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Entries in There Will Be Blood (11)


VIDEO ESSAY: There Will Be Blood and Symmetry

Hey everybody! It’s Matt.

Five years have passed since we last heard from Paul Thomas Anderson, but he returns on September 14th with The Master, a movie that has been the object of considerable anticipation related to a few surprise screenings and its subject matter. Anderson’s phalanx of adoring fans has already started to speculate on The Master’s Oscar potential. While it is meaningless to start daydreaming about Anderson’s acceptance speech before we've seen the movie, there are several reasons to get excited about The Master.

Above all, it is crucial to recognize that Anderson has managed to improve with every project. He has progressed from the boisterous creative ecstasy of Boogie Nights, Hard Eight, and Magnolia to the tight formal elegance of Punch-Drunk Love and There Will Be Blood. There Will Be Blood, one of the many great films released in 2007, is especially notable for its visual and thematic maturity. Anderson used a careful system of symmetries and visual rhymes to hold together the sprawling, epic subject.

In this video essay, I demonstrate how Paul Thomas Anderson communicates his ideas. The video is graciously hosted by IndieWire’s Press Play. Be sure to head over and check out a brief introduction. Special thanks to Matt Zoller Seitz, someone I really look up to, for his assistance.


Yes, No, Maybe So: "The Master"

Hot on the heels of this beautiful new teaser poster for The Master, movie poster as chilled wine, we get the full trailer! P.T. Anderson's long awaited big screen return teaser post recalls the also evocative and text-focused teaser poster for There Will Be Blood which will be a very tough act to follow.

Even the Academy, which had resisted his sometimes challenging, defiantly eccentric and untraditional melding of epic treatment to non-traditionally-epic subject matter got into There Will Be Blood. But if anyone can live up to that film, wouldn't it be P.T.? He's never made anything less than a good movie and quite often he manages instant classics: Hard Eight, Boogie Nights, Magnolia, Punch Drunk Love, and There Will Be Blood. (Good luck finding anyone else with a filmography that consistently fine!)

Trailer and Yes No Maybe So breakdown follow...

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Burning Questions: The New Classic Quotes 

Michael C. here to see if I can blow some of the dust of the all time lists to make room for some new blood.  

If you read as much film writing as I do you know one of the most tiresome attitudes one encounters is the rose-colored “they don’t make them like the used to” mindset. This is the Pleasantville way of seeing things that insists cinema attained a sort of perfection in the forties and fifties and has been on a downhill slide towards Transformers sequels ever since. 

One of the most common forms this viewpoint takes is the lament that movies aren’t as quotable as they used to be. "Why, when the American Film Institute released its list of the 100 greatest quotes in 2005" the argument goes, "Casablanca landed six spots on the list alone, while Gone With the Wind and Wizard of Oz landed three apiece." The problem with this argument is that, while I wouldn’t deny those films a single one of their spots, it is meaningless to compare films that have had the better part of a century to secure their place in the cultural pantheon to those that have just been released. More often than not cinematic greatness emerges over time rather than instantly emblazoning itself on the face of the culture.

So if I’m correct and in four or five decades the films of the early part of this century do manage to slide in some lines alongside “You talkin’ to me?” and “Frankly My Dear, I don't give a damn.” what will they be?

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What are the new classic quotes in the making?

Since the most recent quote on the AFI’s top 100 is “My Precious” from 2002’s Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers I think that would be a good jumping off point. In the decade following where the AFI list left off here are, in my best estimation, the ten quotes that have most thoroughly permeated popular culture

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3 Days Until Handsome Bludgeoning...

Oscar is an octogenarian so you know he's heard everything. He's been reviled, exalted, and called all sorts of things other than "Oscar" over the years. My favorite name-calling recently was from Daniel Day-Lewis. At the 80th Oscars in February 2008, he called our shiny man the "the handsomest bludgeon in town".

Remember that?

That's the closest I'll ever come to getting a knighthood so thank you. My deepest thanks to the members of the Academy for whacking me with the handsomest bludgeon in town. I'm looking at this gorgeous thing you've given me and I'm  thinking back to the first devilish whisper of an idea that came to him and everything since.

Mad Beautiful-Headed P.T.It seems to me that this sprang like a golden sapling out of the mad beautiful head of Paul Thomas Anderson.

I wish my son and my partner H W Plainveiw were up here with me, the mighty Dylan Frazier. So many people to thank. One amongst them would be Mrs Plainview down there, the enchantingly optimistic, openminded and beautiful rebecca miller.

I hope that all of those to whom I owe and to whom feel the deepest gratitude will forgive me if I say just simply 'Thank you, Paul.'

I've been thinking a lot about fathers and sons in the course of this. I'd like to accept this in the memory of my grandfather Michael Balkan, my father Cecil Day Lewis and my three find boys Gabriel Ronan and Kashel. Thank you very much indeed, thank you.

This is not Dylan Frazier. HW Plainview had to put on a few years first.

Only an actor as great as Daniel Day-Lewis could make you forget that they're actually elegant and erudite and endearing in person. When he's onscreen in There Will Be Blood, glowering and strategizing his heart pumping out only oily greed it's impossible to imagine that they're the same person.

When do you think we'll see a performance that massive winning Best Actor again? Don't say "the next Paul Thomas Anderson picture!" because then I'll have to remember that it's Phillip Seymour Hoffman who's starring in it. When do you think we'll start seeing production stills from The Master? Even with PSH leading I want. Gimme.


Take Three: Paul Dano

Craig from Dark Eye Socket here with Take Three. Today: Paul Dano

Take One: The King
Disgruntled discharged Navy man Gael García Bernal rules the roost in James Marsh’s dark religion-themed indie The King. But Dano, as the dutiful square peg brother/son in the family Bernal infiltrates, does attempt a one-man, god-fuelled backyard coup, much to his own expense. The film is partly a hothouse take on Cain & Able and partly a nod to bad-couple movies like Badlands (brooding Bernal and Sissy Spacek-a-like Pell James doing bad things in cars). Dano’s Paul Sandlow, a pastor's son, sings and plays guitar in a Jesus-heavy, quality-light church rock band. That’s when he’s not pressuring the school heads into accepting his curriculum on Intelligent Design over Evolution. Paul’s doe-eyed sappiness appears to hide a certain cleverness yet, oddly, he’s one of the most sympathetic personalities in the film.

Dano’s performance is savvy. His dorky, modest Jesus freak teeters around the periphery of the action – spouting glassy-eyed school speeches about Him upstairs, defining smugness in a four-wheel-drive graduation gift – until emerging prominently as the plot hots up. Dano plays it all with a calm curiosity. By intuitively holding back, he manages to convey more, swerving cliché to deliver a turn replete with discomforting nuance. He may be a timid teen in a Christ crisis, but the threat of censure glints in his eye. He shouldn’t have banked on the promise of a “brother’s” honour. After his fateful face-off with Bernal halfway in, Paul’s merely a face on a missing poster and the subject of Bernal’s less-than-guilty conscience. But he makes each scene count before being sent down the river.

Take Two: Cowboys & Aliens (2011)
Dano must love dust. He’s sure seen enough of the stuff on screen in recent years. He saw blood and oil spilt in it in There Will Be Blood (see below) and stomped soil on the pioneer trail for Kelly Reichardt in Meek’s Cutoff earlier this year. And in theatres over the past few weeks he’s been kicking up a fuss in the stuff in genre mashup Cowboys & Aliens. Dano pops up early on as Percy Dolarhyde, the troublesome drunk son to local grump-on-horseback Harrison Ford. Their rocky filial relationship is a part of the background to the alien-busting action. But when Percy is lassoed by the rootin’ tootin’ extra terrestrial braggarts, and whisked away for some probably dubious shenanigans, it allows Ford’s character some plot momentum.

I missed Dano’s slapdash spoiled and cowardly presence, though, and wished he’d stayed for the duration. The movie required a dependable human villain throughout, to split the difference between the ramshackle townsfolk and the interstellar menace. A late, cheeky crowbar plot device means that we can’t resume our hiss-boo heckles at Percy’s clumsy tomfoolery, but at least he re-enters the movie. In his meagre handful of scenes Dano shoots it up then shrieks it up with barmy abandon. Percy is ultimately sold short, but Dano adds another fine small performance to his filmography. As a now well-established yet still young character actor he’s continuing to pay his dues in often largely peripheral roles. Cowboys & Aliens shows, alongside Meek’s Cutoff, that he’s cornered the market in sly and sheepish movie-dust slingers.

Take Three: There Will Be Blood (2007)
It took two roles (brothers Paul and Eli Sunday) for Dano to go up against maniacal oil plunderer Daniel Day-Lewis (as Daniel Plainview) in Paul Thomas Anderson’s explosively oily There Will Be Blood. The religion theme is again present but here Dano’s graduated to fully-fledged preacher. The role very nearly wasn’t his, however. Dano only had a few days to rehearse his role as Eli, the bigger of his two parts. Kel O'Neill was originally cast, but was replaced with Dano (who was only originally down to play the smaller role of Paul) two weeks into the shoot; a total of three weeks of scenes featuring Eli and Plainview had to be re-shot with Dano instead of O'Neill. However, any casting interruptions don’t at all impede him on screen. If anything, the immediacy adds to the fevered vitality of his performance.

Paul Sunday's polite staccato-voiced calm is miles away from the disingenuously bilious bluster of Eli Sunday. Dano expertly differentiates his roles, but also allows small drip-fed shreds of doubt to enter into both Plainview’s and the audience’s minds: are they both the same brother? Neither we, nor Plainview, ever truly know. Eli’s scenes of evangelism, his casting devils out of the congregation with screams that seem to break his voice and weird, fierce strain-faced air grabs, are riveting. He’s scarily good, too, in the epilogue, when he visits Plainview with an offer. When Plainview asks “I want you to tell me you’re a false prophet,” Dano’s unblinking, knowing gaze is priceless; one expression reveals the core falsity of Eli’s faith. His opportunism and barely-concealed weakness, here as elsewhere in the film, tells us just as much about what Anderson was striving for as Day-Lewis’ performance does. Dano didn’t strike gold like Day-Lewis did, but he mined the film for all its worth – and, through one means or another, he made good on the promise of that title.

Three more films for the taking: L.I.E. (2001), Little Miss Sunshine (2006), The Extra Man (2010)

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