a rare show of confidence/hubris, Miramax (and Paramount Vantage) kicked off last night’s Los Angeles press screening of the Coen Brothers’ No Country for Old Men with a brand new theatrical trailer for Paul Thomas Anderson’s There Will Be Blood. At first, I thought it was a terrible idea; though I’m amped to see Anderson’s first film in five years, I didn’t need his very particular aesthetic intruding on the Coens’ turf.

Thankfully, No Country for Old Men is exceptional enough to withstand twenty minutes of Stroker Ace outtakes.

But you do need to watch the trailer, and, afterwards, you’ll have to wonder whether this Upton Sinclair riff might vault Anderson past his juvenile screenwriting deficiencies ("Shut the fuck up!") into a purely visual mode of near-formalist filmmaking – at which point you’ll have to decide what you really want out of the obscenely talented bastard. While I think Anderson is competent enough with narrative, he thrives when he digresses; I’d like to see him forsake conventionality and plunge into something as huge and ineffable as Rivette’s Out 1. Because I’ve every confidence that Anderson will be a giant; I just don’t think it’s going to happen under the aegis of a major studio.

I guess we’re hearing Jonny Greenwood’s score in this new trailer. Sounds very Bernard Herrmann. This is encouraging. There Will Be Blood is currently scheduled to open in limited release on December 26th.