Tag Archives: Paul Thomas Anderson

Class of ’99: Magnolia

There is probably no more critically acclaimed American filmmaker to emerge since the heyday of the ’90s independent scene than Paul Thomas Anderson, one of the few relatively mainstream artists in recent years to genuinely acquire the clout of an auteur. Contrasted with, say, David O. Russell, who also survived the cinematic battleground of 1999, Anderson never once seems to have ceded ground to popular concern, and he remains one of the few “big-name” filmmakers whose wandering mind hasn’t been boxed-off by Hollywood money. All these years later, even when they don’t fully succeed, his films seem like the collective external manifestation of the nether regions of his own mind. His films are infused with the lifeblood of classic cinema but prone to the sort of exuberant misconduct all great directors need to engage with to break new bounds. He’s an out-there sort of dude, but he’s cordoned off his own niche as a pop-art experimentalist, a perfect combination of old school composure and new school anger. Continue reading

Review: The Master

The Master is many things, but the only safe and sure descriptor I can come up with is “mis-marketed”. Explored pre-release, it was a film about L. Ron Hubbard, the founder of Scientology. Indeed, Phillip Seymour Hoffman’s Lancaster Dodd is a facsimile of L. Ron Hubbard, and one can certainly draw comparisons to the much-maligned religion (some would not agree with calling it that). But Anderson’s film is not only about Dodd or the “cultlike” group he leads. It’s a much more ambitious, confounding affair, highly impersonal, yet enrapturing.  Technically it centers around a religious cult, but focusing on this controversial aspect of the film does it a grave disservice. On the plus side, it allows me this one measly paragraph to save myself from not saying anything I feel confident about throughout the review. This comment about the mis-marketing of the film ends the part of the review where I’m relatively sure I agree with what I’m writing – the rest of the film, as I think Anderson wants, is me entering the wild and hoping to come out the other side. Continue reading