Punch-Drunk Love

Culture Warrior

In 2002, a shift occurred in the structure and thematic concerns that inform the style, characters, and narratives of Paul Thomas Anderson’s films. Anderson’s fourth film, Punch-Drunk Love, clocking in at only ninety-four minutes (exactly half the length of his previous Magnolia) seemed a necessary exercise in modesty for the ambitious auteur, a means of proving himself capable of telling a story that focuses on the lives of less than a half dozen characters in a running time that is far from daunting. This film seemed, at the time, to be a momentary departure. Certainly Anderson, after working Adam Sandler toward what will certainly remain the greatest performance of his career, would return to constructing complex labyrinths depicting the intertwining lives of many memorable characters. After all, Punch-Drunk Love only featured two members of Anderson’s signature ensemble (Philip Seymour Hoffman and Luis Guzman). But as There Will Be Blood indicated, Anderson intended no such return to Altmanesque mosaics, opting instead to dive even further into the impenetrable psychologies of enigmatic leading men, an interest that has almost inevitably led Anderson’s trajectory to The Master.

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Boiling Point

Sadly, this article arrives far, far too late. I come to bury Adam Sandler and Jim Carrey, not to praise them. But they’re not dead. No, they are both very much alive and making movies, which is a little unfortunate. Not that they’re alive. That they’re making movies. Or at least that they’re making the movies they do. Yes, this article is years behind, but after revisiting some comedy classics like Ace Ventura: Pet Detecitve and Billy Madison, I just can’t look at another fucking Jack and Jill billboard without saying something. What happened to these guys? Money, success, power, time. Yes, all of those things happened to them and generally that leads to a downslide in movie quality. Or at least a downslide to a different type of comedy. Maybe there is an age where even the most immature of us suddenly grows up and doesn’t want to talk out of his asshole or argue the finer points of shampoo versus conditioner. Fear not, dear readers, for I have not yet reached that age.

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culturewarrior-funnypeople

Don’t let the obvious title fool you–Landon actually enjoyed Judd Apatow’s latest, and this week’s Culture Warrior explores the virtues of an unfunny movie about funny people.

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