Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Processing Paul Thomas Anderson...

Back in October I participated in the Director’s Chair Blog-a-Thon, which was centering on the works of DarrenAronofsky.  For my piece, I decided to use a visual approach to review all of his theatrical releases.  Aronofsky is one of those rare directors whom I’ve actually seen all the work from.  That had me thinking about what other directors I’ve been able to indulge in all their films, and with finally seeing ‘The Master’ this past weekend I can add Paul Thomas Anderson to that list.  Much like Aronofsky, Anderson is a visual director and so his filmography lends itself to being scrutinized and even defined by pictures.

So, I had a little fun this morning.

Anderson is one of those directors, much like Aronofsky and Lynch and Fincher, who creates such vivid and stylistic messages in his work that his films become capsules of memories to define his journey as a director.  He has such a unique vision, and that bleeds into all of his work, even the ones that don’t necessarily work like they should have.  He’s a director I can respect and admire.

So here is my take on his six feature films.  Starting with ‘Hard Eight’ and moving on through ‘The Master’, Anderson’s resume is littered with exceptional images.  He’s had two masterpieces (in my eyes) and some clearly admirable attempts at creating masterpieces.  While he at times clutters his thoughts, Anderson understands how to make his message present for the audience in a way that allures us and keeps us engaged even if we aren’t wholly rewarded in the end.  All of his films are flawed, even his masterpieces, and yet those flaw create a sense of beauty and wonderment in his darkly realistic worlds of chaos and corruption.

Without further ado; my ‘visual’ reviews:

Hard Eight (1996) *** ½ / *****


Smooth; welcoming...

Minutely detailed...

Maybe a little too straightforward...

Sadly, a little vacant...

Boogie Nights (1997) *****/*****

An arrogant bastard of a film; completely entitled!


Gritty as shit!

Brilliantly reflective and thought provoking...

A blissful time capsule...

Magnolia (1999) ****/*****

Searching for answers...

Angry and desperate...

Oddly spiritual...

Batshit crazy!

I did this a lot...

Punch-Drunk Love (2002) ***/*****

Simple minded

A blurry mess



There's just something about this movie I can't 'hate'...

There Will Be Blood (2007) *****/*****



Broad minded


The Master (2012) **** ½ / *****


Beautifully lost

Bi-Polar and exploitative

More human than human

Surprisingly claustrophobic in explanation of themes...
So PT Anderson has a new film in the works; and adaptation of Thomas Pynchon’s novel ‘Inherent Vice’.  This will be Anderson’s second adaptation, his first being the hugely successful ‘There Will Be Blood’ (which really isn’t much of an adaptation if you’ve actually read ‘Oil’) and will mark his second team up with Joaquin Phoenix after he directed him to a revolutionary performance in ‘The Master’, so I’m excited.  Phoenix will play a ‘drug fueled’ detective in 1960’s Los Angeles investigating a kidnapping.  Sounds intriguing if not a tad redundant, but in the hands of PTA I’m sure it’ll be far more involved and detailed than the synopses would suggest.  This is slated for 2014, so between this and Aronofsky’s ‘Noah’ I’ll be a happy camper at my local movie theater!


  1. This is great! Based on your review, I had no idea you rated The Master that highly. I'd rate it the same now.

    1. Yeah, I kind of beat up the film a bit in the review, but I do respect it and I think it falls slightly short of perfect because the flaws themselves serve as a way to explain the film's themes. They kind of help the film in a way. Really, as a character study I find it fascinating, I just think that it loses impact in trying to expose 'The Cause' itself.

  2. I love how perfect your short assessments on there. The definition of astute, matching the stills you choose so perfectly. Paul Thomas Anderson will be my first post in my Directed by series. Boogie Nights and Magnolia changed my life as a movie buff, and I am forever grateful. Love your thoughts on both films here.

    I luckily found the out-of-print Hard Eight on DVD for a good price, and it just came in the mail. I have to re-watch that one and The Master, and I'll be on my way. Punch-Drunk Love probably is his most minor work, yet, like you, I totally can't hate it. Quite the opposite actually. It's blurry, but it's a lovely blurry.

    Thanks for turning me on to these posts. I look forward to seeing more as they come up.

    1. YAY!!! I can't wait to read what you have to say on Anderson!