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*** Official THERE WILL BE BLOOD Review Thread


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7 replies to this topic

#1 of 8 OFFLINE   Michael Reuben

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Posted January 07 2008 - 03:08 AM

The film is just starting to expand after its initial Oscar-qualifying release. I'm sure there'll be more comments shortly.

I like a lot of things about the film, but I have a lot of problems with it too. The lead performance by Day-Lewis is extraordinary, maybe the best he's ever done (which is saying something). The visuals, the creation of this entire historical world, are so complete and compelling that the film easily stands comparison to a Days of Heaven or a Barry Lyndon.

But to me the narrative seemed to go slack in the last hour of the film, and I agree with A.O. Scott's point, as a guest critic on Ebert and Roeper, that the film's perspective shrinks when it should be expanding.

I was also troubled by the decision to have Paul Dano play both brothers, Paul and Eli Sunday. A lot of reviewers refer to them as "twin" brothers, but no one ever says that, and in fact it's been widely reported that another actor was originally cast as Eli. Introducing two characters played by the same actor with no explanation and no significant change in appearance creates narrative confusion at a point in the film when the plot is still getting established, and I think it was a mistake. (Which is not to say that casting Dano was a mistake; he nails the role.)

Still, for all my problems with it, it's a true original, unlike anything I've seen before, from Anderson or anyone else. Those don't come along often.

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#2 of 8 OFFLINE   BrettV

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Posted January 07 2008 - 09:51 AM

excellent movie. I thought the score was a little over the top though.

#3 of 8 OFFLINE   Robert Holloway

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Posted January 07 2008 - 04:12 PM

I rushed out to see this movie on it's opening afternoon in the Bay Area. I was not disappointed.

Let's start off by the positives:

This is big, bold and imaginative film making from a director who is not afraid to take risks. PTA has made a series of choices that are deliberately designed to challenge the viewer. These include the opening 15 minutes without dialogue, score, the approach of Daniel Day Lewis and the finale. Not all of them work perfectly, but they combine to create a memorable movie going experience.

Daniel Day Lewis is simply extraordinary as Daniel Plainview. This performance dwarfs anything I've seen in years. he is mesmerizing every time he is on screen and at times makes you hold your breath. You're in the company of true genius. Olivier, Gielgud, early DeNiro, yep, add DDL to your list.

The cinematography evokes both a scale and a sense of intimacy as you watch a man's struggle with greed, religion and ultimately himself.

Jonny Greenwood's score is one of the highlight's of the film and is a dead cert for an Oscar nomination. It's very unusual, but it manages to develop a sense of dread and impending awfulness to the goings on that a more conventional scene accompanying style simply could not achieve. Strange that I read that he's with radiohead, again a brave choice by PTA

Negatives:

The ending will not be to everyone's taste. I will not discuss the content for fear of spoiling. However, I can understand AO Scotts POV (isn't Roeper a complete buffoon and embarrassment) though I have to disagree. This is the story of a man, not an industry or a country. It's not an allegory it's about corruption, evil nd greed with capitalism as it's backdrop. I though the ending was a huge disappointment at first glance, but the more I thought about it, the more fitting it seemed. You'll be the judge.

Length - I'm not sure that the 15 minutes before the conclusion (I'm trying to be cryptic) completely worked and the film briefly dragged. That said, it was flying so high it was almost impossible to maintain that altitude.

To conclude
This is vital and great film making by a director and actor pushing everything to the edge. It's simply the most exciting ride I had in a movie theater (and I saw over 100 films) in the last year.

I've recorded reviews and scores on over 10,000 films over the past 35 years and only 30 ever scored 10/10. This was as close at it got in 2007.

Ultimately, any film fan needs to see this film and make up their own mind.

9/10
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#4 of 8 OFFLINE   Steve Y

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Posted January 07 2008 - 04:24 PM

My reaction to Paul/Eli was exactly the same as Kirk's, and I'm not usually thrown by these things. Upon leaving the theater I was convinced such a cheeky stroke must have been intentional, even if it was a relatively "last-minute" artistic decision due to some casting changes. In a movie where everything else is so carefully crafted, you can bet its ambiguity was not lost on the filmmaker(s).

I, like Michael, had issues with the film, though it has lingered in my memory - always a good sign. But I just can't pin it down. On the whole it was very compelling. But what exactly are we meant to digest?

The "tapering of vision" in the last act makes sense when you realize that the film has really very little to say about greed, oil, or religion (nothing that hasn't been said a thousand times), and is really only interested in one man's doomed and blackened heart. Making that heart a metaphor for America is another matter.

It's an intimate epic, and yet the object of the camera's intimacy keeps us at bay with rhetoric and violence, so we are left with a feeling.... is this all there is to Daniel Plainview? (Yes and No are my answers so far)

I loved Johnny Greenwood's score, which forced you out of the reverie that such horse-clopping visuals might provoke in an audience. It seemed to drag the whole oily affair out of the earth and into a kind of doomsday.

It was also nice to see a little-used Brahms concerto play such a prominent role in the storytelling.

#5 of 8 OFFLINE   MikeRS

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Posted January 08 2008 - 07:01 PM

Due to it's single minded focus on a hardcore character played by Daniel Day Lewis, the film definitely lingers long after a first viewing. It did not however, ever feel like some kind of airtight, smooth narrative. It's kinda messy and has some inconsistent flow (a couple of lulls), but maybe that's what Anderson was going for. Perhaps he was trying for some uncomfort in the viewer, and I'm percieving it wrong. I give him credit for that. He's flexing different cinematic muscles from the patented Scorsese/Altman mash of "Boogie Nights" and "Magnolia". There's none of those films' intoxicating, almost euphoric joy. His narrative has become much slower and shots are held much longer. There's definitely a creative discipline on display here, so I feel kinda guilty being too critical of the "lulls" on first viewing (I was pretty tired as well).

Of course, there are still some showy/amazingly directed sequences throughout (Plainview's son's accident and it's aftermath, brought to mind the power/hysteria/spectacle of the beach scenes in Jaws. Jonny Greenwood's score here was just perfect). But there was also the occasional overdone emotional flourish that has become an Anderson signature (I once derogatively dubbed "Magnolia" emotional porn Posted Image ).

Although I hate when critics try to impose metaphor in a character study, there is no possible way Anderson wasn't consciously composing some kind of titanic clash between capitalism and religion while writing this (ie: Plainview and Sunday). That is why the final scene is so pivotal to the narrative. It's Anderson's very cold, final statement on the subject matter.

Should I be worried about admitting that I relate to some of
Plainview's misanthropy/utter contempt/distrust for mankind? Posted Image

Heck, until his violent streak really started to manifest itself, I quite liked this ambitious go-getter....

#6 of 8 OFFLINE   Chuck Mayer

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Posted January 12 2008 - 04:19 AM

I agree with most of the positives and most of the negatives. From my perspective, it's difficult to talk about the film without talking about some rather thorny social and political issues, but I'll do my best. The film itself kept me at arm's distance, and there were moments I didn't like it. That's not a shock, since it focuses on a very unlikeable main character, who shatters what goodwill he has built very quickly. But that's intentional, I am certain.

On to the thorny stuff. It's fairly clear after post-viewing rumination that PTA is going after two major elements that dominate the world. On the surface, it's oil and religion - but in reality, it's greed and control. I think the decicion to allow Dano to play both Paul and Eli (two sides of the same coin) is critical. And I think they represent the dichotomy of some oil producing/exporting countries. I believe Daniel represents, what else, the United States of America, the good, the bad, and the ugly. Taken in that context, the themes of the film crsytallized a bit with me. There is no doubt that Daniel loves his son (adopted or not) until his son decides to be his own man. But he is the one character Daniel never raises a hand towards. Even at the end, he is not who Daniel lashes out at.

Anyways, I'll leave it at that. I don't agree with some of it, but I certainly respect the strength of the material. I knew it would be worth digging into that viewing a bit to see what is going on. I don't presume to be correct in my allegorical interpretations, but there you go.

The film is a masterpiece, but not necessarily one I am in love with. All of the performances are quite good, anchored on the solid ground you can find in a performance, that of Daniel Day Lewis. He is as phenomenal here as ever, and there isn't another actor alive who could do with this character what Lewis does. The direction and cinematography are also outstanding.

It's a haunting film no doubt.

I'm finished.
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#7 of 8 OFFLINE   Patrick Sun

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Posted January 12 2008 - 02:45 PM

"There Will Be Blood" takes place as an tale of looking for potential lands for the mining of oil fields in the start of the 1900's. Due to its long running lenth, the film is divided into 4 main parts for me, and the film is very compelling in the first 2 parts, Daniel Day-Lewis is probably a shoo-in for nabbing another Best Actor Oscar trophy (not just a nomination), but it's well-deserved as he creates an indelible character in Daniel Plainview who commands your attention from the get-go and takes the viewers on a dark journey as his oil field prospects grow and unexpected fatherhood presents both a blessing and later an emcumberance that he is ill-equipped to deal with in light of family tragedy.

For the remainder of the film, the later situations and conflicts in his life reveal a black heart, a willingness to do what's needed to achieve personal and business objectives, and deal with lies and deceit. Plainview is by no means a kind-hearted man, it'd be almost too easy to classify him as misanthropic, and he never shies away from doing the dirty work (looking for oil requires getting down and dirty in more ways than one).

Director P.T. Anderson is maturing as a filmmaker, as his new-found cinematic pacing is finally allowing the stories to unfold without the need for flashy tracking shots, or spastic edit-cuts, as the story doesn't require them. His screenplay does play out as present-day allegorical components with the main characters in the tale, though, as the film goes into its 2nd half, its dramatic tension slacks, and the story becomes more personal, but not more intimate. It feels like a detour, but not with as much dramatic pay-off to warrant such a detour. The final stanza is sufficient to close the story, but by the time it concludes, the story feels even smaller and distraught as Plainview's last line says it all.

What was interesting was how serious the 1st half of the film plays out, but after building up the characters, we are treated to some dramatically comedic scenes in the 2nd half, and you can't help but laugh with (not at) the characters and the situations in which they put themselves. This was unexpected, but perfectly welcomed given the amount of set up earlier in the film.

I give it 3.5 stars, or a grade of B+.
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#8 of 8 ONLINE   Robert Crawford

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Posted January 12 2008 - 11:29 PM

This thread is now the Official Review Thread for "There Will Be Blood". Please post all HTF member reviews in this thread.

Any other comments, links to other reviews, or discussion items will be deleted from this thread without warning!

If you need to discuss those type of issues then I have designated a http://www.hometheat....ml#post3304791.



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