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There Will Be Blood (2007)

July 24, 2009

7/10 Grumpy Old Men

Good movie, but what a freakin’ downer.

There Will Be Blood is about an oil tycoon that’s a real sonofabitch and his surrogate son who’s pretty much just along for the ride. One day, this rat bastard oil man stumbles upon a stretch of oil-rich, untapped land, but it’s owned by a family of religious nuts that refuse to fall for any of this a-hole’s cons. Being that this huge jerk doesn’t take no for an answer, he proceeds to do anything and everything in his power to show these hillbillies who’s boss.

Did I mention that Daniel Day-Lewis’ character is a dick in this movie?

So like most movies, There Will Be Blood has a story – a very, very dark and depressing story. But the problem is that it’s not a very good story. The thing I keep hearing is that it’s about a clash between ambition and faith, but that’s pretty weak and it’s a wild generalization of everything that goes on in this movie. It’s just that by the movie’s end, it’s hard to tell what the moral of the story was and when the credits finally roll, you’ll still be scratching your head about what it was all trying to say.

I’ve never really thought there was much of a pre-existing conflict between faith and ambition, but what do I know.

My advice is to take this movie for what it is: a vehicle to watch Daniel Day-Lewis act his ass off. The guy’s unreal and he steals the show in everything he’s done. It’s the same situation here and if you’ve never seen him in anything else (Gangs of New York doesn’t count – crap movie), then go out and Netflix this his resume’ pronto.

The plot might not be all that memorable, but watching Day-Lewis as Daniel Plainview, the wholly amoral and emotionally warped guy willing to sacrifice anything at any cost in order to achieve his wealth, is a performance you can’t look away from.

It’s also directed by Paul Thomas Anderson, a seriously talented guy that’s got some pretty boss movies under his belt like Punch-Drunk Love, Boogie Nights, and Magnolia. With There Will Be Blood, he has seriously upped his game as a filmmaker and put together one visually stunning movie filled with imagery that’s nothing short of unforgettable. The scenery and the settings, it’s beautiful, it’s stark, and it sears its way into your brain. Can’t properly describe something that you have to see for yourself. KnowhatImean?

Even more than the acting, the writing, and the bizarro surprise ending, the parts of this movie I keep coming back to are the breathtakingly epic visuals and what might just be my favorite aspect, the score by Radiohead lead guitarist, Jonny Greenwood.

Normally, I don’t have half a shit about a movie’s score let alone go out and actually buy a movie’s soundtrack. But all that changed with There Will Be Blood. Call me biased for being a huge Radiohead fan, but I’m sticking to my guns regardless. Thinking back on this movie, it’s hard to differentiate any of the scenes from the music that was playing in the background. That doesn’t happen with me when I see a movie, that’s a new one. It’s a very different kind of score both in the way it’s composed and performed, but the ways in which it both clashes and blends with what’s happening on-screen is really something wild.

So if the story was as good as everything else this movie has going for it, I’d be tempted to bump up the score by an extra point or two. But even so, There Will Be Blood is still a really interesting example of creating something fresh by taking a step back to the days of character studies like Citizen Kane. It’s not flashy and it takes its time, but it works in ways a lot of movies today don’t.

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