Film Commentary Archives - Can't Stop the Movies
Can't Stop the Movies
13Feb/180

Phantom Thread (2018)

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Reynolds Woodcock is a man of particular taste and undeniable talent.  He attracts women with his beautiful dress designs just as sure as he drives them away with the tight control he keeps on his surroundings.  When he meets Alma, there stands the chance that he found the woman able to put up with his dominating life force.  What he doesn't realize is that Alma is just as capable as he, and he is about to find out what life with her leads to.  P.T. Anderson writes the screenplay for and directs Phantom Thread, which stars Daniel Day-Lewis, Vicky Krieps, and Lesley Manville.

Back when P.T. Anderson's films were a high-wire act of tension and pastiche pulled from his favorite artists, he blended a keen sense of humor to his often bleak surroundings.  His films are so saturated in loneliness that his humor kept things from spiraling into despair.  Even as he's moved on to more self-assured productions the humor, sometimes light and often dark, remained.  His last film, Inherent Vice was funny and melancholic in equal measure, and he punctuates the driving darkness of There Will Be Blood with bleak hilarity that - in retrospect - sounds positively Trumpian.

Phantom Thread is nowhere near as elegant and restrained as its advertising might suggest.  Yes, there are several visions of elegance in the dresses Reynolds Woodcock (Daniel Day-Lewis) creates.  But the elegance shifts away quickly to make room for the throbbing hostilities between Reynolds and whoever occupies his affections at the time.  His childishness also betrays the stiff surroundings, scoffing that he wants, "no more smudgy things" when his soon to be dispatched lover offers him a sweet treat.  It's in this way Anderson plays up the space between the rigid lines of architecture and carefully tailored dresses, he's conditioning us to look for any discrepancy - be it positive or negative - that emerges from the stoic surroundings.

17Aug/160

Denis Villeneuve Podcast: Sicario (2015)

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Sicario

Courtney Small of Cinema Axis joins Andrew in this final (for now) discussion about the movies of Denis Villeneuve with 2015's tremendous examination of sexism, race, and hegemonic white American power in Sicario.

Both the introduction and outro on the podcast come from composer Jóhann Jóhannsson for Sicario ("The Beast") and Prisoners ("Through Falling Snow").

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13Jul/160

Denis Villeneuve Podcast: Prisoners (2013)

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Prisoners

Courtney Small of Cinema Axis joins Andrew for a conversation on the moral complexity and gorgeous photography of Denis Villeneuve's Prisoners.

Both the introduction and outro on the podcast come from composer Jóhann Jóhannsson for Sicario ("The Beast") and Prisoners ("Through Falling Snow").

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6Jun/160

Denis Villeneuve Podcast: REW-FFWD (1994) and Next Floor (2008)

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REW-FFWD and Next FloorCourtney Small of Cinema Axis joins Andrew in the first of an ongoing series discussing the movies of Denis Villeneuve.  Today, they'll talk about Villeneuve's 1994 short REW-FFWD and 2008's Next FloorREW-FFWD is available via Youtube and Next Floor from Vimeo.

Please check out Courtney's writing at Cinema Axis along with their ongoing coverage of the Inside Out festival.

Both the introduction and outro on the podcast come from composer Jóhann Jóhannsson for Sicario ("The Beast") and Prisoners ("Through Falling Snow").

Enjoy the piece? Please share this article on your platform of choice using the buttons below, or join the Twitch stream here!

27Feb/160

Clenching the Nomination – Room

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Andrew discusses the scene in Lenny Abrahamson's Room that he thinks secured the film's Best Picture nomination. You can check out all of our overall guesses on the major Oscar categories for 2016 here.

Clenching RoomWith all due credit to the technical mastery of Mad Max: Fury Road and The Revenant, neither of those films is my favorite of the Best Picture nominees.  That honor goes to Room, which is not only my favorite, but the only one which I love from top to bottom.  Room convinced me director Lenny Abrahamson is some kind of whimsical genius.  He goes into a realm of fantasy Tim Burton used to specialize in, but Abrahamson's films defy easy labels like Burton's suburban gothic aesthetic.  In both Room and Frank, catharsis doesn't come easy, and there are no spirits who can be stirred to help the protagonists.

The only way out is in.  With Frank, that means letting the titular musician reclaim his spot as the leader of his crew of misfits.  For Room, that means telling the truth as another fable.  Joy Newsome (Brie Larson) has been telling stories to her son Jack (Jacob Tremblay) ever since he was born.  The television, faucet, stove, window - all aspects of the room they live in have a history.  Joy creates an origin fable which explains how she and Jack came to be in Room, how the angel came through the window and put Jack in mommy's tummy, and we see that these tales she spun for Jack are how she kept her sanity in this prison.