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Best. Movie. Moustache. Ever.

There Will Be Blood is an ambitious, electrifying epic

Paramount Vantage

I just got back from a matinee of THERE WILL BE BLOOD at the California Theater in Berkeley. Grrrrrrrreat movie, featuring a Mount Everest of a performance by the sensational Daniel Day-Lewis, as Daniel Plainview, a greed-obsessed oil man. Day-Lewis creates a character that is at once evil yet empathetic, bigger-than-life yet believable. It’s the kind of performance that has Oscar written all over it—hell, Day-Lewis’s moustache should be nominated as best supporting actor on its own.

Director P.T. Anderson has been a great talent since his first film, the underseen gambling melodrama Hard Eight (Netflix it). He followed that with Boogie Nights and Magnolia (I loved both), then gave Adam Sandler a get-out-of-insipid-comedy-free card with the highly original Punch Drunk Love. In his fifth feature, Anderson exhibits Orson Welles-sized ambition in his storytelling—the 2 hour 40 minute film whips by in a brilliant blur. The first 15 minutes or so have no dialogue whatsoever, the images could have been a silent film from the time they are recreating (the late 1800s-1915). It’s a cinematic trip through time of the highest order.

Anderson’s screenplay is loosely based on the 1920s novel, Oil! by muckracker Upton Sinclair. Interestingly, Sinclair’s best-known tome, The Jungle, had much influence in the recent film version of Fast Food Nation by Richard Linklater. I’m sure Sinclair would be satisfied to know that his efforts still resonate, nearly nine decades after he skewered greedy oil barons and the meat-packing industry. We’ll have to see if Michael Moore’s work has that kind of shelf life.

The eerie, experimental score by Jonny Greenwood (guitarist for Radiohead) is also sure to be Oscar-nominated as is the spectacular cinematography by Robert Elswit. The supporting cast is outstanding, and deserves credit for even trying to share the frame with Day-Lewis, who is in a league all his own with his mesmerizing presence.

The California has an exclusive East Bay engagement this week, and There Will Be Blood will make its way east over the next few weeks. It’s a must-see on a big screen (make sure to try an see it downstairs at the California, not on the upstairs bunker).