“There Will Be Blood,” review by Susan Granger

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On the Granger Movie Gauge of 1 to 10, “There Will Be Blood” gushes to an astonishing, enthralling 10.

“I hate most people. My goal is to earn enough money so that I can get away from everyone,” states taciturn Daniel Plainview (Daniel Day-Lewis) in Paul Thomas Anderson’s strangely mesmerizing character-study of a ruthless, misanthropic oilman doggedly building an empire in early 20th-century California.

Based on the first 150 pages of Upton Sinclair’s muckraking novel “Oil!” the sprawling historical saga follows Plainview and his adopted son H.W. (Dillon Freasier) as they wheel-and-deal unsuspecting homesteaders out of their land rights, pursuing a plan to construct an oil pipeline to the Pacific Ocean from a rural enclave called Little Boston, near what is now Los Angeles.

Running roughshod over their competitors, they find an immovable obstacle in Eli Sunday (Paul Dano), an avaricious young evangelist who is as ambitious and unscrupulous as they are – only his goal is building the revivalist Church of the Third Revelation.

Delivering a powerful, Oscar-caliber performance, Daniel Day-Lewis embodies the driving force of the determined entrepreneur, as he, literally and figuratively, trounces all opposition, even banishing his son when the boy goes deaf after an accident. As his spiteful, Bible-thumping, mirror-image adversary, Paul Dano matches Day-Lewis’ ferocious intensity.

Filmed around Marfa, Texas, where both “Giant” and “No Country For Old Men” were shot, P.T. Anderson’s daring, adventurous storytelling process often unfolds without spoken dialogue, utilizing Robert Elswit’s spectacular cinematography, Jack Fisk’s brilliant production design and Radiohead guitarist Jonny Greenwood’s evocative, dissonant score.

This epic concept is quite a departure from director/screenwriter Anderson’s previous films – “Punch-Drunk Love,” “Magnolia,” “Boogie Nights” and “Hard Eight” – and he emerges as one of the most exciting filmmakers of this decade.

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Susan Granger

Susan Granger

Susan Granger is a product of Hollywood. Her natural father, S. Sylvan Simon, was a director and producer at R.K.O., M.G.M. and Columbia Pictures; her adoptive father, Armand Deutsch, produced movies at M.G.M. As a child, Susan appeared in movies with Abbott & Costello, Red Skelton, Lucille Ball, Margaret O'Brien and Lassie. She attended Mills College in California, studying journalism with Pierre Salinger, and graduated from the University of Pennsylvania, Phi Beta Kappa, with highest honors in journalism. During her adult life, Susan has been on radio and television as an anchorwoman and movie/drama critic. Her newspaper reviews have been syndicated around the world, and she has appeared on American Movie Classics cable television. In addition, her celebrity interviews and articles have been published in REDBOOK, PLAYBOY, FAMILY CIRCLE, COSMOPOLITAN, WORKING WOMAN and THE NEW YORK TIMES, as well as in PARIS MATCH, ELLE, HELLO, CARIBBEAN WORLD, ISLAND LIFE, MACO DESTINATIONS, NEWS LIMITED NEWSPAPERS (Australia), UK DAILY MAIL, UK SUNDAY MIRROR, DS (France), LA REPUBBLICA (Italy), BUNTE (Germany), VIP TRAVELLER (Krisworld) and many other international publications through SSG Syndicate. Susan also lectures on the "Magic and Mythology of Hollywood" and "Don't Take It Personally: Conquering Criticism and other Survival Skills," originally published on tape by Dove Audio.