There Will Be Blood (2007)

There Will Be Blood was part of my pre-2008-Oscar shortlist of films to see before the show. It’s a stunning character study of Daniel Day-Lewis as Daniel Plainview, a self-proclaimed family man and oil man. It’s beautifully shot, in bleak desert sets. There’s fire, gushing oil, danger, death, lies, and betrayal. As impressive as the acting and the visuals are though, the music takes the film to even more impressive heights. There are long stretches with no dialogue, and the music, composed by Radiohead’s Jonny Greenwood, is almost a character as it advances the plot and the film. That the music was disqualified for an Oscar is a travesty. The whole, brought together by director Paul Thomas Anderson, goes over the top at times, but is such a compelling work that I wouldn’t do without it.

Watching the film, though, was a mixed experience. I had a couple in front of me and another beside me that whispered continually, until I asked both at separate times to please stop talking. Both couples did stop talking. As the fifty-ish woman in front of me exited at the end of the film, she hissed, “Bitch!” at me, which took me aback. I know it is off-putting to be shushed, but I paid $7.25 for a matinee, and I asked her politely to stop talking. A reminder, from New York magazine:

Can I talk during the movie? We’d like to say, “No, no, never, no, absolutely not.” But the days of respectful silence are gone. During the pre-film ads, speak as much and as loudly as you like. Whispers and derisive yelps are permissible during trailers. During the feature, you must limit yourself to the occasional whisper. Silence is preferred, but a hushed “Wait–didn’t she die in that car wreck back there?” is okay. There is one exception to these rules: the brilliant, brave comment in the terrible movie. For us, it was at I Know What You Did Last Summer, in a particularly histrionic scene of Jennifer Love Hewitt’s emoting that a guy shouted out “Oscar clip!” and provided the high point of the night.

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