Monthly Feature

The Films of Paul Thomas Anderson

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Close your eyes and the films of Paul Thomas Anderson will come back to you with a visceral force: the ill-fated visit to the drug dealer’s house in Boogie Nights … the ocean of oil cascading from the derrick in There Will Be Blood … the startling amphibian downpour in Magnolia … these are just a few of the most indelible passages in modern movies. Undoubtedly influenced by masters such as Welles, Kubrick and Altman, Anderson has also demonstrated a distinct, risk-taking style unique to his own body of work. His earliest features like Hard Eight and Boogie Nights exhibit his talent for immersing viewers in meticulously-observed subcultures that serve as backdrops to explore profound, universal themes. This signature quality is expertly developed in more recent films like There Will Be Blood and The Master, where issues such as power, greed, capitalism and cult lurk in the background of ambitiously sweeping narratives. While grand in scope, Anderson’s films are at their core driven by dynamic, endlessly intricate (and often damaged) characters and their personal journeys amid complex webs of human relationships – thanks in no small part to frequent collaborations with some of contemporary cinema’s finest actors (perhaps most notably the late, great Philip Seymour Hoffman). Expansively epic and intimately personal, universally meaningful and obsessively particular – Anderson’s work is a collection of unique contradictions that firmly cements his status as a true American auteur.