Movie Reviews (such as they are)

Friday, March 21, 2008

There Will Be Blood

I can't remember a title of a film that so literally but unspectacularly promised what was forthcoming. And yet, on that note, There Will Be Blood could equally well have been called There Will Be Sweat, Tears, Humour, Pathos, Grimacing, Deafness, Anger, Sadness, Toil, Riches, Religion, and/or many other things. Because, my dear friends and readers, it is a long time since I saw a film that is as rich in content as this masterpiece from Paul Thomas Anderson.

In fact, since this is a film about the burgeoning oil industry, blood is almost the last thing you might reasonably have expected. Sure, people probably died, but PTA does not shy away from some horrible accidents that might fair make you jump like you were watching a horror flick.

Maybe this is a horror flick. Certainly it is dark and gothic. Certainly there is blood and gore. And there are a lot of things that you wouldn't want to face on a dark night on your own.

The tense opening scenes perfectly set the tone. Pioneering spirit. Adventure. Discovery. Danger. Injury. Difficulty. Reward. And we are asked, as audience members, to watch a opening sequence or two with no words. I'm an impatient type. I feel words are imperative to a film. I like to hear them spoken. So to have to wait what was possibly eight minutes for the first real words was interesting for me. It worked. It worked just fine. But I was glad when they came!

When was the last time I saw a film -- or that you saw a film -- in which you would be laughing heartily one minute and seriously distressed the next? Or when you were almost moved to tears in one moment, only to be chuckling the next? Sure it happens from time to time. But this film took it to an extreme for me. A good extreme. One that wasn't anticipated and was so much the better for that.

And you know? As the last scene ended and the credits began to roll, I realized I was sitting there grinning like a total idiot. And that, too, is rare: for me to actually be smiling after a movie ends, just because it was so damn fulfilling.

I'm not a Daniel Day-Lewis freak. He's never troubled my radar much. But this was by far the best I've seen him. By far. It's a masterclass. Can I realistically put it up there with Welles as Kane and De Niro as La Motta? You know, maybe I can... Maybe. Further viewings are necessary to be absolutely sure, but it's a damn fine show he puts in.

After Punch-Drunk Love, we were all a little scared of what to expect next from PTA, I think. Hard Eight was a nice little thriller; Boogie Nights and Magnolia so perfect; Punch-Drunk Love so... so... not what we wanted, at least not in my house. It's due a second viewing, for sure...

But There Will Be Blood is very, very good. The acting just right throughout. Just spot-on. The photography beautiful. The sets sublime. The music (and this from a guy who doesn't care for scores) was good, if perhaps slightly too much in places.

Arguably the film could be 20 minutes shorter. Arguably. But it matters not. There is such a boldness, a ballsiness to PTA on this movie that you can allow him the tiniest of indulgences. Because what we are witnessing here is a fucking great attempt at something enormous. And it comes pretty damn close. Not once did my attention wander, truly. And I didn't fall asleep during the last words, as was virtually the case in that other Oscar contender this year.

I liked this. A lot. It was far better than No Country for Old Men. I give There Will Be Blood a massive 88 points out of 100, and I look forward to buying the DVD.

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