This was last year's best film. Daniel Day-Lewis is awe-inspiring as Daniel Plainview, an early 20th-century oil barren who "has a competition" in him. Director Paul Thomas Anderson topped himself with this masterpiece, a film that actually deserved the Best Picture Oscar over the winner, No Country for Old Men.
It's funny how this film splits opinions among viewers. I've talked to some who say it is one of the very best they've ever seen, but I've also heard from people who think it's quite terrible. It is the very definition of a character study, and if you don't find yourself drawn into the character of Plainview from the very beginning, you're going to have a tough time. Those who find themselves hypnotized by every word that emerges from Day-Lewis' mouth ... well, obviously, you're going to be swept away.
Paul Dano comes into his own as an actor, playing two characters. He first appears as Paul, who lets Plainview know about oil on his farmland. Paul is followed by Eli, a screaming preacher who wants big dollars from Plainview to expand his self-serving church. The rivalry between Plainview and Eli becomes the core of Anderson's film.
Day-Lewis got an Oscar, as did the cinematographer. I think the best is yet to come from Anderson; he's one of the best directors on the scene.
Special Features: This release feels like a bit of a rush job. There's no Anderson commentary, nor are there any interviews with him. There are a couple of deleted scenes, an old film about the rise of the oil industry and an interesting series of comparisons between movie images and authentic photographs. Not a package worthy of the film.
Hey, it's time for my annual review of the latest DVD release for The Pride of the Yankees. Good God, how many editions of this thing are they going to release?
I still don't like the movie. I love Lou Gehrig, and I love Gary Cooper, yet Gary Cooper as Lou Gehrig just doesn't work. Seeing Babe Ruth in a movie is a cool thing, but the melodrama is enough to make me puke so hard that my shoes jet out of my mouth.
The Pride of the Yankees is considered a classic, but I can't stand it. When it comes to baseball movies, I'd rather watch the next film.
Special Features: Whoa! Wait a minute here! Last year's shameless repackaging featured no new special features. All it had was a new cardboard sleeve to trick dicks like me into buying the damn movie again. This release actually has a bunch of features, including Curt Schilling sitting down for an interview (I love Curt Schilling), making-of stuff and lots of Gehrig history. This DVD is much improved over past editions--but I still don't like the movie.
Here's the real deal, one of the very best baseball films ever made. Director John Sayles tells the story of the Black Sox, the 1919 Chicago White Sox team that threw the World Series. This marked John Cusack's first real foray into serious movies after his stint in teen comedies--remarkably, the movie is now 20 years old.
Sayles did a good job not only casting good actors, but casting actors who looked credible on the baseball field. Cusack played Buck Weaver, the third baseman who knew about the scandal, though he played hard and said nothing to the authorities. D.B. Sweeney is Shoeless Joe Jackson, who took the money but scorched the ball during the series. David Strathairn is pure excellence as Eddie Cicotte, the aging pitcher who took the money so his daughter could have a future.
On top of all this, the great John Mahoney plays manager William "Kid" Gleason, who can't believe for a second that his team is throwing the games, even when the writing is on the wall. Throw in Charlie Sheen, Michael Rooker and Gordon Clapp, and you have one of the best casts assembled in the '80s. Sayles himself is great as a crusty reporter who suspects the team is crooked.
The movie is so good that you find yourself hoping the team will come to its senses--even though you know how it all turned out. This is a sports movie in which the creators, crew and actors all cared deeply about the presentation of the sport--and that's what makes the film one of the greats.
Special Features: An excellent disc for an excellent movie. Sayles participates in a commentary and interviews, and that's bliss for any fan. He talks about how Sheen's arm was a gun, and Cusack was originally picked for the shortstop role. He turned it down, because he couldn't turn a double play, eventually getting the better role of Buck Weaver. Also: Strathairn could throw a legitimate curveball. All of that stuff is just so damned cool.