Quick Takes – There Will Be Blood, Jumper and Marie Antoinette

There Will Be Blood (2007)–While I cannot summon the enthusiasm others have used to gush over this picture, I do not deny the brilliance at work.  Daniel Day-Lewis delivers a perfect portrayal of a man who gains the world and forfeits his soul.  Daniel Plainview is Citizen Kane.  On the surface, he’s a benevolent innovator whose ambition for oil can bring life to a dead community—oil means money, water for irrigation, and school for local children.  Anything and everything around him, however, exists as means to his ends.  He will play any role, surrender any part of his conscience, but not without consequence. 

In opposition to his ambition is the local preacher, Eli Sunday (Paul Dano); just as corrupt, evil and dubious as Plainview.  It makes for moments of grand cinema watching these two charismatic manipulators dance around each other in a vile chess match that will lead them both to their doom. 

Jumper (2007) – A great premise, as written and imagined by a bunch of bored study hall misfits, with a cast as shallow as a puddle left behind in the kitchen sink.  Joins Cloverfield on the distinguished list of compelling concepts completely ruined in their execution.

Marie Antoinette (2006) —Different.  Though I doubt the French royalty in the 18th century spoke with such nuanced American accents, dir. Sophia Coppola turned what could have been a MTVified disaster into something interesting.  The second half zips by so fast that it loses the magic that shaped the first half so well.  Jason Schwartzman does a wonderfully understated job as Louis XVI, a more compelling performance than Kirsten Dunst’s turn as Antoinette.

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