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Daniel Day-Lewis in 'There Will Be Blood'

"There Will Be Blood"
A film review by Gary Chew

GARY CHEW/Sacramento

Scene from 'There Will Be Blood'

Scene from "There Will Be Blood"

Paul Thomas Anderson may not take this as a compliment, but as I watched his film, "There Will Be Blood," I had to keep saying to myself, "No, this isn't a Terrence Malick movie. It's a film by Paul Thomas Anderson, the guy who wrote and directed another movie called, "Boogie Nights" (1997).

As "Boogie Nights" is a really good movie about a really disgusting subject, so is "There Will Be Blood" a really glacially paced motion picture that, no doubt, is the most eccentric film I've seen in a very long time. But does it ever---even if it takes way too long---offer a stupendous payoff! I've already dubbed the film's finish as Director Anderson's 'mind-blowing bowling alley' scene.

Unfortunately, "There Will Be Blood" is less a movie for entertainment than it is for endurance. Anderson has freighted it with a lugubrious sense of cinema that eclipses the narrative about a complex, independent oil entrepreneur set in a stretch of early 20th century Southern California desert. This fictitious man, who will surely remind you of Howard Hughes or Charles Foster Kane, is named Daniel Plainview. Playing the character to perfection is Daniel Day-Lewis.

Pregnant pauses in dialogue, frequent tracking shots that give more time than necessary to reexamine the bleak terrain where most of the picture was filmed, scenes too darkly lit to see the actor's faces and harsh soundtrack music coupled with percussive noises that detract from the visual make "There Will Be Blood" a movie-going challenge.

Anderson's script is drawn from Upton Sinclair's 1927 novel, "Oil." Sinclair was a celebrity to be reckoned with himself. A well-known American author of nearly 100 books and muckraker of socialist persuasion, Sinclair also ran unsuccessfully in California's 1934 gubernatorial race.

Daniel Day-Lewis' Plainview is the consummate pull-yourself-up-by-the boot-straps American born in the late 19th century. He's a man who hasn't a lazy bone in his being. He works tirelessly to gain his fortune in petroleum, losing his wife in childbirth, raising his only son alone. Thriving on competition, acquisition and deceit, Plainview gets word about a parcel of land that looks like a sure thing for easily accessible petroleum. The land is owned by the Sunday family. One of the sons is a devout, evangelical Christian preacher nurturing a growing congregation.

Paul Dano

Paul Dano

One of the few familiar faces in "There Will Be Blood" is Paul Dano's. He plays the young pastor called Eli Sunday. (You may remember Dano as the nearly mute Nietzsche-reading teenager in the great, "Little Miss Sunshine.")

Through the Plainview and Sunday characters, the film ever so gradually reveals the utter state of denial and shortsightedness with which two very different men can live out their lives but, still, harbor many common values. The story is replete with the emotion of hate and I would submit that Sinclair and Anderson have hit the nail on the literary head, so to speak, with these two specific characterizations.

Neither Plainview nor Pastor Sunday can surely be men for whom Sinclair would hold any respect. The vicious humor depicted in the last scene clearly demonstrates Upton Sinclair's contempt, or I guess you could say, hate for the desperate characters in "There Will Be Blood."

"There Will Be Blood" preview

"There Will Be Blood" official site at Paramount Vantage.
Opens in Tulsa in January.
Watch Yahoo Movies  for Tulsa theaters & times.
Gary Chew can be reached at gchw7@yahoo.com
Copyright © 2008, Gary Chew. All rights reserved.

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