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Why the best film of the 21st century is There Will Be Blood | Film

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The title is a prophecy, a warning, or a vengeful supernatural pronouncement. Paul Thomas Anderson’s strange masterpiece, freely adapted by him from Upton Sinclair’s 1927 novel Oil!, is a tragic parable of man’s dependence on this commodity: formerly the lubricant of commercial triumph and technological innovation, and now the dwindling lifeblood of our material prosperity, the unacknowledged driving force of our military conflicts, and even the cause of a coming ecological catastrophe. That dark title threatens a calamity now visible on the horizon: destruction of the Earth itself. And it is all inscribed in the story of the movie’s leading character, a man with the Bunyanesque name of Daniel Plainview.

Daniel Day-Lewis gives perhaps the greatest, certainly the most exotic performance of his career as an oil prospector in the early 20th century, rewarded with colossal wealth that never gives him the smallest pleasure and serves only to amplify the loneliness, paranoia and resentment that were there from the very beginning. Day-Lewis seems to have unlocked this character’s mystery by seizing on a voice: a robust, cantankerous Scots-Irish accent that he has modified from John Huston (a borrowing that itself may have a subtextual reminder of Huston directing The Treasure of the Sierra Madre). As a poor man, Plainview is seen hacking fanatically away in a silver mine, to the accompaniment of an eerie, atonal score by Radiohead’s Jonny Greenwood: he accidentally discovers oil, like the apes at the beginning of Kubrick’s 2001 discovering their opposable thumbs.

Watch the trailer for There Will Be Blood

The movie perhaps looks even stranger, starker and more unforgiving now than when it was released in 2007. Since then, Day-Lewis has given more emollient and sympathetic performances: as Abraham Lincoln for Spielberg in 2012, and as the fictional English couturier Reynolds Woodcock for Paul Thomas Anderson’s Phantom Thread in 2017. Compared with either, Plainview is uncompromising and uningratiating, and it is a grandiloquent performance that could be expected of no one else. Perhaps not Olivier in his screen heyday would have tried something so melodramatically strange – and yes, the weird “milkshake” monologue at the end now feels a bit exposed. No one other than Day-Lewis could have carried it off. The film is also intensely, disconcertingly male, a story of male toxicity without any real female dimension.

Dillon Freasier and Daniel Day-Lewis in There Will Be Blood.



‘A story of male toxicity without any real female dimension’ … Dillon Freasier and Daniel Day-Lewis in There Will Be Blood. Photograph: Miramax/Sportsphoto/Allstar

As a rich man, Plainview is marooned in a huge, dark mausoleum of a house, boasting with black-comic savagery that he will suck up every competitor’s oil like a milkshake. This scene, along with one showing Plainview theatrically driving a stake through a claim map in front of investors, is perhaps there to make us think of Welles’s Charles Kane, the entrepreneur as performative capitalist, bully and showoff. Like Kane, Plainview is a man whose distinction resides in not having something extra but something missing, a gap where his heart should be, a spiritual imbalance generating neurotic, self-destructive energy.

It could also be that Anderson was inspired by Nicolas Roeg’s underrated movie Eureka from 1983, based on a true story, with Gene Hackman as the super-rich Arctic prospector Jack McCann, who was eventually to face loneliness and a grisly death.

There Will Be Blood may itself have been an influence on The Social Network, directed by David Fincher, in which Jesse Eisenberg’s Mark Zuckerberg is driven by resentment and rage to create the social media world that now rules our lives. But from 2016, there has been a raging Plainview in plain sight in the White House: Trump, the eccentric property billionaire and spoilt baby whose cranky tweets are as crazy as Plainview’s deranged “milkshake” pronouncement.

What a spectacle Anderson and Day-Lewis create: a portrait of male belligerence and fear, a Tutankhamun of misery, walled up in his own sarcophagus of wealth and prestige.


 This article was amended on 13 September 2019. The original mis-named Mark Zuckerberg as Mark Zuckerman. This has been corrected.

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Baby Done review – Rose Matafeo is wonderful in irresistible film about parenthood | Film

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During an early moment in director Curtis Vowell’s very enjoyable and sassy New Zealand comedy Baby Done, the protagonist, Zoe (Rose Matafeo), articulates her mixed feelings towards bringing another life into this world. “I want to have a baby,” she says, “I just don’t want to turn into a mum.”

The Taika Waititi-produced film is not about the fear of being a bad parent, or even of being a parent per se, but rather how one’s existence changes when a little person emerges – the start of the bub’s life inevitably signalling the end of certain aspects of the parent’s.

This of course requires kissing certain aspirations goodbye, or at least realigning expectations – which, for Zoe, an arborist, means ditching her plans to win a national tree-climbing competition: not exactly a widely relatable sacrifice, but each to their own. The film opens with her literally up a tree, before showing Zoe figuratively crashing down to earth in a medical clinic, when she incredulously receives a positive result on a pregnancy test.

More or less in a state of denial, Zoe initially conceals the news from her partner Tim (Matthew Lewis), who is also an arborist – because the couple that chop down trees together … stays together? They both consider themselves adventurers and are wary about living life according to the conventional trajectory. The title is dropped at a baby shower where, surrounded by people who have babies, are babies, or are pregnant, Zoe summarises that aforementioned trajectory in only four words: “Married, house, baby, done.”

The scope of the film spans the journey from pregnancy to birth. For a fun companion piece picking up where it left off, with a not dissimilar outlook, viewers can go back across the Tasman and watch ABC TV’s The Letdown, which explores what comes after birth: ie sleep deprivation, awkward social encounters and things that happen when you sleep in a car situated on a drug dealer’s turf.

Baby Done’s badinage-filled script, written by Sophie Henderson, inflates small moments into feelings and situations that mean more than what is spoken, sometimes in quite subtle ways. Instead of directly stating that Tim is afraid to be a father, for instance, Henderson has him greeting another person’s toddler with an ear-to-ear Cheshire grin on his face, only for the kid to respond by bursting into tears. We’ve all been there, right, helpless in the face of infantile rejection?

‘Married, house, baby, done’: Rose Matafeo and Matthew Lewis at a baby shower.



‘Married, house, baby, done’: Rose Matafeo and Matthew Lewis at a baby shower. Photograph: Madman

Matafeo’s wonderful, compulsively affable performance is core to the film’s irresistible good-naturedness: its spirit, pluck, bounce. You want to be her friend, and in a strange way you feel like you are her friend. She leans into you, invites you into her world, doing so in a way that seems almost able to read the audience’s responses in real time – like a chatty seatmate on a plane, who can judge the mood and is somebody you actually want to talk to.

Matafeo’s chemistry with Lewis (contributing another thoroughly likable performance as an unremarkable, every day sort of character) allows for a laid-back riffing. The pair’s generally moderate temperaments make their relative explosions of impatience and anxiety funnier than they might have been otherwise. It’s a good thing the writing, pacing and performances gel so well, because the film’s nondescript production values serve to emphasise them, pulling us into the characters’ lives without much showiness or flair.

Baby Done is sharper and pacier than Vowell’s previous feature, 2013’s Fantail: a scruffily textured drama about a young white petrol station attendant who believes she is Māori. In order to ratchet up dramatic stakes as the birth date approaches, Vowell and Henderson in Baby Done present a spin on the moth-eaten “will they or won’t they” question, in a lurch towards formula which represents the writing at its most irritatingly conventional.

Still, the film coasts along just fine, switching from comedy to drama swiftly thanks to humour that’s so invested in characters and feeling. The stakes are never high but you care for these people; you want them to be happy. Always there is lightness of touch, with many small situations triggering giggles and sometimes guffaws—from the appearance of Brian the “pregaphile” (Nic Sampson) to a confetti bomb detonation moment that well and truly tickled my ribs.

Baby Done is funny; it’s sweet; it means something. Most of all it’s charming.

Baby Done opens in Australian and New Zealand cinemas on 22 October


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Jamie Lynn Spears Auditioned For Twilight

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“I’m not playing a vampire.”

It’s hard to picture anyone but Kristen Stewart playing Bella Swan in Twilight now, but back in 2006 actors like Jennifer Lawrence, Lily Collins, and Michelle Trachtenberg auditioned for the iconic role.


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Of course there was no Bella in Forks for Lily, but there was eventually Emily in Paris. And there’d probably be no Katniss Everdeen or Georgina Sparks as we know them, so all’s well that ends well.

And, in a new interview with Nylon, Jamie Lynn Spears revealed that she also auditioned for the role — even though she really didn’t want to.

“They had to force me. Force me,” she said, speaking of her managers. “I remember just thinking like, ‘Y’all are insane. I’m not playing a vampire. That is so stupid. Why would I do that?’ But I went and read for that role.”

“I remember sitting in this little room, and I think Lily Collins was there, and I felt so sick. Little did I know, I was pregnant.”

Earlier this year, Jamie Lynn also spoke about her Twilight audition and thinking a vampire movie was “stupid” on Maria Menounos’ YouTube show Better Together, concluding: “That just shows how much I knew. Those types of things, you just have to laugh at.”

Fortunately, everything worked out just fine for Jamie Lynn, who’s gearing up to release a remix of the immensely popular Zoey 101 theme song “Follow Me”:

For Jamie Lynn’s full interview with Nylon, click here.

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Most Jaw-Dropping The Boys Season 2 Moments

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This entire montage was heavy, heartbreaking, and brilliant. It made a blatant callout to our current times and displayed how ultra-patriotic attitudes and media breed prejudice and xenophobia, proving that although The Boys takes place in an alternate world, our world isn’t really that different.


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