Paul Thomas Anderson’s roaring masterwork There Will Be Blood is the only DVD worth your bucks this week. Wanna fight me? Go ahead. I’ll drink your milkshake — I’ll drink it up if you think you got your money’s worth shelling out for Reservation Road, Lions for Lambs or The 11th Hour (Leonardo DiCaprio’s preachy and futile shot at echoing Al Gore’s Inconvenient Truth). Blood, which gives you the Oscar-winning and career-defining performance of Daniel Day-Lewis as California oilman Daniel Plainview, is the one that belongs in the collection of anyone who cares about the past, present and future of American movies. If you’re pinching pennies, save five dollars and go for the single disc instead of the two-disc special edition. That extra disc has its moments, notably a 1923 silent film documentary on oil production, which will give you a deeper appreciation of the film’s period accuracy. But the other features — two deleted scenes, vintage photos, an alternate take of Day-Lewis and the actor who plays his son in a restaurant scene — don’t add up to much and fill less than a hour of screen time. There is no commentary from Anderson, who claims he’s given up on explaining, preferring to let the film make its own case. Come on, PTA, hearing your point of view won’t necessarily change ours. There’s a lot of juice to be squeezed out of a good argument. It hurts that Day-Lewis doesn’t offer commentary either. Given the no-shows, the single disc Blood gives you all you need: A great movie transferred to disc with a demo-worthy picture (the brute force of the images captured by Oscar-winning cinematographer Robert Elswit makes visual poetry out of black smoke and an oil well consumed by flame) and sound that brings home the sonic explosion of the score by Radiohead guitarist and composer Jonny Greenwood who reinvents what movie music can be. Plus you get Day-Lewis playing nothing less than American capitalism itself at war with bogus religion in the person of Paul Dano’s preacher Eli Sunday. And in Anderson, who’s only 37 but who made an indelible mark with his first four films — Hard Eight, Boogie Nights, Magnolia and Punch-Drunk Love — you get a filmmaker who keeps upping his game without compromising his talent. There Will Be Blood is not easy to watch. You feel so pummeled it’s hard to get your head clear. Luckily, this DVD lets you tear into this bruising work until it does.
Which leads to the DVD question of the week: Having had the chance to watch There Will Be Blood again on DVD, should Anderson’s movie have won the Oscar for Best Picture instead of the Coen brothers’ No Country for Old Men?