This is way more comically broad that I expected it to be, but the trailer for P.T. Anderson’s 1960s set ‘beach-noir’ is zany and across the board hilarious. I’m going to call it here, this is Anderson’s The Big Lebowski, if this is any indication.
Owen Wilson, Benicio Del Toro, Josh Brolin, Reese Witherspoon and Eric Roberts are delivering the goods with no apparent safety net.
Whether you want to call it homage or straight up borrowing, P.T. Anderson’s great Boogie Nights certainly shows off its influences. Altman and Scorsese figure prominently, but another inspiration is Mikhail Kalatozov and his film I Am Cuba (which also happens to be a big Scorsese favourite too). Aside from being drop-dead gorgeous and a remarkably poetic piece of propaganda, I Am Cuba is known for several incredible long takes that, as it celebrates its 50th anniversary this year, will still take your breath away. One of them starts 2 minutes into the film as a camera roams through a decadent hotel party and bathing beauty contest, moves down several stories, through a crowd of people and into the water of a pool to capture the swimmers under the surface. Anderson states in his commentary on Boogie Nights that they not only wanted to try the same thing, but have the camera come out of the water too.
It’s a showy scene for sure, but it also ties together numerous threads and characters from the story and emphasizes how these lost souls are all together in this porn “family” – whether as complete avoidance of the real world or as a temporary waystation. We see Buck Swope’s (Don Cheadle) search for an identity continue as well as Maurice TT Rodriguez’s (Luis Guzman) pleading to Amber Waves (Julianne Moore) to be included in one of their films. Midway through the scene, Buck and Maurice go inside the house together as the camera picks up another character, but we reconvene with them a few minutes later in another scene that closes on Amber’s newly discovered fascination with Eddie Adams.
My favourite part of the party scene, though, is the last part of the clip above and comes right after the first cut that follows the long take into the pool. Eddie (who hasn’t yet become full blown pornstar Dirk Diggler) is asking his new buddy Reed Rothchild if his just completed pike dive into the pool looked awesome. Reed is looking to play a mentor role for the young lad and decides to reign in his confidence a bit. “I’ll show you what you did wrong.” Reed lines up a full flip, but only manages about 75% of it and lands flat on his back. As Eric Burdon and his sexy sounding female vocalist continue to pulse on the soundtrack, there’s a great edit underwater to Reed’s pained expression as he slowly floats to the surface with his back arched. It’s one of the funnier moments in a film teeming with them (as much as it’s also terribly dark at times), but it serves a purpose too – once Reed pops above the surface and Eddie says “You gotta brings your legs all the way around!”, that mentoring relationship has ended. Reed’s final “I know…I know..” comment is a realization and acceptance that he’ll be playing the supporting role to the star that Eddie will become.
Once we see Amber hoover a line of coke and then gaze intently at Eddie landing a full flip properly (in slow motion of course), we are fully prepped to dive headlong into the downward spirals that lie ahead.
Mondo Tee’s highly varied series of posters on P.T. Anderson are certainly worth a look. Above is the design for Hard Eight, aka Sydney, which flirts with the connections at play in the film, from the iconic opening shot of Phillip Baker Hall walking to the road-side diner. Mondo Tees has made quite the cottage industry out of issuing boutique posters to collectors and fans, and they give an eclectic assortment of designs all of them already sold out, at their online shop.
We stopped doing news items, casting items and the like around Rowthree as just ‘extra content’ some time ago; instead favouring the more solid information and material regarding upcoming and in-release films – such as trailers, festival screenings and you know, actual reviews. All that being said, this is bit of news is too good to pass up, especially considering there are a number of us around here that consider The Master to be easily the best film to be made, acted, and discussed by film lovers last year. According to Cinemablend, P.T. Anderson’s adaptation of Thomas Pynchon’s Inherent Vice is set to start shooting, with Joaquin Phoenix in the lead and There Will Be Blood cinematographer Robert Elswit shooting on 35mm film with a Warner Brothers studio backing. God bless that someone out there is still enabling Anderson to be able to do thing things his way, that is to say: The Classic Cinema Way. Shooting is expected to start this month.
Part noir, part psychedelic romp, all Thomas Pynchon- private eye Doc Sportello surfaces, occasionally, out of a marijuana haze to watch the end of an era. It’s been a while since Doc Sportello has seen his ex-girlfriend. Suddenly she shows up with a story about a plot to kidnap a billionaire land developer whom she just happens to be in love with. It’s the tail end of the psychedelic sixties in L.A., and Doc knows that “love” is another of those words going around at the moment, like “trip” or “groovy,” except that this one usually leads to trouble.
Hard to believe that P.T. Anderson’s Porn Industry opus Boogie Nights is celebrating the 15th Anniversary of its release today, in celebration, here we are running our Finite Focus post on one of the many classic scenes from the film.
From one of my absolute favorite films of all time, comes one of the best extended sequences in the film: the drug deal gone wrong. There are so many things going on in this scene all at once that should have the viewer holding their breath with anxiety. Before the scene even starts there is a tension in the air so thick that we know something bad is about to happen. We have three stupid guys about to do something really fucking stupid and they’re coked out of their minds to boot.
The two most glaring things that radiate in this scene are the aural cues. The overpowering, uncharacteristic soundtrack for a scene like this and the firecrackers exploding off screen. I love how the loud 80’s music is almost blasting out the dialogue and how the drug king (Alfred Molina) is totally oblivious to the obvious tension by the young visitors and meanwhile, in a David Lynchian sort of moment, he could care less about a Chinese kid, standing just out of frame lighting firecracker after firecracker, which is obviously getting nerves on edge (even more than they already are) of our young heroes.
Throw in a Marcelius Wallace type with a big frakkin gun who is just over their shoulder checking the bogus coke out while Molina’s character plays Russian Roulette for fun and talks about mixed tapes (a drug dealer’s version of Cusack’s talk in High Fidelity). Still the firecrackers continue.
Finally, Diggler (Wahlberg) just stares at the wall for what seem like forever while we listen to the mix tape, in full-blown, space-out mode before coming to his senses. Just as things look like we might get out of this little charade unscathed, Todd Parker does something really, REALLY stupid.
Gamble is back to do that thing he does, and The Master proves to be one of the more divisive films on the show in some time. We talk at length about some of the themes, the craft and the performances of perhaps the event film of this fall. Andrew lays out the plethora of homework submissions for the first listener assignment of the semester, and we lay out a new one at the end of the show. A very thorough Watch-List sees Gamble enamored with German Cats, Fundamentalist Christians and the Queen of Versailles. Andrew takes another run at The Avengers and parses the pubes of Basic Instinct and has mixed feelings on character actors on motorcycles. Kurt talks at length about Jason Reitman’s Young Adult, jumps into Alfonso Cuaron’s Children of Men and then brings it back around to ParaNorman and Dredd. Of course there are many more things on the go in this loaded and lengthy episode.
As always, please join the conversation by leaving your own thoughts in the comment section below and again, thanks for listening!
The french Quad poster for the 70mm presentation of P.T. Anderson’s latest does an excellent job of capturing the mirror theme between the two lead characters. It also serves to highlight one of the many already classic sequences in the film, involving Joaquin Pheonix and a simple Rorschach test. The post also stares out at you, which should grab eyeballs in French cinemas where this might be displayed. To go along with the hooch/message-in-a-bottle one sheet previously, it makes The Master’s key art some of the best of the year.
A part of The Substream‘s Very Important Dudes and Dudettes in Film History series, curated by Matty Price in tweed and elbow-patch mode (albeit he’s actually wearing an E.T./Alien-mashup Tee) offers a fair number of insights into one of the younger great auteurs in Cinema working today, Mr. Paul Thomas Anderson; that is P.T. to film snobs. On the threshold of widening release for The Master, let Mr. Price set the scene for you.
I know a lot of you folks out there have a policy that if you are going to see a film anyway, if you are already salivating for it, then you avoid trailers. It might be worth a reconsideration of that policy when it comes to these micro-narratives that have been assembled for P.T. Anderson’s riff on Scientology and L. Ron Hubbard, The Master. All three of them have been absolutely magnificent.