Paul Thomas Anderson’s On Cinema

20 01 2015

On October 4, 2014, I had the distinct pleasure of attending a talk where Paul Thomas Anderson elaborated on his inspirations and influences.  His knowledge and love of cinema shone brightly, leaving me quite rejuvenated in the power of the medium.  Basically, he would be the best film professor EVER.  Here are some highlights from that session.

Part 1

The program unfolded largely based on discussions following clips selected by Paul Thomas Anderson and, presumptively, moderator Kent Jones.  He began with an opening from “Police Squad,” a television show from the 1980s.  Not the first thing I associated with the director of “The Master,” I’ll be honest.

I knew the team behind “Police Squad” mostly for their inane “Scary Movie” installments, but I actually explored the older Abrahams-Zucker comedy on Netflix via “The Naked Gun” films.  Now I see where Anderson comes from when he descirbed the serious “hilarious, brilliant” and that it “doesn’t get any better.”

He rediscovered the joy of the show while watching videos on YouTube during smoke breaks, reminded how much the humor was ahead of its time.  Moreover, it made him remember that anything is possible.  That kind of energy plays out clearly in “Inherent Vice,” whether its Josh Brolin’s Bigfoot Bjornsen fellating a chocolate banana or Martin Short’s Dr. Rudy Blatnoyd doing lines of cocaine.  The gags are silly, but they are always clever.

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LIVE BLOGGING the 2014 Golden Globes!

11 01 2015

10:03 P.M.  3 for “Boyhood,” 2 for “The Theory of Everything” and “Birdman.”

10:01 P.M.  I love Meryl’s excited squeals for “Boyhood.”  Ethan Hawke and Ellar Coltrane just shared a beautiful hug behind everyone.

More Boyhood

10:0o P.M.  BEST PICTURE (DRAMA): “BOYHOOD

9:59 P.M.  This show needed more Tina and Amy.  Sigh.

9:55 P.M.  Glad to see Redmayne is not above fawning over all the incredible actors.  Sweet speech, charming guy.

Theory of Everything

9:53 P.M.  BEST ACTOR (DRAMA): EDDIE REDMAYNE, THE THEORY OF EVERYTHING

9:52 P.M.  Why is McConaughey speaking in that strange accent?!

Still Alice

9:51 P.M.  BEST ACTRESS (DRAMA): JULIANNE MOORE, “STILL ALICE”

9:46 P.M.  Wes Anderson naming off the names of HFPA members seems a little … um, awkward?  Maybe slightly culturally insensitive?

The Grand Budapest Hotel

9:45 P.M.  BEST PICTURE (MUSICAL/COMEDY): “THE GRAND BUDAPEST HOTEL

9:43 P.M.  Channing Tatum’s fake tan seems a little overdone tonight.

9:39 P.M.  Michael Keaton’s son that he referenced in the speech, Sean Douglas, is a songwriter whose credits include Jason DeRulo’s “Talk Dirty.”  Umm … well, that’s probably paying the bills.

9:34 P.M.  Keaton thanks the HFPA for having a “comedy” category, but how much does it really celebrate comedies?!  Anyways, nice to see someone as articulate and underrated as Keaton get some recognition.

Keaton in Birdman

9:33 P.M.  BEST ACTOR (MUSICAL/COMEDY): MICHAEL KEATON, “BIRDMAN

9:25 P.M.  Richard Linklater: “We’re all flawed in this world, no one’s perfect.”

Linklater

9:24 P.M.  BEST DIRECTOR: RICHARD LINKLATER, “BOYHOOD

9:15 P.M.  Pretty sure McConaughey is sweating through his shirt.  His jacket was definitely off.

9:14 P.M.  George Clooney: “Thanks for keeping small films alive.”

9:12 P.M.  Props to Disney for getting a clip from “Tomorrowland” into the Clooney montage.

9:08 P.M.  Julianna Marguiles: “Has George ever asked you to tour a disaster area with him?” / Don Cheadle: “Yes, he invited me to the set of ‘The Monuments Men!'”

9:00 P.M.  Hard to believe that two-time Oscar winning actor Kevin Spacey is only just now winning his first Golden Globe.

8:55 P.M.  The backstage/hall cam is pretty awkward…

8:54 P.M.  “House of Cards” snubbed once again.  “The Affair” was horribly derivative in the one episode I watched.

8:46 P.M.  Well, maybe Maggie Gyllenhaal’s “The Honorable Woman” will have to go on my Netflix queue.  Here’s the link for anyone who wants to add it as well.  I enjoy the sibling love with her and Jake, and I especially love her shoutout to the “actual women.”  Basically, here’s my takeaway from tonight’s show:

Who Run the World

8:44 P.M.  Ok, is that how “Leviathan” is pronounced, all French like Lupita Nyong’o said it?  I assumed it was “Luh-vie-uh-than.”

Leviathan

8:43 P.M.  BEST FOREIGN LANGUAGE FILM: “LEVIATHAN

8:37 P.M.  But is there still money in the banana stand, Jeffrey Tambor?

8:35 P.M.  Don Cheadle is not in “House of Cards,” presenters.  But, I will say, I would love to see him guest star.

8:33 P.M.  Glad to see Jack Black giving love to the underappreciated Linklater.  I totally want to see “Bernie 2,” Jack, I stand with you.

8:32 P.M.  Didn’t hear any of the speech because my parents were talking…

Birdman

8:30 P.M.  BEST SCREENPLAY: “BIRDMAN

8:28 P.M.  Anyone else noting how much the people on stage are sweating?  The AC has to be broken or something…

Bill Hader in The Skeleton Twins

8:27 P.M.  No proclaiming that Hader and Wiig were the stars of “The Skeleton Twins?”  Come on…

8:26 P.M.  Ok, the North Korean jokes are getting old.  It’s just kind of insensitive and monotonous at this point.

8:22 P.M.  Full text of the George Clooney feminist joke, thanks to BuzzFeed.

“George Clooney married Amal Alamuddin this year. Amal is a human rights lawyer who worked on the Enron case, was an adviser to Kofi Annan regarding Syria, and was selected to a three-person U.N. commission investigating rules of war violations in the Gaza Strip. So tonight, her husband is getting a lifetime achievement award.”

8:21 P.M.  Patricia Arquette: “Meryl, thank you for giving me a hug, I hope your DNA transferred.”  Also, glad to see the winning women standing up for women of all varieties.

Arquette

8:19 P.M.  BEST SUPPORTING ACTRESS: PATRICIA ARQUETTE, “BOYHOOD

8:16 P.M.  When they said Channing Tatum was in three nominated films tonight, I thought it must have been a flubbed line.  But two of those were animated – “The Book of Life” and “The Lego Movie.”

8:14 P.M.  BEST ANIMATED MOVIE: HOW TO TRAIN YOUR DRAGON 2

8:13 P.M.  Kevin Hart: “I’m here for this, it’s not about ‘The Wedding Ringer.'”  Yeah, sure…

8:07 P.M.  Nice feminist moment for Amy Adams as she racks up back-to-back Golden Globe wins.  Not her best role or film, but she’s just so sweet and likable, darn it!

Amy Adams Big EYes

8:05 P.M.  BEST ACTRESS (MUSICAL/COMEDY): AMY ADAMS, BIG EYES

8:03 P.M.  Where are Tina and Amy?  MIA…

7:55 P.M.  That could not possibly have been more awkward cutting between the shot of John Legend’s wife and the cutaway to Prince.  “Selma is now,” said Common.  Glad to see he also expressed solidarity with the two NYPD officers slain in the line of duty.

Selma

7:52 P.M.  BEST ORIGINAL SONG: GLORY, “SELMA

7:50 P.M.  OMG – Prince!  What a look!

Theory

7:48 P.M.  BEST ORIGINAL SCORE: “THE THEORY OF EVERYTHING

7:43 P.M.  Too bad for Eddie Redmayne that the bomb that will be “Jupiter Ascending” drops on theaters as he’s trying to win an Oscar … Focus should ask WB to pull these trailers from awards broadcasts.

Jupiter

7:37 P.M.  Bummer to see Julia Louis-Dreyfus go down.  “Veep” is my favorite show … shameless plug.

7:35 P.M.  Great to see artists stand up and cheer for freedom of expression.

7:33 P.M.  Pretty shameless attempt to recreate the Ellen selfie…

Meryl

Needed more people to top Ellen…

Ellen

7:30 P.M.  I just realized that I totally forgot a category…

Best Animated Film:The Lego Movie” (alt. “How To Train Your Dragon 2“)

7:26 P.M.  Potentially the best speech ever from Billy Bob Thornton.  “You get in trouble for anything you say these days, so I’m just gonna say thank you.”

7:25 P.M.  Ouch for the “True Detective” shutout.  Have to say, I agree (even though I have not watched “Fargo”).  The show was overrated.

7:22 P.M.  Ok, these rapid-fire show descriptions are not helpful.

7:22 P.M.  Jennifer Lopez looking like she might have a wardrobe malfunction/nip slip.

7:17 P.M.  Glad Joanne Froggat is shedding light on the plight of sexual assault survivors.  This is such a great platform to spread awareness to important causes.  Bonus points for doing it without ranting or preaching.

7:14 P.M.  Miles Teller getting some nice notice in front of the entire industry.  And gotta love all the Jason Reitman love!

JK Simmons Miles Teller Whiplash

7:12 P.M.  BEST SUPPORTING ACTOR: J.K. SIMMONS, “WHIPLASH

7:12 P.M.  So did they actually flub the teleprompter?  Was it actually spontaneous?

7:11 P.M.  Hello, Jennifer Aniston’s leg.

7:09 P.M.  Aaaand there’s the Bill Cosby joke.

7:07 P.M.  Would you rather, Linklater or Iñarritu?  “Once, five minutes per year” vs. “One take, two hours, no stopping.”  Brilliant.

7:06 P.M.  Tina Fey just dropped the mic for working women everywhere.  Bravo.

7:04 P.M.  A joke I could not type in real time – “Boyhood proves there’s still good roles for women over 40 when you get hired in your 20’s.”

7:03 P.M. Hi, Joaquin Phoenix!  You da man!

7:03 P.M. Back off Emma Stone, she’s gorgeous!

7:01 P.M. Starting off with jokes on the Sony hack and the leaked emails – great, I guess, since Angelina Jolie isn’t there.

6:55 P.M. Since I’m running short on time, I’ll just post projected winners with alternates – and save my should win/be nominated picks for the Oscars live blog!  Classic cliffhanger…

Best Picture (Drama): “Boyhood” (alt. “The Imitation Game“)

Best Picture (Musical/Comedy):Birdman” (alt. “Into the Woods“)

Best Actor (Drama): Eddie Redmayne, “The Theory of Everything” (alt. Benedict Cumberbatch, “The Imitation Game“)

Best Actor (Musical/Comedy): Michael Keaton, “Birdman” (alt. Joaquin Phoenix, “Inherent Vice“)

Best Actress (Drama): Julianne Moore, “Still Alice” (alt. Reese Witherspoon, “Wild“)

Best Actress (Musical/Comedy): Emily Blunt, “Into the Woods” (alt. Amy Adams, “Big Eyes“)

Best Supporting Actor: J.K. Simmons, “Whiplash” (alt. Edward Norton, “Birdman“)

Best Supporting Actress: Patricia Arquette, “Boyhood” (alt. Meryl Streep, “Into the Woods“)

Best Director: Richard Linklater, “Boyhood” (alt. Ava DuVernay, “Selma“)

Best Screenplay:Boyhood” (alt. “Gone Girl”)

Best Foreign Language Film: Ida” (alt. “Leviathan“)

Best Score:Interstellar” (alt. “Gone Girl“)

Best Song: Big Eyes from “Big Eyes” (alt. Glory from “Selma“)

Boyhood (2)

6:20 P.M. Well, running a little late due to packing, but I’m ready to start the constant glueing of my eyes to the TV and computer screen.  I’m looking forward to a hilarious ceremony that hopefully features some deserving winners!  I’m not necessarily pulling strongly for a single movie, so I guess I’m Team Boyhood.





AUTEUR HOUR: Paul Thomas Anderson

9 01 2015

PTA prof pic

Welcome to a new feature here at Marshall and the Movies that I am calling “Auteur Hour!”  I have hinted at this since 2012 (yikes) and can think of no better way to kick off this series than with a look at the filmography of writer and director Paul Thomas Anderson.

For those who do not know, auteur is a French term meaning “author” that academic writers often apply to directors of films.  The term and all that comes along with it provides constant debate within the cinematic community.  Some think it provides a great way to honor filmmakers who use consistent patterns or motifs throughout their work, while others argue that the term serves as a catchall to redeem anyone who can carry something over from picture to picture.

Paul Thomas Anderson certainly qualifies as an auteur like few others in America with his fluency in the language and history of cinema as well as his virtuosic output.  I had the chance to grab a quick photo with him before the world premiere of “Inherent Vice” – as you can see, both of us were pretty awkward.  I stood speechless in the face of the man responsible for some absolute gems in the crown of cinema.  If you want to stand in awe as well, check out some of these videos…

And now, to the point of the post, here is how I would rank the films of Paul Thomas Anderson.  So without further ado…

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What To Look Forward To: January 2015

4 01 2015

Inherent ViceI haven’t used this category of post in almost three years, so I figure it’s due for a good dusting off.  Here, I’ll give you a sense of what I’ll be up to this month at “Marshall and the Movies” and what might be cooking at a theater near you.

F.I.L.M. of the Week

You might have already noticed (that’s doubtful), but I have chosen to move my long-running “F.I.L.M. of the Week” column from Friday to Thursday.  The decision was manifold.  First, I wanted to take advantage of #tbt opportunities on Facebook.  Second, I needed the space on Friday to run reviews of new releases, which are often embargoed until opening day.  I look forward to bringing the same underseen or underrated titles to your attention on a new day!

Paul Thomas Anderson

I hinted last month that I would post a recap of the “On Cinema” that I heard PTA give, but I wound up focusing all my efforts on finishing all my 2014 reviews.  That and a ranked filmography will be coming next week to celebrate the release of “Inherent Vice.”

Tina and AmyGolden Globes Live Blog

One last hurrah for Tina and Amy!  I’ll be typing my thoughts the whole time.

Sundance Spotlight

The year always gets an injection of fresh energy from the outset thanks to Sundance, the American festival committed to highlighting new voices in the world of independent film.  To run parallel with the 2015 festival, I will be publishing a daily review of a film that came out of Sundance – both the good and the bad.

A Most Violent Year

Finally, I can share my thoughts – January 30, unless A24 changes their minds.

In theaters

I am SO stoked for “American Sniper” on January 16.  Holy cow.

In terms of actual January releases, though, the film that most intrigues me is “Girlhood.”

It’s going to be a good month (I hope!) – what are YOU looking forward to?





REVIEW: Inherent Vice

25 11 2014

Inherent ViceNew York Film Festival

Thomas Pynchon’s novel “Inherent Vice” ends with his chief character, Doc Sportello,  attempting to discern shapes within a haze that has formed outside his car window.  Not to worry, this is not a spoiler since screenwriter and director Paul Thomas Anderson chooses to end his cinematic adaptation on an entirely different note altogether.  But the passage is such an apropos summation of “Inherent Vice,” both in terms of its content and the ensuing experience, that it certainly deserves a place in the discussion.

While this is a not entirely unusual noir-tinged mystery surrounding corruption and vice, the story is hardly straightforward or easily discernible.  Characters drop in and out of the narrative at will, making it rather difficult to decipher who the key players really are.  Take no motivation and no appearance at face value, because it is likely to change in the blink of an eye.

Anderson cycles through events at such a dizzying speed that trying to connect the dots of “Inherent Vice” in real-time will only result in missing the next key piece of information.  (I found myself drawn to read Pynchon’s novel after seeing the movie to get a firmer grip on the plot.)  Might I suggest just to kick back, allow the film to wash over you, and let Joaquin Phoenix’s Doc Sportello be your spirit guide through the fog of Los Angeles in 1970.

In a fictional beach community outside the city proper, steadily stoned private eye Doc tries to make sense of a strange case in a transitional time period.  The city is still reeling from Manson mayhem, and hippies are no longer cute animals at the zoo but entities whose every move is subject to suspicion.  People are beginning to anticipate Nixonite and Reaganite malaise, though it remains unformed and intangible.  Ultimately, his understanding is about as good as ours – which is to say, it scarcely exists.  What begins as a routine investigation of Doc’s ex-flame and her rich new lover quickly spirals into something far more sprawling.

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LISTFUL THINKING: Most Anticipated Movies of 2014

2 01 2014

I’m still not quite ready to admit that it’s 2014 yet.  Heck, I still have stacks and stacks of 2013 reviews to write.  (Not to mention loads of outstanding reviews dating back to 2009…)  But these 10 movies give me something to look forward to – and I’m sure this is only scratching the surface.  So much of the fun of following and watching movies is finding fun surprises throughout the year.

Most of my top 10 list of 2013 did not come from my most anticipated films of 2013.  In fact, only two did.  But waiting for these films will keep me occupied while the best films of the year do come along.

HONORABLE MENTION

I’m hoping for good things from “Dawn of the Planet of the Apes” after 2011’s superb “Rise” successfully rebooted the franchise.  And even though “Mockingjay” was my least favorite book in the “Hunger Games” franchise, the vigor of the “Catching Fire” movie has me excited.  Brad Pitt’s WWII flick “Fury,” helmed by “End of Watch” director ought to be promising for Oscars and entertainment.

Tammy

#10
“Tammy” (July 2)
Directed by Ben Falcone
Written by Ben Falcone and Melissa McCarthy
Starring Melissa McCarthy, Susan Sarandon, and and Dan Aykroyd

Ok, I’ll admit I know almost nothing about this movie.  But if Melissa McCarthy could make “Identity Thief” bearable and “The Heat” pretty hilarious in spite of its lackluster plot, then I can really get excited about a project she wrote with her husband.  Yes, her husband was Air Marshal John from “Bridesmaids,” and he’s also serving as co-writer and director.  Should be a hilarious highlight of the summer.

The Fault in Our Stars

#9
“The Fault in Our Stars” (June 6)
Directed by Josh Boone
Written by Scott Neustadter and Michael H. Weber
Starring Shailene Woodley, Ansel Elgort, and Willem Dafoe

I read this book in three days this fall.  I’m not saying it was great, but I just couldn’t put it down.  And now I can’t wait to see the movie because I know I’m going to cry like a baby.  (It’s about teenage cancer patients, in case you didn’t know.)  The book almost had me sobbing, which is something only “Where the Red Fern Grows” has accomplished in my life.

Foxcatcher

#8
“Foxcatcher” (TBD)
Directed by Bennett Miller
Written by Dan Futterman and E. Max Frye
Starring Steve Carell, Channing Tatum, and Mark Ruffalo

Bennett Miller’s “Moneyball” has continued to grow on me over the past two years, and there’s something oddly intriguing about his follow-up, “Foxcatcher.”  Check out the trailer if you want to see how strange and unconventional it appears to be.  Something tells me he’s going to get shocking career-best work from Carell and Tatum.

Noah

#7
“Noah” (March 28)
Directed by Darren Aronofsky
Written by Darren Aronofsky and Ari Handel
Starring Russell Crowe, Jennifer Connelly, and Anthony Hopkins

So the trailer might have been slightly underwhelming, and the supposed studio interference has me a little worried.  But this Darren Freaking Aronofsky’s follow-up to “Black Swan.”  It’s the Bible as we’ve never seen it before, according to the Oscar-nominated director.  And he must be onto something because there are now multiple Biblical epics in the pipelines at various Hollywood studios…

Jersey Boys

#6
“Jersey Boys” (June 20)
Directed by Clint Eastwood
Written by John Logan and Rick Elice
Starring John Lloyd Young, Vincent Piazza, and Christopher Walken

Clint Eastwood hasn’t exactly been on a hot streak as of late (hello, “Hereafter” and “J. Edgar“), but maybe a change in the tenor of his material will bring out the 2-time Oscar winner’s best.  He’s working with some brilliant source material in “Jersey Boys,” which is still one of my favorite Broadway shows.  Those who don’t love the stage musical format should take comfort in knowing the jukebox style lends itself to a much more cinematically friendly transfer.

Transcendence

#5
“Transcendence” (April 18)
Directed by Wally Pfister
Written by Jack Paglen
Starring Johnny Depp, Rebecca Hall, and Kate Mara

Christopher Nolan’s films, in particular “The Dark Knight” and “Inception,” have been immaculately lensed by Wally Pfister.  Now, he’s decided to sit in the director’s chair, and he’s brought along Nolan stalwarts Morgan Freeman and Cillian Murphy for his debut.  The trailer sure looks great – certainly unlike anything else I’ve ever seen.

Inherent Vice

#4
“Inherent Vice” (TBD)
Written and directed by Paul Thomas Anderson
Starring Joaquin Phoenix, Reese Witherspoon, and Josh Brolin

Hopefully this one does in fact see a release in 2014, but I’m certainly curious to how on earth Paul Thomas Anderson plans to top “The Master.”  Re-teaming with Joaquin Phoenix is a promising start.  The bold filmmaker’s decision to tackle the difficult prose of novelist Thomas Pynchon means we could be in for another quite enigmatic film … and I wouldn’t have it any other way.

22 Jump Street

#3
“22 Jump Street” (June 13)
Directed by Phil Lord and Chris Miller
Written by Michael Bacall, Rodney Rothman, and Oren Uziel
Starring Channing Tatum, Jonah Hill, and Ice Cube

21 Jump Street” is probably my favorite comedy of the 2010s, so you can imagine my delight when they announced a sequel that sends Jenko and Schmidt to college.  The first trailer was phenomenal.  Hopefully it’s not the extent of the film’s laughs.

Gone Girl

#2
“Gone Girl” (October 3)
Directed by David Fincher
Written by Gillian Flynn
Starring Ben Affleck, Rosamund Pike, and Tyler Perry

I read “Gone Girl” essentially in a day over the summer, and I cannot wait to see how Fincher brings it to life.  It seems like a very happy median between the verbal ping-pong of “The Social Network” and the darkness of “The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo.”  I’m keeping my fingers crossed that it makes a star out of Rosamund Pike, whose talents I’ve been touting since “An Education.”

Interstellar

#1
“Interstellar” (November 7)
Directed by Christopher Nolan
Written by Christopher and Jonathan Nolan
Starring Matthew McConaughey, Anne Hathaway, and Jessica Chastain

Christopher Nolan is releasing a new movie.  That ought to be all I have to say, even though my disappointment still continues to grow over “The Dark Knight Rises.”  The fact that he’s assembled McConaughey, Hathaway, and Chastain, along with Michael Caine, Matt Damon, Casey Affleck, and Ellen Burstyn for the film is encouraging (even if the first teaser wasn’t).