Release date: November 16th, 2012 Certification: 15 Director: Paul Thomas Anderson Starring: Joaquin Phoenix, Philip Seymour Hoffman, Amy Adams
One of the problems with trying to promote the genius of Paul Thomas Anderson is that you can rarely find a satisfying centre between a succinct and sufficient synopsis. To call Magnolia a ‘surreal day-in-the-life ensemble drama’, or There Will Be Blood a ‘character study of a power-hungry oil prospector’, however accurate, feels like you are underselling their qualities; to fully explain them could require several essays. The Master seems to deliberately exercise this, its perceived identity as a fictionalised portrayal of Scientology’s roots not even beginning to scratch the surface of the film’s psychological study of two polar opposites of society sharing an incredibly close bond through notions of spiritual healing and devotion to an ideal.
A lot can happen in ten years, mostly in ways you can’t really see coming. In 2012, Manchester City won the English Premiership, America has a black President that isn’t Morgan Freeman, and dubstep is a thing. Could you have predicted that in 2002? You’d think the film industry is an institution that couldn’t throw up many surprises; great actors win Oscars, bad filmmakers make Transformers, and Kirk Douglas will live forever. However, in the past decade there’s been a lot of surprising twists and turns, and even Nate Silver’s math caviar couldn’t predict some of them.
Under themed headings, I’ll be looking at the careers of certain filmmakers and how they’ve changed quite dramatically. Basic career ascensions are excluded, as it’s not miraculous that somebody can get really famous in the space of a decade. Likewise, people die, sometimes suddenly, and I wont be covering that. But this still leaves several examples of changes that would quite possibly leave a recently-recovered coma patient mildly incredulous for, like, ten seconds. Maybe fifteen at a push.
Release Date: 21st September, 2012 Certification: 18 Director: Andrew Dominik Starring: Brad Pitt, Richard Jenkins, James Gandolfini, Ray Liotta
The previous collaboration of Australian director Andrew Dominik and the professional Mr Jolie Brad Pitt was the sprawling masterpiece The Assassination of Jesse James By The Coward Robert Ford (and breathe). Its wholly unromantic take on a frequently romanticised hero and striking visual style evokes a real 1800s postcard feel to the film, with a staggering central performance from Pitt. Their latest is probably the follow-up furthest from your expectations, an ensemble piece with a slick noir aesthetic, stylised violence and a megaphone for the recent economic crisis.
This is a particularly heinous entry into my Never Seen collection, since there’s never been anything to suggest I wouldn’t absolutely adore the film. Alien 3 has a bad reputation, and I always got the impression I’d seen all of A Fish Called Wanda’s funny bits in snippets (nearly right), but L.A. Confidential is a critically acclaimed neo-noir with a couple of my favourite actors either well in their prime, or at least at their breakthrough – either way, they are all in their element.
This is the first of a weekly feature on this site where the author will watch and review a film or television programme they have evaded, intentionally or otherwise, for years. It’s a not uncommon occurrence; you’ll get some hardened film nuts who’ve never seen The Godfather or Psycho, not because of a desire to avoid them, but just never getting around to it. Myself, I’ve never seen Apocalypse Now or Blade Runner, or watched The Sopranos apart from the very last episode. You get the idea.