Thursday, January 10, 2008

THERE WILL BE BLOOD

“THERE WILL BE BLOOD” (Daniel Day-Lewis & Paul Dano)

I will say this about Paul Thomas Anderson’s adaptation of the book “Oil!” – it is unique.
It is a memorable movie going experience, but I don’t think it’s the type of film that will be enjoyed by all. If you can become engrossed by watching a great actor at the top of his game, you will thoroughly enjoy Daniel Day-Lewis’s portrayal of Daniel Plainview in “There Will Be Blood”. But if you expect the lead character to be ‘heroic’ or someone to be admired – Plainview’s not your man.
The two lead actors however are as different as night & ‘Day’ – I’ll explain later...

The film opens in 1898 as young Daniel Plainview toils away in a self-dug cave looking for ore. He toils and he sweats alone in the middle of nowhere during the day and attempts to keep from freezing to death at night. The picture Anderson presents is of a driven man – so driven that after Plainview breaks his leg in a mishap, he crawls on his back for several miles back to civilization with his bag of precious stones.
Then Daniel discovers oil while digging and puts all of his efforts into becoming the best oil man in the country. At this point Plainview is to be admired; that’s what hooks you in – even when he turns out to be a greedy monster with a condemnation for the human race – you still remember what he went thru to get to his position of wealth.... And ‘sharing’ isn’t one of his traits...

What keeps this movie from being great is the casting of Paul Dano as Eli Sunday. Eli is a young preacher who has taken over his father’s flock; except Eli fancies himself a ‘healer’. The problem with Dano is he has no ‘fire & brimestone’ abilities; he is weak in the role – his girlish squeals of ‘Cast ye out Satan!’ are laughable. No one – not even elderly rubes in the early 1900’s would ‘flock’ to hear this ‘boy’ shriek shrilly. And since he never actually cures anyone – his congregation would dwindle down to nothing rather quickly. The capper of Eli’s first performance witnessed by Plainview is Daniel’s comment, “Nice show.” Meant in sarcasm by the character, but I took it to also be a shot at Dano’s pathetic acting.
What could have been a marvelous, Oscar front runner is relegated to a ‘maybe’ nominee simply because one actor leaves you with such a bad taste in your mouth. It’s a shame that Day-Lewis’s incredible performance will be marred forever with Dano’s lame one.

But I would encourage everyone to see this film for the completely off the wall character of Daniel Plainview – if you go with a group, trust me, you’ll have plenty to talk about after the show. His ‘adopted’ son, H. W. (who is unaware of that status) is a source of pride until an accident leaves the boy ‘imperfect’. If there’s one thing Plainview cannot tolerate it is ‘people’ who are imperfect - & by the end of the tale – that applies to everyone except Daniel Plainview.
Day-Lewis is exceptional in practically every scene; I predict they will show the scene where he is forced to confess his sins in front of Eli’s congregation (In order to use a piece of property to run his pipeline thru) prior to his accepting his Best Actor award.
I said earlier that Emile Hirsch deserves the award due to what he put himself thru physically for the role – but when a performance like this comes along, you can’t let it go unrewarded. A fantastic year for actors – both lead & supporting roles – so there will be a lot of deserving thespians having wonderful work go un-noticed by the Academy this year.

I do have a few complaints about the movie – I’m not sure if it deserves a nomination; Dano really left me dour – there were unanswered questions about Eli’s twin, Paul - & the final showdown between Plainview & Eli went a little over the top. Without giving anything away – I found the ‘Keystone Kop’ chase scene to be quite silly, thus reducing the impact of what follows. I also would have ended the ‘argument’ in a different way, but you’ll have to email me after you’ve seen the film to discover what I would have done... & I’m sure everyone in bloggerdom wants to find out what that is!

21 comments:

patrick said...

finally got to see the infamous There Will Be Blood... Daniel-Day Lewis' performance was top-notch. He takes well to the overbearing, violent father-figure role -- he also did this in Gangs of New York.

Terry Reid said...

Patrick, I would like to hear what you thought of Paul Dano's performance - Since I found, like most, that Day-Lewis was flawless,
while Dano was woefully miscast &
ruined the film.

brian said...

Sam's back. Just rented this movie. Didn't get around to seeing it in the theater, but I was highly impressed. I don't get some of these " fan " reviews I have read or heard from the clerk at Hollywood video. That they say it's slow. I didn't think that. In fact it didn't feel like an almost 3 hour long film.
And this is Day-Lewis 2nd best role ( yes- I feel even better than BTB performance )
He does so many different things and facets to the character that are so believable you forget the guy is acting. Not only that, you forget it's Day-Lewis.
My brother sent me an e-mail telling me that he has been the first choice to play Guido Contini in Nine with an impressive female cast, especially Sophia Loren as his mother. The story goes that Day-Lewis sent director Rob Marshall a tape of himself singing. Word is that it knocked everyone out in the room. Now he'll probably do the per usual intense prep and perfect a Spanish accent and then arrive on set as Guido Contini.
As for " Blood " as a cinematic effort it's very good and the writing is impressive coming from such a young person. I just might go purchase it.
I have to leave now, David Lean is yelling that Lawrence Of Arabia is on !

terry r. said...

Brian - Thanks for the comments & news on Daniel Day-Lewis. Still, I'd like someone to write & tell me they thought Paul Dano didn't ruin the film. Day-Lewis deserved to win the Oscar for best actor; that's pretty much been agreed upon. I want to hear from those who thought Paul Dano didn't stink & why? A wonderful film, but for every great DDL moment I remember comes a wretched Paul Dano scene that makes me shake my head in amazement that he was ever hired for the part! Patrick? Brian? Alan Smithee? George W.? Is there ANYBODY that disagrees with me on that?

brian ( Sam ) said...

I take it you didn't like the Dano performance ? I don't think it was as horrible as much as you do, but after seeing the movie I did project others actors instead of him in the role. I think Cillian Murphy and Joseph Gordon-Levit would have been good in the role. Maybe Shia LaBeouf because he is in that age range.
Hey, I just got paged from Billy Wilder. We are going to catch The Apartment and have a couple of martini's.

Terry r. said...

Ryan Gosling was originally offered the role, but backed out. Dano, I'm told, was suggested by Daniel Day-Lewis. I guess because he REALLY wanted his performance to stand out against a truly awful one! Yes, any of the 3 actors you mentioned would have been an enormous improvement - & the fact that you mentioned them tells me Dano may not have ruined the film for you, but you weren't 'pleased' with his performance by any means... Gee, is there any chance I could get invited to one of your cocktail parties - they sound fascinating!

Kurt said...

I just bought the DVD. Boy, Daniel Day-Lewis knows how to manipulate the camera. I first remember him and being impressed by his take on the prudish Cecil in A Room With A View and followed him since, obviously liking Gangs Of New York, The Last Of The Mochicans and obviously My Left Foot.
Not only is his acting powerful but he must do about 50 different facial expressions in those 2 1/2 hours on screen in Blood.
I do get a tad bit tired of journo's that always try to find some way inside his method. Who cares. As long as it's good and a believable performance I don't care how he got there. You always read other people or co-stars saying he went to this limit of study and that. It's impressive how hard he tackles a role. But everytime he does a movie he gets asked the same question over and over ( no wonder he takes extended breaks ) how do you come up with your method ? Well... dumb question, especially after the thousandth time. Not much was asked from Montgomery Clift. Or Marlon Brando or even De Niro for that matter on method acting. It seems to always be the first question asked of Day-Lewis.
I guess we'll have to wait another three more years to see him on screen. So at least I have my DVD's.

terry r. said...

Okay, I guess it's time I come clean & lose some credibility with the Daniel Day-Lewis is God crowd,
but I didn't like 'My Left Foot' & I wasn't very impressed with Daniel's acting. I also hated Dustin Hoffman in 'Rain Man'. There, I said it - not everyone who plays a character with a disability of some sort is automatically stamped as a great performer in my book. Still, Day-Lewis impressed me in 'Gangs Of N.Y.' & then floored me in 'Blood',
but my 2 favorite actors are Sean Penn & Jack Nicholson, followed by a slew of performers that I admire greatly (DDL among them)
It was Sean Penn who once said, 'How can you admire what an actor does? He repeats words someone else has written & in the manner a director has told him... was so great about that?'
As far as DDL's next project, I have heard he's already signed on to do a musical called 'Nine'...

Kurt said...

Hello Mr Reid. Just getting ready for work. I work a real weird pseudo swing shift ( 1-9pm )and thought I'd see if you had a reply.
Wow.... I'm pretty blown away that you didn't like My Left Foot and more so wasn't impressed with Dan's acting in it. It's one of the wife and I favorites. My wife works with handicapped people for a living, some with severe Bells Palsy, and she said that portrayal was spot on. That if you would have thought that was a documentary on Bells Palsy only and didn't know it was a movie, you would have thought he was a Bells Palsy patient. To go through an entire shoot like that must have been excruciating. Imagine it all crumpled up and your face contorted for 3 months. And it's not just the performance we thought was impressive, but it was the range within the portrayal. Not every person could do that.
And it is a true story of a child that could only use his one foot but overcame that and became a writer and a painter.
How could you not like an overcoming story like that ? Those are the people we cheer for to overcome. More impressive is that it was a real person, not fiction. Maybe had you read the book first you would have appreciated the movie and performance more. As I thought Christy Brown to be a fascinating person.
I have a feeling I would have liked Christy Brown. He could be a s*it, but also had a wicked sense of humor.
Brenda Fricker who plays his mum ( she won an Oscar too ) did a great job and the boy who plays Christy as a young boy was also impressive.
I have never thought of Day-Lewis as a God. Nor any actor for that matter, just a force to reckon with as a thesp
. It's funny you mention Sean Penn. It was just recently, where I read he was quoted as saying Daniel is one of the greatest actors of all time. I'd say that's some lofty praise from another great actor. I'm sure he knows a thing or two about other actors.
I don't think anyone who does movies is a God. But I do appreciate an actor that really studies what he is about to play and goes about a project for the love of the project instead of an easy paycheck with ordinary material like so MANY actors in Hollywood do. Another thing that made us a fan of his is how he can look and sound different from role to role. I guess if I was an actor, I'd go for that type of thing too. Be well versed in voice composition and a way to use facial expressions to give a character their original identity. That'd be my aim if I was an actor.
Now I'm off to go paint more trucks.
Interested to see what you will be reviewing in June.
When I come home I'll check more movies and see if I have a comment.
Oh yes, I do remember when it was you original 3 at the station. I'm trying to remember the other people that came on as hosts soon after. Names are on the tip of my tongue.

Anonymous said...

my agree with u. suprise. im really watching this with bif eye. that guy leader is good. he look different on tv.not beleve it him.
you no the preecher. he crazy i beleve. im glad he die. other is crazy to. I by this one to. u give good review onetime.

Kurt B. said...

Anonymous, what is up with your grammer ? I can barely understand your writing. But, I will agree with your assessment on the leader, which I'm thinking you are talking about the actor that played Daniel Plainview. Right ? Yes, he does have an uncanny way of transforming look and different accents and voices.
We watched the Oscars and couldn't not see Plainview anywhere in there.
Really looking forward to what Paul Thomas Anderson does next. I just hope it isn't a horror movie like I recently read in Variety. Don't do it Paul !

terry r. said...

Kurt, there's a lot to be said about being able to 'relate' to a character or a story; I just couldn't do that with 'My Left Foot' - your wife could & I'm sure what she had to say helped you to 'relate' to Christy Brown. I just didn't like the guy. My cousin hated 'Ordinary People' when it came out & I loved it - Why? Because I could relate to Timothy Hutton's character on many levels, while my cousin could not.
& I apologize for using the 'Daniel Day-Lewis is God' line, I meant it in the same way some music fans regard Eric Clapton. So you're spot on by coming back at me for that crack. I would love to see Penn & Day-Lewis together one day. I was hoping Martin Sorcese would cast them in his next project "Shutter Island", but alas he settled for Leonardo DiCaprio & Mark 'no-I-will-not-play-this-chartacter-any-dfferently-than-I-have-in-the-past'
Ruffalo. & lastly, you mentioned one of my peccadilloes, facial expressions - I can be awed by an actor that makes me believe he actually IS the character he's portraying & that is usually accomplished thru modest facial expressions. That's not to say that when Ashton Kutcher 'appears' to look as dumb as the nitwit he's portraying is great acting!
From KJR, it started with Bob Blackburn's "Calling All Sports" show which was often hosted by Kevin Calabro. When they went 24 hour sports, The Groz & The Fabulous Sports Babe were brought in. Eventually producers Mike Gastineau & Rick Dupree were given a show together. (Gas, of course, is a drive-time legend & Rick currently works with the Supersonics) The morning show remained with popular DJ Gary Lockwood, but eventually he was let go & replaced with local guy Keith Shipman. Michael Knight & New York Vinnie became the first successful morning combo until Mitch Levy came to town. Loud mouthed Kevin Wall & The 'T' Man came & went as well as update guys Jeff 'The Fish' Aaron & Brian Wheeler (Voice of the Portland Trailblazers) & even though he was the only host I ever had 'shouting matches' with, I still had to admire David Locke's intensity... I believe we became friends due to a mutual repsect we shared. I also worked with the mighty John Clayton & of everyone listed, there's only one that I truly didn't care for... Can you guess which one?

Kurt B. said...

OK, first I must comment that there shouldn't be any comparison's between Rainman ( Raymond ) and My Left Foot. One is a incredible true story and the other is fiction.
Christy Brown was real and his story is nothing short of incredible.
He was born with his body ravaged by cerebral and bells Palsy with the use of only one foot. His family and even doctors were relegated to believe he was mentally retarded, until one day he picked up a piece of chalk with his foot and wrote his name. He knew how to write by listening to his family read by the fire and copying his brothers and sisters with reading and writing unbeknownst to them.
Finally they know he isn't really retarded and include him into the normal family activities. He even serves as the goalie on his brothers street soccer team.
After time he started studying Dickens and painting and listening to music, all while going to rehabilitation. That lasted for several years till he soon began to learn how to talk better. This is when he deciced to write his first book. A good book it is.
Some years later, we taped a documentary from PBS about the filming of the movie. It really went deep into the making of the film. This is where we were highly impressed by Daniel's portrayal of Christy.
Not only did he spend everyday for months at a clinic for patients with cerebral and bells palsy, but befriended a patient to learn his speech pattern's to make sure he got the characteristics of the ailment correct and not confused with one's as palsy patients have different motor skills. The scene where he puts the record on the turntable with only his left foot was done in one take.
It's an uplifting story, as Christy really had a ton spirit and he could have just given up and decided to be a vegetable. But he had a fire in his belly and was a very smart man and made the choice to fight his condition. It's kind of ironic in that one of Christy's favorite poets was Cecil Day-Lewis ( Daniel's father ) long before Daniel knew anything about Christy. How is that for a coincidence.
As I didn't mind Rainman, I could take My Left Foot way more seriously than that because this was about a real person with huge obstacles to overcome.
I cannot think of another performance of that year that was better than that. I remember on that Oscar night he got a much deserved standing ovation because everyone in that room knew that was a very difficult role to portray and make it come across as genuine and not comic in any way.
Hope that gives you a little more insight. Have a nice night.

Anonymous said...

sorry kurt. i not the best writer. it hard to for me to right. not in my native words. im type in english no vietnamese. enlish kind of hard typing. i not bug by u kurt. u bad tast to !

terry r. said...

To Kurt, your in depth comments on 'My Left Foot' reveal how truly passionate you are towards that movie & real-life character & I understand your feelings, but for whatever reason, it didn't affect me the same way. Daniel Day-Lewis is not only a great actor, he is a humble & likeable human being. That makes it easy to root for the guy! I do feel as though you've opened my eyes a little wider with your insights. Thank You.
To Anonymous; I had a feeling you weren't used to writing in English.
I just hope in the future you'll leave a name to call you by. I have no problem with someone disagreeing with my reviews - we all can't like the same kind of movies!

Amy- the rock and movie luva said...

Hi ! I'm Amy. I guess since I told you what my favorite movie was in 2007, you'd probably know I would see if you reviewed There Will Be Blood.
I see where movie freak Kurt gave you his analogy on My Left Foot. Even though I have known him a lomg time, we don't always agree on movies. He doesn't like film's geared towards women or musical's. He's a guy's guy I guess. But after reading his My Left Foot premise I can also agree with what he said. I too, think that is Daniel's all time best performance. Broke a rib in the process trying to remain true to character. Unlike a lot of people have been in the past, I was familiar with Daniel since 1986, when he was in one of my all time favorite movies, A Room With A View.
Since then I followed his career on stage and off. As you can probably tell I'm a fan of stage.
I can't deny I may have had slight crush on the man especially in his younger days like in Last Of The Mochicans where he got buff and his rugged bearded John Proctor in Tee Crucible, that I may seem bias towards him, but knowning that my husband concurs in his talent, makes me feel a little better and I'm not just crushing.
Anyway, to this movie. I didn't know what to expect because I hadn't heard anything about it as it seemed to be very secret in it's Post Production.
I was blown away by the performance. He is almost in nearly every frame. A very difficult thing for an actor to do. Very tiresome and stressful. And to know how he easliy just slides into the body of Daniel Plainview blew me away. You don't even recognize it's Dan. That's a very rare trait when an actor can do that. Even the voice. You want to really hate that character, but he's so hard working and has a huge charisma around him that you find it hard to take your eyes off him even when he was doing bad things. Masterful performance.
I also give thumbs up to Paul Thomas Anderson in writing and directing this some day turned masterpeice, because he is still under 40 years old and knowing that was done in his vision was very impressive. I have seen it multiple times and have favorite scenes and quotes. On your Dano critique ? I'm on the fence. Could a better actor have been casted ? I think so. But in the end, I'm OK with Dano. I don't think he ruined the movie as you have mentioned.

terry r. said...

I admit I'm a nit-picker when it comes to acting - my requirement is; make me believe you are the character you're playing & not an actor pretending to be someone else. Paul Dano was the epitome of the latter in 'Blood' - Made to look even more awful than he was by Daniel's surpurb performance...
Okay, Amy - Go read my assessment of 'Atonement' & tell me what an idiot I am (You won't be the first!) But, if you can, please answer the questions I pose in my review as to WHY that movie annoyed me so - because so far no one has been able to do that...

eddie said...

good review terry. my favorite film of last year. but i like unconventional movies. against the grain of what i'm supposed to like. formula isn't for me.
lots of ddl fans commenting. i too feel the same as the others about my left foot. grueling performance. i liked that they included christy into everything the rest of the family does including playing street soccer with christy playing goalie. then he became a writer and painter. hell, i can't do that and i can use all of my extremeties ! i can't paint a lick.
ok...twbb, i'm not too down on the dano performance but i agree with the other person that said i wouldn't have had a problem with casting some other young actor. me, i would have picked cilliam murphy.
ddl is perfect in his role as plainview. you want to hate him but he plays him so charismatically you almost respect him for being such the visonary he is and his strong and uncompromising work ethic tho despite being a sociopath. day-lewis pulls off another one of his disappearing acts again in becoming plainview. i also agree on the impressive selling point on the facial expressions to where you know what he is thinking without him even speaking. ( on the train, in the ocean ) very impressed with the entire film as a whole. the tech aspects and pta's screenplay and direction. I used to be an actor, and anyone who wants to pick up some valuable tips can gain a lot from that performance. Sometimes less is more.

Terry R. said...

Your commentary on DDL as Plainview was extremely well-written. But as an actor, are you sure Paul Dano didn't suck to the point of being annoying?

blue stater said...

I wondered what would be my first choice of movie I'd see that you reviewed in looking into your archives, so I picked There Will Be Blood. Boy, when Daniel Day-Lewis chooses to immerse himself and get lost in character, it's impressive. It's as if he shut's himself out of himself and becomes these characters. There wasn't one point in the movie where I saw Day-Lewis the person on screen. And his talent for voice and accents is stellar.
I agree with you on the fact that even though Plainview is ice cold, somehow you root for him in a way because of how hard of a worker he is in the beginning of the movie.
I also agree that another actor should have been picked to play Eli/Paul Sunday. He just doesn't have the screen presence required for the part, especially against a powerhouse like Day-Lewis. I remember sitting in the theater thinking this is the wrong actor for the role and who I would have casted in the part and two young actors came to mind. Joseph Gordon-Levitt or Ben Foster would have been better.
Now, I just came here and posted my comment. I haven't read the many replies or what people have discussed. I will do that after I post.
I also was impressed with wunderkind Paul Thomas Anderson for his artistic eye in making this film but more so because of his brave choice in taking on a genre and completely different kind of movie he had never tried or done before, and moved away from his usual comfort Los Angeles surroundings, where all of his past movies were set.
Excellent review. I couldn't have said it better.

terry r. said...

Thanks for the compliment, Blue Stater - love the casting change of Ben Foster(so good in '3:10 To
Yuma') That would have raised 'TWBB' into my Top 5 for certain.