Phantom Thread - SPOILERS!

Started by matt35mm, November 24, 2017, 07:59:23 PM

0 Members and 1 Guest are viewing this topic.


Quote from: csage97 on December 10, 2017, 02:09:02 PM
Why don't the masses appreciate this stuff?

There's the crux of the issue, right there.   Subtle, thought-provoking, nuanced...those are qualities that will never appeal to the masses. 

As H.L. Menkin once wrote,

QuoteNo one in this world, so far as I know—and I have researched the records for years, and employed agents to help me—has ever lost money by underestimating the intelligence of the great masses of the plain people. Nor has anyone ever lost public office thereby.


looking forward to your list of art house favorites from 2017.


I'm late, I'm sorry. I was fortunate enough to see this twice so far and have just not had the time to write something organized so here goes with some random thoughts.

First, some non-spoiler stuff for any lurkers brave enough to enter this thread.

Firstly: For anyone concerned at all, PTA has not dropped the ball. Phantom Thread is another worthy entry in PTA's filmography. And the thing I've learned from watching the lists come in ranking his filmography is that it really doesn't matter if it's your first or 8th favorite film of his, because they're all great in their own way. What's your 6th favorite Kubrick film? Who cares. Because each one says something different and whatever your preference is says as much about you as it does about any objective quality of the film itself.

This feels like the beginning of a new era for PTA. In my own head I kinda break his career into 3 bits (Developing his style: Hard Eight > Boogie Nights > Magnolia, Throwing everything out the window: PDL, TWBB, the difficult Joaquin period: Master, IV) and now Phantom Thread which seems unlike anything else he's made to date. And yet... would make a fascinating double-feature with Punch-Drunk Love (his two oddball films about love), with The Master (50s setting, master/servant relationships) or TWBB (a study in contrasts for DDL). Like The Master it seems at times it could be a film actually made in the 50s, the score especially pushes it to places that feel very period, but PTA's voice as a filmmaker always shines through brighter and keep it from ever becoming a recreation (a la Soderbergh's Good German or Haynes' Far From Heaven).

If you were concerned by the trailer (as I was, a bit) that this might be more of a buttoned up Merchant Ivory film for PTA, you can alleviate those concerns. The movie is pure PTA through and through. In retrospect, having seen the film, the trailer feels like a compromise between showing that it's a PTA film but also a film that a regular people might go see. To me, the trailer sells a more straightforward movie, not a bait and switch exactly, but only hints at the places it goes.

I spent much of my first viewing (as I tend to do with his films) just noticing all the little ways the film is different from anything PTA has made before (the camera shake on the hood of the car, ooh!), and the second viewing just taking in the details and picking up on all the ways it actually fits into his filmography.

Phantom Thread is a much more immediate film than Vice or The Master. And I chalk that up to two major factors: DDL is a more charismatic actor than Joaquin (who is incredible but can also repel audiences) and Dylan Tichenor back as editor. For all its eccentricities and turns, by the time the lights come up on Phantom Thread, I think most people will leave the theatre without asking themselves what the hell it was about (which was not the case for Vice or The Master, where multiple viewings could reveal new truths but the films would never be 'solved.'). PTA's most experimental/difficult films for normal audiences are (to my mind) PDL, Master and Vice, all of which were edited by Leslie Jones. Dylan Tichenor is back in the saddle for this and for me it shows. (Not saying any of these films are better or worse, just that some are more wandering and elliptical, and some more direct.)

I'm terrible at estimating what general audiences will go for (when I first saw TWBB I thought it was PTA's most difficult film and would not make any money) but it feels to me like between DDL's performance and a few outrageous moments, this could have a chance at breaking through with the masses more than his last few films. But again, who the fuck knows. So far so good on critical notices and year-end stuff.


These have been reiterated elsewhere but the keys to unlocking this film were 1.) PTA's reveal at the Q&A about how the genesis of Phantom Thread occured when PTA being sick as a dog and saw Maya look at him with a kind of love he hadn't seen from her in a long time. And 2.) PTA and DDL admitting that Woodcock could have been in any creative profession and it was almost arbitrary that it became fashion (though obviously after it was decided, they all dove in head-first). This is absolutely a film about these three characters, not about dressmaking or Charles James or whatever else.

This is PTA's most intimate film to date. After the huge epic scope of TWBB which is an epic about capitalism, greed, oil, religion, it's surprising (for me anyway) to see them reteam for this much much smaller film, an interior epic about relationships and the fucked up things we do to the ones we love most.

I thought it was interesting how in both this and TWBB, how much they reveal about the lead character through showing the process in which he does his job. TWBB spends a ton of time showing you the process of getting oil up out of the ground, buying land, the lengths that Plainview will go to succeed at both, and likewise Phantom Thread spends an equal percentage of screen time immersing you in the world of dressmaking to show how Woodcock's character ticks through the obsession of his pursuits.

The New Years Eve scene is the major set piece of the film. For me, it's the oil derrick on fire sequence of Phantom Thread. Beautiful, gorgeous, huge. Compared to how much time we spend in that townhouse, it's just incredible to see it opened up like that for just a brief few minutes, but wow. (I wonder how much of the film's budget just went towards wrangling all the extras, costumes, elephants just for that scene?)

The mother scene is interesting. As has been mentioned it's definitely part of Woodcock's interest in Alma, that it makes him feel closer to mother, or the feeling that she gave him as she cared for him, and in his weakened, near-death state, almost gets back there. I believe that seeing his mother there is part of what binds him to Alma. It's also interesting because I believe it's the second fantasy sequence in PTAs career, after the nude dance scene in The Master. In both cases we see a character lying down envisioning something that is not happening.

There are weddings in so many PTA films! Boogie. Blood. Master. Phantom. And offscreen marriage in Hard Eight too, I believe. I don't know what this means, but I doubt he realizes he's doing it.

Like Katherine Waterson in Vice, Krieps is a real discovery here. She's incredible going toe-to-toe with DDL and I'm excited to see where her career goes in the next couple years after she gets snatched up by tons of other directors.

It's still CRAZY to me PTA didn't use a DP. Phantom Thread looks great but feels a bit looser and less precious in its framing than his previous work. Though it moves a ton compared to the locked off style of Master and Vice, which probably allowed for a lot more improvisation. I would be curious to know if there was as much fucking around off-script as there seemed to be during those films. I would guess not. Or in any case, if there was, it feels like there wasn't as this feels tighter, but again that could all come down to the editing.

I have tons more thoughts and can't wait to see it again to keep discussing and thinking about it. It's definitely my favorite of 2017 though much too early to say where it ranks in my personal PTA list, as I'm having a hard time imagining anything in the Top 3 or 4 ever being unseated.
Christopher Nolan's directive was clear to everyone in the cast and crew: Use CGI only as a last resort.


Only seen it once so far but man was this delightful. Intimidatingly good as always and (also as always) like nothing else out there. Can't wait for the Xmas to see it again.


That was an excellent read!  Thanks for taking the time.

Quote from: modage on December 10, 2017, 06:05:22 PM
There are weddings in so many PTA films! Boogie. Blood. Master. Phantom. And offscreen marriage in Hard Eight too, I believe. I don't know what this means, but I doubt he realizes he's doing it.

A fascinating observation.  Of course, PTA has never had a wedding in his own personal life...  And his Dad was married twice.  Not sure what any of that means, but...


I'm not looking... I'm not looking... Just stumbling blindly in here to share this:

Lovesick: The Complicated Relationship of "Phantom Thread"

I haven't read it either, obvs.
He held on. The dolphin and all the rest of its pod turned and swam out to sea, and still he held on. This is it, he thought. Then he remembered that they were air-breathers too. It was going to be all right.


Quote from: Sleepless on December 13, 2017, 10:04:01 AM
I'm not looking... I'm not looking... Just stumbling blindly in here to share this:

Lovesick: The Complicated Relationship of "Phantom Thread"

I haven't read it either, obvs.

That was very insightful, but Jesus, do NOT read that until you've seen the film. Seriously.


That review was so beautifully articulated. Wonderful read.


How did you guys read the ending, in terms of tone? I found it to be sinister and unsettling (as did the friend I saw the film with) but many reviews and reactions that I have read seem to have seen it differently, with the resolution being sort of a "isn't love strange" type of thing.


I had a similar reaction on my first viewing, Pringle, and I've only seen it once. The ending has become an active debate in my mind. Thinking I probably read it a bit too b&w initially, as the ideas about Reynolds wanting to be mothered weren't as clear to me. As it continues to brew, I'm thinking that it probably comes down to the individual watching and their personal perspective, as every love is different. What may be toxic to some can work for others, what may be serene for some for others may be too tame. And even if not traditionally healthy, the illogical, overriding nature of love can make static ideas like "healthy" irrelevant, anyway.


Quote from: Pringle on December 13, 2017, 02:03:36 PM
How did you guys read the ending, in terms of tone? I found it to be sinister and unsettling (as did the friend I saw the film with) but many reviews and reactions that I have read seem to have seen it differently, with the resolution being sort of a "isn't love strange" type of thing.

It's been almost three weeks since I've seen it, so it's begun to fade a little...but I recall having a really big smile on my face having realized what was really going on between them.  I don't remember having any sense of judgement, etc, towards them, more of a "Oh, good for you two to have discovered something that makes you both so happy..."


What a wonderful, rich film we've been given to digest!

I think the mother bit has a huge deal to do with it. Part of what disturbed me about the film was my interpretation of why Reynolds agreed to eat the mushrooms: the image of his beloved Mother only came to him when he was in his fever dream poison trip, and his desire to return to his Mother again is directly tied in his mind to the eating the mushrooms. Which leads to another, probably obvious reading of the film as an allegory of some sort about artists who become dependent on self destructive substances, and the people around these artists who feed them these substances for their own gain. Alma seemed less like "the one person on Earth who really understood him" than she did like an addict's spouse who enables the addiction in order to maintain the security of the relationship. After all, Alma clearly got off on the power of being Mrs. Reynolds Woodcock. Clearly, ingesting these mushrooms is very unhealthy and, while they may not kill Reynolds now, the repeated ingestion of them can not lead to anything good, and how sustainable is this situation they're in?

I couldn't help but think of people like Prince and, yes, Philip Seymour Hoffman.


the mother philosophy has been very on point.


I read somewhere that there are lots of cross fades in the film. Anyone care to confirm who's seen it?


We were very specifically asked not to reveal anything about crossfades at our screening. Sorry, you'll just have to wait and see.