A collection of reviews of films from off the beaten path; a travel guide for those who love the cinematic world and want more than the mainstream releases.
Friday, December 29, 2017
Paul Thomas Anderson x 5 at Metrograph starting Monday
In a career spanning a little over twenty years and eight features, Paul Thomas Anderson has established himself as one of a handful of working filmmakers for whom every new release feels like an event, the latest episode in an ongoing drama of artistic challenge, trial, and revelation. While audiences are discovering (and rediscovering) Anderson’s latest tightrope feat, Phantom Thread, Metrograph is presenting an opportunity to look back at the long, winding road that he’s travelled to this new pinnacle, from tough-minded character studies through gonzo romances through two serio-comic period pieces that offer a sinister secret history of the state of California, beginning January 1.
Hard Eight (1996/101 mins/35mm) An auspicious debut that was also somewhat atypical among Anderson’s films for its small cast and obedience to genre rules, this tight, terse neo-noir introduces the first of the writer-director’s makeshift families: Sydney (Philip Baker Hall), a professional Reno gambler; John (John C. Reilly), a simple, skint “stranger” who Sydney decides to mentor; and Clementine (Gwyneth Paltrow), the escort who John falls for. With Samuel L. Jackson as an unwelcome reminder of Sydney’s past, and Philip Seymour Hoffman in a simply massive cameo (“Shaka lacka doo, shaka lacka doobie doo…”) Friday, January 12 - 4:30pm, 10:00pm
Boogie Nights (1997/155 mins/35mm) The movie that irrefutably marked Anderson as a major talent, a filmmaker of élan, humor and heart, Boogie Nights follows well-endowed picaro hero Dirk Diggler (Mark Wahlberg) into the burgeoning 1970s adult film industry, following Dirk and the business from celluloid to videotape, and from youthful optimism to adult disillusion. At the center of the chaos, tracked by a restless moving camera, is patriarchal porn maven Jack Horner, played by Burt Reynolds in Grand Old Man form. Showtimes TK.
Magnolia (1999/189 mins/35mm) A movie of unchecked, cosmic ambitions and desperate emotional eruptions, Anderson’s magnum opus takes place during an eventful day in the life of the San Fernando Valley, as viewed through the interlocked stories of an ensemble that includes two aging, ailing television-world figures (Philip Baker Hall, Jason Robards), two drug-and-sorrow addled women (Julianne Moore, Melora Walters), two “whiz kids” (William H. Macy, Stanley Spector), and an eerily-prescient Men’s Rights monster played by a very game Tom Cruise, all united in spiritual sickness and the songs of Aimee Mann. Showtimes TK.
There Will Be Blood (2007/158 mins/35mm) Working with the loose model of Upton Sinclair’s novel Oil!, Anderson wrought this tale of greed, obsession, and blind competitive rage in the California oilfields at the turn of the last century, in which the forces of capital and faith, as embodied by Daniel Day-Lewis’s feral would-be tycoon and Paul Dano’s boy preacher, are locked in an acrimonious grudge match. A testament to the genius of production designer Jack Fisk, and recently named “Best Film of the 21st Century So Far” by The New York Times. Monday, Jan. 1 - 4:00pm / Tuesday, Jan. 2 - 4:00pm / Wednesday, Jan. 3 - 4:00pm / Thursday, Jan. 4 - 3:30pm, 7:00pm
Inherent Vice (2014/148 mins/35mm) In which “Doc” Sportello (Joaquin Phoenix), a stoner private detective based in the Los Angeles-area beach ‘burg of Gordita Beach, gets sucked into a conspiracy that’s more than mere pot paranoia after a visit from ex-old lady Katherine Waterston. Adapted from the novel of the same name by Thomas Pynchon, Anderson’s by turns loopy and melancholy film is a wild whodunnit and a eulogy for the counterculture, with superb supporting work from an extraordinary ensemble including Josh Brolin as Sportello’s jarhead department contact. Saturday, Jan. 6 - 10:30pm / Sunday, Jan. 7 - 10:30pm / Monday, Jan. 8 - 7:00pm