Author Topic: Phantom Thread  (Read 1062 times)

Junior

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Phantom Thread
« on: January 20, 2018, 06:12:40 PM »
I'm sure others are gonna see this one this weekend and I want to get some other thoughts on it before I probably see it again this week sometime.

I think this movie is amazing to watch. Every shot is really interesting to look at. I just don't really know what to make of it.

What did you think?
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Will

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Re: Phantom Thread
« Reply #1 on: January 24, 2018, 12:55:49 AM »
Gorgeous, but my least favorite PTA since HARD EIGHT. I like ambitious (THERE WILL BE BLOOD, THE MASTER) or wild (INHERENT VICE, PUNCH-DRUNK LOVE) PTA, not intimate character study PTA (HARD EIGHT, MAGNOLIA, and now, PHANTOM THREAD). I don't think he's particularly good at it. The dinner scene is just so bad, yet it's the crux of the film. Over-the-top improv that just stews in an awkward middle ground between is this funny or is this serious? But the whole movie is like that. I wish the ending was the midpoint instead of just a morbid twist.

That said, as opposed to both HARD EIGHT and MAGNOLIA, there's just so little characterization to Alma outside of her relationship with Reynolds which is so unfortunate because she's the main character. Her life seems to be completely centered around whether or not he loves her. (I won't lie - a little uncomfortable to be even vaguely gender critical on this forum anymore). I wish we knew more of who Alma is as a character. I didn't care that much about Reynolds. We got it, he's a beloved, overly serious genius who everyone loves plus he has serious mommy issues which affects his relationships with women.

These two reviews from letterboxd hit home:

Quote
C.J.
Impeccably crafted, but I'm just tired of a lot of what this movie covers. I'm tired of a lead character who's just an inherent artistic genius. I'm tired of the assumption that I have to also believe this character is some artistic genius, and that I have to give a shit about them because of their genius. I'm tired of Freud, really. And mommy issues. And character psychology. And you're really gonna hinge this thing on a "har har" twist involving Munchausen by proxy? I didn't like the ending. It just reminded me of Eminem's music video for Cleanin' Out My Closet.

It's a fine movie. PTA and everyone give it their all, and I was really enjoying it up until the surprise dinner. The shot of DDL and Vicky Krieps driving around at night with the headlights illuminating their surroundings is such a great shot that reflects the surreal, fantasy bubble that Woodcock lives in, along with the thrill of it that Alma feels getting introduced to it. I wanted more of that. Maybe I'll grow to like it more seeing it again if I can bypass the story and take in everything else. Who knows.

Quote
Ben Radetski
This doesn't get good for quite awhile, and even when it does it's terribly unfocused, but I for the most part found myself intrigued. The first half is structured like an extended montage, it's meandering -- here I thought Anderson had matured since his pre-Master phase, but for much of the film he appears to revert to loudness rather than quietness. Greenwood's score is far better than say Brion's in Punch-Drunk Love, but it still drowns out much of the film -- I wish Anderson would let the toast-crunching and butter-sizzling carry the film's beauty, even pure silence would be welcome, but alas this is not the case. There's one good music cue in the whole film (after Woodcock's line about the air of quite death), it's a powerful piece by Greenwood, but by this point in the film his score had become numbing. Even without the music, Anderson cuts far too often, the film for the most part never gets a chance to properly breath.

The whole film feels like a lot of set up without much pay off, but after the asparagus scene it really starts to pick up. Vicky Krieps gives an incredible performance, perhaps even better than Day-Lewis -- Anderson directs her quite beautifully, he gets the most out of every gesture, every glance. There's a number of interesting pieces in the film's second half: the shot inside the teapot as Alma sprinkles the mushroom, the beautiful compositions in Woodcock's room as Alma cares for him, Woodcock hallucinating about his mother, the lengthy take of the marriage proposal, breakfast on their honeymoon, the New Year's Eve party, the music cue I mentioned in the previous paragraph etc. -- but it never really feels like a complete film: these elements are scattered and too much space remains in between.

I think what really pushes me into liking the film overall is the omelet scene, which I found very moving. The scene, and everything that follows, seems to imply that what is occurring between Reynolds and Alma is completely acceptable and a natural product of love. Although morbid, Woodcock is making a sacrifice for his partner, for the better of the relationship. But still, Anderson spends far too long getting to this conclusion, I guess I'm just forgiving because I was moved, for whatever reason. Patrick Devitt says the film is a study of autism, which is probably the most interesting reading of the film I've heard so far.

Edited - expanded thoughts.
« Last Edit: January 24, 2018, 01:00:40 AM by AliceGuyBlache »

Junior

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Re: Phantom Thread
« Reply #2 on: January 24, 2018, 11:34:30 AM »
Interesting. I too had some concerns about Alma's main motivation being to care for a guy who can't handle his own genius and takes it out on other people. It seems a product of an old way of thinking where women can only be carers because they are inherently caring. But of course Alma is also an individual (something I see more in the film than you and those you cite seem to see, based primarily on her impulse to push back after the first date) and it is possible for a woman to want to care for another person without also saying that all women desire to care for people. I think the movie does a pretty great job of letting us know that these are two particular and distinct individuals whose actions are hard to map onto the rest of society. That's part of why they fit together so well (see also Punch Drunk Love and Magnolia and pretty much every other PTA movie). Cyril is also an important role to consider from a feminist critique perspective, her role is kind of similar to Alma's eventual role in terms of being Reynolds' right-hand (wo)man, but her method is almost completely different (though both are based on an air of command). Cyril and Alma both fill a motherly role for Reynolds, but they are very very different kinds of mothers and that's something to consider.

I'm going to see this again on Friday and I think that'll help me decide if I like the music in the film or not. I think it's beautiful music but it might be overused in the film.

I think it's also difficult to boil Reynolds down to his mommy issues. In fact, I think that scene with his mom indicates not that he's overly obsessed with his mother but that he was missing her and appreciating what she did for him. I didn't sense in that scene a desire on his part to rush over and kiss her feet (if he could) but rather that he wanted to let her know that he has continued to hold her in regard and near to his heart. If that's a mommy complex, sign me up for therapy.

I hope you know that you can be critical of gender (or whatever else) as much as you want in this community but you have to also acknowledge that your thoughts on the subject are not the only possible thoughts to hold, and that when others disagree they aren't automatically wrong but rather thinking about things differently. I've read enough feminist theory to know that there is never one way of thinking about a thing, and there are always multiple perspectives even when they come from a similar direction.
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Bondo

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Re: Phantom Thread
« Reply #3 on: February 02, 2018, 08:15:09 PM »
Well done PTA, you've really outdone yourself here. I thought you made bad films with There Will Be Blood and The Master, but wow is this obnoxiously bad. I mean, obviously what I thought the world needed most was the story of a tormented genius for whom all those around him are subjegated to his whims at their own cost because that's just the price of genius. Into that void steps Alma. I'm not sure when the charming part of the film was that gets her on the hook, but on the hook she falls.

Of course, if it seemed problematic on gender grounds when she was subject to his emotional abuse, her enhanced measures to bring him under her whims (arguably at cost of his genius) might be even worse. I mean, I guess there's some mommy issues/kink aspect that gives the whole tale a happy (?) ending but still, this was a real drag for me.

Junior

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Re: Phantom Thread
« Reply #4 on: February 03, 2018, 08:14:30 AM »
I wrote a thing about 3 other movies that helped me see what Phantom Thread was doing: http://www.horrorhomeroom.com/3-films-can-help-understand-phantom-thread/

The 3 movies are Rebecca (obviously), Psycho, and Personal Shopper.
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Keil S.

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Re: Phantom Thread
« Reply #5 on: February 07, 2018, 04:32:21 PM »
Now I remember why I stopped visiting webboards for so long.

Well done PTA, you've really outdone yourself here. I thought you made bad films with There Will Be Blood and The Master, but wow is this obnoxiously bad. I mean, obviously what I thought the world needed most was the story of a tormented genius for whom all those around him are subjegated to his whims at their own cost because that's just the price of genius. Into that void steps Alma. I'm not sure when the charming part of the film was that gets her on the hook, but on the hook she falls.

Of course, if it seemed problematic on gender grounds when she was subject to his emotional abuse, her enhanced measures to bring him under her whims (arguably at cost of his genius) might be even worse. I mean, I guess there's some mommy issues/kink aspect that gives the whole tale a happy (?) ending but still, this was a real drag for me.
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Bondo

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Re: Phantom Thread
« Reply #6 on: February 07, 2018, 06:47:19 PM »
Now I remember why I stopped visiting webboards for so long.

You can choose to ignore the review or engage with it, the option you chose is not one that will get you far on a forum meant for interaction. One thing I would posit: reviews here don't necessarily stand on their own. The tone/nature of that review works on the assumption that most of the people reading come into it with certain knowledge about my writing style, my history with PTA, etc. I recognize this puts a bit of a burden on a new member but is kind of the nature of an established community.
« Last Edit: February 07, 2018, 08:26:32 PM by Bondo »

Keil S.

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Re: Phantom Thread
« Reply #7 on: February 07, 2018, 11:16:14 PM »
My instinct (and old habit) would be to reply rather caustically and sarcastically (I suppose I've already done that to a degree), but your reply was rather polite considering the tone of my initial response, so I'll just say that I am baffled that someone would have such low opinions of both There Will Be Blood and The Master (not to mention Phantom Thread).  I suppose it might help to know which films you actually love most, but it still probably wouldn't make your previous review any easier to swallow.  I suppose I'll have to simply disagree with virtually everything you thought.

Now I remember why I stopped visiting webboards for so long.

You can choose to ignore the review or engage with it, the option you chose is not one that will get you far on a forum meant for interaction. One thing I would posit: reviews here don't necessarily stand on their own. The tone/nature of that review works on the assumption that most of the people reading come into it with certain knowledge about my writing style, my history with PTA, etc. I recognize this puts a bit of a burden on a new member but is kind of the nature of an established community.
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Keil S.

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Re: Phantom Thread
« Reply #8 on: February 07, 2018, 11:17:43 PM »
Plus, I really didn't come here to pick fights (been down that road many times in decades past).  I'm just a massive PTA fan (and have been for over 20 years), so it was a tough thing to read so soon after actively joining this community.
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Bondo

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Re: Phantom Thread
« Reply #9 on: February 08, 2018, 07:15:36 AM »
I would say I mildly enjoyed Boogie Nights, Magnolia and Punch Drunk Love era PTA. There Will Be Blood marked a bit of a shift and it, The Master and Phantom Thread felt more alienating. TWBB in particular I just found Daniel Plainview an obnoxiously over the top character/performance. I didn't believe in anyone in that film. This trio seems more focused on this sort of unpleasant male figure(s), which is generally a personal lacuna. The male anti-hero is not a character I connect with generally so as PTA has moved in that direction, I've moved away.

With Phantom Thread, I find it interesting that the Slate Culture Gabfest discussion even suggested it might have a feminist aspect, which is so contrary to the film that I saw but worth considering I just saw it wrong. I suppose to understand my review I should explain that gender critical/feminist interpretation of cinema is one of my primary lenses. So in my seeing troubled gender implications of the film, it felt in some ways like the culmination of PTA's trend towards this masculine character that I was already distanced from.

BTW, this is my current top-100.