Okay, I’m starting to feel like the comparison to Altman in regards to Magnolia is really overstated. Certainly it’s there in the ensemble/multiple stages structure. At the same time, Magnolia thinks about film in a way that Altman doesn’t (and I don’t mean better or worse—just different). One thing that strikes me in Magnolia is that it becomes an experiment in affect in terms of using film to create and sustain a certain emotional condition—in this case a feeling of tension. Now many films create tension of course, but Magnolia becomes interested in creating that tension as an end in and of itself. It then sustains and keeps revving it up long after others would release some tension for the purposes of furthering the narrative. The raining frogs and the various crises at the end of Magnolia are so extreme because the level of dramatic/emotional tension is inhumanly high. The amount of self-conscious reflexivity in the movie seems to me pretty unlike anything Altman does. Is there a debt? Sure. But I don’t think that debt or inheritance is all that Magnolia is working out.
Richard, I agree. “Network” was the film that Anderson screened onset for everyone to watch. That’s a different kind of ensemble film from Altman’s, in that it’s more theatrical. But certainly the game show scenes and even the Tom Cruise seminar owe something to Chayevsky’s vision of “televised lives.” Also, Anderson has never been interested in seeming to be eavesdropping, verite style, the way Altman does in films like Nashville. With Anderson the mise en scene is way more constructed. Also, the characters in Nashville are at counterpoint with each other — it’s a portrait of a society splitting apart, losing its ability to communicate. The complex narrative in Magnolia is always stitching people together, reminding us that Julianne Moore and Tom Cruise are like the kids on the game show, for instance. And trying to bring people into a kind of synchronicity.
My vote goes for:
-There Will Be Blood
yes, I am a fan. though I find minor irks in each.
I’d say Punch-Drunk Love. When I look soberly at his films, I think this is his most understated and subtle work. The style matches the movie instead of completely controlling it (like in Magnolia with the constantly mobile camera). Anderson stepped back a little on this one and let the content do most of the talking. And if PTA did want to step in as the director and say something, he often did it by surreal elements within the content of the movie itself (i.e. the big light on top of the truck following Watson and Sandler). I just love seeing a director try to restrain himself stylistically.
2. There Will Be Blood
3. Punch-Drunk Love
4. Boogie Nights
5. Hard Eight
Punch-Drunk Love is my favorite.
There Will Be Blood is his best.
Magnolia is my favorite. Punch-Drunk Love is his best. There Will Be Blood is his most important.
There Will Be Blood=Boogie Nights (but with sex, drugs and rock and roll)
So the latter wins—easily!
@Austin- well put, that’s the best post I’ve read in a while…There Will Be Blood is too great to pick anything else
I loved Punch-Drunk
There Will Be Blood. The film gets better every time I see it (and in fact is one of the few 2 1/2 hour films I’ve ever felt compelled to revisit more then twice in the span of a month).
There Will Be Blood… followed closely by Magnolia.. and Punch-Drunk Love…. oh and definitely Boogie Nights (that was great too)… OH ITS SO HARD
People don’t credit Kieslowski as enough of an influence.
And my pick is Boogie Nights, but all his movies are great imo. His last I like the least even though Daniel Day-Lewis is the boo- in my booyakasha.
Magnolia, but really, he is so consistently awesome.
My vote was for Punch-Drunk Love. Then I saw There Will Be Blood.
Magnolia. To me, it is completely perfect in every way and I am so glad that he did not cut one minute of it.
I was just taking another look at this thread as I’ve been asking myself this question. I don’t feel the same way as when I posted on this a few months ago. I’m beginning to think about the best films of the decade, and I can’t choose which is the better PTA film between There Will Be Blood and Punch-Drunk Love. It is entirely likely that one of these could end up on my top ten of the decade.
Because so many more people have seen Anderson than Kieslowski.
That’s just the unfortunate nature of things.
It changes over and over for me…
There Will Be Blood today.
Magnolia was one of the first films I saw in a cinema when I felt like a modern director was pouring so much his personal life and his love for fierce and challenging story telling, that he could have gleefuly flew of the rails. What makes Punch Drunk Love so good as an Anderson film is remembering what came before it. Brief, Hillarious and so so so wonderful. A perfect score. Made me want to run home after seeing it.
I’d better stop before I change my mind.
I think I need to revisit Punch Drunk Love. It’s his only film I’ve seen once. The others I revisit regularly, but for me those other three are nearly on equal ground in terms of how well they service their art. Any one of them alone could stand as THE artistic statement from PTA, so choosing his ‘best’ at this point in his career seems moot.
It’s amazing that he’s just getting started and this is his body of work. We’re fortunate.
Boogie Nights I can watch with just about anyone. Blood I can watch with only a few people who’ve already seen it once. But Magnolia isn’t for just anyone, so maybe that’s why I like it best (the two friends i took with me to see it in the theaters HATED it—they were looking for Boogie Nights 2: Electric Gigolo, or something).
Troy Myers said: “…my mood today says magnolia.”
This is the best answer. I can’t choose one of his because I love them all so much. But today, it is “Magnolia”.
There will be Blod is the greatest film of the last ten years and has the greatest performance from an actor from Daniel day lewis.
Boogie Nights is another great film
If push came to shove, I’d go with Punch-Drunk Love, which is my favorite film from this decade.
I think is between “Punch-Drunk Love” and “There Will Be Blood”
Punch-Drunk Love was him doing a little Godard. There’s a lot similarities between P-DL and A Woman is a Woman.
Punch-Drunk Love is his best film though.
I just recently watched Punch Drunk Love again because so many people say how great it is. I hated it when I first saw it and now years later, after gaining some knowledge in film and film history, I think it’s one of the worst movies by a top notch director. I would put this up there with Indy 4. The movie seemed so pretentious and I know that’s a word that’s batted around a lot so I’ll explain. The whole time there is this sense of importance in what we are watching, that there is so much meaning in the composition and the push ins that our full attention should be on the screen because we’re watching something of the highest caliber. And yet the content did not match this. The content was rather silly and manic; such as when Sandler’s sister comes to the office to introduces Emily Watson and Sandler get’s increasingly agitated by their questions, the phone calls, and the workers breaking stuff. In another seen, when he’s on the pay phone in Hawaii trying to reach Watson, when he finally reaches her and she says “hello”, the light in the pay phone lights up. I’m sorry but if you’re trying to be serious and keep the audience in the moment, you don’t do something cute like that which just bring attention to the director instead of keeping the audience in the story.
I am not a fan of Adam Sandler at all and think he’s a very annoying actor. So when you cast an annoying actor to play a part that is totally unlikable and annoying, you’re setting yourself up for disaster. Now I know some people like Sadler and Billy Madison and The Waterboy but I feel he is one of the few comedians that is not even remotely funny.
I also felt the whole premise of the movie was silly. The stuff with the phone sex operator felt altogether contrived and strictly a weak plot device to wake Sandler’s character up and give the film some visual conflict. And I love Robert Elswit so I know this was intentional but the use of all those flares annoyed the hell out of me. I also felt incredibly sad for the relationship between Sandler and Watson because it tried so hard to present itself as sincere and real and yet I thought it was the biggest fantasy. There was nothing remotely honest about their relationship, nothing really grounded in reality, and while this is fine for movies that present itself as fantasy (such as The Princess Bride), Punch Drunk Love seemed to try really hard at being based in reality.
I do love the fact that there are people out there that really like this film because it just goes to show you that everyone has different tastes and no matter how much you may hate a film and think it’s a worthless pile of crap, there will undoubtably be someone who loves it.
For myself, the movie overall felt very stagey and forced, a sort of stylistic choice to be both cute and self-referential while also attempting to be honest and real (something I don’t think Anderson is particularly good at).
There Will Be Blood. So unlike anything else made these days. I love the rage coursing through it.