Thursday, January 24, 2008

There Will Be Blood

Hey guys. I was really happy with the feedback on I Am Legend. Discussion and opinion really stimulates the content and it's great to hear what people think. Thanks!

So first things first, I tried my first shandy last night though not after first making the mistake of asking for a Bass (Very Nice Bartender: "No, Smithwick's."), and I rather liked it (and I liked the Smithwick's, which I hadn't even heard of before, no surprise, I'm darn near illiterate in this field).

Before that I saw There Will Be Blood at the ACM at Lincoln Center, the one with the weird facades and the billions of escalators. We had been planning on Sweeney Todd, but that didn't work out.

The closest I've gotten to a Paul Thomas Anderson film is having a class with the kid who pees in his pants in Magnolia. And the only other film I've seen Paul Dano in was the admittedly fun but definitely overrated Little Miss Sunshine, and consequently was not all that impressed. And I've never read Oil!, or any Upton Sinclair work. So when I say this movie exceeded my expectations, I was coming in with a fairly uninformed viewpoint.

So first off, Paul Dano's performance was surprisingly impressive. At first it was somewhat awkward and uninteresting, which I wrote off to the character, but the moment the film got to the exorcism scene, things really got going. Dano threw himself into the character, his energetic performance making what was one of the most interesting scenes in the film.

And of course Daniel Day-Lewis did an excellent job as oilman Daniel Plainview, and I've decided that the man looks a lot better with a mustache and when he's not wearing things like this. Not only does he dominate each scene, as per his character, but he does an excellent of showing the slow unhinging of Plainview over the years across which the film literally sprawls.

The soundtrack, by Radiohead's Jonny Greenwood was good but not very impressive in terms of originality. It was, however, very effectively used to create a deep atmosphere of tension and macabre anticipation. I'd go so far as to say the film would have suffered without such heavy-handed use of musical suspense motifs, would have been a lot more dull without the buildup the music provided.

The violence, which there isn't a lot of and was mostly blunt trauma type stuff, was brutal and was really making the audience cringe (except for the guy across the aisle who was snoring). They got some gorgeous shots in, especially when Kevin J O'Connor and Day-Lewis are surveying-- fields, orange groves, fantastic color and light/shadows. In terms of the plot and story, it's an epic, covering three decades and lots of land. Most everything works though the deafness part was underdeveloped and could have been handled better. All in all, I definitely recommend the film. It's heavy and slow, but there's enough to keep the story moving and the viewer interested. Though it is one of those weighty movies that I won't be seeing again in the near future.

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