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Phantom Thread - SPOILERS!

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WorldForgot

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Reply #270 on: May 31, 2019, 02:50:46 PM
one of the last things he says to Eli is "i told you i would eat you!" i don't remember him saying that anytime in the film so i figure that's what he whispered. and if those were indeed the last words he said to Eli before they meet again at the end, then it makes sense that the next thing he says is "how dare you come to my home".. Eli handed himself over on a platter.

This is brilliant and I will forever believe this to be what he whispered.

DDL Hungry Boi Parallelz


eward

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Reply #271 on: November 06, 2019, 12:35:25 PM
Made #5 on Ebert.com's Top 25 of the 10s list.

by Peter Sobczynski

If the 2010s did anything from a cinematic perspective, they proved conclusively—not that there was much doubt—that Paul Thomas Anderson deserved a position of prominence as one of the greatest American filmmakers of his era. He began the decade with “The Master” (2012), his spellbinding account of a confused and uncertain war veteran (Joaquin Phoenix) who falls under the spell of a mysterious cult and its charismatic leader (Philip Seymour Hoffman) and followed that up with “Inherent Vice” (2014), a cheerfully crackpot ‘70s-era mystery in which he managed to brilliantly transfer the singular writing style of Thomas Pynchon into cinematic terms. For most directors, a film along the lines of either one of those would be considered a career highpoint. But in Anderson’s case, they were merely prelude for what prove to be his crowning work of the decade and possibly of his career to date: “Phantom Thread.”

Set in 1955, the film is centered on Reynolds Woodcock (Daniel Day-Lewis), a top-notch designer of couture fashion with a reputation as formidable as his name. Over the years, he has become known as a perfectionist, one so dedicated to his craft that even the slightest variation of his routine would be absolutely unbearable to him and his creative genius. Cyril (Leslie Manville), his sister and only close confidant, anticipates all of his myriad needs (sometimes before even he realizes he needs them), commandeers the small army of cutters and seamstresses who come to his vast London townhouse every day to help execute his designs, and even breaks up with the latest woman he has briefly allowed into his life—whatever it takes to allow Reynolds to concentrate fully on his work.

During a brief respite into the country, Reynolds stops at a remote seaside hotel for breakfast and that is where he meets Alma (Vicky Krieps), his waitress. At first glance, she seems relatively shy and unassuming, but something about her—perhaps her quiet beauty, or the way she is completely unfazed while taking down his insanely complicated order—captures his attention. He asks her out on a date that ends with him bringing her back to his place to get her into his clothes—a fitting attended by Cyril—and before long, she has been installed in the House of Woodcock as his latest muse. This is not a traditional relationship by any means—she is put into a separate bedroom and barred from entering Reynolds’ space, though Cyril has full admittance—and her unintentional upending of the usual routine starts to drive him up the wall. Cyril suspects that the writing is on the wall for the newcomer, but what neither she nor Reynolds realizes is that Alma truly loves the guy, despite his less-than-admirable qualities, and decides to make a stand to make him love her back. She proves to be as unyielding in her own way as both Reynolds. Alma goes to jaw-dropping lengths to prove both her love for him and his love for her.

Repeated viewings of “Phantom Thread” have only served to reveal just how brilliantly Anderson directs his film. On the surface, it appears to be a variation of what used to be referred to as a “woman’s film” and movie buffs will be able to detect hints and homages to films running the gamut from Alfred Hitchcock’s “Rebecca” to “Celebration,” Olivier Meyrou’s long-suppressed 2007 documentary that observed Yves Saint Laurent during the preparation of what would be his final collection in 1998. And yet, in much the same way that Reynolds sews tiny messages in his creations that go overlooked by those not looking beyond the dazzling surface, to peer beyond the stunning cinematography (handled by Anderson himself) and Mark Bridges’ Oscar-winning costumes is to reveal a work that is far stranger than expected and ultimately all the more rewarding because of it.

The relationship between Reynolds and Alma changes and evolves. When Alma first enters the scene, it seems that she will be no match for him, but she recognizes that he is not so much a cruel person as she is one who is trapped by his own long-standing emotional limitations. She becomes determined to set him free from those limitations, even if to do so might threaten the very existence of the House of Woodcock. For his part, although he does treat her quite shabbily, he does have a certain admiration for her willingness to stand up to his shit, which helps to lend additional power to the knockout conclusion. Likewise, Anderson himself has too much respect for his characters to let them simply sacrifice all of their individual quirks in order to foster a typical happy ending, electing instead to negotiate their ultimate union in a way that comes across as far more honest and forthright than the typical movie romance.

One of the film's most surprising elements is just how funny it can be, even though none of the advanced word suggested that it contained any laughs at all. Of course, when one builds an entire movie around a character with a name like Reynolds Woodcock, one has to expect a certain amount of silliness, and that is certainly the case here. In the funniest sequence, Reynolds is commissioned to create a dress to be worn by a wealthy and fairly vulgar woman at her wedding to a Latin playboy—a union that, to judge by the looks of those in attendance, appears doomed before it has begun. As part of the deal, Reynolds is inveigled to attend the ceremony—mostly so that the bride can show him off—and he in turn brings Alma along. As the proceedings go on, the bride gets drunk and obnoxious to the point where Alma is offended—how dare someone act so poorly while dressed in a Reynolds Woodcock original? The two conspire to take back the dress for themselves in a highly amusing manner that also leads to a rare exchange of genuine passion between the two that shows there really is something between them after all.

In at least one aspect, however, “Phantom Thread” has proven to be even more resonant today than it did when it first came out. In many ways, the film is an indictment of white male privilege, toxic masculinity and how certain people (almost always white men) are allowed to indulge in a staggering amount of bad behavior and get away with it because they have wealth, power and/or prestige working for them. Anderson touched on these themes in earlier films like “There Will Be Blood” and “The Master”—narratives about demanding men who imposed their will on others under the assumption that those with money and power are inherently better those without and deserve to be treated differently. Like the characters in those movies, Reynolds is obsessed with his work and is willing to mistreat the woman in his life in the name of that work, confident that he will never have to answer for his behavior. In his eyes, Alma is his muse and can be pushed aside as soon as he is done getting what he needs from her. What Anderson elects to show here is what happens when such a woman decides that she wants more than to simply be an inspiration for someone else’s greatness, and is willing to turn the system upside down in order to achieve some kind of parity.

When the film came out, much of the focus revolved around the fact that Day-Lewis claimed that it would mark his last film appearance. If it holds, Day-Lewis can be said to have gone out with what may be the best performance of his entire career, an absolutely mesmerizing turn that is all the better for not needing to rely on the various props, costumes and vocal tics/stylings that he has utilized to help put forth some of his most noteworthy previous turns. That said, his is hardly the only great piece of acting in the film. As Cyril, Leslie Manville is both quietly terrifying and oddly sympathetic in her portrayal of someone whose has essentially dedicated her entire life to making someone else’s run more smoothly.

The big surprise, however, was the simply extraordinary turn by the relatively unknown Vicky Krieps as Alma. In virtually every one of her scenes, she goes up against one of the most highly regarded actors on the planet and more than holds her own in the process. At first, she is undeniably sweet and charming. But as the film progresses, both she and her character begin to reveal unsuspected depths and hidden strengths that make her all the more compelling, especially once it becomes clear that she is capable of doing just about anything to get her way, something she demonstrates fully in the finale.

Ah yes, the ending. Thanks to the combination of Anderson’s exquisite formal and narrative skills and the performances by his actors, what might have come across as little more than a weirdo joke not only becomes one of the most unforgettable endings in recent film history, it feels like the only logical conclusion. It is so bizarre and without precedent that, like the film as a whole, you won’t know whether to shudder, laugh, or applaud Anderson for having the audacity to conceive of it all in the first place. The proper answer, of course, is all three.
Everyone has a heart and it's calling for something
And we're all so sick and tired of seeing things as they are...


Bleep

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Reply #272 on: November 16, 2019, 10:41:33 AM
Another auditory sighting of "[You/That] so and so":

The Lady Eve (1941)

with screenshot:

family resemblance?


ForTheHungryBoy

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Reply #273 on: November 24, 2019, 11:58:09 AM
PT screening at Metrograph NYC this holiday season  :yabbse-grin:


wilberfan

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Reply #274 on: December 30, 2019, 02:13:34 PM
New article (and script and video and interviews) over at Cinephilia and Beyond:

Appetite for Destruction: Paul Thomas Anderson’s ‘Phantom Thread’ and the Fall of the House of Woodcock

EDIT:  Good enough to quote completely for posterity.  Really enjoyed this--having just watched it again (viewing #6, I believe) in 70mm two nights ago.

By Tim Pelan

Not unlike James Cameron and his flop sweat fever dream of a chrome skeleton-framed torso, dragging itself relentlessly by a wicked blade after a fleeing young woman that led to his tech-noir nightmare The Terminator, writer/director Paul Thomas Anderson can also chalk his inspiration for Phantom Thread down to a particularly nasty stomach bug. Nursed through the unpleasantness by his wife, actress Maya Rudolph, Anderson had the thread of an idea about the exposed vulnerability of the invalid and the power of the nurse. About mischievous power games, and whether sickness can sometimes be good for the soul. The thought that crossed his mind, he told Collider, was, “I wonder if she wants to keep me this way, maybe for a week or two.” I was watching the wrong movies when I was in bed, during this illness. I was watching Rebecca, The Story of Adele H., and Beauty and the Beast, and I really started to think that maybe she was poisoning me. So, that kernel of an idea, I had in my mind when I started working on writing something.” Set in the rarefied world of London’s 1950’s couture houses, Daniel Day-Lewis is Reynolds Woodcock, a brilliant, fastidious middle-aged self-involved dress designer who is slowly becoming out of step with what is “chic.” Partnered by his acerbic sister Cyril (Lesley Manville) in the “House of Woodcock,” he (and she) casts aside yet another pretty young thing he’s become bored with (“I’ll give her the October dress,” Cyril ameliorates peremptorily) before adopting a new young muse, the clumsy waitress Alma (Vicky Krieps) he takes a shine to at a country hotel. But Alma (European, nationality unaddressed) has steel beneath her bumbling, seemingly subservient exterior. Reynolds and she embark on a toxic love affair that will rock the staid House of Woodcock. “What happens when your mother hasn’t let your feet touch the ground, or is convinced the sun shines only for you? When you have this halo that means as long as you’re creating, you’re allowed to behave as inappropriately as you want to? There’s nothing worse than kids acting like the worst kind of adults and adults acting like the worst kind of kids. That’s not a good look for anybody,” Anderson told Catherine Shoard for The Guardian.

The obsessive nature of the Reynolds character naturally lent itself to dressmaking, although that wasn’t locked down originally. Anderson found himself drawn to the 1950s fashion designer Cristóbal Balenciaga for inspiration. It’s not quite War of the Roses with dresses, but in its black comedy there’s a definite hint of two people who can’t quit each other. Anderson first became aware of Krieps, from Luxembourg, in a German film called The Chambermaid Lynn. He told Rolling Stone, “she has one of those faces that turns in about 45 directions at once. What I mean is, you look at her one way and she could not look more awkward; then she turns slightly and, suddenly, she looks stunningly beautiful. Then you see her from a third angle and it’s like: ‘Does she love me or is she going to poison me?’ [Laughs] You could believe she’d be serving tea in some shitty hotel on the coast and then could come sweeping downstairs in a gown.”

Krieps met Day-Lewis for the first time in character, in the scene where they first meet and the “hungry boy” wolfishly reels off what seems like the entire breakfast order. Her blush seems genuine, but she is aware enough (and hungry enough herself) to slip him her name on a note. The look between them in that unrehearsed scene, she told Kate Kellaway for The Guardian, was “anticipation, a ghost in the room. Their love, like all real love affairs, begins as recognition. They see each other.” Krieps saw their relationship not as a duel, but a duet. “The power levels are different in Alma and Reynolds. Paul left this very open. Many relationships can become difficult and it can be hard to find a way back. Alma finds a dangerous way (with the poison mushrooms). Sometimes, if you look at older couples who have been together for years, they have the strangest ways of staying together—they play games, often sexual.”

There’s a sense the younger Alma has experienced things during the war the much older, cosseted Reynolds did not. “Alma has seen people die,” says Krieps. “She has seen what it means to lose your home and country. She comes from cold, windy Germany and is transported into a warm world in London, wrapped in silk and light. People who live through the war cannot think about themselves. They cannot ask: ‘Am I weak?’ ‘Am I strong?’ They just have to get up and be brave.” Leading to a mordantly funny exchange after an unwelcome surprise dinner for two from Alma, with Reynolds rudely asking “Are you a special agent sent here to ruin my evening and possibly my entire life?” Although one may think the protagonist of the piece is Reynolds, Anderson frames the film’s point of view through Alma, via fireside close-ups as candlelight confession to the young doctor that treats him after Alma’s kinky “ministrations,” the hungry boy by the film’s end a willing accomplice (“Kiss me my girl, before I’m sick.”). Shelly Farmer for RogerEbert.com saw a similarity between the Alma and Reynolds relationship with that of Jane Eyre and Rochester. “In narratives like Jane Eyre and Phantom Thread, men are tamed and softened, and the ability to provide care, which is so often women’s unasked—for burden (even today), becomes a lever of power that creates a new equilibrium in the relationship, both emotional and sexual… In Phantom Thread, however, Anderson queers the happy ending by imbuing the couple’s dynamic with an edge of psycho-sexual violence, engaged in willingly by both participants.”

Filming largely took place in a Georgian townhouse in London’s Fitzroy Square, the combined atmosphere of home and atelier all-consuming and immersive. House of Woodcock’s senior seamstresses Nana and Biddy were played by Susan Clark and Joan Brown, a former dressmaking teacher and ladies seamstress, initially brought on as technical advisers. Incidentally, check out the work of @FPCroissant, who does beautiful three-dimensional water color floor plans of movie homes, including that of Reynolds Woodcock. Her work on the Phantom Thread house includes a cross section with significant scenes and settings, such as “Breakfast. As if Alma rode a horse across the room.” There was a sense for actors and crew that they were indeed back in time. Krieps felt that, “Making the film felt endless—Paul had the same impression. I felt as if I were on a boat so far from land, I didn’t know how I would get back.” For Alma, and perhaps Reynolds, drawn into her spell, there is the German feeling of sehnsucht—“the longing for something you once had combined with a yearning for something as yet unknown.” Ghosts haunt them both—his mother, her troubled youth. Reynolds sews a lock of his mother’s hair, she who taught him his trade, into the lining of his jacket, and secret messages in dresses—a detail inspired by the stories of Alexander McQueen doing so when he worked on Savile Row.

Production Designer Mark Tildesley “thought a great deal about the inherent drama of the spaces inside both the House of Woodcock and the clothing it produced—in stark contrast to Owlpen (Reynold’s country retreat), which is dark and cluttered, a haunted world. Owlpen is a family home he’s inherited, a place of dreams and memories.” Set Decorator Véronique Melery collaborated closely with Day-Lewis on the choice of Reynolds’ furnishings and accoutrements. “He had clear ideas about what kind of paintings would exist in his world, what kind of flowers he would have around, what book he would be reading. It is forcing a set decorator to go far into the psyche of a character, and with Daniel, you talk literally with the character. It’s fascinating and challenging work. You need to know every single detail about every piece you dress on set, and be prepared to evaluate your choices with an actor who is inhabiting the character in a very intense manner… The drawing pads that Reynolds is using everywhere were made in different sizes, using old green moleskin for the covers, with his monogram in embossed gold. The paper itself has a soft quality, ideal for drawing. We did visit a London second hand shop selling high quality fountain pens to find and choose his main one… in his company. This was primordial.”

Costume designer Mark Bridges had to design period gowns that reflected Reynold’s staid, dark palette. “How do you make a spring collection for a designer who’s kind of dark [for] the period?” Bridges told Film Maker Magazine. “It’s not happy, joyous, flirty outfits. We had a floral print, but it was a black background floral print. The suit with the cape and the feathered hat, that is based on [British designer Charles] Creed, so it’s leather. You make choices along the way that indicate the designer’s taste, and you try to stay in character. There’s a little yellow and grey suit with the hat that you see him trying on Alma. It’s very chic and very fitted, but it’s not that happy. It’s not a cheery spring creation, where everyone is going to go, ‘Oh, spring has sprung.’ So we were definitely designing in character. Early on, we set out [to answer], ‘What is the house of Woodcock?’ It’s deep rich colors, it’s lace, it’s not terribly ostentatious, it’s more about textures and rich colors.” Anderson & Sheppard of Savile Row made all of Day-Lewis’ suits, in a weighty, period-accurate fabric. He was glad of the heavy cloth during the three months of townhouse shoot with no central heating. He was also probably glad of the very long pink socks Reynold’s wears, at his suggestion of English eccentric affectation. He also felt his character would wear bow ties.

Lesley Manville’s Cyril is a fabulously, cuttingly polite creature, immaculately turned out, with a put down that would stop an uppity tradesman in his tracks. She’s more than a match for her brother’s tetchiness, warning him not to turn his “cloud” on her, or let Alma “wait around” for his attention—“Don’t pick a fight with me, you won’t come out alive. I’ll go right through and you’ll end up on the floor. Understood?” She then calmly resumes drinking her morning tea, barely flicking her eyes sideways at him until he slurps his own in a kind of salute, another skirmish in a long-running campaign of love and hate with his “Old so and so.” Cyril wears greys that photograph as black, the perfect counterpoint for Manville’s pale skin, pearls and coiffed hair. Bridges recalled that, “We were informed by the women who were, essentially, the saleswomen at Balenciaga, and you see it all the way through any reference to that period: they would wear navy and pearls, very simple, and allow the fashions to stand out, and I think that’s what we did with Lesley. Of course, she has impeccable tailoring, she is representing the house.” When Gina McKee’s Countess Henrietta Harding says that Woodcock’s dresses give her courage, she’s quoting Cristóbal Balenciaga client Bunny Mellon. But it’s courage of the old guard, perhaps, as Mark Bridges muses. “He [Woodcock] learned his trade from his mother, in the early part of the 20th century. But it’s the 1950s now and he’s still using those materials and techniques from the turn of the century and it’s about to become a brand new world of fashion with Dior and Saint Laurent and [Balenciaga’s] sack. It is just about to leave him behind.”

Radiohead guitarist and film composer Jonny Greenwood collaborated for the fifth time with Anderson on Phantom Thread‘s sumptuous score. He told Variety, “I was interested in the kinds of jazz records from the ’50s that toyed with incorporating big string sections—Ben Webster made some good ones—and focus on what the strings were doing rather than the jazz musicians themselves. As well, I looked at what classical music was most popular amongst that generation. For Reynolds, I decided if he ever listened to music, it’d be loads of Glenn Gould. Lots of slightly obsessive, minimal baroque music. I couldn’t imagine him listening to much jazz. So as well as the grandly romantic music for the story, there could be more formal music for him. Those were the two contrasting strands. It was very enjoyable writing the baroque stuff—I love that kind of music, it’s so satisfying—and it’s one of the few things I learnt to do at school. As well, Paul often referred to vampire stories—there’s certainly an element of that to the tale—the village girl lured to the big house, so some of the cues are a little darker.” For a hint of Alma’s mysterious European past intruding into Reynold’s ordered existence, he incorporated the cimbalom—“It plays a version of the baroque theme that recurs in the film a few times.”

Finally, film blog Writing About Film has some interesting observations about how the blocking of scenes in Reynolds’ home, “visually emphasized verticality and compressed the frame horizontally. It felt like an Academy ratio film… within a widescreen frame, by choosing an appropriate location and using it in conjunction with the camera to make the frame feel tall and narrow.” And, “It’s in the general setting, a townhouse in London with narrow corridors, tight staircases and high ceilings—you rarely see ceilings in Phantom Thread at all, the walls stretching all the way to the top of the frame giving a feeling of limitless height. There’s an interesting balance of tone achieved, too—with walls everywhere, the Woodcock residence is kind of a prison, but not an inescapable one, as there’s always the possibility of movement upwards.”

Few scenes emphasize this claustrophobic yet intimate feeling as well as the slow track into the bathroom through the door ajar, the outside hall and it in darkness, squaring the frame. Centered, Reynolds in pajamas and a soothing rug on the toilet, enamel sick bowl clutched to him, newspapers spread on the floor, and a kneeling Alma tenderly placing a kiss on his fevered cheek. A kind of inversion of The Searchers, two outsiders finding each other. Let’s go home, Alma.
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WorldForgot

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Reply #275 on: March 07, 2020, 08:45:33 PM
Spoiler: ShowHide


WorldForgot

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Reply #276 on: July 06, 2020, 02:14:53 PM
Barbara Cushing for Vogue in 1939



Bleep

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Reply #277 on: September 01, 2020, 06:20:31 PM
Back in 2018, wilberfan presented confirmation that Alma is a Jewish character (see #265 in this thread). I am sorry if the following reflection has subsequently appeared here, but wilberfan’s comment allows for an added (and awkward) resonance to the line, “I rescued it from Antwerp during the war.”

P.S. Yet another auditory sighting of “so-and-so”: Sunset Boulevard (1950).