Image copyright © by Marcus Trahan

There Will Be Blood


One of the worst titles ever, in my opinion. Even worse than Sorcerer. (That was the name of one of the trucks, fer cryin’ out loud, and you had maybe a 2-second oblique glimpse of that twice in the movie, if you look hard.)

Every once in a while a film comes along that gets almost universal praise, and when I see it, I can’t figure out why. There are two good things about this movie. The photography is stunningly fine. And, as always, Daniel Day-Lewis is amazing. He is one of the best actors I’ve ever seen, and he doesn’t work much, he chooses his roles carefully. Everybody talks about Robert De Niro bulking up for Raging Bull. Well, all he had to do was eat a lot. Day-Lewis somehow seems to vary not only his voice (in interviews, he is quiet, wry, self-effacing), but even his height! I know this is an illusion, but he somehow seems to walk bigger or smaller. He gets into the part so deeply that he scares people on the set, because he stays in character until the shoot is over.

But oddly, I didn’t approve of either of his Oscar wins. My Left Foot was just the sort of performance the academy loves: A nut, or a cripple, or someone disfigured. A Dustin Hoffman role (think Ratso Rizzo or Raymond Babbitt). But that year I thought Tom Cruise should have won for Born on the Fourth of July (another cripple, I know, but an amazing performance). Maybe even better, Kenneth Branagh for Henry V. And this year, good as he was, he wasn’t as good as Johnny Depp in Sweeney Todd.

Most everything else about the movie sucks. The music is wildly inappropriate, throbbing, industrial in the worst sense of the word. It is often nauseatingly monotonous, to the point that I wanted to shout Stop pounding already! The story is bafflingly elliptical, to no good purpose. I didn’t think the oil stuff fit at all well with the religious stuff. I came to see about the oil business, not holy rollers. At times it seemed sort of like a Scarface with crude instead of coke, the story of a man driven crazy with greed and power to the point he destroys everything … I was going to say everything he loved, but I don’t think he ever loved, so we really didn’t have anywhere to go. He was just a nasty bastard, at the beginning and at the end. At Oscar time I hadn’t seen this, and it was the sort of favorite, but I was pulling for No Country For Old Men, which won. Now I’m even happier This would have been the worst Best Picture since Braveheart.