Thursday, March 05, 2009

Oscar weeks: There Will Be Blood

Initially, I did not enjoy this movie. Still question if I do, but I found it to be powerful and disturbing. Disturbing in a sense that is ferociously honest.

What I found so odd about this film is how misanthropic it is - I was sure I had picked up a Coen brothers flick by accident. What made it odder still is that unlike PT Anderson's last two films (both of which rate as some of my favorite of all time), There Will Be Blood had no shot of redeeming grace. No plague of frogs to deliver the entrapped slaves of LA from their self-hatred and suicide (as in Magnolia), no inexplicable piano dropping from heaven or even less-explicable unmerited love that saves a dangerously implosive and lonely man by allowing him to act out of love and overcome regret (as in Punch-Drunk Love). Just a man who intensely and insanely drives out any would-be competition.

This is a story about the all-taking consumption of greed, and this time, there is no salvation from the emptiness of self-centeredness. It is the story of a wretched prospector who begins his adventures seemingly supernaturally aged, who hopes to find hope in finding kindred spirits but ultimately fails in this regard, who lives oil. Oil, in fact, is his lifeblood and is the metaphor for his life. His heart pumps oil. You can sense the literary functions in the movie throughout. If Jed Clampett found the crude accidentally by shooting at some food, Daniel Plainfield finds it because it is him; the land that he takes the oil from bubbles to the top with the black, volatile, cruel, nasty, mangy majesty, much as it does from his skin.

In other words, what I've come to appreciate about the film is that Daniel Plainfield represents not all of humanity, nor, I hope, the director's view of humanity. But rather, a view of humanity held by one of its most important oil men. America, the man with the long straw and bowling balls aimed for his enemies is Dick Cheney.

My name is Dick Plainfield and this is my associate, G. W. Plainfield.

I only partially kid here.

Also notable is the breathtaking cinematic scope and the haunting and searing soundtrack, not to mention the singular vision that makes this three hour movie intensely watchable.


  1. I didn't care for it. What was frustrating to me about this movie was that it had everything going for it and somehow couldn't pull it all together. After seeing this movie, I didn't feel uplifted or inspired in any way.

  2. it was certainly anything but uplifting or inspiring, that's for sure.

    still thought it was exceptional.

  3. surprisingly, I haven't seen this movie yet.

    good to read your review!


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