Some of the most inspirational filmmaking stories are tales of failure. Not the sort of failure that shuts down a production, but the sort that makes people look at a scene or a problem in a new light. It’s impressive to see a film that works in a near-perfect manner, but more so to realize that it didn’t just happen that way. Making a film like There Will Be Blood may seem impossible, until you realize Paul Thomas Anderson and everyone else involved just built it step by step, dealing with setbacks along the way, and using intuition and imagination to solve problems.
Or take Anderson’s new film Inherent Vice. One scene that works really well is a long conversation between Joaquin Phoenix and Reese Witherspoon — you’ve seen it excerpted in trailers and in the image above. They talk for a few minutes, and the whole thing is one shot in which the camera slowly pushes in on a dolly to add movement and a changing perspective. It works so well that a lot of people won’t even think about the shot the first time.
But that’s not how Anderson initially conceived and shot the scene. He first did it in a way that didn’t work, spending a lot of time and energy before realizing that a different, simpler approach was the way to go. He talks about the process in a new interview, which you can watch below. Read More »
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Inherent Vice is a big movie with a lot of moving parts. Even though it cuts out a lot of material from the novel by Thomas Pynchon, the film still has a wealth of characters with odd names, many of whom are given pretty breezy introductions. But a set of Inherent Vice character posters and brief video introductions for many of the major characters might help you sort people out ahead of time.
The downside is that these video intros give up a few of the film’s good jokes (but not all of them by any means). The upside is that these videos feature a bunch of footage that isn’t in the film, not that most people will have a chance to know which is which until after this Friday. Read More »
As it has done in the past, the New York Times offered a great collection of conversations with directors this year, as the Anatomy of a Scene series gave the directors of many films a chance to dissect their approaches to major scenes in films such as Birdman, A Girl Walks Home Alone at Night, Interstellar, Foxcatcher, Wild, and others. (My only complaint is that directors such as Ava DuVernay and Jennifer Kent are MIA.) Below, you can watch the Anatomy of a Scene series from late 2014. Read More »
Focus, simplicity and control. As I look back over the films of 2014, the ones that most stay with me are not the sprawling epics or the movies that tried to cram a surplus of ideas or technique into one story. (Sorry, Birdman and Interstellar.) They’re the movies, not even necessarily the “small” ones, that exhibit something specific in filmmaking technique, or unusually refined in their approach to story. 2014 was packed with movies I loved, and this list could easily be three times as long as it is. Below, you’ll find the ten films that have stuck with me most intensely, along with a page of extra picks that all offer something special, too. Read More »
Time and time again, you’ve heard that 2014 was a great year for movies. And it was. But as I looked back at the about 150 films I saw released in 2014, I saw a pattern. There were, in fact, lots of great movies in 2014, and in the next few pages you’ll read about a bunch of them. But I honestly feel like when I picked my favorites, the films I felt were the best released this year, they all were on an even playing field. In a way, I could’ve just given you the ten best movies I’ve seen this year in alphabetical order and called it a day. But where’s the fun in that? The fun part is sitting down and making the hard decisions about what is truly the best. So, below, read my top ten movies of 2014.
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Two movies. That’s all it took for every single Paul Thomas Anderson movie to become an event. His first film, Hard Eight, opened with relatively little fanfare. His second, Boogie Nights, announced to the world that Anderson would be a filmmaker to celebrate. One whose work we would anticipate, possibly revere. With each subsequent film, film fans everywhere have salivated to find out what Anderson has in store for us next.
The latest event, Inherent Vice, opens in limited release this weekend. It’s both a huge departure for the director in that it’s the first film of his directly based on someone else’s work (the inspiration for There Will Be Blood was very different from the final film), but somehow it also perfectly fits into his career. Like most of his movies, it’s a film set in and around California and tells a story about its history. Anderson loves California, and that interest shows in almost every one of his movies. And while exploring that running theme, each of his seven movies gets more confident and daring. There has yet to be a single misstep.
Still, there has to be some kind of hierarchy, right? Some kind of almost impossible deathmatch in which these seven glorious works are pitted against one another, to see which triumphs.
Below, read our ranking of the best Paul Thomas Anderson movies. Read More »
Inherent Vice begins its limited rollout tomorrow, and the excellent and unusual film should be on your must-see list for the end of the year. (Or for early January, if you’re in a market that doesn’t get it this month.) As prep for that release there has been a new trailer, a handful of clips, and now writer/director Paul Thomas Anderson has taken a minute to talk the New York Times through one scene in the film. The upshot of that is, you can listen in. Check out a brief Inherent Vice scene commentary from the director below. Read More »
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Paul Thomas Anderson‘s newest film, Inherent Vice, opens limited on December 12, but for the markets that don’t get the film until January Warner Bros. is offering sneak preview screenings this coming Saturday, December 13. You can get theater info here, and there’s a great new Inherent Vice trailer that tells of the upcoming screenings. It also has some footage you haven’t seen before, a digitally-altered version of a shot from the film (above, with extra details added to the painting) and a little bit of the awesome Can song ‘Vitamin C’ that is used to good effect in the film’s opening.
This is a really good representation of the film condensed down into two minutes. Check it out below. Read More »