Wednesday, 21 February 2018

Phantom Thread

What a sizzling work of art. 

I used to think last year's cinema could not get any better than Personal Shopper (awards season as witless as ever), but Phantom Thread may just have too much in the way of blue neck-ties and Johnny Greenwood's strings. I'm not talking about social importance, fuck social importance, I'm just talking about great cinema. 

On the face of it, it's hard to get too excited about a film describing a British fashion designer from the 1950s, but at this point I'm willing to watch anything from Paul Thomas Anderson. The man adapted Thomas Pynchon for screen, wrung blood from Adam Sandler and made one of the greatest films I've ever seen (The Master). He could find his way around needles and threads, easily.

And he did. It's a great director who takes three seconds to let you relax into his film, and Phantom Thread is spellbinding. These days, great cinematography is very faint praise, but those florid streets of London and those rural window-views are an eye-feast. And then you have some of the world's greatest acting (well, you know) and Johnny Greenwood's classical soundtrack (to which this review is written). 

However, to me it's all about Paul Thomas Anderson, and the way he can manipulate you into anything. His grasp is quite impressive, and the genius of the omelette scene is pure cinematic brilliance. And what is even more impressive is that this wonderfully taut act is followed by a few minutes that are borderline hilarious. You smile, you question your own emotions, and then he wraps it up with style and emotional depth you rarely find in modern cinema.

Speaking of cinema, it was three-quarters empty, which is perhaps how it should be with good art. And, incidentally, with a good dress. You don't want too many random people going after the style that is yours.