Paul Thomas Anderson
This really shouldn’t be a shock, as Paul Thomas Anderson has proved himself to be an incredibly talented filmmaker with BOOGIE NIGHTS and MAGNOLIA. (I’ll defend the enjoyable PUNCHDRUNK LOVE too.) However, THERE WILL BE BLOOD marks something of a departure for the director; free of his trademark long takes, showy camera movements and usual cast members. His meticulous style is still on full display, but supplemented by some old school techniques (the gripping dialogue-free opening or the literal use of camera equipment from the 1910s) and Robert Elswit’s gorgeous cinematography. Anderson’s adaptation of Upton Sinclair’s Oil! also manages to balance some heavy thematics on faith, greed, and human nature, while offering a layered and epic story. The result is a film that slowly simmers, where even when things seem fine, you can feel something boiling under the surface.
That simmering quality is also largely due in part to Daniel Day-Lewis, who is genuinely riveting as Daniel Plainview. Day-Lewis is such a good actor it’s almost unfair to the profession, and you’ll relish every word out of his mouth. It’s hard to get a handle on Plainview as a moral character for most of the film and it’s truly a fascinating move, bordering on being a good businessman, a flawed human being, or something more sinister altogether. Day-Lewis is genuinely frightening at points, darkly comic at others, and as THERE WILL BE BLOOD slowly breaks apart his layers of sanity and morality, by the end of the movie you’re left with an ambitious struggle of human nature not glimpsed since a newspaper tycoon named Kane. This is the kind of dense, rewarding characterization that film students write entire theses about.
Paul Dano also does impressive work as the evangelical Eli. (I still can’t believe he was the geeky kid from THE GIRL NEXT DOOR.) And Radiohead guitarist Johnny Greenwood provides one of the most unique and stirring scores in recent memory, adding an immovable layer to the proceedings that range from foreboding to funny. Much like Clint Mansell’s haunting music for THE FOUNTAIN, Greenwood went unjustly ignored at the Oscars this year.
The Story of Petrolium (25:32): A 1923 silent film about the oil industry at that time. It has an almost educational video vibe and it speaks to THERE WILL BE BLOOD’s authenticity to the period and the subject. Greenwood’s new score also helps to add a similar feel to the movie itself (including a funny, ridiculous aspect in some spots).
15 Minutes (15:37): Pictures and documents show the extensive amount of research done going in to the film. There’s no explanation or anything, just various images set against Greenwood’s music.
“Fishing” Sequence (6:15): A deleted scene where Plainview and his men attempt to fish out the broken pieces of a collapsed drill from the rig. You get little bit more Ciaran Hinds and more of Plainview’s wrestling with religion, including a rare moment of honesty between him and the aptly named Abel.
Haircut/ Uninterrupted Hymn (3:13): Another deleted scene and a brief bit of the full score.
Dailies Gone Wild (2:47): An uninterrupted take of Plainview from the restaurant scene where he verbally assaults the Standard Oil guys. And if you listen closely you can hear ever actor within 10 square miles being intimidated by Daniel Day-Lewis.
The Teaser and Theatrical Trailer are also included, the latter of which is one of the best previews of last year.
Extra Tidbit: Day-Lewis spent an entire year preparing his performance as Daniel Plainview. On the other hand, Paul Dano had four days from learning he was playing Eli until filming began.