A Bastard in a Basket (the "there will be blood" review)

If Daniel Day-Lewis doesn't get an Oscar for his performance as Daniel Plainview, I'm going to the Academy with a pick-ax.

There Will Be Blood has restored my faith in Hollywood. For a while, at least. It was long, yes, but I never once wondered what time it was or even got up to go to the bathroom (even when my back teeth were practically floating). It moved right along, the plot was interesting, I became emotionally invested in the characters, and the score is now the rightful owner of my soul. As my good friend and fellow film-lover Justin said, "It was a great reminder of how much we take advantage of special effects and crappy acting, and then this movie comes out and it's like, 'oh yeah! That's what a movie is supposed to be!"

Let's start with Daniel as Daniel, shall we? I haven't seen a performance quite like that since Dick Cheney mistook a buddy for a quail. Damn, he was convincing. Daniel, not Cheney. I know that Daniel is very big on method acting and preparation to the point of exhaustion, but jeez, he must have smoked 200 packs an hour and developed cirrhosis and bathed in bacon fat for this role. He was charismatic, he was smooth, he was smart, he loved his son very much and very hard, and he was monumentally fucked-up. And he did it so well. Every moment he was on screen, it was as if Daniel Plainview (who didn't have a plain bone in his body) was a living and breathing man, standing right next to me, sweating whiskey and willing to do anything -- including joining some crazy evangelist church. The end scene alone should have every actor EVER on their knees with their mouths open.

Paul Dano -- the mute kid from Little Miss Sunshine -- has really come into his own. I was thoroughly impressed by his portrayal of craaaaaazy priest Eli. What with the pentecostal 'exorcisms' and the very quiet way he had of manipulating people. The scene with him covered in mud at the dinner table had my heart pounding. His delivery was perfect, just perfect.

The cinematography was fantastic. Every shot held something symbolically for me, especially the shots when dealing with fire and shadow. Every shot was epic. It was like Paul Thomas Anderson was bringing back the glory days of old Hollywood with his establishing shots and points of view.

The dichotomy of power and humanity was fascinating. Daniel's absolute loathing for mankind was an amazing thing to witness, especially when cast against his love for H.W., his foster son. His hatred was palpable, climaxing not once, but twice in this film, both times horrible and yet totally necessary. The religion aspect of it was twisted and delicious and really makes you wonder just what there is to believe in.

I really can't wait for the Academy Awards, to see how this will fare against No Country for Old Men. Daniel'd better win, that's all I can say. Because I'll be watching, Sid Ganis. I'll be watching.

I have a distinct urge to learn the violin now.

I give There Will Be Blood 5 out of 5.


Neil Cicierega said...

Friendship restored!

I walked out of the theater feeling strange and oddly let down by this movie. Then I proceeded to think about it every day for the past month, and I'm still picking it apart.

This was the first time I'd seen Daniel Day Lewis act, and he was all he'd been built up to be. And I love Paul Dano forever now.

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