Wednesday, March 5, 2008
There Will Be Greatness
Paul Thomas Anderson has always been a problematic filmmaker for me. His previous works, Hard Eight, Boogie Nights, Magnolia and Punch Drunk Love contain many, many moments of greatness but always falls short of overall greatness due to the filmmaker's nasty habit of veering into pretentiousness, self-indulgence and excess. There is absolutely no denying Anderson's talent as a filmmaker. Up until now, he's just a kid director trying to find his cinematic voice.
As far as I'm concerned, he has finally found it in There Will Be Blood. This is a staggering, thought-provoking epic of a film about a silver miner turned oil tycoon Daniel Plainview whose descent into greed and corruption is matched by his rivalry with a devious young preacher, Eli Sunday (played by Paul Dano). The film is a mesmerizing allegory of two of today's major problems in the world, greedy capitalism and religious fundemantalism/hypocrisy.
Taking inspiration from Upton Sinclair's novel Oil! Paul Thomas Anderson finally finds a very strong footing as a filmmaker channeling people like Robert Altman and Terrence Malick. A major factor without a doubt is the stunning performance of Daniel Day-Lewis whose transformation into Daniel Plainview is nothing short of masterful. I sat in my chair in awe of his ability to take this repulsive character and turn him into believable and frightening human being which on the hands of a lesser actor, would be merely a caricature. His Oscar win is well-deserved indeed. Matching him scene for scene is Paul Dano, one of his generation's most promising young actors. Going toe to toe with Daniel Day-Lewis in a scene is no picnic. A lesser actor would be swallowed whole by Day-Lewis but he didn't, he matched him, scene-for-scene. I find it puzzling Dano didn't get much awards attention with his role. As his adopted son, H.W., Dillion Freasier also gives admirable support. Hopefully, this amazing young actor would find more roles in the future.
Yes, Paul Thomas Anderson finally makes a great film and with There Will Be Blood, he joins the ranks of the Great Filmmakers. Bravo.