I don’t get what makes Paul Thomas Anderson so special. I see no real difference between him and other well known filmmakers of his generation. I don’t see anything interesting or original about his camera work or his writing. It’s just solid movie making. Boogie Nights, Magnolia, The Master and There Will Be Blood are all great and worthy of their accolades. Punch Drunk Love is okay. Phantom Thread is one of the most boring movies I’ve ever seen. Inherent Vice was a mess for me.
I enjoyed this movie. It’s one of PTA’s better films, and easily his most feel-good.
Let’s speak on the nepotism issue —In 2017’s The Disaster Artist, James Franco’s Tommy Wiseau approaches Judd Apatow’s nameless producer in a restaurant, and is rejected with the line, “It’s one in a million if you have Brando’s talent.” This is the issue with nepotism. They say shit like that, then Apatow’s daughter, who does not have Brando’s talent, is able to get regular work. It’s obvious that it’s one in a million if you have Brando’s talent… unless you already know or are related to someone influential in the industry. Or any industry. I wish people would just admit this. Everyone knows it. I’ll let Tim Dillon finish this (rant starts at 1:34).
Nepotism aside, the two leads do well other than the cringe-inducing opening scene where they have neither rhythm nor chemistry. I don’t know if this was on purpose, as they improve as the movie goes on, but good Lord that first scene is like two barely competent high school actors.
We follow our two protagonists as they encounter what amount to cameos by other more famous actors — Sean Penn, Tom Waits, Bradley Cooper, John Michael Higgins, etc. There’s no real “plot” in terms of arcs or storyline, it’s just a sequence of slice of life events.
The movie felt familiar even though I wasn’t alive in the 70s. It’s good hearted, funny, charming. The set design is great. I didn’t spot one modern logo. I watched it with a theater of boomer liberals and they were delighted by it.
Like Anderson’s French Dispatch and Wright’s Last Night in Soho, this is a solid, safe offering from established brand.