There Will Be Blood Paul Thomas Anderson

There Will Be Blood Paul Thomas Anderson
No Country For Old Men may have led the charge in box office and critical acclaim but looking back on 2007 as a year in film, darkness prevails over not just the Coens’ latest greatness but also in this, the film that turned director Paul Thomas Anderson into a master. No longer does he aspire to the greatness of his idols (Robert Altman, Sidney Lumet, Orson Welles), he’s achieved it and with There Will Be Blood — undoubtedly a masterpiece — he joins that pantheon. The film is so much more than the searing, visionary performance by Daniel Day Lewis as oilman and capitalist gone wild Daniel Plainview; it’s the beauty of its cinematography, the unflinching vision of its storytelling and the moral ambiguity that suffuses the film, particularly in the twin towers of Plainview (greed rots to the core) and preacher Eli Sunday (self-righteousness has its own comeuppance). As Sunday, Paul Dano (Little Miss Sunshine) takes all that Lewis has to give — and that’s saying something — without flinching, showboating or disappearing into the shadows of a towering performance. His is arguably the tougher job in There Will Be Blood, and to match Lewis toe-to-toe makes him the young actor to watch here. The joy of There Will Be Blood’s arrival on DVD — other than the ability to percolate in the sweaty heat of Lewis’s performance — is that Anderson has proven, with the two-disc editions for Boogie Nights and Magnolia, to be an astute and wide-ranging commentator on film history. The prospect of a two-disc offering exploring this, his greatest accomplishment so far, was delicious, which is why this is an unusual first release. (I say first release because it seems likely that an extensive "special edition” will follow within a year.) Instead of any traditional "making of,” There Will Be Blood offers only impressionistic visual clues. A 15-minute slideshow-style presentation offers early 20th century still photographs with film clips to highlight how Anderson found his look and tone. Handwritten notes accompany still photographs, such as "lighting,” highlighted by a film scene that demonstrates that the lighting was recreated precisely. What it doesn’t offer is how. It’s surprisingly compelling in a serious film geek kind of way. A couple of extended and deleted scenes add only a couple more hints, while the 1923 silent film The Story of Petroleum explains the nascent oil industry with music by film score composer (and Radiohead guitarist) Jonny Greenwood. With a bent more oriented to American history than film, this offering of There Will Be Blood only satisfies one kind of buff: those interested in America’s past, not those looking to film’s future. Plus: trailers. (Paramount Vantage)