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There Will Be Blood - Blu-ray DVD / Academy Award-nominated DVD / Oscar-nominated DVD / drama DVD review
THERE WILL BE BLOOD Rated R by the Motion Picture Association of America curledupdvd.com rating: 4 1/2 stars
Actors: Daniel Day-Lewis, Paul Dano, Dillon Freasier, Kevin J. O'Connor, Ciarán Hinds
Director: Paul Thomas Anderson   Studio: Paramount Vantage
DVD release: 03 June 2008   Runtime: 158 minutes (1 disc)
Format: AC-3, Color, Dolby, Dubbed, Subtitled, Widescreen
DVD features: Audio tracks (English, French, Spanish- 5.1 Dolby Digital, 5.1 Dolby TrueHD), Subtitles (English, French, Spanish), Additional Scenes, Trailers, Featurette: "The Story of Petroleum"

Daniel Plainview (Daniel Day-Lewis) is an oil man and a family man, by his description. He speaks in an authoritative, even meter with a smooth voice that initially makes you trust him, but you wonder if it is just a facade. Plainview seems confident that he can milk the earth of its hidden oil, and he can make you a deal that seems good at first, but Plainview is not as good as his word. He is accompanied at most times by his son, H.W.(Dillon Freasier), a quiet pleasant boy with an earnest curiosity. The business of extracting oil from the ground is not for the faint of heart. It's tough, dangerous work that takes its pound of flesh.

Plainview makes a deal with a farmer and his son to drill on their property. Abel Sunday (David Willis) is unsure enough of his business skills to let his son Eli (Paul Dano) do most of the negotiating. Eli argues for a higher price and suggests the capital would be used for his church, The Church of the Third Revelation, perhaps thinking that such intent will garner a higher price. It becomes clear soon that Plainview is not what you'd call sympathetic to the spiritual needs of a community.

Over the course of years, these men butt heads, each one occasionally getting the upper hand. There Will Be Blood, adapted from Upton Sinclair's (The Jungle) novel muckracking social justice novel Oil!, is mostly about Plainview and how he deals with the people in his life. He is closest to his son, until an accident leaves the boy deaf. When Plainview's half-brother Henry (Kevin J. O'Connor) finds him, H.W. is sent away to boarding school, and Plainview all but replaces his son with Henry.

Daniel Plainview is similar to Orson Welles' Charles Foster Kane in Citizen Kane: each man goes from rags to riches, but neither is more fulfilled for it. Perhaps capitalism is good at producing money-making and heartless people and Hollywood is good at showing this phenomenon in a way that makes us glad we're not obscenely wealthy. I know these warnings have helped to keep my bank balance at bay.

Paul Dano (Little Miss Sunshine) performs amazingly well as Eli Sunday, a role he had little time to prepare for. He stirs up his congregation behind him, and I completely believed in his power.

Paul Thomas Anderson has shown his skill as a director in the past, and it's obvious that despite the long hiatus between There Will Be Blood and his last major feature, Punch Drunk, his talents have not abated.

Johnny Greenwood's score provides a bed of unsettling tension, with violins and cellos the primary paint used on his canvas. The brilliant score helps to make the film as memorable as it is.

The Blu-ray edition of There Will Be Blood includes a half-hour documentary from the 1920s that Sinclair Oil produced to explain some of the nuances of oil production that I've never known before. This silent feature is accompanied by Greenwood's score to help in homes without in-house organ accompaniment.
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reviewed by Eric Renshaw
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