Wednesday, December 28, 2011

There Will Be Blood (2007)

There Will Be Blood (2007)
Rated R
Starring: Daniel Day-Lewis, Paul Dano, Cirian Hinds
Directed by: Paul Thomas Anderson
Tagline: There will be greed. There will be vengeance
Running time: 158 Minutes

Quick summary: The story of the rise to power of Daniel Plainview, a greedy and ruthless oil prospector at the turn of the century.

One of the best titles for a movie ever, though a bit misleading. Minor spoiler alert: there really isn’t that much blood in this movie. Luckily, PT Anderson never specified how much blood there will be, just that there will be blood, so it’s hard to be let down by it. They didn’t lie, but I was expecting a little more blood.

This Blu-ray for this movie sat on my coffee table for a month and a half before I finally watched it. The main reason it sat unwatched is because of the running time. Every time I was considering different movies to watch, I would look at the Netflix envelop and see 2 hours and 38 minutes. Ugh. I usually like my movies to clock in around 1 hour and 45 minutes. Any longer than that and you’re trying my ability to not get on the internet and zone out.

In addition to that, given my schedule and way I do things, I have about a maximum of two hours in the morning to watch a movie before I have to go to work, and I don’t really like splitting up my viewings over two days. But I got tired of not watching it, because my Netflix queue isn’t getting any shorter, so I buckled down and watched an hour and 20 minutes of it one day, then finished the second half the next day. And I am glad I did, because this was an excellent film. Though the first 15 minutes are a bit trying, as there is no dialog.

I kept finding that I was telling myself that it wasn’t boring, which sounds like I was trying to convince myself of this since the movie got such rave reviews in 2007. In actuality, I was repeating this to myself because I was surprised that it wasn’t boring. I generally don’t like period piece movies, especially long ones. Add in that it’s about an oil-man at the turn of the century, and I might’ve been less interested, and some of that contributed to me not watching it for 4 years. But while watching it, and afterwards, I was kind of amazed to find that I was interested, a fact that I attribute almost entirely to the actors, namely Daniel Day-Lewis and Paul Dano.

I have now seen a total of 4 Daniel Day-Lewis movies (three of which – this one, Gangs of New York and Last of the Mohicans – were good and one of which – Nine, was dreadful), and it is amazing how deeply in character he gets for his roles. Apparently, he does not break character during the entire filming process, so much so that he dresses, eats, sleeps and lives in character. While I find that kind of hard to believe, it would be totally awesome if it were completely true. He is an amazing actor. One of only nine men to win two Academy Awards for Best Actor. That’s pretty awesome.

Some fun crazy facts about DDL: He took a break from acting to become a cobbler, he is known as the British Robert De Niro (for some reason…), and he is an accomplished woodworker. What an awesome man.

As good as Day-Lewis was, I was almost more impressed by Paul Dano. Dano was only originally meant to have a very small part, as Jacob Sunday, but was eventually given the role of Eli Sunday as well, so he played twins. I liked the fact that they were never in a scene together, he was Jacob for one scene, and then he was Eli for the rest of the movie. In the scene where Daniel Plainview first meets Eli, there is a pause from Day-Lewis, almost like he thought the kid was messing with him (which is what I thought initially). It was a really awesome bit of acting from DDL.

It’s no great feat to play multiple characters in a movie, or for one actor to play twins, it’s been happening for decades. What was impressive was the passion and fire that Dano was able to bring to the character, especially since when filming began he was only supposed to be the one character. I’ve seen Dano in a bunch of other movies, and was never that impressed with him. He was fine in everything I saw, but in There Will Be Blood, he really showed something. It was part of what made the movie so good.

Paul Thomas Anderson is a really talented filmmaker. There was a great look to the film as a whole, and there was some beautiful imagery and breathtaking scenes. I’ve seen a few of his other movies (Punch Drunk Love and Boogie Nights), but this is the first one that I would consider great. The other two were good movies, and very well done, but There Will Be Blood is a clear cut above.

I can easily understand why Daniel Day-Lewis won the Oscar for Best Actor (and 23 other awards) for his performance. During the Oscars that year, I had only seen one of the films with a Best Actor nominee (Sweeney Todd), so I didn’t really have an opinion on Best Actor, but I had seen two of the films nominated for Best Picture. I was pulling for Juno to win, and it really was my favorite movie I saw that year, but No Country for Old Men was also an excellent film. Now that I have seen There Will Be Blood, any of the three of them could have won the Oscar and I’d have been ok with it.

5 out of 5 stars

Streets Ahead of Avatar

Here is the trailer:

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