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Master Works: The deliberate genius of Paul Thomas Anderson



With attention to detail and a filmography time table to rival Stanley Kubrick, Paul Thomas Anderson seems to be deriving pleasure from emulating other director’s styles while being fiercely independent and creating a unique world of his own with a stable of consummate actors.

Hard Eight (1996)

A hard luck gambling saga showcasing the repertory of actors Anderson would come to draw upon in later films. John C. Reilly is mentored in casino logic by an ailing Philip Baker Hall. Gwyneth Paltrow and Phillip Seymour Hoffman round out this flick. Even Samuel L. Jackson shows up before he was in everything.

Boogie Nights (1997)


Every actor is spot-on in this decade-defying look at the porn industry and Dirk Diggler’s special “talent.” This flick brought Burt Reynolds’ career back for a fleeting moment, cemented Mark Wahlberg’s star status, and made us more aware of the genius of William H. Macy, Julianne Moore, Don Cheadle, Heather Graham, John C. Reilly and Thomas Jane. But it is Philip Seymour Hoffman’s Scotty who sticks in your craw.

Magnolia (1999)

This is a sweeping story of intertwining events, strange occurrences and a mosaic character study in the style of Robert Altman’s Short Cuts. Loss, death and emotional pain are amplified to the hilt here. Nothing short of a masterpiece, except for Tom Cruise. I cannot understand the acting accolades he received. This flick proves he should stick to action and skip the emoting. Julianne Moore has never been better and Philip Seymour Hoffman adds penetrating honesty.

Punch Drunk Love (2002)

This is one of two movies I’ve liked featuring Adam Sandler—the other being Anger Management. He actually acts and doesn’t behave like a jackass or an irritatingly unfunny buffoon.  Here he plays a wacky businessman saving coupons and looking for love in all the wrong places. The intentionally annoying soundtrack is superb and actually causes you to feel nervous or agitated the entire movie. Emily Watson is great. And you guessed it, Philip Seymour Hoffman shows up to steal scenes again.

There Will be Blood (2007)

This movie was beautiful to look at with mesmerizing performances, grandiose scenic locales…and I hated every minute of it. I understand the artistic choices of how and why this stripped down epic was made and the moody period piece it conveyed, but for God’s sake it was SO boring. I thought I was going to die. Daniel Day Lewis, who won an Oscar for his portrayal of crotchety oil man Daniel Plainview, now has two dreadful movies that he’s phenomenal in—the other being Gangs of New York.  Strangely, Phillip Seymour Hoffman is nowhere in sight.


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