Phantom Thread (2017)

Phantom Thread
Director: Paul Thomas Anderson
Writer: Paul Thomas Anderson
Cast: Vicky Krieps, Daniel Day-Lewis, Lesley Manville
Seen on: 15.2.2018
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Plot:
Reynolds (Daniel Day-Lewis) is a famous dress maker. He is very much set in his ways and likes things just so. And one of the things he likes is Alma (Vicky Krieps), a waitress much younger than he is who immediately catches his eye. Becoming his lover and muse, Alma is introduced into Reynolds’ world, but she doesn’t fit in without causing a few ripples, especially in his relationship with his sister Cyril (Lesley Manville) who was the woman in Reynolds’ life so far.

Phantom Thread is an utterly exhausting film. I felt drained of energy after having seen it and I still don’t know what the film was getting at in the first place. I can’t say that the film was really bad, but it was pretty horrible for me.

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Inherent Vice (2014)

Inherent Vice
Director: Paul Thomas Anderson
Writer: Paul Thomas Anderson
Based on: Thomas Pynchon‘s novel
Cast: Joaquin PhoenixJoanna Newsom, Katherine Waterston, Josh Brolin, Eric Roberts, Serena Scott Thomas, Maya Rudolph, Michael Kenneth Williams, Benicio Del Toro, Jena Malone, Owen Wilson, Reese Witherspoon, Martin Short, Sasha Pieterse
Seen on: 18.02.2015

Plot:
Doc Sportello (Joaquin Phoenix) is a private detective who spends most of his time being high. When his ex-girlfriend Shasta (Katherine Waterston) surprisingly visits him to tell him about a plot against her current boyfriend, real estate tycoon Wolfmann (Eric Roberts), by his wife Sloane (Serena Scott Thomas) and then disappears, Doc takes up the investigation. As more people go missing and the police in the form of Christian ‘Bigfoot’ Bjornsen (Josh Brolin) gets involved as well, Doc quickly finds himself in deeper than he expected.

My relationship with Paul Thomas Anderson is difficult. With few exceptions I just don’t care for hard-boiled Detective Stories. Stoner movies are not my cup of tea. So it probably comes to no-one’s surprise that I did not like Inherent Vice, though it did surprise me how bored I was by it.

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The Master (2012)

The Master
Director: Paul Thomas Anderson
Writer: Paul Thomas Anderson
Cast: Joaquin Phoenix, Philip Seymour Hoffman, Amy Adams, Jesse Plemons, Ambyr Childers, Rami Malek, Joshua Close, Laura Dern

Plot:
Freddie Quell (Joaquin Phoenix) has returned from serving in the navy in WW2, but the war has left him in pieces. Now he drifts from job to job, fueled by home-brewed alcohol. By chance he stumbles upon Lancaster Dodd (Philip Seymour Hoffman), a self-made and rather successful cult leader of The Cause. Dodd, or Master as he is also called, and his wife Peggy (Amy Adams) take Freddie in, hoping to cure him and Freddie falls head first into The Cause.

The Master is an intriguing piece of cinema. It’s unusual in the way it tells its story and perfectly acted, even if it does run a tad too long. But to be honest, I’m not entirely sure what to do with it.

The-Master

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Triple Feature

Yesterday was very intense. I left work early (I started early as well) to be able to go to a triple movie feature. I finally saw Elizabeth: The Golden Age, There Will Be Blood and Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street. [You may call me crazy for doing that.]

Elizabeth: The Golden Age was amazing. I actually like it better than the first part (which was excellent as well and it had Vincent Cassel in drag).
Shekhar Kapur has a perfect feeling for the use of light and the effect of light and light in general. He could have made a little less “shots through ornaments” (he likes them, see also Elizabeth) but that’s ok.
The acting was a-fucking-mazing. I knew Cate Blanchett and Geoffrey Rush do act really good. I also knew Clive Owen could but rarely would (this time he did). Surprises were: Rhys Ifans (I like him and I know he can act but I didn’t know he was in this movie) and Jordi Mollà (who I didn’t know before but who had the incredible ability to scream “I’m a totally fucked-up maniac and nothing can stop me” without uttering a single word). With that cast, I also have to give out a honorary mention of Abbie Cornish and Samantha Morton who were noticed :).
The dialogues were wonderful. Watching the movie I felt like I needed to take a pen out and write along. Or probably learn the screenplay (by William Nicholson and Michael Hirst) by heart.
Of course, the movie had some weak spots. I already mentioned the ornament shots. Then there was Archduke Charles, an Austrian who comes so the queen may see if he’s fit to marry. Anyway, Christian Brassington obviously doesn’t speak a word German (although he has a good German accent in English) but has to say a couple of sentences. I actually needed the subtitles to understand him because his accent was so bad. [Cate Blanchett had a better pronunciation.] That’s just embarassing.
And from the characterisation: Sir Walter Raleigh must have been one hell of a guy. First, he’s the perfect gentleman, funny, intelligent, knows how to tell a story, knows what he wants and has amazing green eyes (ok, those belong to Clive Owen). Then you might say he trips a little by sleeping with the queen’s chambermaid (or whatever you call the girls) [but I think that was only rational, not necessarily wise but rational – he knew nothing could happen with the queen]. Anyway, he gets Bess (the chambermaid) pregnant and instantly marries her and is happy with that. And after that he goes out and singlehandedly defeats the Spanish Armada.  That might be a little too much (but feeds my hope that somewhere out there might be a man who is a little bit like that).
Summarising: A wonderful film with wonderful actors and a wonderful script which has some minor faults. Plus: Clive Owen’s hotter than Joseph Fiennes.

On to There Will Be Blood:
I was actually very disappointed by this film. I mean, Daniel Day-Lewis is great, as usual, as is Paul Dano who does a very good job not disappearing beside DD-L. But the film concentrates so much on DD-L that everything else is lost.
The “deathmatch” between him and the church is actually no match at all, there never is a single shred of doubt about the outcome and I felt like laughing all the time about the “exorcisms”.
Relationships live and die with Plainview’s feelings, the other person he has the relationship with has no say in it. (And no matter how dominant one person may be, relationships don’t work that way.)
And the music was horrible. It was intrusive and didn’t fit. The beginning of the credits deserves an award for Worst Chosen Music In A Film.
I guess, if I ever had the chance to make a movie with Daniel Day-Lewis, I’d try to get him into it as much as possible. So I understand why Paul Thomas Anderson did it the way he did. But he should have cut about half an hour of the film and could have tried to incorporate some other actors in this film as well.
Without DD-L there wouldn’t have been a movie. With him, there’s great acting but not much of a film.

So we come to Sweeney Todd.
In a nutshell: Another masterpiece by Tim Burton. I loved it. I loved the story, the music, the costumes (K. [German] wrote about Johnny Depp‘s trousers, I have to point out his leather jacket) and the acting.
Let’s get the things I didn’t like out of the way: The opening credits. The blood was poorly animated, it looked much too sticky and he could have done better.
That’s it.
Of course, Tim Burton has this very distinct style and some people may call it repetitive but who cares? I love the way he uses colours, and the lack of them. As well as the way he uses the same actors to portray the same roles, gives it all a continuity. (Though I guess, Christina Ricci wasn’t available.)

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spot the five differences… I know, it’s hard…

The lyrics by Stephen Sondheim and Hugh Wheeler were just wonderful.

And in the darkness
When I’m blind
With what I can’t forget
It’s always morning in my mind

And there’s another quote (this time from the script by John Logan) I loved, Mrs. Lovett (Helena Bonham-Carter) says: “There could be an us, you know. It may not be what I dreamed of and it may not be what you remember, but it could be an us.”
I may be overinterpreting here, but I also liked the reference to Edward Scissorhands: Mr. Todd holds up the razor and says: “Finally, my arm is complete again.”
I laughed my ass off during the dream sequence. The striped bathing suits flat did it for me ((c) Anita Blake).
I don’t know what to think of Jamie Campbell Bower yet. He knows how to sing, that’s for sure, but I don’t think him that good an actor. And he looks weird.

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Alan Rickman, of course, was great. And Sacha Baron Cohen as “Call me Davey” Pirelli had me almost falling off my chair. And Timothy Spall was the perfect cast for Beadle. (When I saw him, my first thought was “Mr. Croup!” but I mistook him for Hywel Bennett. Only my second thought was “Peter Pettigrew!“)
And Giles Anthony Stewart Head was there, if only for five seconds.

There are about a thousand more things I could write about this film, but I’ll leave it at that. I guess you know already what I’m feeling about it.