New on DVD: 'Juno,' 'There Will be Blood'
The two Oscar-winning films get a home-video release. One's a comedy; the other decidedly is not.
In these halcyon days of the Hollywood blockbuster, rare is the flick that forgoes concrete plotting and a pat conclusion. "There Will be Blood," Paul Thomas Anderson's story of a oilman's rise – based very loosely on a novel by Upton Sinclair – has a beginning but no real end, and a chronologically scattered middle. (As for the titular blood, it eventually arrives, but in a trickle.) In most ways, it's a showcase for Oscar-winner Daniel Day-Lewis and the stark scenery of the old West. In the first years of the 20th century, Daniel Plainview (Day-Lewis) arrives in California as a prospector. First, he must strike a deal with Eli, a local preacher and faith healer. The pair clash; caught somewhere in the middle is young H.W., Daniel's adopted son. At its best, "There Will Be Blood" is nothing less than a metaphor for the birth of modern America: marred by conflict, colored by religious fervor, and written by self-made tycoons. Among the extras is a 1920s-era film chronicling the rise of the oil business. – Matthew Shaer [Editor's note: The original version misidentified the author of "Oil," a novel by Upton Sinclair.]
A 16-year-old girl gets pregnant. Laughs ensue. Come again? "Juno," a comedy whose sassy exterior melts to reveal a sweet pith, is as invigoratingly unconventional as its underdogs. I'm not referring to the titular character, sure-footedly inhabited by Ellen Page, or Paulie (Michael Cera), the gangly and meek teen father. I'm talking about young director Jason Reitman, the scion of Ivan ("Ghostbusters"), battling suspicions of Hollywood nepotism, and one-time stripper Diablo Cody who, prior to this, had never written a script. The insider and outsider quickly bonded – their commentary track is a hoot – and discovered a shared vision for "Juno." To counterbalance Cody's heightened dialogue – a mix of invented slang and Sturges-like verbal volleys – Reitman opted for a realistic tone. The duo's baby is a beaut. – Stephen Humphries