Friday, January 6, 2012
I realized a few years ago when I saw There Will Be Blood (2007), that Daniel Day-Lewis is the best actor in the world.
This is not an understatement. After watching him play Daniel Plainview, the greedy, evil oil prospector in There Will Be Blood, I had some catching up to do. I went back and watched My Left Foot (1989), The Last of the Mohicans (1992), In the Name of the Father (1993), Gangs of New York (2002).
I'm looking forward to his new film, Lincoln. Who better to play Honest Abe? From what I understand about Day-Lewis, is that he actually stays in character throughout the shoot, even to the point of having the stage crew wheel him around in a wheel chair when he played a paraplegic in My Left Foot. I wonder what eccentricities he might display on the set. Any ideas?
As for There Will Be Blood, his character was mesmerizing. Although Plainview was totally evil and had no remorse for the way he treated people, there was something about him that was sympathetic.
The film has so many wonderful scenes, it's hard to pick my favorite:
The baptism of Plainview. (Metaphorically speaking "baptism" is a theme in the movie --- baptism of water to save the soul, baptism of black oil shooting out of the ground and covering Daniel from head to toe, baptism of blood when Plainview kills).
The explosion of the oil well that causes his son's deafness.
The shore of the lake where he is talking to his "brother" and realizes the truth.
Plainview's office where his son, as an adult, comes to ask for help in starting his own oil company.
The confrontations between Plainview and Eli (Paul Dano). These scenes were so intense...well done by both actors.
As for the technical merits of the movie, the art direction and cinematography were beautiful. Especially breathtaking were the shots the burning oil well at dusk and into the night. This was a turning point in the movie and the director (Paul Thomas Anderson) built up the tension in this scene, both visually and through the actors.
The only draw back for me was the final scene at Plainview's home. The bowling alley was rather absurd and the "I drink your milkshake" line was bizarre, to say the least. I have no idea why this wonderful movie would have such a ridiculous finale. I wish I knew what the director was thinking.