- Daniel Day Lewis's accent and intricate performance.
- That mute kid from LITTLE MISS SUNSHINE gets to talk in this one - and sometimes LOUDLY!
- Capitalism is King!
- That beatnik guy from PEGGY SUE GOT MARRIED can still get work and was all thin and wirery and good.
- Daniel Day Lewis gets to kill people and be all "I'm better and smarter than you and I control who lives and who dies!"
- The guy (not Thom York)from Radiohead did the musical score.
- It's sorta like GIANT.
Stuff that bugged me:
- Very few, if any, memorable female characters featured at all in the film. Not that I'm a feminist, but would a Maureen O'Hara fiery red head type have KILLED anyone?
- Lewis' evil capitalist pig character who gives financial sermons to the uneducated masses before buying out their land juxtaposed with a minister who sermons to the uneducated masses is a MUCH more interesting way into those characters and full of conflict. However we're never given the scene where the minister shows up to preaches the dangers of the oil mine (or whatever you call it) to his flock. We're meant to believe it's a wink wink inside struggle between only these two. Where was the rest of the town? It's hard to believe a tight knit Christian community wouldn't stand together in solidarity against Lewis and his men.
- Daniel Day Lewis' character goes from 0 to 60 in terms of bi-polar behavior. One minute he's Charles Foster Kane building his empire and leaving the masses in his wake, the next a tender surrogate father who rescues his would be son from an oily geyser, only to transform again into a monster who mocks his deaf fake son. I'm all good with layered characters who aren't JUST good and JUST bad, but come on! The fine line between lunacy and lucrative was blurred and unfairly justified.
- The musical score, albeit cool and David Byrne like, at times was confused and built to a bombastic frenzy only to end with something as soft and subtle on screen as a child sleeping. The music kept bringing me to a boil and then going, "oh wait, never mind, that action scene is later, carry on."
- It was sorta like GIANT, but lacked a traditional narrative and only a handful of story lines to follow (rather than the kitchen sink approach).
Now, don't get me wrong, this is a good movie. It will wins lots of awards and continue to put Paul Thomas Anderson and Daniel Day Lewis to work. This movie makes up for Magnolia for me - sorry if you thought that was the end all be all, but I still can't sit through that movie for more than the beginning and the frog shower end. However, it's not without its story flaws, which, for the most part give me the notion that Anderson has no one giving him notes at the studio level. If you're going to give these writer/directors free reign, that's to be expected, but as the great T.S Elliot said, ""Some editors are failed writers, but so are most writers."
As the imaginary creative exec on this project, amongst the aforementioned items, I would have also suggested we see more of the outside world in the final 40 minute sequence. When the newly married deaf son comes back to Lewis and suggests he might like to start his own business. Show don't tell! I'd have given my left arm to see a shot that matched Lewis's opening scene mining solo, but now his son, digging away in Mexico. Only here we have hope that not only has the "son" learned how to run a business, he's learned how NOT to run an empire. Like father, like son, think about it won't you? In other words, Orson Wells felt it was more important to show Xanadu towering over us from a distance rather than keep us in the stately bathroom.
Go give it a whirl, if you're lucky enough to live in a town playing this rather arthouse piece. If not, Netflix it and enjoy the plethora of extras that will no doubt accompany the disc explaining the dangers of oil for money and how this was really an allegory for the greedy Bush administration. Only, wouldn't it be safer to drill in Alaska where very few people live to be bought out and killed by "the man"? No, you're right, let's continue to allow rich Saudi debutants live their debaucherous lives in the Hollywood nightclubs via our Shell Station contribution to their expense accounts. Woah, sorry for the political diatribe, back to happy fun time movie riffing to help bridge the red and blue gap back to a pretty purple.