There Will Be Blood | “When ambition meets faith”. Based on the book Oil!, the movie tells the story of an oil prospector, Daniel Plainview, at the turn of the 20th century, who becomes a self-made man in the oil business. His fate leads him to California where he is told of a ranch that is home to a lot of oil but in a town filled with poor but faithful people. Eli Sunday, the son of the family living on the ranch, knowing there is oil on the land, tries to give Plainview a hard sell, eventually getting him to buy the land for $10,000, half of which is to be delivered after the drilling begins and will be donated to establishing a church of which Eli wants to head. Plainview agrees despite being an atheist himself.
The story is pretty straight forward and it’s really about the rise and fall of a man hell-bent on making money. And while the story has the ability to grasp you, what really sticks out is the acting of Daniel Day-Lewis. That’s almost a given. His portrayal of Plainview as a straight-speaking, tough, and yet borderline raging man on the edge of breaking any moment, is uncanny. His mannerisms and speech are powerful and one can’t help but be entranced by this performance. When he goes head to head with the character of Eli Sunday, it is a frightening sight to see, especially the final scene.
Meanwhile, I think Paul Thomas Anderson, who directed Boogie Nights and Magnolia, breaks away from his traditional directing techniques and does something very new and refreshing. What I also found interesting was the music. The film was scored by Radiohead guitarist Johnn Greenwood, who does such an extraordinary job that it’s hard to imagine this movie without the eerie, high-strung sounds playing in the foreground throughout most of it.
It is an interesting movie when it comes to watching greed clash with faith, and all the corruption that surrounds both. It’s not a grand or unrealistic story, but instead very real and very watchable. If nothing more, you get to watch Lewis do a funny accent for 2 hours and 38 minutes. 5/5
Michael Clayton | “The truth can be adjusted”. The man that a law firm sends in to ‘fix’ situations, to clean up messy events that might be embarrassing for certain clients: George Clooney plays Michael Clayton, a fixer who is struggling with the truth after a colleague loses his mind during a deposition. Clayton is a man on the verge of breaking down, wanting desperately to get out of the dirty business he’s in. Other than that, the story is pretty straight forward. It starts at the end, with a big bang and a broken Clayton, and then goes back four days to when it all began.
Tony Gilroy wrote all the screenplays for the Bourne series, Michael Clayton being his first attempt at directing. He doesn’t do such a bad job and I quite enjoyed the ending and the way in which the credits rolled. But like his previous scripts, there isn’t much dialogue. There’s a bigger dependency on mood and actions rather than speech. There is just enough of the latter to weave a solid story together.
Clooney’s acting is good but I don’t think it’s Oscar worthy as many have been hailing it. Especially with Daniel Day-Lewis in the mix this year. But who knows. Hollywood is weird. I think Tom Wilkinson’s great performance was also overlooked, all be it short. 4/5