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"There Will Be Blood"

Directed by Paul Thomas Anderson.
Written by Paul Thomas Anderson.  Based loosely on the novel "Oil!" by Upton Sinclair.
Starring Daniel Day-Lewis, Paul Dano, Dillon Freasier and Ciarán Hinds.
Release Year:  2007

Review Date:  1/6/08


Paul Thomas Anderson has generally made good movies--most everyone has seen "Magnolia" and "Boogie Nights", and if you haven't seen "Hard Eight", it's a good rent--but his last major release, "Punch-Drunk Love", was uneven.  The time away has been great for Mr. Anderson, because "There Will Be Blood" is certainly his best effort thus far.

It helps that one Daniel Day-Lewis enlisted for service in Anderson's film; his Daniel Plainview character isn't just a lock for a Best Actor Oscar, it's more certain than the sun rising tomorrow.  Plainview is the center of "There Will Be Blood", which follow's Plainview's story around the turn-of-the-20th-century oil business in California.  Plainview starts out as a mineral prospector in 1898 but moves on to the oil business in the early 1900s; when we really begin to learn about him, he and his 9-year-old son H.W. Plainview (Dillon Freasier) are scouring California for the Next Big Thing.  They meet a man named Paul Sunday (Paul Dano, from "Little Miss Sunshine") who tells them about Little Boston, CA, a prospect so rich with oil that it is literally sitting on the surface in the hills; after paying Paul a finder's fee, Daniel moves his oil operation to Little Boston and the movie delves down multiple paths from there.

Sure, the performances by Day-Lewis, Dano, and all of the performers in "There Will Be Blood" are strong, but even better were two different things to me.  First, the cinematography; I still think that "No Country for Old Men" will win the Oscar on this, but the look of "Blood" is so great, so beautiful, so rich despite a muted palette of colors that make up the landscape and the actors' costumes throughout.  Second, the oil business.  I was fascinated with how the business of getting oil out of the dirt must have been for real oil men back in the early 1900s; as portrayed in the film, this makes for an interesting backdrop since I can't think of the last time I watched an oil movie, as it were.  Drug-addled dramas?  Check.  Sexual thrillers?  Check?  Gang-violence action films?  Check.  Love stories?  Check.  But, oil drilling dramas?  Uh, no.  This makes "There Will Be Blood" a unique pseudo-docudrama with its mix of storytelling and real-life backdrop.

Paired with a compelling lead character, the 150-minute running time of "There Will Be Blood" runs along surprisingly fast.  A lock for many of the upcoming Oscar nominations, and with good reason.

Rating:  Opening Weekend


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Bellview Rating System:

"Opening Weekend":  This is the highest rating a movie can receive.  Reserved for movies that exhibit the highest level of acting, plot, character development, setting...or Salma Hayek.  Not necessarily in that order. 

"$X.XX Show":  This price changes each year due to the inflation of movie prices; currently, it is the $9.50 Show.  While not technically perfect, this is a movie that will still entertain you at a very high level.  "Undercover Brother" falls into this category; it's no "Casablanca", but you'll have a great time watching.  The $9.50 Show won't win any Oscars, but you'll be quoting lines from the thing for ages (see "Office Space"). 

"Matinee":  An average movie that merits no more than a $6.50 viewing at your local theater.  Seeing it for less than $9.50 will make you feel a lot better about yourself.  A movie like "Blue Crush" fits this category; you leave the theater saying "That wasn't too, did you see that Lakers game last night?" 

"Rental":  This rating indicates a movie that you see in the previews and say to your friend, "I'll be sure to miss that one."  Mostly forgettable, you couldn't lose too much by going to Hollywood Video and paying $3 to watch it with your sig other, but you would only do that if the video store was out of copies of "Ronin."  If you can, see this movie for free.  This is what your TV Guide would give "one and a half stars." 

"Hard Vice":  This rating is the bottom of the barrel.  A movie that only six other human beings have witnessed, this is the worst movie I have ever seen.  A Shannon Tweed "thriller," it is so bad as to be funny during almost every one of its 84 minutes, and includes the worst ending ever put into a movie.  Marginally worse than "Cabin Boy", "The Avengers" or "Leonard, Part 6", this rating means that you should avoid this movie at all costs, or no costs, EVEN IF YOU CAN SEE IT FOR FREE!  (Warning:  strong profanity will be used in all reviews of "Hard Vice"-rated movies.)

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The "fine print":
All material by Justin Elliot Bell for SMR/Bellview/ except where noted
© 1999-2009 Justin Elliot Bell This site was last updated 01/08/09