I caught the latest Paul Thomas Anderson debacle at a press screening on November 28, well before the critical drum circle had risen to its current “Burning Man” pitch. In the clear light of late autumn drizzle, There Will Be Blood appeared to be no more and no less than what it truly is: a bomb, and an overwrought one at that. It may be a tonier work than the detestable Boogie Nights, but Anderson’s underlying crudeness and his overkill “sensibility” haven’t evolved an iota. (Yes, Virginia, I can hear the jihadists singing in the comments section already.) A friend who hated the movie as much as I did asked afterwards, as we dodged rain in the Oaktree Cinema parking lot, “Did that amount to anything beyond a couple of games of one-upmanship?” I confessed I hadn’t thought of Blood in those terms. Still, her question perfectly encapsulated the anorexic one-dimensionality of the picture, and I had to agree.
First things first: I adore Daniel Day-Lewis. Always have. And while it might be nice to hitch my RV to the Dodge pick-up truck of hosannas greeting his Blood work, I must counter that Day-Lewis, in rendering the Texas-for-Central California scenery to mucilaginous mush, turns in the worst performance of his career to date.
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