View Full Version : best of the year

11-15-2002, 03:19 AM
Before I get things underway, I guess I should say I'm a big P.T. Anderson fan. I love how he can constantly take the story places the audience would never expect with characters the audience would never expect and bring it all together in a way the audience could never predict.

That said, his latest venture, 'Punch-Drunk Love,' did nothing to remind me of his previous works, not that that's a bad thing. There are of course similarities (a few recognizable cast members, the long takes, the uncomfortable silences), but this film is totally different in style and substance from his previous ventures... and I loved every minute of it.

The film is also entirely subjective, and that seems to be the thing that is pissing off audiences the most... the constant movement - either by moving characters or moving cameras - is in tune with Barry's frantic, panicky, unstable view of things... the lack of explanation - from Watson's reasons for loving Barry to why Barry first becomes interested in the Healthy Choice offer - is parallel to Barry's experience of the world; that is, things just happen to him without reason or explanation, and he's expected to deal with it (so, in turn, things are given without reason or explanation to the audience, and we're just expected to deal with it)... he doesn't know why his sisters hate him, they just do... he doesn't know why Lena loves him, she just does.

On a completely different note, I'd like to get back to what I said about this being a wholly different venture for Anderson. Most noticeable is the fact that this runs at a rushed hour and a half, while 'Boogie Nights' and 'Magnolia' took more time to explain everything and fill their respective running times. The beginning of 'Punch-Drunk Love' takes only a few moments before we are plunged into Barry's world of the unexpected and the unexplained, and the rest of the film is constantly building on itself until, rather abruptly, we reach the climax of an unfinished love story, where the movie ends and finally brings up the credits that would normally be at the beginning of the film. For those who said they were bored watching this, I can't imagine what they saw... I thought the film moved incredibly fast.

Other than the constant energy and the sweet story, as well as the beautiful performances by Sandler and Watson, I absolutely adored the technique with which Anderson told his story. A way to tie together a phone-sex scam, free flier miles via pudding, personal growth/triumph, and a love story is something that is absurd in itself, but Anderson finds a way to make it work, which deserves a little respect in itself. The scene where Barry calls the phone-sex line was probably the longest take I have ever seen in a movie, and I thought it was brilliant... Barry was just slightly out-of-focus when he was out of his element, and the camera movement and strange framing when he was sitting alone silently drove home the point that this guy is alone and pathetic, and all he wants is someone to talk to. I just thought it was great. Then those little light leaks every once in a while, the slightly processed sound when Barry destroys the bathroom, everything - I thought it was great.

I give it a full four out of four, and I think it's easily the best of the year. Grant it, I haven't seen every movie that's been released, and I doubt anyone has, but I have seen a lot of them. I thought the technique was extraordinary, the story lovable, the performances wonderful; I thought everything was awesome.

Anyway, I'm sure this is getting pretty long, and I'm sure I've done little to make my point that I think this is the best of the year so far, in my eyes, and I apologize. But it's nearly 2:30 as I write this, so I'm concentrating more on sleep than writing. Sorry. Good night, everybody.