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Friday, November 16, 2007

There Will Be Blood

I saw P.T. Anderson's newest film, "There Will Be Blood", last night at a screening in North Hollywood. I got there around 3:25 p.m. for a 7:00 p.m. screening, but I have no regrets. It was a good night for me in many ways. Here are some of my thoughts about the film.

This may contain spoilers for some people. Beware...

It's been five years since his last film. And, this one is worth the wait. Even though after the movie was over, my head kinda hurt. My first thought was I need to see this movie again. The film is so heavy that one viewing doesn't work. Although, this is the case for many of his movies. Honestly, if you don't intend to watch them more than once, then don't even bother in the first place.

The film begins for a good twenty minutes without dialogue, which was unbelievable for the simple reason it works. Anderson described it afterwards as he wanted to show how isolated Plainview really is. All he can hear is a pickaxe and his own breath. This stylistic choice sets the tone early for this almost three hour epic.

Daniel Day-Lewis returns in a role that makes you hate him and love him. He's actually one of the least redeeming characters I can ever remember in the history of cinema. As the film progresses he gets so dark and greedy. He simply becomes a sociopath with one goal in mind: oil! And, he stops at nothing to achieve his goals. Still, he makes you care about his character. He has moments in the film that are complete dark humor, but you laugh with him and all his madness.

His supporting cast also deserves some props. Paul Dano gives a great performance as a local prophet. Although, the big surprise may be Dillion Freasier, who plays H.W. Plainview. Particularly after a certain point in the film (don't want to spoil it), his performance is highly impressive for a 10 year old.

On the technical side, three things stick out in my mind: cinematography, score, and production design. Anderson has worked with Robert Elswit on all his films and they are at their best. Elswit captures the landscapes beautifully and wisely chooses his long takes. Paul said he wanted to shoot it simple since the script was simple and it works well. Greenwood's score is simply haunting. Anderson listened to a lot of Penderecki when he wrote this film and it shows. The score does a great job working off of Plainview's character that it becomes a character in the film. At times, the string arrangements that he chose gave me the creeps. Anderson chose to work with a new production designer for this film and it paid off. This film takes place in the middle of the desert, yet it is beautiful to look at. He really takes you back to that time period and it makes the movie feel authentic.

The film's plot may be its biggest weakness. Although, Anderson has never been known as a plot oriented writer. Most of his films are very character driven. He chose to take this film in a couple directions you might not agree with, but still works. It was just a little confusing at times. He really kept me guessing. I honestly didn't know what to expect. Then, the ending just threw me completely off. Shocked the hell out of me really. I had a "What the fuck?" reaction on my face.

This film will have some mainstream issues. I can't see it really do anything at the box office. I'll definitely see it again, but would never bring a lady friend. It's dark and disturbing that many people will probably leave the theater not feeling too good about themselves. Let me put it this way, you will never look at bowling pins and milkshakes the same way.

As for the Oscars, I really don't know. I can see it get the nominations, but wins is another story. It becomes a question whether the Academy will embrace a film like this. So dark and disturbing, yet so utterly brilliant. It's a lethal combination that has hurt many films through the years.

There is no denying "There Will Be Blood"'s greatness. It's epic in every way. A true tragedy in a sense. It deals so heavy with multiple themes such as greed, family, religion, and oil. Yes, it's set at the turn of the century, but many of the themes hit home today. Will people embrace the film for what it really is? I don't know yet, but I do know you should see this film. It's that fucking good.

After the screening, I did get a chance to meet Paul Thomas Anderson. He's been huge influence on my career as a filmmaker as many people know. I was really nervous meeting him, but he was humble. I shook his hand and he signed a mint condition dvd of "Boogie Nights" for me. It lasted only 30 seconds, but that's okay. I got to meet my filmmaking idol and that's something not everyone can say they have done.

Note: I'll post more reaction on meeting P.T. Anderson a little later. I actually blogged the whole day, but haven't had time to type it out yet. I'll try to do that over the weekend.

Note 2: The first picture was taken by someone I don't know, but I'm in the picture. I'm the guy standing in the left of the frame with a blazer. If you look closely, I'm holding my "Boogie Nights" dvd. This picture was taken right before I approached Paul. Thanks goes out to whoever took it.

Note 3: The second picture is of the autographed "Boogie Nights" dvd. My favorite movie of all time!

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