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Archive for July 4th, 2010

by Allan Fish

(USA 2007 158m) DVD1/2

I drink your milkshake

p  Daniel Lupi, Joanne Sellar, Paul Thomas Anderson  d/w  Paul Thomas Anderson  novel  “Oil!” by Upton Sinclair  ph  Robert Elswit  ed  Dylan Tichenor  m  Jonny Greenwood  art  Jack Fisk

Daniel Day-Lewis (Daniel Plainview), Paul Dano (Paul Sunday/Eli Sunday), Kevin J.O’Connor (Henry Brands), Ciaran Hinds (Fletcher Hamilton), Russell Harvard (H.W.Plainview), Barry del Sherman (H.B.Ailman), Paul F.Tompkins (Prescott), Sydney McAllister (Mary Sunday),

Following No Country for Old Men and The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford came a third masterpiece of 2007 to be set in the west.  All three depict very different worlds, and all three are resoundingly successful in recreating them.  All three have, in different ways, contentious endings, and though the ending of There Will be Blood may not be quite as out there as the Coens’ film, it comes darned close.  Andrew Dominik’s film about the legendary outlaw took the documentaries of Ken Burns as inspiration, while the Coens were indebted to John Sayles’ Lone Star and their own earlier works.  Anderson borrows left, right and centre, from George Stevens’ Giant (it was shot in much the same location), from John Huston’s The Treasure of the Sierra Madre, from Erich Von Stroheim’s Greed, from the visual palette of Terence Malick (helped by employing Malick’s old designer Jack Fisk) and even the stylistic touches of Stanley Kubrick.  Not only that, but he creates a film worthy of comparison to all of them.

            After making his fortune in gold and silver at the turn of the century, Daniel Plainview turns his attention to the black gold, trying to set up drills throughout the Midwest and con naïve homesteaders out of their property for peanuts.  He travels with his small boy, H.W., and, following the tip off of one Paul Sunday, he turns up at the Sunday property in Little Boston, California, with the intention of getting rich on the oil just waiting to be pumped.  While there, he runs into competition from the young fire and brimstone teacher, none other than Paul’s twin brother, Eli.  Their confrontation ultimately proves fatal to one of them. (more…)

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