Sunday, January 27, 2008

Here it is . . . finally.

A while ago, I promised you a review of There Will Be Blood. Actually, it's been over a week since I saw it, but I didn't want to review it until I'd seen it again. Well, I did that a few days ago, so, as I promised, here's my review of the film . . .


In November, I saw the Coen Brothers' No Country For Old Men. I didn't think that I'd see a better movie from 2007, and, as such, I named it the best film of the year. However, you might remember that I left myself an out clause. This clause consisted of these words: "Personally, I’ll probably be rooting for it come Oscar night, unless some other film comes along and knocks me sideways." Well, it happened. Another film came along and knocked me around. Now, while I still think that No Country For Old Men is a terrific film, and one of the year's best, (and my favorite Coen Bros. film) I'm going to have to take it back. Paul Thomas Anderson's There Will Be Blood is my pick for the best film of 2007.

There Will Be Blood is unlike any film I've ever seen. This is strange, because, on some levels, it's a fairly straightforward epic film, with many of the genre's conventions. However, I think that this film takes a step further and trancends the categorization of only functioning as mere entertainment, which most films never do. Don't take this to mean that I don't think that the film's entertaining, because I think it's quite entertaining. I think that there's really just one way to to say it: There Will Be Blood is art. Yes, art. The film has an amazingly immediate, visceral quality to it. Once the film ends, you're left to struggle to put it together in your mind and decide what it "means." I've seen it twice already, and, both times, the people I was with (and myself too, but much more so the first time) found ourselves almost dazed when the movie was over. It's a lot to take in, and is a total trip.

The film operates on many different levels. On one level, it's a dark character study. On another, it's primarily a struggle between two men. On another, it uses symbols to tell the story of America itself, and forces that have helped to shape it into what it is. The ending is literally mind-blowing. (and is now one of my favorite endings of all-time) Despite its coming from the proverbial "left field," I don't think the film can really end any other way. Besides, there's this really great line about a milkshake that I don't think anyone who sees the film will EVER forget.

The performances, in particular, are excellent. Although it's been said many times already, Daniel Day-Lewis is AWESOME. He doesn't just act in this movie: he EMBODIES Daniel Plainview, who, I think, is one of the most complex and memorable characters in recent cinema. He will win an Academy Award for Best Actor for this role; you can bet money on it. Paul Dano also turns in a great performance as Eli Sunday, who is so creepy that he almost makes my skin crawl.

Jonny Greenwood's score is intense and, I think, points to an exciting new direction in film scoring. I know that the music has divided people as to its quality, with some people really liking it, and others thinking that it's too abrasive. Personally, I think that it's really cool, and really adds a unique quality to the film. If he hadn't used part of a previous composition of his as part of the score, I think that he would have been a serious contender for the Academy Award for Best Original Score. It's certainly the year's most innovative.

Until now, I'd never seen any of Paul Thomas Anderson's films. Now, I want to see all of them. His direction is wonderfully confident. I can only think of one shot in the entire film that bugged me as not really "fitting." Aside from that, each shot flows into the next almost seamlessly. In the end, There Will Be Blood is a challenging, frightening, awe-inspiring, and vibrant work of art. It is not a film that can be easily comprehended, and asks a lot of the viewer. However, I think that it's well worth the effort and is an experience that lovers of the movies will not want to miss. This film's one for the ages, folks.


LittleDreamer said...

Read it. :)

Peter Wagenet said...

I just watched it last night and also found it a very impressive movie, though I still have mixed feelings about the ending. It seemed a bit over the top, but you may well be right that it couldn't have ended any other way.

Also, a bit of trivia, Anderson admits that he took the milkshake line from the real life Teapot Dome scandal.