There Will Be Blood
Daniel Day-Lewis doesn’t come out of hiding much these days, but when he does it’s usually worth paying attention.
This time it took repeated begging from esteemed director Paul Thomas Anderson to coax him out of semi-retirement to play Daniel Plainview, an self professed “oil man”, who finds oil beneath a humble California town and sets about making it his. Standing in his way is a self-righteous preacher, Eli (Paul Dano), who suspects Plainview of exploiting his people and tries himself to broker the deal.
Plainview, a spiritually aloof and corrupted man, in turn despises the preacher’s abuse of power. The film is a nothing short of a cinematic masterpiece, using an old story to indict a modern America caught between capitalist greed and religious hypocrisy. Day-Lewis, who will win the Oscar for this if there is any justice in the world, takes it from the brilliant into the sublime.
No Country For Old Men
The Coen Brothers had some work to do to repair their reputation after the below-par The Ladykillers and the insipid Intolerable Cruelty.
No Country For Old Men, adapted from the novel by American gloom and doom author Cormack McCarthy, has reaffirmed their genius. When Llewellyn Moss (Josh Brolin) stumbles across the scene of a drug bust strewn with dead bodies and one just barely alive, he takes the money and runs, but his conscience forces him back to the site that night. In doing so he becomes the hunted to Javier Bardem’s helmet-haired psychotic hunter Anton Chigurh, who ruthlessly extinguishes all before him in search of the stolen cash.
The landscape is bleak and unforgiving; life is cheap and death unfair, but if it is oppressively dark at times it is also very funny, the Coens’ returning to their driest and best. In short, it’s everything Fargo was, just better.