Author Topic: Phantom Thread - SPOILERS!  (Read 14594 times)

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samsong

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Re: Phantom Thread - SPOILERS!
« Reply #150 on: January 10, 2018, 07:43:01 PM »
+3
what do you guys make of "never cursed"?

the conversation by the fire towards the beginning of the film is so loaded.  in hindsight it's where the real action happens, where the restaurant love-at-first-sight bit is the foreplay to the scene where they really fall in love.  that slowly growing smile and knowing nods to himself from reynolds when alma delivers that gorgeous line, "if you want to have a staring contest with me, you will lose," and the amount of conflict that comes over his expressions as he goes between speaking openly about himself and remaining guarded is so achingly human.  there's a subtle, veiled expression of pain right after he proclaims himself a "confirmed bachelor" (her reaction to this line is gorgeous, too) that immediately endeared me to him.  he's a man devoted to his craft who's also resigned to the notion that his love life has to suffer as a result.  to feel trapped by your shortcomings is a universally tragic phenomenon i think, and so compassionately expressed here.

there's also that absolutely heartbreaking moment during the big confrontation during his surprise dinner when alma says that she's, "waiting for [him] to get rid of [her]."  the way ddl reacts to this line moves me to no end, especially because he follows it by saying rather callously that he doesn't need her.  i revel in the humanity of that moment of contradiction, and the film is rife with them.  when alma leaves to go to the new year's eve party alone and reynolds is left to deal with his insecurities (which greenword's score so gorgeously conveys) then goes after her, it's the kind of movie moment that you would expect to end in some sweeping romantic gesture, and for so long it builds that way.  when they finally come face to face, it turns into a staring contest that reynolds indeed loses, him reacting kinda poorly (i read his expression in that scene to be a "what are you looking at?" gesture) and taking her back home.

which brings me back to "never cursed."  reynolds explicitly refers to the things he sews into garments as secrets that only he would know about, which to me suggested that it's a place where he expresses his vulnerabilities.  "never cursed" then seems to me a well-wish for the new bride but also a wishing well wish cast into the ether that he, in fact, wasn't cursed to a life of confirmed bachelorhood.  there's a longing there that i love so much, especially because alma finds it and, in my mind, comes to the same conclusions i did, which inevitably deepens her love him.

i described this movie as the 2001: a space odyssey of romances to someone to relate how momentous i find this movie to be.  there's a nebulous, all-encompassing quality to what this movie's about in the context of romantic relationships that engages in that kubrickian "bow to the unknown" (as jan harlan once put it) that i find utterly poignant.  movie romances that employ and stretch the faculties of the cinematic form have struck me as being the ultimate expression of cinema for some reason, probably because of the intensity of emotional resonance that accompanies and informs the formalism.  films like sunrise, l'atalante, portrait of jennie (which is the best romance-cum-essay on the creative process until this came along), the new world, certified copy.  this may and well be my favorite of all of them.  the obsession is real.  top five of all time material for me.  i've gone a full week without seeing it and i'm suffering withdrawal.

jenkins

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Re: Phantom Thread - SPOILERS!
« Reply #151 on: January 10, 2018, 09:32:20 PM »
0
that was a cool post

wilder

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Re: Phantom Thread - SPOILERS!
« Reply #152 on: January 11, 2018, 03:34:37 AM »
+2
what do you guys make of "never cursed"?

there's a subtle, veiled expression of pain right after he proclaims himself a "confirmed bachelor" (her reaction to this line is gorgeous, too) that immediately endeared me to him.  he's a man devoted to his craft who's also resigned to the notion that his love life has to suffer as a result.

which brings me back to "never cursed."  reynolds explicitly refers to the things he sews into garments as secrets that only he would know about, which to me suggested that it's a place where he expresses his vulnerabilities.  "never cursed" then seems to me a well-wish for the new bride but also a wishing well wish cast into the ether that he, in fact, wasn't cursed to a life of confirmed bachelorhood.  there's a longing there that i love so much

I agree with what you say about the messages sewn into the dresses being expressions of his vulnerabilities. To my mind, Reynolds’ personality disorder is his ‘secret’ curse. A permanent, unsolvable conflict (a “ghost”, “haunting” him) and the real source of his despair. Reynolds is aware of it, but resigned to it, too, as an essential part of himself. My interpretation is that yes his obsession with work is real, a product of his artistic impulse, but also that his answer to Alma’s question is a bit of deflection. To have to explain that you can’t operate in relationships the way most people do is an unacceptable answer. To say “I make dresses”, while true, is a way to veil this.

Whether Reynolds’ personality is tied to his becoming accustomed to being mothered and lavishingly attended to, or something even more disturbed and difficult to alter, as in a deep-seated narcicissm (which is what I see in his character) isn’t fully clarified, but I view it as a combination with an emphasis on the latter (or the former creating the latter, in childhood). Narcissists are incapable of truly selfless giving in love in the way that a more healthily-oriented person is, without also expecting some sort of reward, admiration, or attention, in return. To give to them means a debt is made, and to engage in relationships lacking this vampiric element feels unnatural. So the question the film poses in the beginning to my mind is: can Reynolds yield to anyone else and accept the compromise that love requires? Not will he, but can he. The psychological magnifying glass that follows is an exploration of this. My reading is that he knows that compromise is fundamentally incompatible with his constitution, but he wants it, he wants to know love with Alma. And mentally he may not be able to change, but physically he can be incapacitated. Relenting to Alma this way is Reynolds’ willingness to embrace love acted out, in the only way he’s capable. So the end is not only a bit of sadomasochim, but the road of compromise and love expressed as only the man named Woodcock can. The physical realm is necessary because the other realm is not. I love it as a literary flourish to the story, but I also don’t believe it’s included purely as an injection of literary style.


there's also that absolutely heartbreaking moment during the big confrontation during his surprise dinner when alma says that she's, "waiting for [him] to get rid of [her]."  the way ddl reacts to this line moves me to no end, especially because he follows it by saying rather callously that he doesn't need her.  i revel in the humanity of that moment of contradiction, and the film is rife with them. 

I wonder about this one. Because I don’t believe he needs her, only a woman. This really is the pivotal scene in the film, because later he chooses to act against himself by committing, as if she is really the only one he needs. Alma does match him, though. Tongue for tongue. That sets her apart…

when alma leaves to go to the new year's eve party alone and reynolds is left to deal with his insecurities (which greenword's score so gorgeously conveys) then goes after her, it's the kind of movie moment that you would expect to end in some sweeping romantic gesture, and for so long it builds that way.  when they finally come face to face, it turns into a staring contest that reynolds indeed loses, him reacting kinda poorly (i read his expression in that scene to be a "what are you looking at?" gesture) and taking her back home.

And here, the reason why he makes that choice…she challenges him, fights fire with fire. It’s the only thing that can work with a man of his qualities. And because she can see him for who he is, which is really unique to her. If Cyril wasn't blood and “the perfect size”, maybe he'd marry her, too.

i described this movie as the 2001: a space odyssey of romances to someone to relate how momentous i find this movie to be.  there's a nebulous, all-encompassing quality to what this movie's about in the context of romantic relationships that engages in that kubrickian "bow to the unknown" (as jan harlan once put it) that i find utterly poignant.

Yes yes yes! Beautifully put.

Also…

I came across a mostly negative review on Letterboxd earlier tonight, which, as much as I disagree with its conclusion and criticisms, I thought was generally well-observed. In its describing what it sees as failings of the film, my thoughts of what I love about it become clearer. The thing I think this review fails to see is that Reynolds’ personality precludes traditional compromise and a traditional relationship from the outset, and so the mushroom overture IS a perversely life-affirming and love-affirming notion. If you read it and answer “because he’s a narcissist” to the questions it poses, I think the movie takes more definite shape.

Quote from: Etan Weisfogel
Much like TWBB and The Master, this is a film about a deeply unhealthy co-dependent relationship, but this film lacks the socio-historical context that made the affectations and behavior of the characters in TWBB and The Master easier to accept. Phantom Thread exists in a hermetically sealed universe, in largely one location, and PTA seems to me to have chosen mid-50s London as the time period/social milieu entirely for aesthetic reasons. The clothes and production design and music and so on and so forth are indeed all sumptuous and ravishing, but I don't think he's saying anything of note about fashion culture of the time--that an acclaimed male artist is a fussy asshole and treats women like shit certainly does not feel particular to this era. So, where the strange, almost inhuman behavior of characters like Daniel Plainview and Freddie Quell is explicable when these characters are seen as representative of moments in history (the rise of industry and postwar anxiety, respectively), the similarly odd behavior of Woodcock and Alma can't be explained in the same way.

That's not necessarily a bad thing (I find the way Plainview and Eli are so clearly meant to represent capitalism and religion a little simplistic, though that film needs a rewatch) but PTA doesn't adjust his approach in any discernible manner. So, all we're left with as an audience, then, is a dual study of two characters whose behavior is often incredibly alienating to the audience. We're constantly put in the position of asking "Why do these people act this way? What are their motivations? What is driving them?" and PTA often frames them in tight closeup, as if to search their faces for answers. Why does Woodcock keep the company of women when he seems to so clearly see their presence as a burden? Why does he tread over other women but kowtow to Cyril? What is his obsession with his mother? And for Alma, why does she not just leave? Why does she continue to allow herself to be humiliated, shamed, and treated like nothing? (Let's not assume, for the moment, that Alma is operating within an abusive relationship because, though it may be true, that's not the framework the film ultimately sets forth.)

The answer to these questions, I think, all end up being fairly simply. But then there would appear to be a disconnect between the strain and effort of the aesthetic to understand these people, and the ultimate simplicity of their psychology (e.g., Woodcock has mommy issues, Alma wants to be seen as beautiful, etc). The problem is perhaps that PTA wants to create a sense of mystery, a sense of ambiguity, but that ambiguity is just stalling until an inevitable end rather than being a useful or necessary tool for the narrative, keeping the audience in the dark in order to shock them at the end but not providing any insight. PTA's goal here, in other words, is not exploration but rather obfuscation; preventing us, until the very end of the film, from having all the clues necessary to understand this relationship, then cutting us off from these characters once we have actual material to work with! Like Woodcock playing Alma, or perhaps vice versa, PTA is playing a game with the audience, but I don't think I'm much interested in the nature of his game.

The idea that the end should really be the film's midpoint is an idea I've heard a lot from those who don't like the film, but I think those people like the ending but just find it misplaced, whereas I take issue with the ending! The final montage seems to be suggesting an idea that I simply reject having sat through the prior two or so hours (isn't this relationship beautiful? Nah, sorry, it's an awful relationship). And I think that idea is contingent on Alma having the same power as Woodcock, which she simply does not. For this to be a mutually abusive relationship, or an equally abusive relationship, which is what I think the film pushes us towards, Alma's form of abuse would have to exist as something other than a reaction to Woodcock's constant belittling and mistreatment of her (again, because PTA doesn't explore what the relationship becomes once Woodcock understands what Alma is doing to him, we have no way of knowing if this ever does exist as something other than that). My rabbi Adam Katzman thinks that this is the point of the film--exploring the power dynamics between a man and a woman in this time, and locating the only way in which a woman could assert power over a man in this context--which is a solid interpretation, but for me the fact that Woodcock accepts her revenge at the end dismantles any power she might have had, because her power is necessarily couched in his permission to give her power, and thus it becomes not a revenge at all but rather another form of subservience to him.

Maybe that would be interesting to explore if the film was placed entirely in Alma's perspective, and thus the ending would be her own skewed view of this relationship in which she has no power, but despite her narration the film switches perspectives often (the first twenty minutes is focused on Reynolds), and Dr. Harding never provides any kind of objective counterpoint to her subjective telling of this story, and instead just acts as a sounding board. So all we get is the "this is love!" ending, which just strikes me as disingenuous. For this to work as an allegory about relationships in general (i.e., we all mistreat each other and seek power over one another in different ways), it has to work on the literal level first, and I simply cannot accept that this is a good relationship, even on the characters' own terms, and I certainly cannot accept that this is anything like my relationship or any other healthy relationship I can think of!

This same reviewer wrote something about Cassavetes and Pialat’s relationship to narrative which I find insightful, and think also applies to Phantom Thread. Funny enough, it also explains away some of his critcisms or bewilderment about this movie in relation to There Will Be Blood and The Master, especially in regards to their socio-historical context being integral to their narrative efficacy in his eyes:

Quote from: Etan Weisfogel
I want to expand on some thoughts my good buddy Graham had about Pialat and his supposed American counterpart Cassavetes. I think Graham is right that the central concern of both of their films is emotion, specifically, I would add, how to structure narrative around certain emotions. That may sound like an obvious or not particularly noteworthy aim, but I think it's different from how most people make films, which is to build emotion out of narrative, rather than narrative out of emotion.

I guess many arthouse/independent directors do this, but one reason I think Pialat and Cassavetes are so often associated with each other is that both deal with extreme emotions--not necessarily unrealistic emotions, but certainly outsized, intense, and passionate emotions. They are, in a sense, emotions that might easily lend themselves to melodrama. But while both directors certainly show some affinity for the melodramatic, I think both are interested in finding ways to work around melodrama, to find other ways to portray these emotions. Cassavetes does this at least partially through exaggeration, allowing actors to explore an emotion in full during extensive sequences that tend to go on past the moment where another director might think the actor had gotten across the "point" (most acting is, of course, simply telegraphing narrative information or responses to narrative information). Pialat takes the opposite approach, attempting to find the mundane in the melodramatic. As Graham points out, the former approach lends itself nicely to duration, while the latter lends itself to ellipsis (skipping over moments that might be deemed important to a narrative of melodrama).

My own perspective is that Phantom Thread’s sort of inverted narrative structure, forming plot almost purely out of emotion, was always the inevitable trajectory that began with Blood and The Master (and maybe even Magnolia and PDL, now that I think of it…) The socio-historical contexts in PT’s movies have always been excuses for characters and set-dressing, a way to give visual weight to those “outside, intense, and passionate” emotions described above, and also a way to add aesthetic value and luxuriate in those textural details. While the WWII period may have prompted the narrative scenario that inspired Master and Freddie, ultimately the story revels in the psychology of those characters and the relationship dynamic between them as its main interest, socio-historical comment or contextual relevancy be damned. The launching pad is always abandoned in favor of an all-encompassing, universal truth, as samsong pointed out

I wanted to comment on this specific part of that letterboxd review quoted in full above:

Quote from: Etan Weisfogel
the final montage seems to be suggesting an idea that I simply reject having sat through the prior two or so hours (isn't this relationship beautiful? Nah, sorry, it's an awful relationship). And I think that idea is contingent on Alma having the same power as Woodcock, which she simply does not. For this to be a mutually abusive relationship, or an equally abusive relationship, which is what I think the film pushes us towards, Alma's form of abuse would have to exist as something other than a reaction to Woodcock's constant belittling and mistreatment of her (again, because PTA doesn't explore what the relationship becomes once Woodcock understands what Alma is doing to him, we have no way of knowing if this ever does exist as something other than that).

Etan’s description of Alma’s pushback always being in reaction to Reynolds and not “mutually abusive” is true, but I see it as finally hopeful. Alma doesn’t need to have the exact same power as Woodcock. That’s not why she does it, exactly, and not the point of the end of the film. She could very well leave him for someone else. While there’s some degree of subversion to their roles, I think she pursues the change in power dynamic because she believes in him ("You're not cursed!"). She believes in his ability to love. And I do see the movie as working as an allegory for the push-pull of all relationships in general.

I love that he thought of it enough to talk to his rabbi.

Riley Jonathawinn Drake

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Re: Phantom Thread - SPOILERS!
« Reply #153 on: January 11, 2018, 12:38:55 PM »
+2
Happy New Year  :violin: :violin:


eward

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Re: Phantom Thread - SPOILERS!
« Reply #154 on: January 11, 2018, 02:50:51 PM »
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You beautiful, charitable soul.
"Do you laugh at jealousy?"

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modage

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Re: Phantom Thread - SPOILERS!
« Reply #155 on: January 11, 2018, 06:57:40 PM »
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Finally saw this a third time last night at the Alamo Drafthouse in BK. The screening was Black Tie (suggested) and in 70mm, which was a fun excuse for a bunch of nerds like myself to put on bow ties and go to the movies. Some more random thoughts about the film from viewing #3.

- For a movie about relationships/love/etc., the film is oddly sexless! For PTA, who never shies away from sex, the film is unusually chaste.

- Related thought: The film is also almost (but not entirely) devoid of passion. The most passionate moment in the film is when they kiss after stealing the dress back. And I think there are really only 3 or 4 instances of anything physical between them (he pulls her into his room, they kiss on the street, holding hands walking around town, and the final denouement) For the most part we're just given the cruelest bits of their relationship (an entirely different sort of passion), but never really allowed to root for them as a couple in the traditional sense. It's a really interesting choice, withholding the part of the story that would satisfy an audience. It's an easy mark so PTA just skips it.

- In the first scene where Woodcock is measuring Alma and he tells her to stand up straight and she pushes back with a "Why didn't you just say that" she is so fiery. I feel like if she were truly in awe of him from the beginning she'd probably shrink like a wallflower instead of pushing back so forcefully so soon. I wonder if Krieps and DDL had any friction on set and these moments display some of that bubbling over? Either way, it's a great performance. Update: Having thought about this for a day I  think it's the first time Reynolds really pushes her and she pushes back just as hard. It's this response that probably endears her to him and why the relationship works.

- The autograph scene at dinner is exactly how I picture PTA to be as he's interrupted by a fan telling him that his films are the greatest. Haha, maybe not true. But that's how I see it.

- Cyril really leaves Woodcock out to dry the scene that Alma opens the door while he's talking shit about her!

- Really noticed how many times Reynolds talks about being hungry. It always corresponds to when he's excited.

- The shot of Cyril at the table with the giant open window behind her reminds me a lot of how PSH is framed at the end of The Master.

- When Cyril mentions that Barbara Rose pays for this house, does she mean literally like she pays his rent to work there? Or that she spends so much money it basically pays for the house and gives him more work than his other clients?

- Speaking of the rich old lady, Barbara Rose, she reminds me a smidge of the rich old lady, Mildred Drummond, in The Master. PTA's characters have a real contempt for high-society ladies in the 50s.

- Seeing the film a second or third time is such a different experience from my first viewing where I kept expecting the film to go super dark with a much bigger finale. After TWBB which ends with the bowling alley pummeling, I spent the last act of Phantom Thread waiting for Cyril to poison Alma (to death) or Alma to poison Woodcock (to death). Once you know it doesn't go that way, you an enjoy it as a dark comedy instead of a tragedy. But the film would play completely differently if the final 5-10 minutes had a different resolution. I wonder if PTA knew this ending when he started writing or if he kinda arrived here after considering other (potentially darker) resolutions.

- This has I'm sure been mentioned but the omelette at the end is a total reprisal of the staring contest. Duh.

- The ending where Alma daydreams into the future and we're shown the baby carriage and things that may or may not happen reminded me of two of my favorites: Raising Arizona and 25th Hour.

- The scene where they're dancing at the New Years place and some of the other guests waltz onto the floor around them is such a great 00s PTA touch. You know that's something he just filmed on the day they did the NYE scene and wasn't sure if they'd have somewhere to put it and it just slides in perfectly as the film is wrapping up. It's not real but it's beautiful.
Christopher Nolan's directive was clear to everyone in the cast and crew: Use CGI only as a last resort.

jenkins

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Re: Phantom Thread - SPOILERS!
« Reply #156 on: January 11, 2018, 07:21:59 PM »
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- In the first scene where Woodcock is measuring Alma and he tells her to stand up straight and she pushes back with a "Why didn't you just say that" she is so, so pissed off. It seems like she fucking hates him whenever she's able to shoot these daggers back at him. And I believe that she admires/adores him but harder to believe she loves him. But if she were truly in awe of him from the beginning she'd probably shrink like a wallflower instead of pushing back so forcefully so soon. I wonder if Krieps and DDL had any friction on set and these moments display some of that bubbling over? Either way, it's a great performance.

sometimes Reynolds sounds so, so pissed off,  as if he fucking hates people. it isn't necessarily a personal affront against another person, rather an expression of an interior force. i believe it's fair to say they both have tricky personalities and the movie is about those types of people falling in love. and love is a funny thing that doesn't have to be as obvious as all that.

that's in line with my personal support of Alma, an expression of an interior force, really not so pissed or wanting to express hate.

Pringle

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Re: Phantom Thread - SPOILERS!
« Reply #157 on: January 12, 2018, 04:18:33 AM »
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Here are 3 new TV Spots (from New Zealand) that feature shots that aren't in the final film, including:

Alma and Reynolds on a yacht, passing a mountain.
Another fitting scene between Alma and Reynolds.
Reynolds stalking through a graveyard.







samsong

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Re: Phantom Thread - SPOILERS!
« Reply #158 on: January 12, 2018, 05:18:07 AM »
+1
wilder, found your articulation of reynolds' narcissism and the focus on power dynamic shifts to be illuminating.  definitely something to hone in on for subsequent viewings.  i'll admit that i've submitted to the film as being a kind of universal allegory of all relationships ("the most beautiful romance in the world.  just to take that a bit further, the most beautiful romance of all time.  or even further still, the ONLY romance that ever was.") and view the power dynamic more as a dance than a fight.  i also do think think in that dinner scene that reynolds does know that he needs alma, or loves her more than he lets on, as suggested by how taken aback he is when he hears her say something as painful as feeling unwanted, but isn't ready to open about it, and he certainly isn't going to concede or let her win that argument.  he'd sooner tell her to fuck off. 

on to etan.  i don't find his oversimplification of character psychology in the film to be in any way cogent.  if anything one of the things pta does so brilliantly is eschew easy psychological character mapping.  there seems to be a common issue with those with negative impressions of the film are an overly literal reading of the film, and broad judgements made about the characters based on said reading.  an older woman asked her friend why anyone would stay with a someone they had to poison in order to tolerate, and my eyes just about rolled out of my head.

obviously i find his rejection of the film's success as an allegory for relationships in general to be misguided, particularly in his insistence that its functionality as allegory is contingent on its success on a literal level.  but it seems to come down purely to the ol' adage, "i couldn't relate to it, so it must be bad."  maybe this says more about me than anything, but i found most of, if not all of it be perfectly relatable.  i've always maintained that human beings are fucking insane, and that at no point is this more evident than when two romantically involved people are alone together.  that this film is decidedly unromantic (in the traditional sense) in its portrayal of a relationship is one of the reasons why it's so goddamn great.  thought matt ross put it nicely in his indiewire blurb where he posits that one of the things the film is about is "the impossibility of understanding a relationship from the outside (that is – if one is not in it)."

wilder

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Re: Phantom Thread - SPOILERS!
« Reply #159 on: January 13, 2018, 01:39:26 AM »
+1
sometimes Reynolds sounds so, so pissed off,  as if he fucking hates people. it isn't necessarily a personal affront against another person, rather an expression of an interior force.

Totally. You see it in the scene when he's "backstage" helping ready the dresses as the girls are exiting and entering, modeling for the members of high society. He even catches himself after losing his temper, almost under his breath "Sorry, sorry..."

i'll admit that i've submitted to the film as being a kind of universal allegory of all relationships […] and view the power dynamic more as a dance than a fight.

The rhythm of the film does sort of play like a dance… Greenwood’s score too kind of paints it like a dark round in a ballroom. I like what PT said in reference to Aimee Mann’s music, on Kimmel, that she makes “upbeat downers”. PT is also so great at combining disparate tones to make you look again at something you might have thought askance about, initially. He just talked about Boogie Nights this way, on the Nerdist podcast. How up until its release the representations of the porn world had swung wildly between the bleak view of Hardcore and the extremely silly, on the other end, with no nuanced in-between. The way he presents this whole scenario has got to be on the top of a list of those that expand the vernacular. It keeps rolling over and over, in me. The first time was very funny but felt darker, the second watch felt bright and prickly, and on my third it went darkly beautiful, again. The film is truly alive.

i also do think think in that dinner scene that reynolds does know that he needs alma, or loves her more than he lets on, as suggested by how taken aback he is when he hears her say something as painful as feeling unwanted, but isn't ready to open about it, and he certainly isn't going to concede or let her win that argument.  he'd sooner tell her to fuck off. 

I can swing with that to a certain extent. He certainly needs her more than he’s willing to let on and isn’t going to present himself as weak to her at this point. Really I agree with the things you said, I just don’t know how deeply/permanently attached he can become, and as Etan pointed out, we don’t see the aftermath enough to know (although that’s a different movie and definitely isn’t necessary, here). I see Reynolds as the type of guy, if Alma and he were to split, to mope and moan for a week and then be over it and onto the next one, because the honeymoon period seems to be what he likes, as is evidenced by every relationship he’s had in the film up til Alma. Once the glimmer wears off, infatuation fades, and there are obligations to another person, I don't know that I can see him sticking around through the thick and thin. Obviously just speculation. The movie wants them to succeed.

on to etan.  i don't find his oversimplification of character psychology in the film to be in any way cogent.  if anything one of the things pta does so brilliantly is eschew easy psychological character mapping.  there seems to be a common issue with those with negative impressions of the film are an overly literal reading of the film, and broad judgements made about the characters based on said reading.

I like the way you put that, and I also completely disagree with his reductive psychological description ("Woodcock has mommy issues, Alma wants to be seen as beautiful") and yet I sympathize with his reading, because the movie is so dense. Jenkins' observation above about Reynolds not being so much hateful towards any one person as just bursting with an unrestrained energy and ruled by his moods is one such example. I certainly relate to aspects of that. That description of him is a fucking sentence though, it takes a sentence long to parse how dense the emotions being portrayed are. He could be described as “moody” or “an asshole” or “obsessive”, or “artistic”, etc., but a word alone doesn’t seem to do the trick. So I’m not sure how easy he is to see into…

Maybe it’s partially that the way romance has been portrayed in so many films and stories as sort of mythical and compartmentalized - distinctions between wonderful times and sad times made achingly clear beat for beat, has trained audiences not to buy this as one. “We tell ourselves stories in order to live”, Joan Didion says. Excise the mud of it. This movie doesn’t really do that at all. There are so many moments in Phantom Thread that ’eschew easy psychological character mapping’, as you said, and blend the positive with the negative - like Alma’s initial fitting. What a thrill, having a dress made by this couture designer! But then also to be subtly cut down? (“You have no breasts”) But then he professes she’s “the perfect shape”? It must be confusing to parse, for her.

The film is brilliant at replicating the feeling of looking back on a relationship you’re no longer in when you’re having difficulty distinguishing the good moments from the bad, wondering if you made the right decision, or if you saw it for what it was. It’s all a blur and something you accepted and embraced wholesale when in it. All the pills had to be swallowed together and you’re not sure what’s causing what feeling. This is devolving into word soup. I want to quote your previous post again:

i described this movie as the 2001: a space odyssey of romances to someone to relate how momentous i find this movie to be.  there's a nebulous, all-encompassing quality to what this movie's about in the context of romantic relationships that engages in that kubrickian "bow to the unknown" (as jan harlan once put it) that i find utterly poignant.

A fish asking 'what’s water?'…it’s soo good at that… and so good at capturing the valley between two people that can’t be quantified. The unknown unknowns. You said it better.

obviously i find his rejection of the film's success as an allegory for relationships in general to be misguided, particularly in his insistence that its functionality as allegory is contingent on its success on a literal level.

Same

i've always maintained that human beings are fucking insane

I just wanted to quote this.

that this film is decidedly unromantic (in the traditional sense) in its portrayal of a relationship is one of the reasons why it's so goddamn great.  thought matt ross put it nicely in his indiewire blurb where he posits that one of the things the film is about is "the impossibility of understanding a relationship from the outside (that is – if one is not in it)."

Abso-fucking-lutely

Drenk

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Re: Phantom Thread - SPOILERS!
« Reply #160 on: January 13, 2018, 01:36:17 PM »
0
Haven't read it so it might be bad, but putting it here so I'll read when I'll have seen the movie.

The New York Review of Books — The Pattern and Passion of Phantom Thread.

http://www.nybooks.com/daily/2018/01/13/the-pattern-and-passion-of-phantom-thread/
I'm so many people.

md

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Re: Phantom Thread - SPOILERS!
« Reply #161 on: January 13, 2018, 05:30:07 PM »
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what do you guys make of "never cursed"?

In either the Bill Simmons podcast or the one with Rian Johnson, PTA said he and DDL discussed the idea of family curses and what that meant to them and if they were real.  So maybe that has some meaning or inspiration for the hidden msg. 

Was anyone able to pick up one of the lovely booklets they were giving away at the Arclight 70mm screenings?  A beautiful little treasure.




PTA always comes through with the goods time and time again.  I walked into the film a few minutes late, sort of thrown into the middle of the scene with Reynolds and Alma in front of the fire.  And the film switch really turned on when he's measuring Alma and he says "25" and its beautifully synced with that nice pan of the tape reel.  Felt very much like a warm PTA smile and all things started going in full motion.  Like the later surveying scenes in TWBB. 

The first act of the film felt so out of place with today's 'standards' of cinema -- the dialogue, the pacing, even the cinematography and staging -- it all felt very foreign and very nostalgic.    I almost needed to check myself in order to get lost in the PTA magic.  Maybe the cynic in me was being tested.  And by the time Reynolds is at the New Years Eve party and there is that long hold on the two of them just staring at each other in silence my emotions are completely gushing. 

For some reason I could not help but think that PTA was making this film for his daughters.  Like a gift down the road that they can remember him by.  Some of the arguments and motivations of the relationship between Reynolds and Alma were so entangled due to the age difference, like a parent scolding their child. 

The handheld scene when Alma is walking in her first fashion show was marvelous and such a great use of handheld (may have been one of the first longer uses of it in the film).  The smokey depth of the scene and the backlight of the window really (if I remember correctly) looked so damn beautiful and unique.  Something that would be close to impossible to capture with digital. 

I loved Reynold's hair throughout the film.  When its slicked back and handsome and when it's a bit ruffled and puffy when he is struggling.  Just a nice attention to detail.

The double take Reynolds does on New Years Eve when Alma walks out the door was funny just like something Barry Egan might due.  Its so idiosyncratic and so PTA.  The second look would most likely get cut in any other studio film, but PTA has this hold on the game. 

The scraping sounds of the toast were so simple and so cinematic as a creation of tension and comedy.  Nothing too to intellectual, just meat and bones filmmaking at its core, executed properly with your favorite cast.  I mean, Alma's accent is so sexy and innocent.  Just love the feeling when your thinking PTA is making something special just for you.  The man is clutch.  Bravo!






"look hard at what pleases you and even harder at what doesn't" ~ carolyn forche

martinthewarrior

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Re: Phantom Thread - SPOILERS!
« Reply #162 on: January 13, 2018, 07:06:20 PM »
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Holy hell. This one might be his best. It's certainly his most psychologically rich. In the best way, it feels like the first... old man movie he's made. A lot of life had to be lived to come to something so messy, complicated, and true about how men and women attempt to keep loving each other when the dopamine runs out. I agree with whoever said it felt like the beginning of a new period for him. Feels like his most personal since Magnolia, but where that was blood and guts and heart, this one is a brain in a jar, save for a few moments of that young man passion. I love, love, loved it.

samsong

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Re: Phantom Thread - SPOILERS!
« Reply #163 on: January 14, 2018, 12:09:01 AM »
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 I walked into the film a few minutes late, sort of thrown into the middle of the scene with Reynolds and Alma in front of the fire.

if that's actually where you came in, then you missed, like, 20 minutes...

md

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Re: Phantom Thread - SPOILERS!
« Reply #164 on: January 14, 2018, 10:28:58 PM »
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 I walked into the film a few minutes late, sort of thrown into the middle of the scene with Reynolds and Alma in front of the fire.

if that's actually where you came in, then you missed, like, 20 minutes...

Yeah, dude....I'm not lying.  LA traffic....
"look hard at what pleases you and even harder at what doesn't" ~ carolyn forche

 

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