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Heroes of the Zeroes: There Will Be Blood

by on October 27, 2010
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Heroes of the Zeroes is Nick Rogers’ daily, alphabetical look back at the 365 best films of 2000-2009.

“There Will Be Blood”
Rated R

Wherever Stanley Kubrick is, he’s beaming at Paul Thomas Anderson.

2007’s “There Will Be Blood” brilliantly resurrected Kubrick’s uncompromising approach to the rawness of human existence, his penchant for the pleasures of literary pacing and his finest filmmaking flourishes.

Like the apes of “2001: A Space Odyssey,” “Blood’s” characters fell prey to their worst nature in the shadow of a mammoth object (here, oil rigs). Yet, “Blood’s” monolith was a man.

At the 20th century’s turn, Daniel Plainview (Daniel Day-Lewis) has paid his proverbial oil-mining dues. But at what personal cost, these spoils of commerce and ownership, becomes the ferocious question.

Anderson slowly cranks the vice on claustrophobic internal tension in a piece that’s sumptuous and snarling all at once. And few actors could work in such an elite echelon of envelopment on such a decrepit character, but Day-Lewis’s Oscar-winning performance fascinated us with every facet of Plainview’s corrosive style and corroding soul.

When Plainview clashes with a fanatical young preacher (Paul Dano), “Blood” forces a merciless collision of fanaticism, greed, family, desperation and commerce — the story of a century’s changing face with roots in shattering personal tragedy.

All those open spaces in a land where we once had our own bubbling crude lead to vast opportunity that’s inviting and deceptive. “Blood” masterfully chronicled the parallels and disconnections between primal bloodlust and preserving a lap of luxury. The movie and the man at its center were a marvel to watch in a classic for our time.