Phantom Thread is a movie about obsession. Call it love, admiration, compulsion or simply attention to detail, it is the central ingredient in Paul Thomas Anderson’s answer to the vintage Hollywood romance. Following the peculiar relationship between eccentric couturier Reynolds Woodcock and foreign waitress-turned-muse-turned-partner Alma, the postwar London-set film fits right in with the other classic love affairs of the time, save for its distinctly modern look at what is essentially a well-dressed, well-spoken battle of the kinks.
Tag: Paul Thomas Anderson
The Master – 2012 – dir. Paul Thomas Anderson
Paul Thomas Anderson’s The Master is a tale about masters and pets, leaders and followers, Freddie Quell (Joaquin Phoenix) and Lancaster Dodd (Philip Seymour Hoffman).
Dodd, the brilliant but short-tempered founder and prophet of The Cause, takes Freddie on as his template, his patient zero. As Freddie hungers for sex, food, and survival, Dodd meticulously draws inspiration from Freddie, himself. His own religion changes shape, the more time he spends with this sex-crazed, alcoholic lunatic. Freddie learns from Dodd, Dodd learns from Freddie. Dodd leads with his directives, and Freddie follows. Freddie follows with his whims, and Dodd changes things to suit Freddie’s desires… but to a point. There is still very much a master at work.
Punch-Drunk Love – 2002 – dir. Paul Thomas Anderson
A great director has the ability to re-envision an age-old genre with his own artistic spin. In the case of Paul Thomas Anderson’s Punch Drunk Love, the romantic-comedy gets an edge it never really had before. Gritty realism is not often found in your everyday date movie, but when the lonely protagonist, Barry Egan (Adam Sandler), calls a sex-hotline the day before he meets the girl of his dreams (Emily Watson), problems ensue. The film doesn’t harbor on its protagonist’s pathetic attempts at over-the-phone love, but instead explains the character through a variety of personal triumphs. His dream-woman is already present, but learning to come to grips with himself is the real problem. Did I mention the protagonist is Adam Sandler?
Hard Eight – 1996 – dir. Paul Thomas Anderson
Paul Thomas Anderson’s Hard Eight is his most straightforward narrative, perhaps due to the normal constraints of a director’s first big picture. Aging gangster and gambler Sydney (Phillip Baker Hall) retreats to Vegas to settle down with his spoils and finds that his knowledge of high stakes is useful to others. Budgeting limitations could have weighed the film down, but the young director uses it to his advantage. While fans of his later work will find Hard Eight to be his most conventional movie, it contains moments that foreshadow PTA’s greater canvas of cinematic storytelling.