Paul Thomas Anderson
Most Famous Works: Boogie Nights (1997), Magnolia (1999), There Will Be Blood (2007)
Back when I was just a wee junior in high school, I was at Blockbuster with a couple friends and we were looking for a movie to rent for the night that would be awesome. I think my friend Drew and me wanted to get Anchorman or something mindless like that, but Mike and Geoff tried to convince us we should rent Boogie Nights. I definitely wasn’t down to see a movie where John C. Reilly, Philip Seymour Hoffman and Luiz Guzman acted as porn stars but Geoff was able to lead an argument that convinced me to reconsider.
“We got it see it man,” he said. “Mark Wahlberg shows his penis in it.”
“And I care because…?”
“It’s supposed to be huge!” interjected Mike.
Okay, I know the prospect of four dudes renting a movie for the sole purpose of seeing how well endowed Marky Mark is sounds really gay, but you need to understand that this is just how the curiosity of the male mind works. Plus, this was apparently a big part of the phenomenon when the movie came out so it’s not like we’re the only group of guys to ever have this conversation. Anyways, as we sat down to start watching the movie, I was already trying to think up reasons to go home early. A two and a half hour drama about the business side of porn sounded like a snore fest, plus I figured it couldn’t possibly top the superior porn industry film, Trey Parker’s Orgazmo. But luckily I stayed, because the first shot alone – the unbelievable 2 ½ minute tracking shot that goes through a disco, introducing every main character – was enough to let me know I was a fool for ever doubting director Paul Thomas Anderson.
With Boogie Nights, Paul Thomas Anderson succeeded in making one of the great films of ’90’s cinema and along with the likes of Quentin Tarantino and David Fincher, cemented himself as an emerging voice of the decade. Fourteen years and three films later, Anderson has never lost an ounce of the raw energy that first exploded onto the screen in Boogie Nights, as he continues to work with some of the greatest actors in Hollywood and demonstrates his amazingly intricate technical proficiency, showing he really is as good a writer as he is a director.
Although he is frequently compared to likes of Robert Altman, Stanley Kubrick and Max Ophüls, I personally believe that Anderson stands alone as a filmmaker. Through his small five-film career, Anderson has succeeded in doing the impossible more times than I care to name. In a nutshell: at twenty-five Anderson directed his feature debut Hard Eight (AKA Sydney), still a relative unknown, he brought together one of the greatest ensemble casts of all time for Boogie Nights, then convinced New Line Cinema to finance his three-hour suburban drama Magnolia, and directed the single best performance of Adam Sandler’s career in Punch-Drunk Love.
Then of course, there’s his magnum opus There Will Be Blood. But to quickly attempt to summarize There Will Be Blood at the end of this blog would be unfair to me as a writer and would cheat you as a reader. There’s simply too much to talk about. For this reason, I will be splitting my entry on P.T. Anderson into two blogs. Tune in next week for a comprehensive look at There Will Be Blood, as well as any thoughts I can give on Anderson’s future projects Inherent Vice and The Master.
By: Eric Weintraub
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