Yes, smartone, Todd Baesen and I saw the trailer for THERE WILL BE BLOOD, when he took me to a showing of the Coen Brothers' NO COUNTRY FOR OLD MEN, a picture also filmed in Marfa, Texas, home of GIANT, and evidently a suitable partner in a pair of double features. Indeed, picture and performances have been given Wellsian or Welles-like comparisons: to CITIZEN KANE (as you say), to George Stevens' the aforementioned Giant, to Stanley Kubrick's THE SHINING or even 2001: A SPACE ODYSSEY. Paul Thomas Anderson is being compared to Welles, Kubrick, Stevens and Altman. And Daniel Day-Lewis's performance as the Kane-like oil tycoon, Robert Plainview, has drawn several early critics to suggest that he is copying the verbal acting style of John Huston (in his prime), as a younger version of Noah Cross from CHINATOWN.
It is a film about an almost American Gothic misanthrope, who hates people, and almost everything about America, using his found wealth to isolate and protect himself from mankind, in a spectacular way -- especially from the Evangelicals who provided the land on which he based his empire, the behemoth of Standard Oil which comes to threaten it, and finally the embittered step-son he nurtured until the boy failed him, by being deafened in an oil rigging accident.
That's some mouthful about a 240 minute profoundly dark and extremely vicious contest between Big Oil and Evangelical Populism. The film, based on Upton Sinclair's novel, Oil!, of course, is not contemporary, and not a nearly complete summary of America in the first half of the 20th Century. It was not written, directed and starred in by one man, but no one I've read so far would opine that Paul Thomas Anderson (MAGNOLIA) has not made a great film. The reverence of these early pre-opening reviews is similar to that found in ones about CITIZEN KANE before its 1941 opening.
From as at yet a distance, I would add Erich von Stroheim's GREED into the mix as a model. Thomas is evidently trying to say something fundamental about American materialism at its most elemental level.
We shall have to see.
Meanwhile, Baesen and I can recommend the similarly bleak NO COUNTRY FOR OLD MEN (not to mention Sidney Lumet's BEFORE THE DEVIL KNOWS YOU'RE DEAD). A final irony is that one of the first complete screenings of THERE WILL BE BLOOD just took place at the Castro Theater in Frisco, as a benefit for the John Burton Foundation, which helped finance the picture, and which is dedicated to rescuing homeless children!