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There Will Be Blood [Blu-Ray]

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By Clint Morris

It’s dark but slick. It’s attainable but invaluable. Talking, of course, about that sought-after commodity Oil but one could easily be referring to Paul Thomas Anderson’s new film, There Will be Blood. And indeed there will be – Blood – just as much Type O as there are guzzling holes, in fact, as one man attempts to Saddam Hussein-like control it all.

Like his previous effort ”Boogie Nights” – only without the prosthetic dick and the ELO tune – Blood is an epic unlike any epic you’ve ever seen, concentrating on a rather exceptional individual who believes – like Mark Wahlberg did in the former – that he’s “God’s Gift” to his chosen profession.

Set in the 1800s, it stars the silver screen’s greatest chameleon (Gary Oldman would be next) British actor Daniel Day Lewis (who really only recently returned to the big screen, after several years off) as an oil magnate named Daniel Plainview. His latest conquest is buying up – almost- the whole town of Little Boston, California, where he and his men will undoubtedly make a mint from the black stuff under the soil. But it’s not going to be easy getting to the top (or bottom, as is the case here) – there’s trouble on the way… a family tragedy; a fire; treachery; and a stubborn family who won’t give up their land to the big-timer, making it difficult to achieve that dream of controlling ‘all’ – and not having the oil field blessed may have been the turning point – or at least that’s what the local ‘Prophet’ (Paul Dano) would have Plainview believe.

Inspired by Upton Sinclair’s novel ”Oil!” (1927), There Will be Blood is a masterful achievement that chronicles one man’s – one ‘insane’ man’s, you might say – plight to make it rich, but more so, to gain power as the king of the oilfields. He may seem to give two hoots about those around him, but he really doesn’t, this is a man clearly with his own interests at heart.

The screenplay, by Anderson (whose other credits include Hard Eight and Magnolia), is captivating, full of life and choc-full of genuinely memorable moments. The cinematography by Robert Elswit is divine – capturing every beautiful inch of vintage California. And the acting? Well, it’s just bloody fantastic.

Day Lewis is an absolute powerhouse in the movie. It’s hard enough for a Brit to master the American accent – the actor reportedly watched tapes of John Huston to prepare – let alone unleash a performance that’s so real you’d swear if you extended your arm towards the screen it’d touch with the man’s skin. Day Lewis’s turn is commanding, intriguing and ultimately, tragic – you can’t take your eyes off him.

Anderson has also beautifully cast the support roles with actors just as solid. Newcomer Paul Dano (seen in ”Little Miss Sunshine”) is outstanding as the somewhat-overbearing town preacher Eli; young Dillon Freasier is terrific and touching as Plainview Jr, and the always adaptable Cirian Hinds (TVs Rome, Miami Vice) gives his most sympathetic turn to date as Plainview’s doting assistant, Fletcher Hamilton.

”There Will be Blood” is a film far from the usual studio slop – in fact, it was so different from anything a major studio had financed before that it took the producers two years to secure financing (despite Day Lewis’s attachment). If a few more risks could be taken in Tinseltown, we might have more films like this. We can lay in hope, anyway. Meantime, roll on the ”Alvin & The Chipmunks” sequel.

Blu-Ray Details and Extras

Additional scenes and the featurettes ”’There Will Be Blood': Pics, Research, Etc”, “The Story of Petroleum” and “Dailies Gone Wild”. Not a bad bunch of extras (all presented in HD, too), but one probably expects more in the way of bonuses out of a Blu-Ray release.

Thankfully, the audio and video is unsurprisingy magnificent. The nice widescreen presentatoion, accompanied by the 5.1 TrueHD track, truly satisfies.

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About Caffeinated Clint

The writer/publicist/producer who wears the editor hat on Moviehole. Favorite films include "Say Anything...", "The Hunt for Red October", "Jerry Maguire", "Almost Famous", "Die Hard", "The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo", "Young Guns", "American Psycho", "Back to the Future" and the "Star Wars" series.
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