A: A slice of Americana, this character study depicts the birth of an oil tycoon at the turn of last century.
Q: Who’s in the movie?
A: Daniel Day-Lewis, Paul Dano, Kevin J. O'Connor, Ciaran Hinds, Dillon Freasier
Q: Is this movie worth the price of admission?
A: Proceed with Caution. A lot of people will love this movie. What follows is a list of people who won't: 1) People who can't stomach criticisms of organized religion. 2) People who don't appreciate being blatantly manipulated by the music. And 3) People, like me, who can't understand why so many directors these days can't cut those extraneous 38 minutes to get their movie down to a manageable 2 hours.
Q: Will this movie make me laugh?
A: Smarter people will laugh individually at a few meaningful references here and there, but no group laughter will be had.
Q: Will this movie make me cry?
A: If the Good Lord, Jesus, enters your soul and releases your demons, during one of the town evangelist's dramatic sermons, you might cry. Or at least that's how it works according to TV.
Q: Will this movie be up for any awards?
A: Daniel Day-Lewis is always good for a nomination (deservedly so), and Paul Dano gives the kind of break-out performance that often times, not only gets nominated for the Best Supporting Actor category, but also wins it.
Q: How is the Acting?
A: The film feels like it doesn't have any stars in it, and yet it does. When you forget that you're watching famous people, who make a lot of money, you remember why they are making so much money. Because they're good at their jobs.
Q: How is the Directing?
A: The visual style is reminiscent of the slow paced, wide-canvased films of the 1940s. So that's nice. What is less nice is the score, which is overbearing and often times incongruous with the visuals, drawing attention toward itself and away from the story. I'm sure that many people will mistake this for great work. But those people should consider that it might actually be a sign of a director who knows that he doesn't have enough tension naturally happening on the screen, and therefore, is forced to manfacture it, by adding dramatic music. Regularly throughout the film, there are scenes where nothing is really happening: maybe it's a shot of people sitting around smoking, maybe it's a still shot of a mountain... and while you're watching these shots about nothing, the music has got your heart-rate in a tizzy. Counting Punch Drunk Love and Boogie Nights, this is the third time Paul Thomas Anderson has used this technique of putting sounds and music loudly in the forefront of his movies in an effort to disturb his audience. Some might interpret this as "a cool technique that defines his style." But it can also be interpreted as a director who doesn't trust his story enough, and instead relies on drawing our attention to the filmmaking element which is guaranteed to instinctually create emotions in us.
Q: How is the story/script?
A: Based on the book, "Oil!" by Upton Sinclair, the movie doesn't have a plot but is nonetheless compelling. The characters are rich and unpredictable, and the final scene is nothing short of masterful.
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