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The Films of: Paul Thomas Anderson 
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Post The Films of: Paul Thomas Anderson
The Lists section needs a bit of a kick in the ass. I'm thinking this could turn into a sort of series where we discuss the films of a specific director. If it catches on, please feel free to go ahead and start your own for whatever director you like, though I think we should wait a few days between new threads. We've already had something similar for Wes Anderson via Kyle and for Danny Boyle thanks to Rob. Mr. Holloway has a hand in this too since he recently he brought up PTA somewhere I cannot now recall.

Structure shouldn't matter. Rank them in whatever order you like or give a grade if you wish, but a few brief thoughts would be nice. It doesn't need to be extravagant unless you want it to be. Enough talk, onto the stuff that matters.

Paul Thomas Anderson:

In my opinion, PTA is one of the best younger directors working today. I've really enjoyed every one of his features thus far and cannot wait to see what he'll do next. His films remind me a lot of the (too few) ones I've seen from Robert Altman, particularly his fondness for multi-character storylines.

5. Magnolia 8/10 - my least favourite PTA film seems to be a lot of people's favourite PTA film. I do like it a lot, but I think it falls apart a bit at the end. The best Tom Cruise performance I've seen.

4. Sydney (Hard Eight) 8/10 - a nice little multi-character drama. A bit frustrating in places, but overall it's pretty rewarding. It doesn't reach the same heights as Magnolia, but it is somewhat more consistent.

3. Punch-Drunk Love 8/10 - very funny, but also very sweet and emotionally satisfying. I think this is Adam Sandler's best performance.

2. Boogie Nights 8/10 - I've only seen this once and that was when it premiered on cable, yet I remember most of this more fondly than the rest of PTA's oeuvre. Really need to see this again, because I think it might end up being my favourite of his movies.

1. There Will Be Blood 9/10 - Easily one of the best films of the last decade. Daniel Day-Lewis is great in just about everything and this picture is no exception. As an added bonus there's a wonderful score by Johnny Greenwood and some eye candy thanks to Robert Elswit.


Wed Aug 12, 2009 3:59 pm
Post Re: The Films of: Paul Thomas Anderson
ed_metal_head wrote:
The Lists section needs a bit of a kick in the ass. I'm thinking this could turn into a sort of series where we discuss the films of a specific director. If it catches on, please feel free to go ahead and start your own for whatever director you like, though I think we should wait a few days between new threads. We've already had something similar for Wes Anderson via Kyle and for Danny Boyle thanks to Rob. Mr. Holloway has a hand in this too since he recently he brought up PTA somewhere I cannot now recall.

Structure shouldn't matter. Rank them in whatever order you like or give a grade if you wish, but a few brief thoughts would be nice. It doesn't need to be extravagant unless you want it to be. Enough talk, onto the stuff that matters.

Paul Thomas Anderson:

In my opinion, PTA is one of the best younger directors working today. I've really enjoyed every one of his features thus far and cannot wait to see what he'll do next. His films remind me a lot of the (too few) ones I've seen from Robert Altman, particularly his fondness for multi-character storylines.

5. Magnolia 8/10 - my least favourite PTA film seems to be a lot of people's favourite PTA film. I do like it a lot, but I think it falls apart a bit at the end. The best Tom Cruise performance I've seen.

4. Sydney (Hard Eight) 8/10 - a nice little multi-character drama. A bit frustrating in places, but overall it's pretty rewarding. It doesn't reach the same heights as Magnolia, but it is somewhat more consistent.

3. Punch-Drunk Love 8/10 - very funny, but also very sweet and emotionally satisfying. I think this is Adam Sandler's best performance.

2. Boogie Nights 8/10 - I've only seen this once and that was when it premiered on cable, yet I remember most of this more fondly than the rest of PTA's oeuvre. Really need to see this again, because I think it might end up being my favourite of his movies.

1. There Will Be Blood 9/10 - Easily one of the best films of the last decade. Daniel Day-Lewis is great in just about everything and this picture is no exception. As an added bonus there's a wonderful score by Johnny Greenwood and some eye candy thanks to Robert Elswit.



Ed

My scores are boringly similar

9 - TWBB and Magnolia
8 - Punch Drunk Love and Boogie Nights
7 - Sydney / Hard Eight

Each time I see one of his films again i feel warmer towards it.

Maybe the best "young" film maker today?

Rob


Wed Aug 12, 2009 5:01 pm
Post Re: The Films of: Paul Thomas Anderson
The only one I have seen is There Will be Blood, but I plan on watching his others someday this year. For the records, There Will be Blood I gave ***1/2 out of ****.


Wed Aug 12, 2009 5:20 pm
Post Re: The Films of: Paul Thomas Anderson
Good idea, ed_metal_head. Real good. Like: really really good. Like: good.

In the order they were sent to us from the mother ship:

Sydney - It's been at least 10 years but I remember being impressed with Philip Baker Hall's work. It's standard noir and features at least one terrible line of dialogue (the usage of "my darling Clementine" was a poor idea) but, other than not being the best thing on earth, PTA's least impressive movie is still pretty solid. I'll need to see it again.

Boogie Nights - I've posted elsewhere that this is my favorite modern movie. Which it is. It's all crazy ambition and major entertainment (the camera follows a woman into a pool and under water!) that, like the rest of Anderson's work, has the reach of seventeen movies. This is one of the two instances, in my mind, where Anderson isn't slightly overmatched by his material and his love of his own movie is evident in every frame. Awesome. #1 of the 90's, for me at least, and the most balls-out enthusiastic movie I can think of.

Magnolia - Another really good movie that, as others have indicated, starts to come apart in the end. Not the end, either: the singing of "Give Up". It must have looked just incredible on paper but it's just... ah! So much in Magnolia! So much! I may love this movie, actually, for it's little failures here and there. Incredibly entertaining and, while it isn't as touching as Anderson thinks it is, still pretty touching. "Dad, I want you to be nicer to me..." Man... I really want to see this one again. My memories are really positive.

Punch-Drunk Love - Bulls-eye! Anderson's shortest and most straightforward narrative offers insight as to why Adam Sandler always tends to play a nutcake in his movies. I love this one for many moments but, if I pick one, I pick the moment in the restaurant when Emily Watson brings up some bad times in Sandler's past and the guy can barely contain himself before destroying a bathroom. Frightening but understandable.

There Will Be Blood - One of the best looking films of the decade. The score, too, is one of the best. Like Magnolia, the end starts to compromise the rest of the film -- there's a sense that Daniel Day-Lewis was given too much license to play that last scene. I think it fails the rest of the film but, really, it was bound to happen when all of PTA's ambition was on the table. Admirable! I think it's flawed and kind of a masterpiece. A true Great Big Epic of a movie.


Wed Aug 12, 2009 6:07 pm
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Post Re: The Films of: Paul Thomas Anderson
I've heard great things about PTA, i'll watch all of his his films by year's end.


Wed Aug 12, 2009 6:13 pm
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Post Re: The Films of: Paul Thomas Anderson
For the record, Rob suggested this kind of topics on the Video Game Poll. Anyways on the topic on hand

There Will Be Blood - 10/10
Boogie Nights - 9/10
Punch Drunk Love - 8/10

I haven't seen Hard Eight or Magnolia but I do think that his is a very interesting director.


Wed Aug 12, 2009 6:34 pm
Post Re: The Films of: Paul Thomas Anderson
ed_metal_head wrote:
1. There Will Be Blood 9/10 - Easily one of the best films of the last decade. Daniel Day-Lewis is great in just about everything and this picture is no exception. As an added bonus there's a wonderful score by Johnny Greenwood and some eye candy thanks to Robert Elswit.



Hot damn!


I rank Paul Thomas Anderson's films in this order:

5. Hard Eight
4. Punch Drunk Love
3. There Will Be Blood
2. Boogie Nights
1. Magnolia


Now, of all of the man's films, 'Boogie Nights' is easily the tightest. It displays the fewest flaws of any work from his oeuvre. However (and this is a big however), 'Magnolia' is easily my favorite film of this gifted (relatively) young artist. It is the biggest risk he has ever taken, and it's peaks rest easily above any of this peaks of his other films. It is a fool-hardy, intensely emotional and hypnotically compelling film that, if slow in it's final fourth, has a great last act revelation and has one the very best soundtracks in modern film. Aimee Mann's sensibilities as a musician are perfect foil for Mr. Anderson's sense of humanity (which even rears it's head in the nihilistic 'There Will Be Blood').

'There Will Be Blood' is a brilliant film for much of it's running length, but has no justification for it's excessive running length and is consequently doomed to near-classic status. Nevertheless, it is Daniel Day Lewis' best performance, and many of the sequences (including the amazing opening scenes and the one where Plainview's speech to the townsfolk are displayed to be full of grotesque lies) are tremendously compelling. 'Punch Drunk Love' and 'Hard Eight' both strike me as lesser works, the former developing an awkward character via an uninteresting plot, and the latter because it finds PT forming his voice as director, and consequently has seams that his later films simply do not show.


Wed Aug 12, 2009 6:52 pm
Post Re: The Films of: Paul Thomas Anderson
Great topic....

5. Hard Eight--7/10. A rather underrated film of his that many mainstream viewers have not seen but is very impressive in spots. Really solid ensemble(as has become a mark of his films) that is worth revisiting.
4. Magnolia--7/10. Man there is a lot going on here and most of it works. It could've been edited a littel tighter but that holds true for many of his films(as many before me have mentioned). Incredibly ambitious(I mean come on, it rained frogs!) and entertaining.
3. Punch Drunk Love-8/10. This one gets better with each viewing and I really get frustrated with Adam Sandler's choices after watching how good he can be. Sweet and touching.
2. Boogie Nights-8.5/10. Again, incredibly ambitious. At times it's like PTA threw up all of ideas and refused to let any of them go but that works to his advantage more often than not. I particularly love Alfred Molina's scene, just so out there and damn funny. Maybe my favorite of his films.
1. There Will be Blood-9/10. Beautifully shot, scored and acted. Just one of those rare films that accomplishes what it sets out for. Daniel Day-Lewis is so intense in this and Paul Dano shows some serious skills in matching up against him. One of the best films of the past 20 years.


Wed Aug 12, 2009 7:57 pm
Post Re: The Films of: Paul Thomas Anderson
Image

I'm a fan, too

Hard Eight is a brilliant debut. It's not as dynamic as most of his other stuff, but it's still pretty slick. Extremely effective as a straight, understated character piece and that's mostly down to the performances. Phillip Baker Hall, especially, just rocks this shit. Really the most important job a director has is making sure an actor has a handle on the material and using that to coax a good performance out of them. And, oh man, has PTA coaxed some nice performances over the years. As Liz Lemon famously once said - "Any dummy can act, Jack." That may be true, but dummies don't direct movies like Hard Eight, Liz

Boogie Nights is his worst film, I think. It's an overblown, overambitious flick that look great, but doesn't amount to a whole lot in the end. I think it has its moments, sure, but it's too sprawling for its own good and, ultimately, it just comes off as a cheap parody of what it's trying to do. I will say the whole Alfred Molina drug czar scene with crazy Tom Jane and whatnot is just as great as everyone thinks it is and is totally deserving of its place in the pantheon of Awesome Moments in 90's Cinema

Magnolia is tough. I do feel like there's a really great film in there somewhere, but it's stuck in a lot of the same muck that Boogie Nights gets mired in. Like Boogie Nights, Magnolia is way too reliant on Scorsese or Altman films and, after a while, that can get grating. It's also a bit pretentious and boring and indulgent and all that jazz. I still like it, though. It certainly has its moments and PTA's easy mastery of visuals is more pronounced here than its been in any of his other films

Punch-Drunk Love is one of the most beautifully romantic and original movies I've ever seen. Stunning use of color, wonderfully fantastical plot tangents, a dynamite Jon Brion score, meticulously sculpted characters and at least three actors I like giving the performances of their careers. Can PTA set a tone, or what? And how devastatingly pathetic is it that I totally relate to Barry Egan? Anyway, I love this movie

There Will Be Blood is another great film and, personally, I think it's the only movie PTA has made that completely escapes his past influences. It's a piece of art. Usually I feel silly saying something like that about a movie, but not with There Will Be Blood. Johnny Greenwood's magnificent score and Daniel Day Lewis' scenery gnawing performance are without a doubt the biggest draws, but there's also something weirdly poetic about everything that happens in this movie even if I can't articulate what it is. Finally, it's also a very, very funny movie that straight up kicks the fuck out of organized Christianity, which is alright by me

Hard Eight, B+
Boogie Nights, C-
Magnolia, B-
Punch-Drunk Love, A
There Will Be Blood, A-


Wed Aug 12, 2009 8:41 pm
Post Re: The Films of: Paul Thomas Anderson
Robert Holloway wrote:

Maybe the best "young" film maker today?

Rob


Excellent question and well put. At 39 years old he's not exactly a spring chicken but he's still at a relatively young age for a director. Is he the best? Perhaps. I can't think of too many good ones that are at a similar age: Darren Aronofsky and Spike Jonze (though we'll have to see how he does without Charlie Kaufman) come to mind.


Wed Aug 12, 2009 11:14 pm
Post Re: The Films of: Paul Thomas Anderson
majoraphasia wrote:
There Will Be Blood - One of the best looking films of the decade. The score, too, is one of the best. Like Magnolia, the end starts to compromise the rest of the film -- there's a sense that Daniel Day-Lewis was given too much license to play that last scene. I think it fails the rest of the film but, really, it was bound to happen when all of PTA's ambition was on the table. Admirable! I think it's flawed and kind of a masterpiece. A true Great Big Epic of a movie.


I agree. The entire bowling alley scene is quite different to the rest of the story and ends up being a bit jarring. Day-Lewis is certainly chewing scenery here more than before. Strange though that I can forgive this transgression yet fault Magnolia for the said singing scene. Probably because of that whole milkshake thing.


Wed Aug 12, 2009 11:18 pm
Post Re: The Films of: Paul Thomas Anderson
i just need to say that I simply love reading these comments. Awesome, all of them.

I think a section where we discuss directors is a great idea!

I would not rate Boogie Nights as my favorite PTA film. however from a technical standpoint the first 40 minutes is a masterclass in film making. i was literally hyper ventilating when I saw this on its opening weekend

Rob


Thu Aug 13, 2009 12:40 am
Post Re: The Films of: Paul Thomas Anderson
Kyle wrote:

There Will Be Blood is another great film and, personally, I think it's the only movie PTA has made that completely escapes his past influences.



With all due respect, I agree with much of your post (besides 'Boogie Nights'), but if you don't see the ghost of Stanley Kubrick in the final 15 minutes of 'There Will Be Blood', then I don't know what I can do for you.


Personally, I think the next film of Paul Thomas Anderson's career could be the next great film of our modern time (barring a next-to-impossible cap to the Batman re-boot) - as long as the ending of 'There Will Be Blood' is less indicative of his current creative prowess than the rest of the picture.


Thu Aug 13, 2009 1:38 am
Post Re: The Films of: Paul Thomas Anderson
Evenflow8112 wrote:
Kyle wrote:

There Will Be Blood is another great film and, personally, I think it's the only movie PTA has made that completely escapes his past influences.



With all due respect, I agree with much of your post (besides 'Boogie Nights'), but if you don't see the ghost of Stanley Kubrick in the final 15 minutes of 'There Will Be Blood', then I don't know what I can do for you.


Personally, I think the next film of Paul Thomas Anderson's career could be the next great film of our modern time (barring a next-to-impossible cap to the Batman re-boot) - as long as the ending of 'There Will Be Blood' is less indicative of his current creative prowess than the rest of the picture.



Hi Evenflow

Yeah, It's hard to think of a director working today that I'm ore excited about to see his next film.

Scorsese of course but PTA feels like how i felt about Scorsese in the 80's

Eastwood for sure - but you sort of know it will be brilliant but PTA is so risky with is

and then....

oh yeah Ron Howard....

Rob


Thu Aug 13, 2009 2:04 am
Post Re: The Films of: Paul Thomas Anderson
Quote:
With all due respect, I agree with much of your post (besides 'Boogie Nights'), but if you don't see the ghost of Stanley Kubrick in the final 15 minutes of 'There Will Be Blood', then I don't know what I can do for you.


Yikes, really? I'd say there's more tangible human emotion and just downright hilarity in the last 15 minutes of There Will Be Blood than in anything Kubrick ever committed to celluloid. To be honest, I wasn't even completely sold on the movie until the final scene. I don't see what you mean at all there. What do you mean?

And, Robert Holloway, did you just drop Ron flippin Howard's name in the same breath as Martin Scorsese's!?


Thu Aug 13, 2009 2:10 am
Post Re: The Films of: Paul Thomas Anderson
Kyle wrote:
Quote:
With all due respect, I agree with much of your post (besides 'Boogie Nights'), but if you don't see the ghost of Stanley Kubrick in the final 15 minutes of 'There Will Be Blood', then I don't know what I can do for you.


Yikes, really? I'd say there's more tangible human emotion and just downright hilarity in the last 15 minutes of There Will Be Blood than in anything Kubrick ever committed to celluloid. To be honest, I wasn't even completely sold on the movie until the final scene. I don't see what you mean at all there. What do you mean?

And, Robert Holloway, did you just drop Ron flippin Howard's name in the same breath as Martin Scorsese's!?



Just winding people up :-)

Ron rules....

... the multiplex

Rob


Thu Aug 13, 2009 2:47 am
Post Re: The Films of: Paul Thomas Anderson
Evenflow8112 wrote:
but if you don't see the ghost of Stanley Kubrick in the final 15 minutes of 'There Will Be Blood', then I don't know what I can do for you.


I didn't notice. Did he play the butler?


Thu Aug 13, 2009 5:16 pm
Post Re: The Films of: Paul Thomas Anderson
Kyle wrote:
Quote:
With all due respect, I agree with much of your post (besides 'Boogie Nights'), but if you don't see the ghost of Stanley Kubrick in the final 15 minutes of 'There Will Be Blood', then I don't know what I can do for you.


Yikes, really? I'd say there's more tangible human emotion and just downright hilarity in the last 15 minutes of There Will Be Blood than in anything Kubrick ever committed to celluloid. To be honest, I wasn't even completely sold on the movie until the final scene. I don't see what you mean at all there. What do you mean?



The juxtaposition of violence and sprightly, classical music reminded me of 'A Clockwork Orange', the visuals both clinical yet containing a certain sadistic glee that the static screen shots amplify.

I would refer to the setting of the scene as being Kubrick-esque, painted in a bright white with a slight gothic twist - bright yet ominous, and sterile; in fact, if the hotel in 'The Shining' had a sports and recreation center, that bowling alley would be an excellent blue-print.


Thu Aug 13, 2009 6:23 pm
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Post Re: The Films of: Paul Thomas Anderson
I'm really only acquainted with There Will Be Blood, but that movie is awesome. Half the music was done by the guy from Radiohead, and the other half was just a really good idea. The 3rd Movement from Brahms' Violin Concerto in D was a great addition. And yeah, I'm a musician so I know my classical music.

I thought the last scene was the best scene in the movie.

"I DRINK YOUR MILKSHAKE!"


Thu Aug 13, 2009 8:10 pm
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Post Re: The Films of: Paul Thomas Anderson
Magnolia - (**** out of ****) - A perfect movie, an excellent ensemble piece featuring quite possibly the biggest surprise ending I've seen in a movie. It's Tom Cruise's best performance too. It does demand a lot from the viewer for its running length, but in the end it definitely pays off. Really love this movie.

Boogie Nights (**1/2 out of ****) - There are a lot of good elements to this movie, sadly it doesn't add up for me. I thought it demanded too much, it was too long and I just didn't care about Wahlberg's character as much as PTA wanted me too. I also thought William H. Macy's character was pretty pointless, as PTA tried to create sympathy for a lot of his characters, sadly it didn't work.

There Will Be Blood (**1/2 out of ****) - Also wasn't blown away with this movie. Daniel Day Lewis is my second favorite actor (see avatar for who my first is), and this is arguably his best performance. I thought the first couple hours of the movie were good, although the Dano character seemed a little too exuberant, but the transition it makes in the last half hour is too rough and the ending just didn't work.

From what I've seen, he's a good filmmaker, but the two movies he's known by the most ("Boogie Nights" and "There Will Be Blood") I don't consider to be anything other than ambitious but ultimately unsuccessful attempts at epic masterpieces.

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Thu Aug 13, 2009 8:42 pm
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