib4 » Fri Apr 11, 2008 11:48 pm

Now available on DVD in both single and two-disc editions (Paramount).

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