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Entries in Paul Thomas Anderson (7)

Monday
Sep222014

Beauty vs Beast: There Will Be Beasts

JA from MNPP here welcoming you to another week's "Beauty vs Beast" showdown - this time around we're going good and bad and ugly and everything in between, heading out West to the oil fields of California at the turn of the previous century.

Over the weekend Paul Thomas Anderson's 2007 film There Will Be Blood screened at the immense and ornate United Palace Theater here in New York with Jonny Greenwood's masterful (and criminally Oscar-ignored) score performed live by an orchestra, including Mr. Greenwood himself. I was there and it was, to put it mildly, as if somebody liquified all of Heaven itself into drug-form and shot it full-blast into my veins. That is to say -- I enjoyed it. So to keep my happy buzz thrumming just a little longer, let's head back to The Church of the Third Revelation and see where our loyalties lie - with Daniel Day-Lewis' boy-abandoning oil-man or with Paul Dano's oily-man of god who keeps crawling under his skin.

 

We should try to keep ourselves character-minded as we cast our votes (keeping in mind that Eli might be a squirmy little fraud but Daniel Plainview does some, um, very bad stuff), but on the actor side of the equation I do want to say that while Oscar was very clearly definitive about where its hosannas fell (and I'm not about to knock DDL's for-the-ages work) I do think Dano's performance has been under-valued. The film wouldn't work nearly as well as it does if he wasn't purposefully driving us into Daniel Plainview's long, cold, scary arms. But really they're all a bunch of bastards (in baskets).

PREVIOUSLY Last week we revisited the raining rose petals of the insular suburban world in Sam Mendes' American Beauty on the ocassion of its 15th anniversary, and faced the angry patriarch and angrier matriarch of the Burnham clan off - coming out ahead by one fashionable gardening clog, Carolyn (Annette Bening) marched off with just over 60% of the vote. Said Mike In Canada:

"I feel like a major turning point in the road to true grownup-hood is realizing that Carolyn is the true hero of American Beauty and that Lester is a thoughtless prick and the movie's attitudes toward them are a major flaw."

Thursday
May292014

First Round Oscar Predix Continue: Supporting Actor

Two things we have to acknowledge right up front before we continue our first round of Oscar charts which will be finished by Saturday. Yay.

First. The supporting actor categories are often crazy foggy until people have seen the movies. Since men make up the bulk of film characters there is always a lot to choose from... even within the same film. Take Paul Thomas Anderson's adaptation of Inherent Vice for example. I have yet to read the novel but literally every character in synopsis form sounds like a chance for actors to show off. That could result in a grandiose amount of overkill in scenery chewing for one film to handle- the acting equivalent of a rain of frogs, if you will. But it doesn't help us decipher which of the players will stand out. If you look at any of Anderson's early work -- the true ensembles before he started focusing on the journey of only one or two men (sigh) -- it was often hard to decide who was "best" because everyone was doing such strong work. I've gone with Josh Brolin as a prediction playing Joaquin Phoenix's old nemesis "Bigfoot" but it could just as easily be Benicio Del Toro as "Sauncho" or Owen Wilson as the musician "Coy Harlingen" or... well, you get the picture. The film has a huge cast.

Or it might be no one if the film is not well received. But the nominations for P.T.'s chilly weird The Master, not particularly "Oscar friendly" in the traditional sense, suggest that AMPAS is finally on this auteur's wavelength.

Second. There is no such thing as a line of demarcation between Lead and Supporting anymore. The two categories are fluid and mean nothing dissimilar at this point. It's like ten spots for men and ten spots for women. Period.

There are infinite ways to get away with category fraud in this day and age and the only time Oscar has ever rejected fraudulent campaigns is when a person leading the film has no other actor of stature around or of the same gender to pretend they are "supporting" them (Winslet in '08, Keisha in '03, etcetera). Otherwise they're always okay with it. Voters are especially forgiving of category fraud with male actors, perhaps subconciously reflecting heteronormative pack mentality --  some guy is always the alpha. So even if there is no way you can describe Fox (Collateral) in '04 or Affleck (Jesse James)  in '07 as "supporting characters" without sane people laughing at you, that's okay with Oscar because in no stretch of the Hollywood imagination are  Cruise and Pitt not alpha males. I think we can all agree on that.  

Which brings us to Foxcatcher. Here, things are decidedly more fluid. Carell and Tatum and Ruffalo are not big enough stars to pretend that all other men in any given movie would be supporting them. Hell, Tatum even has second billing to Jonah Hill in the 21 Jump Street series which I find... strange. (Was it the Oscar nominations? Is it the deferrence to alpha order? Tatum led more films before they joined up). Early word is that Sony Pictures Classics will campaign both Tatum and Carell as leads and Ruffalo as supporting. Whether this holds or not is anyone's guess. In Contention posted a piece on how rare double lead nominations are and cited the statistics (not since 1984 for men and 1991 for women) and called it "obviously stiff odds" and that's true, factually. But it's not true spiritually. The article left out the extremely crucial fact that studios don't try to win dual lead nods anymore. Who is to say that we wouldn't have had examples of dual lead nods since then if they had kept campaigning truthfully as they used to do? Maybe voters should check themselves before demoting lead actors to supporting and ask themselves the relevant question "would I vote for them as a lead?" If the answer is "no" than maybe you shouldn't vote for them in supporting. 

THE SUPPORTING ACTOR CHART 
INDEX OF PREDICTIONS 

Wednesday
Jan292014

We Can't Wait #5: Inherent Vice

[Editor's Note: We Can't Wait is a Team Experience series, in which we highlight our top 14 most anticipated films of 2014. Here's Amir Soltani on "Inherent Vice."]

Inherent Vice
Doc Sportello, a perennially buzzed detective in Los Angeles at the beginning of the 70s, gets himself tangled up in a mess with former lovers, low life gangsters, prostitutes, billionaire crooks, a ship called Golden Fang and a whole lotta people with really weird names.

Talent
One of America’s greatest filmmakers, Paul Thomas Anderson, is behind the camera and one of America’s greatest actors, Joaquin Phoenix, is in front of it. Cinematographer Robert Elswit is collaborating with the director again after a one-film break, as is composer Jonny Greenwood. Josh Brolin, Owen Wilson, Benicio Del Toro, Martin Short, Reese Witherspoon and P.T.'s partner Maya Rudolph fill out the rest of the cast list.

Maya Rudolph in "Inherent Vice"

Why We Can’t Wait
With Paul Thomas Anderson’s name attached, little else is needed to drum up excitement. In my opinion, he has directed three spotless masterpieces (Boogie Nights, There Will Be Blood and The Master) and the rest of his filmography is as compelling as it is provocative. His is a singular and vital voice in modern American cinema. But there’s another factor at play here too: Inherent Vice is one of my favorite novels of recent years, and one of Pynchon’s most polished and coherent works. Its relatively modest scale should lend itself better to adaptation than the rest of his bibliography.

It will also be interesting to see Anderson in a more relaxed mood again. Vice has the potential to take him back to the Altman-esque structure he so successfully utilized in Boogie Nights, both because of its sprawling cast of colorful characters and its bitter humor and casual insight into the Angelenos counterculture. Few directors can get an ensemble to click as comfortably as Anderson does and it’d be a shame if he never used that gift again. If adapted faithfully, Doc Sportello is more central to the narrative than Dirk Diggler was, but there’s still plenty of meat for everyone else to chew on here. Plus, look at that cast! It’s mouthwatering. So good, in fact, that I’m willing to forgive the presence of Reese Witherspoon!

But We Do Have To Wait
Warner Brothers has the distribution rights, but we know we have to wait a while. None of Anderson’s films have been released earlier than mid-September on the calendar, and chances are this one won’t be an exception. A festival bow in Venice is likely; one in Toronto is almost inevitable.

Previously on "We Can't Wait"
06 Into the Woods
07 Snowpiercer
08 Nymphomaniac
09 Boyhood,
10 Big Eyes,
11 The Last 5 Years,
12 Gone Girl 
13 Can a Song Save Your Life 
14 Veronica Mars 
runners up  just missed the cut.

Wednesday
Mar272013

Link Breakers

Port Magazine's film issue is guest curated by Daniel Day-Lewis and features Brendan Gleeson & Paul Thomas Anderson
AV Club every stammer in every Woody Allen movie. A 44 minute (!) supercut. Good lord. 
Anderson Live even though I think it's kind of dangerous to let Anderson Cooper get any yummier, he has. Look, it's Anderson Coopcakes! 


Blackbook what do you make of the new tv spots for The Great Gatsby. (I'm trying not to react as it's my favorite book of all time and I can't see it working as a film. Unless it's just completely it's own thing and borrowing the glory of the title.) 
Paul Reese thinks Spring Breakers might be the best American film since Mulholland Dr

just for lolz
BuzzFeed
12 unanswered crazy-making questions about Disney's Beauty & The Beast
Spiral 16 scientific data confirms that "We Built This City" is the worstest song ever recorded.

Monday
Nov192012

The Masters of My Eyeballs

I like getting lost at the movies. I live for the moments when you dive into the blue box. Ever since Mulholland Drive, that's what I've called that delirius feeling. That's when a movie with a tractor beam size pull just sucks you in until you're fully immersed in its world. Sometimes it's only for a moment. Sometimes it happens in fits and starts. With masterpieces it can last for the whole running time once you've stopped resisting. In these moments we've left the movie theater behind; the projectionist isn't the only one projecting.

Paul Thomas Anderson movies usually give me just this blue box sensation. I ate at the diner in Hard Eight. I hung out on porn sets and called Julianne mommy while high on coke in Boogie Nights. In There Will Be Blood I fell right in the oil well with Daniel Day-Lewis but only one of us emerged again after that prologue. I even lost myself a time or two in Punch-Drunk Love flights of rage and whimsy. 

 THE MASTER and HOLY MOTORS after the jump

Click to read more ...

Tuesday
Sep112012

Curio: Viewing The Master

Alexa here. I just can't let the week go by without posting something about my biggest film boner since Black Swan, PT Anderson's The Master.  I know this is bandwagon time, but my excitement knows no bounds here. I can't wait to see Joaquin Phoenix back in prime form; I will always forgive his sidestep into indulgence because, the talent!  And another film paired with Johnny Greenwood's haunting tones? Yes please!  I missed Chicago's only 70mm showing (grrr), but will be first in line on Friday.  To force you to revel in anticipation with me, I present a few fan posters (with the exception of Wes Anderson, no one brings out the fan art quite like PT), and some fabulous photographs taken from the set by photographer Jack Erling.

Poster by Duane Valentino.

One more fan poster and evocative photos from the set after the jump

Click to read more ...