'Blood' reviews/Oscar picks

January 17, 2008
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Tonight is the IBJ Night at the Movies screening of Paul Thomas Anderson’s film “There Will Be Blood.”

Many of you will be at the screening, since we gave away passes last week.

So, what did you think of the film? If you happen to be a paying customer and see the film after Friday, feel free to chime in as well.

And since this is in the pack for Oscar nominations this year, let’s start handicapping. What films do you think will get the five nominations this year (the announcement will be made January 22)? Will “There Will Be Blood” be in the pack? “Sweeney Todd?” “No Country for Old Men?” “Atonement”? “Alvin and the Chipmonks”?

Your thoughts?
  • Yikes, I'm going to need lots of chocolate to make up for this movie. I saw the advanced screening and the first thing i said when the credits rolled was: What the HELL was wrong with that movie? So many things, no one could me a short answer. For viewing pleasure, this was a definite failure, but perhaps a psycho-analyst could find it more enjoyable. The acting was excellent but the story itself was horrible and terrible twisted. I would not recommend that anyway pay money to watch this movie.
  • Quite simply . . . Amanda is wrong. Go see this at your earliest convenience. The only complaint I have about the preview screening is the quality of the projection, which was frequently out of focus and featured a couple of very dirty reels. Your mileage may vary depending on where you see this.

    As for the film itself, I'm still too flabbergasted to comment cogently. I may need a good 36-48 hours just to process this film. It's tragic and awful and spellbinding and hypnotic.

    I think.

    P.T. Anderson's films are many things, but none of them are easy. This one is the most challenging yet. And then there's Daniel Day-Lewis. I was simply paralyzed until about halfway into the credits. I just couldn't move or say anything.
  • Wow.

    I don't know this Brian above, however, the Brians agree. I was physically shaken. Sure, it's a dark, dark film. And I'm not sure how long it will take for this to sink in with me, but....

    Gheez. I'm simply blown away.

    Elswit's cinematography is stunning. Day-Lewis give possibly the best performance of this young century.

    I have long been a fan of PT Anderson, but what I love about There Will Be Blood is that it's nothing like his previous work. There is nothing in Hard Eight, Boogie Nights, Magnolia, or Punch-Drunk Love that will prepare for the dark, patient vision that Anderson presents here.

    Those who didn't like it immediately may find themselves changing their minds over time.

    50 years from now, when - God grant us luck - we're still kickin' as old folks, we'll be talking about this movie - our grandchildren will be studying it in film classes, and PT Anderson will likely be placed in a canon with the world's great directors.
  • Oh, and here's what I think will get nominated on Tuesday:

    No Country for Old Men
    The Diving Bell and the Butterfly
    Into the Wild
    Michael Clayton
    and... There Will Be Blood

    Spoilers: Atonement & Juno.

    Your Oscar Nominees come from those 7 without doubt.


    Am I setting myself up for embarassment?

  • I have to agree with the Brians-the film was well worth the over two hour runtime. Beautiful cinematography, Daniel Day-Lewis what can you say about that performance?? He was brilliant. And, Paul Dano! WOW!
    OK, so what we were talking about last night before it was way to cold in the parking lot to hang around anymore. . . Character development--did anyone feel cheated by not knowing more of Plainview's history and story? Is that why we're still talking and thinnking about it or did we get cheated? Lord knows, it couldn't have been any longer, and we still felt like we needed more. Thinking about this, we had fun speculating on other stuff--what did the initials H.W. really stand for? Did Paul Sunday ever go back home to visit? OK, gotta get back to work.
    As mentioned, I will be thinking about this one for awhile. Don't think it will win best picture, but DDL should win the Oscar.
    I always love the music in Anderson's films as well and this one didn't disappoint with a score that made my friend say, I don't know if I feel ill or on the set with them! Very affecting!
  • I was at the screening last night also. I've always been a fan of Daniel Day Lewis. I think he's one of the best actors out there today. He's so intense and so fascinating to watch. He doesn't act, he becomes!

    While I absolutely loved his performance, the movie, for me is not a favorite. I really enjoy Anderson's work as a whole though. I appreciated the camera work and some of the scenery and elements of the film. For me, it brought to mind the movie trilogy, A Fist full of Dollars, For a Few Dollars More, and The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly.

    What I really didn't like about the movie was the score. I had read reviews where the score was praised, but for me, instead of enhancing the movie, I found it distracting from what I was seeing. Some parts were okay, but that clanking when HW was injured just overshadowed some of the scene for me. It sort of sounded like a bad attempt at a Bernstein sound. And that god awful screeching in the opening scenes that was sometimes repeated throughout the movie! EEEK! I will say that in certain scenes the music worked to highten the tension, but as a whole, I would've prefered a different score/composer. I should also say that I'm not really Radiohead fan either.

    I agree with the Brians above that it is a movie that has to be digested and thought about. There were so many things going on with Daniel's character, so many sublties that you would have to view it more than once to get it all.

    I also wanted to say that Paul Dano was great in this role as well. He creeped me out!
  • Back again:

    About the music: I was a big fan of the original and non-original stuff used here. PT Anderson's work in TWBB has already drawn comparisons to Kubrick on several levels, and I think one area where that comparison is valid is his ear for how music and image fit together. Jonny Greenwood's original atonal material is really compelling (I liked the screech that accompanied Mr. Plainview's two very different scenes of digging - which actually calls to mind some of the atonal Gyorgy Ligeti music that Kubrick used in both 2001 and THE SHINING.)

    Beyond that, there was compelling (and eventually disturbing) use made of the 3rd movement of the Brahms violin concerto, and a wonderful piece called Fratres for Cello and Piano by an Estonian contemporary composer named Arvo Part. (This was the piece used in a couple of places, including the scene in which Plainview first attempts to speak to H.W. after the accident.) Incidentally, I have used that very piece in the sound design for a theatre production recently. Great minds, etc. :-)

    The percussive, clanking piece that accompanied the accident and the oil well fire was just utterly gripping as well - the musical equivalent of being grabbed by one's shirt collar and compelled to stay glued to what's happening in front of you.

    I think the score was potentially distracting in some places, simply because it is so different from the usual vein of musical accompaniment for film It calls attention to iteslf simply by not being James Newton Howard or any of the other current hot conventional dramatic film composers.

    I am a complete film score nerd, though, so I could go on forever about this stuff. I'm getting to the point now where I could go on forever about several aspects of this film, just because I need to work them out for myself. This film is haunting me, and I can't stop thinking about it. But I'll spare the rambling for now.

    Brian G. Hartz
    Board Vice President
    Heartland Actors' Repertory Theatre
  • I was engrossed in this movie. My wife described it as a bit slow and long. That pretty much sums up the responses I'd expect to hear regarding this film. Many will love it, many will not like it. But, I'd venture to say all will feel strongly about this film in some way.

    I love films that tug on my emotions in all different directions. This one fits the bill.

    About the score. I LOVED it! To me it was the perfect musical expression of that time and the subject matter. In many ways the instrumentation could be seen as sound effects for turrning gears, locomotive engines, hammering mallets. In my opinion, the score becomes another character in the film.
  • I went to the screening last night. I saw eight people around me walk out, and I'm not sure about any behind me. I heard a lot of people trying to figure out what they just saw. Not the fact that they were engrossed, but more bored. I truly hated this movie. Bad acting from everyone, I feel either they were reading their lines (Paul Dano especially), felt lost (like the little girl who played Sarah), or overacted (Daniel Day-Lewis, who I think hasn't done a good movie since The Last of the Mohicans). I didn't care about the characters, to make a good movie you have to feel something for the characters. I think that it was very choppy editing, it went to one place to another, without explaining too much of what was going on. And the storyline was just boring. Was their something exciting that was supposed to happen? Well, with the musical score, it sure sounded like something exciting was about to happnen, and then...nothing. The musical score is what makes a movie, just like in Jaws, Psycho, and many more. It's what makes the movie. The music in this got on my nerves 40 minutes into the movie. It was pretty music, at first, but it wasn't put in the right spots, and it was played over constantly. I like the obscure films like two others that Paul Thomas Anderson has made, Magnolia and Boogie Nights, they were choppy, but put in a prospect to where you could understand what was going on. Plus, it actually had actors in it, that made you feel for some of them. Then he did Punch Drunk Love, the movie I felt the same way I felt with There Will Be Blood, what on earth did I just watch? And why did I finish it? Maybe because I thought it would get better. I guess the only thing I did like about the movie, was the fact that you saw Daniel as the man who doesn't has a lot to say, but you can see him through his actions. But other than that, I can't say what else there was. Cinematography...I have seen better.
  • Responding to Linda - I had the discussion on the way home last night with my boyfriend about wanting more from the film. I did feel like I wanted more, though more of what I'm not entirely sure. I think what mainly bothered me was the giant leap forward and not seeing how Daniel futher descends into madness. What happened between him and his son that caused the rift, besides him leaving?

    Anyway, an interesting film, none the less. I hope Daniel wins the Oscar, lord knows he deserves it!
  • Now, we really have to see this film. It sounds like art; visually, aurally and intellectually (not that we are intellectual but we are allways trying).
  • Thanks to all for your insightful comments.
    While I think there's beauty in the film, the frustrating things for me were storytelling problems. The lack of connectivity between moments, the leaps, the unclear motivations, etc. are, for me, what keeps it from being the masterpiece that others seem to think it is.
    It feels influenced by such films as The Godfather, Citizen Kane, Days of Heaven and East of Eden--all of which are visually beautiful films with terrific acting. What they also have, though, are characters arcs. There's just too much missing here in the relationship between father and son, between oil man and minister, and between minister and brother. And the universe of secondary characters isn't brought to life the way they are in, say, McCabe and Mrs. Miller (which it also echoes in some ways).

    Imporant stuff happens that we in the audience just aren't privvy to it. And that's frustrating.

    The four movies I mentioned are ones I can see again and again. While I admire There Will Be Blood, I have no desire to see it again because I think it would only frustrate me more.

    All the brilliant detail, immersive acting, and risk-taking music can't hide a script that needs to go through a few more drafts.

  • I'm with you, Lou. There just seemed to be too many chunks missing.

    Can I just be honest and say that I didn't even realize there were two Sunday twins until the end in the bowling alley? I feel dumb admitting that, but I must have missed something in there. Anyway.

    I did think Daniel Day Lewis was just phenomenal, and since the movie was basically a character study of this oil man and his greed, it worked for me. However, I made a huge mistake in going to the movie at 10:15. By the end, I was close to dozing, just between the lines of dialogue alone.

    Overall, I thought the movie was great--but I wasn't amazed.

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