While the list of films I cannot wait to see in 2006 has grown rather large, none of them match my eagerness for the next Paul Thomas Anderson film — There Will Be Blood. So any news about the next film from the director of Punch-drunk Love and Magnolia makes me lean very close to the screen to make sure I don’t miss a detail.

Cinematical grabbed my attention today with a link to a (very poorly written) story about the script that’s short on detail but long on enthusiasm. It also has the first bare-bones description of what the film is about…

The film concerns a man named Daniel, an oil prospector in the early 1900’s. His quest to find and extract oil leads him on a rather confounded path lined with madness. The crux of the story revolves around a small community of people, namely a poor downtrodden religious family the Sundays, and their involvement in Daniel’s agenda. It is here that Daniel interfaces with his counterpart, the Sunday’s second-eldest son: a young preacher of ‘God’s word’ whose abnormal evangelical style has made him a local celebrity. Both Daniel and Eli Sunday are looking to ‘mine’ a commodity deemed invaluable: one for oil, the other-faith. The two are on a collision course that can only be resolved in blood. The truths of this story, for me anyway, revolve around man’s eventual need to address the widening gap between reality and superstition. This script speaks volumes about the dangers inherent to nihilism as well as blind faith.

Meanwhile, Brett Ratner is sending mixed messages about his X-Men three-quel. He’s attacking people who are making premature judgments that the film will be a disaster. But he’s also talking about how Bryan Singer, who directed the first two, is “better at it” than he is. I do think that it will be hard to beat Singer’s fantastic work in X-Men and X-Men 2, but come on, man… if you want to squash negative rumors, don’t go around talking about how other directors could do a better job than you!

I sat next to Ratner on the X3 set for a while a few months ago, and I haven’t commented on my impressions because I’m still grateful for the opportunity I had to go behind the scenes. But I will comment, when it comes time to run a review. For now I’ll just say that it’s very interesting watching people jump to huge conclusions about the finished film before the film is even finished, their pronouncements based entirely on a few photographs.

And it’s also strange how different an exciting scene revealed in the preview looks if you were there to see how the shot was put together…

It’s hard to block out all of the stuff you know that’s just outside the frame… like the head honchos who were off to the side arguing about the difference between “John Hurt” and “John Heard.”

I’ll admit, I haven’t been a fan of Ratner’s previous films. But it’s far too early to judge his work on this film, unless you’ve been there working with him and watching early cuts. I and all X-men fans should be rooting for him. If the fans revolt early, who’s to say he won’t lose his enthusiasm for the project and do less than his his best?

Ignore the hasty reviews, Brett. Show us you’ve got a great action film in you! The best answer to nasty pre-reviews is to prove them wrong with something awesome.

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