The Bayley Film Club: Paul Thomas Anderson

You might have noticed that I have used the same featured image as for The Bayley Film Club: Joel & Ethan Coen – and this is no mistake. Previously reviewed ‘Big Lebowsky’ and one of this week’s film directed by Paul Thomas Anderson – share one thing: BOWLING. Care to have a guess?

WEEK 3:

Director: Paul Thomas Anderson

Film 1: There Will Be Blood

Film 2: Phantom Thread

 

There Will Be Blood

Author: Agsy E Drapinska

Anticipation: 4
Enjoyment: 5
Retrospect: 4

Score: 13

“I’m an oilman, ladies, and gentleman.” – I can still hear the deep voice of Daniel Plainview, played by Daniel Day-Lewis, in my head. There are so many things about this film I would like to discuss, that I don’t know where to start. Instead of going through everything, I will just point out 3 things, that I think, were absolutely brilliant in ‘There Will Be Blood’.

  1. Daniel Day-Lewis
    His best role. Period. Even better than ‘Lincoln’ which set up the bar pretty high. Mr. Plainview is a private person, he does not like to share anything about himself, even more so, his feelings. Still, a perceptive viewer will have no problem to read most of it from his face. He keeps his close circle as small as possible. Trusts no-one. We get to see a successful man in his becoming, his journey, and his evolution. We get to witness as well the price he pays for it. 
  2. Relationship between Daniel and Eli
    Poor Eli being a modest shepherd caring for his flock on one side and the devilish oilman followed by death, fire, and lack of faith on the other. The viewer is, in fact, experiencing a battle for power. In this small and poor town you need to answer to the community’s needs – and those are easily manipulated. Because both Eli and Daniel see through the other one’s tricks, we get to witness a great exchange of wits between them. The whole relationship has its final in a bowling alley of Daniel’s house. A scene that is as hilarious as it is tragic. 
  3. Daniel’s mental journey.
    We meet him at the beginning of his oily adventure: hard-working, devoted and focused. ‘The Oilman’ is driven, precise and he plans everything while building his empire. He’s evermore thirsty. Money is not important to him, he just likes winning for the sake of it. But then again, he welcomes his brother into his life and business. He must get lonely – one might think, and maybe one is even right. Soon after he opens up to him. He admits that he hates most of the people and that he doesn’t want others to succeed. This obsession of his starts to consume him with an accelerated pace when he discovers that his brother is a phony, and kills him for it without a blink (not that lonely then!). He sends his son away when he becomes a burden. He’s finally alone. He succeeded in pushing everyone away. But, he has his black gold. Full of hate, greed, and bitter he spends his days in a glorious mansion. 

Is ‘There Will Be Blood’ a masterpiece – I am not so sure, but it does come close. This film comes bloody well as a whole: the story, the acting, the art of the picture, the music… Maybe it is a masterpiece after all…:)

There Will Be Blood

Author: N A Tonge

Anticipation: 5
Enjoyment: 5
Retrospect: 5

Score: 15
(the perfect score!)

At first, it seems that Paul Thomas Anderson’s ‘There Will Be Blood’ is a commentary on the possibilities of American fashioned meritocracy, through the charting of Daniel Plainview’s (Daniel Day-Lewis) rise from exhausted minor to successful oil magnate at the beginning of the 20th Century. Daniel ultimately archives his inevitable wealth by convincing the oil-rich, poorly-educated, bible-bashing, non-bread-having, impoverished community of Little Boston, that he is the man that will extract the oil from their land and ‘blow-gold’ over their village.

Daniel’s salesmanship ensures that he receives no resistance from the villagers, desperate for a boost to their nonexistent economy. Nevertheless, the Church of the Third Revelation, headed by an evangelical preacher, Eli Sunday (Paul Dano); brother of Paul Sunday (the man who at the beginning of the film provides Daniel with the known whereabouts of the potential fortune for the sum of $1000), already has the ear and probably most of the saving of the villagers.

Following the mysterious appearance of a man claiming to be Daniel’s bother, Daniel confesses a spiteful world view. It is then revealed that the man is not Daniels’s brother and Daniel kills him. This is witnessed by a local, who Daniel needs to buy land off to extract his wealth out of the village via a massive pipeline to the west coast. Daniel begrudgingly agrees to be baptized by Eli in exchange for the land. An uncomfortable scene ensures in which Daniel is slapped about by the feverish preacher and is forced to admit, in front of the congregation, a that he has abandoned his son H.W Plainview, who he sent away to boys home following an incident rendering him deaf and therefore a constraint to Daniels business.

Daniel detests the Church, but ultimately he is willing to play along for his own ends, however, it is clear throughout that both Daniel and the church are both seeking the same thing; it’s just that Daniel had a tangible way of getting it. He’s an ‘oil man’.

Reviews of ‘There Will Be Blood’ have labeled Daniel as a sociopath. I agree in so far that his morals are questionable for the modern world, however, he exemplifies the gritty stoicism required to truly succeed and be truly respected in your field. Granted, later in the film, Danel is shown to be an incredibly wealthy, yet an alcoholic and a hateful man, however, ultimately it is Eli who has to come cap in hand to Daniel following his realization that he is a ”false prophet” and that God is a ”superstition”. ‘There Will be Blood’ demonstrates the natural competition inside all of us and how supposedly ambitious self-made men/women achieve it and others don’t.

 

Phantom Thread

Author: Agsy E Drapinska

Anticipation: 3
Enjoyment: 3
Retrospect: 4

Score: 10

Yet another great role of Daniel Day-Lewis who this time became a spoiled, self-centered, genius designer – Reynolds Woodcock. A talented perfectionist so consumed by his work that calling him a ‘workaholic’ would be an understatement. He is in constant search of beauty, of inspiration. And in his search, he finds beautiful women. The first one we meet is Johanna but she doesn’t stay with us for long. Her place takes Alma. However, sharing a life with a significant other or having something remotely close to a relationship doesn’t land high on Mr. Woodcock’s priority list.

Life with Reynolds Woodcock is a nightmare, hardly any of us could stand for longer than a week. He seems to be unable to compromise. Not even the slightest.
Not even at all.
You cannot interfere with his routine, you cannot have needs of your own, you don’t have a luxury of being in a bad mood, you are buttering your toast too loudly.
Then again, you need to be there in case he requires you.

But Alma describes it as demanding…

Her love for him is more like an obsession. Wanting desperately for him to realize that they need each other, or actually, that he needs her. So she goes into drastic lengths to prove her point. Surprisingly, it works, it works even better when she reveals the truth to him. Well played, Alma…, 

As mentioned, this is another great role of Daniel Day-Lewis but ‘Phantom Thread’ has enough talent in the cast that it could share it with half of last year’s Hollywood productions and still amaze. Co-starts Vicky Krieps (Alma) and Lesley Manville (Cyril Woodcock) – add dimensions to the story, making it deeper and more interesting. The script doesn’t waste a single word telling us about this bizarre relationship.
But, with all her weirdness, it is, still love story!

 

I… drink your MILKSHAKE!
I drink it up!

~ Daniel Plainview, ‘There Will Be Blood’

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