|Director:||Paul Thomas Anderson|
|12.29.21||Internet||This Screening is part of event: DVRfest 2021|
Day Three: Bangers Day.
Every movie I watch today I'm pretty psyched about. So much so that I had a hard time picking an order. So why not start with the movie I'm most looking forward to seeing.
Wow. Absolutely loved it. In terms of non-spoiler stuff, this is like a PTA Version of Once Upon a Time in the San Fernando Valley. Similar period vibe but with a PTA story rather than Tarantino. They will probably make an inevitable (but tonally incompatible) double feature.
Ok spoilers ahead...
First off, any movie that starts off at Cupid's Hot Dogs I have to love. While we moved away when I was around 8, I was born and did spend my childhood in early-80s LA right there in the valley. This movie takes place a good 5 - 10 years before my memories kick in but it's enough that the signage and vibe was still there, along with my family's beloved Cupid's. At first, we would have it every so often, but then as my various aunts and uncles moved further away from the valley (end definitely once we moved to Colorado), getting to go to Cupid's was a highlight of any trip back to the area. Their chili dog still stands as my all-time favorite hot dog even though I haven't had one in probably 25 years. My family's ritzy meal out was always Lawry's Prime Rib in Beverly Hills which was quite a todo and I only got to go a small handful of times, but Cupid's was the neighborhood spot like a mile from our house. Loved it.
Nostalgia for a single shot of the movie aside, this is a real journey of a movie as it winds through all sorts of places as these two characters come to know each other. You never really know where it will go next but each stop along the way are just wonderful pieces of filmmaking. Not showy like Boogie Nights/Magnolia, not awkward like Punchdrunk Love, but mature and sure-footed and astute. It's what I feel Inherent Vice reached for but couldn't quite grasp.
And practically every scene is a joy. I wanted to just list them off here so I don't forget but I wouldn't do them justice. All these worlds are represented though. The Valley haunts and restaurants, the crushing weird world of childhood acting, the novelty of 70s LA Japanese food, the bizarre insanity of old-world Hollywood, talent agents, entrepreneurs, waterbeds, pinball, fuckin crazy ass Bradley Cooper... Everything gets its attention in perfectly written, amazingly performed moments that are sometimes hilarious and sometimes heart-breaking.
I can't believe how good the Bradley Cooper scenes are, or goddamn John Michael Higgins. Fred Gwynne, Harriet Sansom Harris as the talent agent oh my god. And these are just the players bumping off Cooper Hoffman and Alana Haim who are both so authentically unique and comfortable in their selves. Really the whole Haim household are better actors than I thought they'd be. I guess for whatever reason you assume Phil Hoffman's son has in his genes to be a great actor but that's a lot to live up to and he does a great job here.
And just like Tarantino's movie, the plot is pretty loose. At times it seems like it could become Taxi Driver, or Dazed and Confused, or ... well, Boogie Nights, but you're along for the ride and are kind of bummed when it's over. To me, all the period stuff is done just as well as Tarantino's movie, and it's kind of a shame that they share so many similarities.
One more thing to put on the record before I stop gushing and get to the next movie. PTA Shoots every time of day so wonderfully. There's some amazing sunset, magic hour, and post-sunset shots, some of which seem like they might be digitally-corrected because they are so well photographed. A lot of hubbub came up about Phantom Thread not having a DP but this movie really swings for the fences much more than the previous in my opinion, and it knocks it out of the park.
Ok ok ok. Gotta move on. But goddamn was this a good movie.
cupids hot dogs!!!