Archives For Paul Thomas Anderson

There have recently been a spate of articles and blog posts discussing whether certain movies require multiple viewings. It’s all spurred by Paul Thomas Anderson’s The Master, a film that many critics and cinephiles have claimed requires multiple viewings in order to reveal its many layers and ultimate meanings. Dana Stevens wrote about watching the film three times, and how that made the experience of The Master a more complete one. Stephanie Zacharek wrote a piece at the AV Club questioning the notion that certain films require multiple viewings as well as the notion that certain film are more self-evidently deserving of such treatment. Today, Ryan McNeil wrote a post comparing re-watching movies to listening to a song over and over before finally falling in love with it.

I saw The Master twice. I’m biased immediately. In fact, I watch lots of movies twice, sometimes three times, sometimes even more, often seeing films multiple times in theatres. I also saw Looper twice. I saw The Dark Knight Rises five times, including three times in 15/70mm IMAX. I saw Paranorman twice, Brave twice, Prometheus twice, Moonrise Kingdom three times, The Avengers twice, Monsieur Lazhar twice, 21 Jump Street three times, The Cabin in the Woods twice, and that’s all re-watches in theatres and only this year so far. (To be fair, I work at a theatre, so most of these re-watches were free.) But why would I watch these movies so many times? What do I get out of re-watches? Click to read more.

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It’s been a while since the last episode of the justAtadcast, but fear not, the show has returned for the Fall/Awards season. There are tons of great or potentially great films coming out in the next several months and I’m looking forward to podcasting about many of them. First up is also the first major film of Awards Season: Paul Thomas Anderson’s The Master.

This week on The justAtadcast, I invited on two writers and cinephiles I’ve gotten to know over Twitter. Daniel Carlson (@danielwcarlson) is Managing Editor at Pajiba and collates all his writing at his personal website. Kristen Sales tweets @salesonfilm and occasionally writes around the web. Together, we three dived right into The Master. The discussion is long—over 75 minutes—and we get pretty in-depth. It’s a spoiler-filled conversation about the film, but if you’ve seen the film and are itching to hear more dissection and theorizing about Paul Thomas Andersons’ latest, I think you’ve come to the right place. We had a lot of fun talking about the film, and hopefully you’ll enjoy listening.

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TIFF’12: The Great Wrap-Up

September 18, 2012 — 6 Comments

Another year, another TIFF. The first movie I ever saw at the Toronto International Festival was Juno in 2007. It was the only film I saw that year, and my friend and I chose it completely on a whim, not knowing anything about it until we got to a wifi hotspot to check it out. The next year, 2008, I saw ten films, including Synecdoche, New York and Slumdog Millionaire. Each year since, I’ve pretty much gone “full TIFF” and seen as many films as I could fit in. This year, 2012, I broke my record from 2009 for the number of films I watched. It was also the most exhausting year of TIFF for me, not only because of the number of films, but because I squeezed that higher number into fewer days.

Seeing so many films in so few days has its advantages and disadvantages. The most obvious are the disadvantages. I’m sure anyone who has seriously done a film festival has been subsequently asked by others, “can you even remember all the films you watch?” Well, yes. Yes, I can. But there is a kernel of truth to the question/accusation. Ask me which films I saw at TIFF’12 and I’m going to start drawing blanks. Remind me of a specific film and it’ll all come back to me, but when I consider them all in a group it’s difficult to separate one from the other. The other major disadvantage is the exhaustion. Watching twenty or thirty or fifty films in a little over a week sometimes sounds to people like an easy vacation. Sit back, in the dark, watch movies. Only, at a festival you aren’t usually there to watch films passively. The mind is constantly working and processing and that’s tiring, especially when hours get thrown out of whack and it becomes so hard to find time for a meal that you sometimes forget to eat at all. Watching a silly movie like Ghost Graduation might be okay when you’re exhausted, but what about when it’s a new Terrence Malick film? Was my reaction to that film too heavily influenced by the fact that I’d rather have been sleeping? It’s hard to say.

Still, the advantages are there. Seeing films with like-minded people is one of the best things about the experience. For the most part, the people who come to a movie at the festival WANT to be watching a movie at the festival. These aren’t the chatters or texters or other sorts of assholes who regular ruin the moviegoing experience. At TIFF, generally, it’s an appreciative audience of fellow film lovers. They’re respectful to the films and to the people around them. There’s also something to be said for being in a cinematic state of mind. Normally, throughout the year, I intersperse movies amongst all sorts of other things. During the festival it’s all movies all the time. My brain is set to movie-mode. That’s what I’m built to think about and process and enjoy. I could never do that year round, but for about eleven days per year it certainly works. And none of that touches on the chance to see films that either may never be released or may be months or years away from coming out. I saw The Loved Ones at Midnight Madness back in 2009, and it only got a release in the US this Summer, and is finally coming out on DVD here this month.

But enough thoughts about film festivals in general; let’s talk TIFF’12! CLick to read more.

TIFF’12: Day 3

September 16, 2012 — 1 Comment

Weather in Toronto is a funny thing. It’s a city with a pretty wide range of climate, and it can often be quite random. For example, while I was nearly dying of heat in line for the American Beauty live read on Thursday, standing in line for Frances Ha on Saturday was a cold, rainy experience. That’s not to say the weather put a damper on the day (it didn’t at all), but it’s one of the factors that makes TIFF a simultaneously fun and frustrating experience. You just never know what you’re going to get day-to-day from the clouds above.

Day 3 was another “take my mom to TIFF” day. Got up reasonably early, ate some breakfast and went down to stand in line outside the Elgin/Winter Garden in the rain. Luckily, we found a spot in line with some cover. Matt Price also showed up at some point, and finally the line let in. Click to read more.

Last night, I finally re-watched Kenneth Lonergan’s Margaret, the long-in-post-production film, shot in 2005, released in late 2011. I ‘d seen the film here in Toronto when it was released for exactly one week in the Fall. I fell in love with what I saw, ultimately naming the film my #2 of 2011, a ranking I’m still extremely comfortable with. Interestingly, before I saw the film I was aware of its tortured history, in which the Lonergan was unable to get it down to the contractually obligated 150 minutes maximum running time. This had led to years of edits and re-edits and fighting back and forth and litigation that is still ongoing. What I remember at the time was a beautiful film that had some idiosyncratic cuts, but also some areas where it truly felt like chunks of story were missing. I’d remarked at the time that it felt like a longer movie cut down to size, but my main takeaway was that I could’ve spent far longer in the world Lonergan had created. The movie was 150 minutes, but I’d just as easily have sat through a 4-hour cut of the film or longer.

The version of Margaret I saw last night is a nearly 3-hour cut available on the upcoming DVD. It’s not clear that this is a true “director’s cut” because it’s only officially referred to as and “extended cut.” It’s quite possible that while Lonergan put this cut together and approves of it, there is a still longer version out there that he’d be even happier with. Or not. Who knows. Directors can be fickle. Importantly, at roughly thirty minutes longer, the extended version of Margaret doesn’t feel any longer. In fact, in some ways it feels quicker, smoother and better paced than it did back in the Fall. Subplots that were previously dropped in confusing fashion are now transitioned out of in a more delicate way. The story has a flow, a more natural progression. It’s not just a case of the longer version being better because it adds more detail, but because it actually ends up feeling like a tighter film, and without feeling any longer. I said that I would gladly watch four hours of Margaret and the same remains true. It’s a breezy three hours.

All this got me thinking about long films. Click to read more.