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One Movie Punch

Dec 3, 2018

Hi everyone!

Welcome back to the podcast. This will be the first of two episodes today as we’re working to get caught up from the fire. I’ll be continuing my story from the wildfire evacuation in a minute, but if you haven’t heard the earlier segments, hit pause, then go back to my review for “Outlaw King” (Episode #314) for the first segment, then listen every episode after that for another installment. Let me know you’re listening by sharing this episode with #WelcomeBackOMP.

Last segment, I was fighting ants, and looking at the growing list of chores that needed to get done. I was definitely sick, but was now full of adrenaline, and figured no time like the present. And honestly, it was just what I needed, despite being under the weather. I got the kitchen cleaned up, then got the shower drain snaked upstairs, then got laundry going as well. Every bit of tidying up was helping to push away the anxiety, even as I was physically losing steam. I had fantasies earlier that morning about getting the podcast completely caught up, but after all the chores and tasks, I realized I had overdone it, and my anxiety was rising as the podcast got further and further behind. Eventually I had a minor panic attack, called my spouse a bit about it, then crashed out for a nap. I was definitely sick.

More on the story from the fire tomorrow.

Today’s movie is “Phantom Thread” (2017), the Focus Features drama written and directed by Paul Thomas Anderson. The film follows Alma (Vicky Krieps), who enters the life of dressmaker Reynolds Woodcock (Daniel Day-Lewis) and his sister Cyril (Lesley Manville), and disrupts the carefully constructed life of Reynolds. The film was nominated for six Oscars, winning, appropriately enough, for Costume Design.

Spoilers ahead.

As you can tell, I’m working through quite a few films from last year. One of the things we did over Thanksgiving break was to get a subscription to HBO Now, to continue our “Veep” binge, and to get access to the Oscar winners I missed last year, including today’s film. I wasn’t looking forward to this film, as it was a story about upper class and the nascent fashion industry in London. But I figured I should see what is purportedly Daniel Day-Lewis’ final performance, and especially one reunited with Paul Thomas Anderson after “There Will Be Blood”. The results, much like their previous work, are stunning.

Reynolds Woodcock is a really solid character, well-built in structure as a perfectionist needing constant praise and encouragement, a nice look at the weird pathologies the upper class can cause in people. But the character really fills out with Daniel Day-Lewis’ performance born from his intense method acting process, where he adopts the personality of the character during the entire production, even off-camera, a form of perfectionism in its own way. The two meld to become the character, and it’s really quite amazing to watch. And as someone who is a bit of a perfectionist himself, I found myself identifying with the way he saw the world as much as I cringed at his need for perfection in his own life. I also vowed to work on my own stupid outbursts when things aren’t perfect.

The script is not just a character study, though, even if Woodcock takes center stage most often. We also get great performances by Lesley Manville as his sister Cyril, and by Vicky Krieps as Alma, as his lover, muse, and something indescribable at the end. The story takes us through the 1950s upper class, never deviating from luxurious surroundings or stylish costumes throughout, with great musical choices, selling us first on the idealism of Woodcock’s vision and watching as he slowly falls out of fashion, and seeing what happens when someone finally pushes back on his perfectionist bullshit, in a very dark manner. And as someone who isn’t really a fan of high fashion, I think the clear meaning we can all take from this film is that high fashion is a poisonous fungus that will kill someone in large amounts. That’s right. A smart “Phantom Thread” joke.

“Phantom Thread” (2017) is a beautiful, stylish film that is a character study of a 1950s high fashion dressmaker, the exacting world he inhabits, and what happens as it is upset by one woman. Daniel Day-Lewis gives an incredible performance, and the costumes most definitely deserves the Oscar win last year. Fans of high society period dramas, or fans of either Paul Thomas Anderson or Daniel Day-Lewis will definitely enjoy this film, along with anyone who is a fan of the nascent fashion industry.

Rotten Tomatoes: 91% (CERTIFIED FRESH)

Metacritic: 90 (MUST SEE)

One Movie Punch: 8.6/10

“Phantom Thread” (2017) is rated R and is currently streaming on HBO.