Saturday, October 11, 2008

Feature of the Month: Never Too Late for P.T.A.

Ok - So I'm a little behind on this assignment. But it's one that I've been looking forward to, and I wanted to give the films the time I knew they deserved. I've seen Boogie Nights and Punch Drunk Love, but had never gotten around to see Magnolia and There Will Be Blood. They were both worth the wait, and I'm glad I didn't wait any longer. I ended up watching each of them late at night, and both left me with blown away and with plenty to ponder.

There is no doubt that Paul Thomas Anderson's films are unique. He presents characters that are larger than life, but somehow each has a core that we can relate to. The "families" that he creates are definitely a wide range of characters, that are anything but simple. But as random as their parings may seem, their connections actually end up making sense as they compliment one another through both conflict and resolution. I find that the most common statement in his films is that what may be a strange sense of "family" to you, is actually quite normal to someone else. For some people, these types of things really do happen.

I really enjoy a film that does two things. One, the film is simply a glimpse of the lives of these characters. We aren't introduced to them in the beginning, and when we leave, it certainly isn't the end. Second, I love when little details aren't spelled out for you, and you are left wanting more. Every second of his films are beautiful to watch. He manages to get the most out of his actors, and their performances always seem to blend in perfectly with the carefully planned sets and scenery that PTA chooses. You are left with many unforgettable images. I was constantly asking myself, "Where is he taking me?" And each time I got there, I realized that what I had thought was simple, was much much deeper, and beautifully dark.

What I found most enjoyable about his films, was his use of sound. His choice of music is as unpredictable as his unexpected pick of actors. But when it all comes together, no other music would fit in the world he has created. The best music isn't about the notes, but the spaces between those notes. With PTA his music choices are the notes, and the moments he takes it away and leaves you awaiting it's return, and the sweet gaps in the artistic masterpiece you are watching play out before you.

And the final detail that I find both unique and enjoyable, is that there really isn't a main character in his films. At least not in the traditional sense. There is usually one or two that we get to watch struggle or interact the most, but we really get to follow several different characters pretty equally. This can be hard to recognize at first, because there is usually one or two performances that demand your attention, but just because they are your favorites to watch, doesn't mean they are the main characters. I think the main character in his films end up being the "families" he has created, and the theme or message that they represent. It is this theme that people connect with, relate to, and sympathize.

I am eager for more of his work, and although a different style or approach may be fun, I personally simply want MORE.


Anonymous said...

Amen. What's he working on now?

FilmNinja said...

no idea . . . but great things take time

Adam said...

I'd never really thought about the theme of "family" running through his work. However, now that you mention it, it really makes sense. His films seem to always have really different people trying to relate to each other, with varying levels of success.

I do have to say one thing. You said that "there really isn't a main character in his films." Don't you think that Daniel Day-Lewis' character in "There Will Be Blood" was a main character? I know that it's, in many ways, the story of his conflict/relationship with the Paul Dano character, but I always thought of it as being Day-Lewis' movie. . . and what about the Adam Sandler character in "Punch-Drunk Love?"

Senor Granto, all I know about his next project is that it might be an adaptation of Peter Bart's novella "Power Play."

Anonymous said...

Thanks! I'll check that out now.

Also I have to remember to set the follow up comment feature on here because some days I don't have time to check the blogs I follow unless I get a reminder.

FilmNinja said...

I think it's easy to pick those two out because they are so huge in comparison to the rest of the cast (at least in respect to when the movie came out). They have a bit more screen time . . . but the film isn't really about them . . . it's about what's going on around them.