Saturday, November 10, 2007

Punch-Drunk Love d. Paul Thomas Anderson, 2002

Continuing in the vein of knockout films from 2002 that I find difficult to discuss in critical terms. I've seen this film in the context of a college course twice now, so it's tough to remove myself from any and all academic readings I've encountered. (Let me go on record as saying that the various student presentations offered during the last class varied from pretty good to outstanding. UC Berkeley represent.)

Real quick: The scene where Barry's sister shows up with Lina and she - the sister - asks all kinds of questions: Why are you wearing that suit? What's that small piano? Why do you have all that pudding? For me, that's the center of the film. Barry's response: I don't know. There's a visceral, non-logical attraction to the periphery; the things that make sense, that seem to operate outside of the logical narrative (which is, essentially, weird boy meets weird girl and they fall in love) are at the (emotional) heart of the film. Barry's sis (wtf is her name?) is the viewer demanding explanation: What is this? The film is Barry, collecting these odd, unfamiliar objects, refusing explanation - as if it could even understand what they are - and reveling in them. If there's a more beautiful picture in cinema than Barry plunking notes on his harmonium, I'd like to see it. This is the exploration - without need for explanation - of the strange.


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