Wednesday, January 9, 2008

Poetry in motion- There Will Be Blood review

The past twelve month's worth of movies hasn't really left me feeling all that warm and fuzzy inside. In all, I'd have to say it was a pretty poor year to be a film fanatic. However, I was quite pleased with the New Year transitional one-two-punch delivered thanks to the growing visibility of smaller films. I'm talking about the phenomenal No Country For Old Men released in November and the equally mesmerizing There Will Be Blood currently playing in indy theaters all over the country.

I will make no further comparison between the two films save to say I once again found myself sitting in my theater seat contemplating what I had just witnessed for some time as the credits rolled. Walking through the parking lot, my mind lingered on the same topic. Sitting in my car several minutes before allowing myself to drive home, I was still stuck on that Texan landscape letting the dust blow past and the oil rain down. I have a feeling the images, ideas and performances of There Will Be Blood will stay with me for quite some time.

The film is slow moving, thoughtful and very atmospheric. While there are a few "splosions" put on display, There Will Be Blood is intended for those who can sit through two-and-a-half hours of character and plot development with only a few "heart-pounding" moments spread throughout. When those moments come, though, good lord are they fantastic. I found myself nearly wanting to look away with how gritty and true they felt. Despite the title, there is little in the line of "blood" to be found here. Instead, it's the ugliest reaches of human nature that provides all the shock.

While everyone on-screen does a fantastic job with their roles, two actors in particular have delivered performances that will go down in cinematic history. Paul Dano as the young preacher Eli Sunday and Daniel Day-Lewis as the frothing, terrifying Daniel Plainview light up the screen with their own versions of fire and brimstone in an epic tale of good versus evil and the constant confusion over which is which. Electrifying. Captivating. Stunning. Flawless. Whichever cliche you pick, seldom has it been so deserved as by these two artists. Day-Lewis as Plainview, for one, has and will have trouble finding many peers for the energy and love he poured into that character.

I could go on forever about how good There Will Be Blood is. The music is a bit bizarre, but also bizarrely appropriate. The cinematography and set pieces are breathtaking. The direction was superb. Other than feeling slightly too long (mainly due to pacing, not content), I find little to hold against director Paul Thomas Anderson's latest work. There Will Be Blood earns the title of masterpiece with its brute force and ability to dig deep and stay firmly planted. It requires a bit of commitment on the part of the viewer, but the payoff is abundantly worth it.

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