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Wednesday, March 05, 2008

Daniel Day-Lewis' monumental performance in 'There Will Be Blood'

Yeah, I really haven't been reviewing much lately. Had a lot to do with the fact that I hadn't seen anything worth reviewing lately. What's the point of reviewing a film that merely gave me a 'meh' reaction when I probably have much more to write if I thought the film was really good, or really horrible.

So, I'll attempt to shake off my film reviewing rust with THERE WILL BE BLOOD, a film I saw last Wednesday. I can say that I'm an admirer of sorts of director Paul Thomas Anderson. I still think that PUNCH DRUNK LOVE is hands-down the best Adam Sandler film ever. I saw MAGNOLIA and BOOGIE NIGHTS later (the former on DVD two years ago, the latter during the countdown to 2008) and like both of these ensemble films a lot as well.

The reason why I was prompted to write about THERE WILL BE BLOOD is because I had just finished watching Robert Altman's last film, A PRAIRIE HOME COMPANION, a very good film that was partly 'ghost-directed' by PT Anderson. For insurance of the shoot, 80-year-old Altman had to hire PT Anderson as the 'backup' director for the film, so Anderson was observing the shoot at all times.

Watching A PRAIRIE HOME COMPANION had made me realize how I much I actually miss films that are 'Altmanesque', star-studded ensemble films that have stories showing the interrelationships between several characters. They are, like Wikipedia said, very naturalistic, but with a stylized perspective. I thought MAGNOLIA and BOOGIE NIGHTS are the closest things to an Altman film, and I would really love to see PT Anderson do another ensemble flick again.

However, after PUNCH DRUNK LOVE and THERE WILL BE BLOOD, I do wonder whether PT Anderson's actually going to venture away from ensemble films for good. His two latter films are really more like one-man-shows, especially THERE WILL BE BLOOD, where Daniel Day-Lewis is in almost every single frame. THERE WILL BE BLOOD is fascinating in a sense that it is really powered by Daniel Day-Lewis' performance. But then, in a film like this, it'll be weird if PT Anderson has to use his show-offy long tracking shots and hip hop montage (I was shocked to see that being used in BOOGIE NIGHTS).

THERE WILL BE BLOOD is one of those films that get better and better as it goes on. Frankly, I felt a little drowsy at first after the cool dialogue-free 15-minute introduction, but after a crucial scene occurred (that left an important character deaf), I immediately sat up, and went "holy crap!". And the film just got more interesting from that point onwards.

The Daniel Plainview character is, to put is simply, a villain. He's ruthless, greedy, manipulative and has a God-complex. Yet it's hard to hate him because he's so... realistic.

I have a competition in me. I want no one else to succeed. I hate most people.

I was slightly disturbed when he uttered these lines in a scene because I could actually relate to him (I'm sure many others did too). I have always been motivated by competition when it comes to my own creative endeavours. Just weeks ago, I was telling Ming Jin the Mentor that my year-long creative drought may have to do with the lack of competition where I could direct my negative emotions towards. In uni, I found myself competing against coursemates when it came to filmmaking, to prove that I was just as good as anyone even though I had only taken the course for a year as compared to everyone else's 2-3 years etc etc.

So, disturbingly, I found myself rooting for Daniel Plainview and cheered when he vanquished his foes. Is something wrong with me?

"I DRINK YOUR MILKSHAKE" had become my favourite p0wnage line as well. (anyone who had seen the ending will know what I'm talking about)

I don't really need to say that Daniel Day-Lewis deserved the Best Actor Oscar. It didn't even feel like acting, more like him becoming the character.

Not much of a review, yeah. Anyone else who had seen this? Share your thoughts?