Entries tagged with “Paul Thomas Anderson”.


The lead male hero in “Phantom Thread” is a tailor of the high society ladies in a city of London vaguely located in time sometimes after WWII. It is seldom that I am in such a disagreement with the opinions of the majority of the film critics and of many of my friends whose opinions I appreciate. I cannot refrain myself however to express my feelings about this film by quoting the famous short tale by Hans Christian Andersen about the tailors that sewed the “emperor’s new clothes”. I need to shout: “The emperor is naked!” “This film is bad!” Not even can save it. IMHO, of course.

 

source http://www.imdb.com/title/tt5776858

source http://www.imdb.com/title/tt5776858

 

I need now, of course, to explain. I will try to do it without committing the sin of writing a spoiler. It’s the love story between a man well over 50 and a young woman in her 20s. Their are separated not only by the age difference, but also by a social gap (he is a famous tailor of the rich and famous, she is a servant in a country inn) and a difference of nationality left vague in the story. He is one of the best tailors in the world, totally dedicated and immersed in his art. He picks the young woman more like an instrument that fits his artistic model and goals, while the young woman (acted by )  is completely falling in love with him. In order to draw his attention she will do something terrible which I will not reveal, not once but twice. The result is his complete surrender first into marriage, later into parenthood. His creative power seems however to diminish, and the final is actually vague again about his continuing artistic path. The story is outrageous (and I do not allow myself to be outraged to easily), non-credible and ridiculous.

 

(video source Focus Features)

 

I liked a lot ‘s “There Will Be Blood” and especially “The Master“. I am quite astonished about his latest works including this film. He probably intended to bring to screen a story of love and horror, of passion not shared, of a relationship that is based on a terrible lack of balance. The story he created and the solutions he found did not work for me. I am even more disappointed because of the superb acting of who is again investing all his acting style and talent in order not to act but to become his character. I will be very sorry it this is the last film of his acting career. Maybe he will change his mind. What about the role of a great artist like Leonard Bernstein or Herbert von Karajan? While watching “Phantom Thread” I was thinking about these two great music conductors as characters of the same huge talent and intensity as the one of the hero he brings to screen in this film.  deserves a better final.

 

 

I have somehow avoided seeing There Will Be Blood for ten years despite its success, and despite having as lead actor who got his second Academy Award for this role. The reason is that I was under the impression that this is one of those Big American Sagas which make great impression at the Oscars but seldom have convinced me to jump on their ship of emotions. This is true to some extent, as the film deals with the period of the beginning of oil drilling in the United States, the very important difference being that this saga has not an American Hero but and American Anti-Hero as main character. Which probably makes the film even more interesting.

 

source http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0469494/

source http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0469494/

 

The story takes starts before the turn of the 19th to the 20th century and ends in the late 1920s, following the raising of an oil magnate from his first discovery of one oil pit to his taking over a small empire of oil fields and the building of the pipes that ensure the transportation. Daniel Plainview, the character played by Day-Lewis seems to come from nowhere and grows from being nothing to the status of a millionaire. Achieving this takes not only luck and a complete lack of any scruples in dealing with competitors, friends or his very close ones – it also takes his soul. The story is kind of Faustian, it’s just that Satan never shows up, or maybe he is there during the whole story under the form of the black gold. The script is loosely based on a novel by Upton Sinclair, with the difference that while in the Socialist writer novel the emphasis is on the social aspects with a critical view of the Capitalist system, in this adaptation it’s the moral aspects that prevail, with Planview’s character finding a counterpart and nemesis in preacher Eli Sunday (). It’s the material world faced with the possible spiritual salvation, another Faustian theme if you wish, but the preacher character eventually proves to be as corrupt and empty in substance as its arch-rival, which makes it unable to fulfill its goal. The destinies of the two are interleaved and they both end in damnation. Director opens here a theme which he will continue in his next great picture The Master which offered the opportunity of incarnating one of his last greatest roles.

 

(video source Movieclips Trailer Vault)

 

At the end of the day, telling the story of an American hero or of an American anti-hero does not look that different. It is still one of these sagas starting in the days of the rush for gold and ending when the rush for the black gold – the oil – stabilizes into the big corporations consolidations. The lead hero does not seem to have real roots in history or a specific place, and he needs none as most of the attention is focused on its deeds, mostly evil, with the exception of the personal survival story that is being told in the first 15 minutes. As any saga that respects itself it’s long, which in cinema today means more that two and a half hours, which according to tastes and attention pass more or less easy. ‘s performance is superb, he fills the screen with his personality to the point that the balance between his character and the one played by is broken in his favor. Dano acts well but he just cannot raise to the height and intensity of Day-Lewis. There Will Be Blood is one of those movies which cannot be really placed in a specific box, or in more than one – they just build to themselves a category and a name of their own.

 

 

You should be warned that ‘Inherent Vice’ is very different of what it is marketed to be. If you expect to see the detective story advertised by trailers better give up from start. Based upon a book or books by Thomas Pynchon the film is very disappointing as a thriller despite involving such huge talents like director Paul Thomas Anderson or actors Joaquin Phoenix and Benicio del Toro. I cannot even call ‘Inherent Vice’ a bad movie because there are a few moments of humor and charm, and because Phoenix acts with passion and empathy, so I will just confess that I found the film too long and extremely confusing.

 

source http://www.imdb.com/title/tt1791528/

source http://www.imdb.com/title/tt1791528/

 

Missing first before all in this film is a coherent story. What happens on the screen action-wise does not seem to have been the focus of director Anderson, neither telling the story in a fluent manner. Characters keep appearing and disappearing not only for detective reasons, whatever happens is based upon coincidences and the links between the different threads and characters are unclear or seem to lead nowhere. Phoenix plays a hippie version of Marlowe in 1970, and the characters around are mostly stereotypes of that era. There is too little fun and too little thrill to compensate the long and incoherent story though.

 

(video source Warner Bros. Pictures)

 

It’s easy to fall for Joaquin Phoenix who is such a great actor and seems to have enjoyed acting in this film. The 70s are described less than the time of flowers power and birth of all good music we ever heard, and more like the moral swamp that generated the America of today. I found however the critical social view as not too engaging, after all it’s 40 years since Nixon went home, and it certainly cannot compensate the sometimes painful experience of watching this film. Despite all the talent invested (or should I say wasted?) in it, I believe that I am making a public service advising friends and foes to avoid it.

Paul Thomas Anderson‘s The Master is one of the best acted and the most impressively filmed movie of 2012. And yet, I am concerned that as with another amazing film a few years ago which also enjoyed the acting of Philip Seymour Hoffman (I am talking about Synechdoche, New York written and directed by Charlie Kauffman) it is too smart, too complex, and too out of the mainstream taste of the majority of the viewers and of the Academy to get the Oscar Awards it deserves.

 

source www.imdb.com/title/tt1560747/

 

Unfortunately I know too little about Scientology and about its founder L. Ron Hubbard in order to give an educated opinion about how close the image of the charismatic healer and cult leader Lancaster Dodd (Hoffman) is to historic truth. Not it may matter too much in the logic of the film which is not that much about a specific cult or ideology and more about the relation between master and disciple, between the strong and the weak, between the castles of imagination people build in order to cope with hardships of life and reality. On the way the film tells a lot about surviving wars (the other hero acted by Joaquin Phoenix is not much more than a human wreck having survived WWII with psychological sequels, a dependency on alcohol, and a lack of purpose in life), but also about seeking and finding guidance in life, about relations between men and the different ways of human beings relying and becoming dependent one of the other. The more I think about this film which I have seen less than 24 hours ago more details come to my mind, and I am sure that a second or more viewings will let me discover new meanings and new angles of the story. This is not a film to see, enjoy and forget, this is an experience to carry and develop.

 

(video source Movie Trailers)

 

Joaqin Phoenix and Philip Seymour Hoffman give in this movies two of the best performances I have seen in the last years and each in part and the two together deserve Oscar awards for what they do in this film. Phoenix (I am so happy that he is back to making movies) carries on his face, body, voice the whole pain of the broken lives of young people who went to war and were not able to put together the pieces of their lives when they returned. Hoffman apparently has the allure and the charisma of the preacher, but he hides a whole universe of darkness behind this glamor, and acting has the merit of building a complex image of the character without placing a sentence, letting the audiences judge by themselves. Cinematography is another great asset of this film that makes the experience of viewing memorable. Mihai Malaimare jr. who already worked in two films directed by Francis Ford Coppola uses in this film non-digital cameras and a film format (70 mm, I am not a technical expert, some comments say it’s seldom used nowadays) which both makes the image crystal clear and is similar to the one used for projections in the period the action of the film takes place. This format and the selection of colors make the viewing experience really special. The Master is a very special cinema experience which I feel only starts its path now but may become more appreciated in the future, finding its place among the best works of Paul Thomas Anderson.