Tracker Pixel for Entry

​Anderson and Day-Lewis stitch with ‘Phantom Thread’

by Greg Carlson | .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) | Cinema | January 31st, 2018

A delectable and devilish exercise in exquisite restraint, “Phantom Thread” offers compelling evidence that Paul Thomas Anderson and Daniel Day-Lewis can do quiet and still as effectively as the thunder and lightning they made together in “There Will Be Blood.”

A supremely funny homage to Alfred Hitchcock’s “Rebecca,” the new movie Day-Lewis claims will be his last sets the table for yet another master class in screen performance. The leading man’s perfectly monikered 1950s haute couture designer Reynolds Woodcock (as telling a label as Quell, Plainview, or Diggler) sits at one point of a triangle that includes Lesley Manville as Woodcock’s icy and imperious sister Cyril and Vicky Krieps as Reynolds’ waitress/model/lover Alma.

Alma is the sleeper surprise of “Phantom Thread,” steadily asserting herself and imposing her will on the tight siblings who seem unable and/or unwilling to acknowledge as a human being the latest addition to their house. So much of the story is devoted to the passive-aggressive ways in which Reynolds and Cyril stifle Alma that the latter’s process of awakening shocks and delights with each new revelation. Turns out she’s as good with wild-picked fungi as Katherine Lester in William Oldroyd’s brilliant “Lady Macbeth.” The way to Reynolds’ heart -- if in fact he possesses one -- is most certainly through his stomach.

Anderson’s liberal use of the F-word is but one indicator of the carefully tailored comedic sensibilities of the filmmaker. Reynolds is practiced and quick with the mocking insult and the withering put-down. But the more he ridicules Alma, the more he reveals his own vulnerabilities.

Vexed at Alma’s intrusion while he works, Reynolds sends her out, snapping, “The tea is leaving, but the interruption is staying right here with me.” As Anthony Lane and others have noted, food, especially breakfast, is rarely out of sight or out of mind. An unwelcome surprise dinner prepared by Alma brings out the most patronizing snot in Reynolds: “I’m admiring my own gallantry for eating it the way you prepared it.”

Anderson has made another great film, and many of its thrills turn out to be wonderfully perverse, even kinky. Especially that ending. And from start to finish, the very presence of Day-Lewis works as a beautiful feint; Woodcock expects to be the center of attention at all times, just as his reputation and station would insist.

It follows that going in, audiences would assume that “Phantom Thread” belongs to its biggest star. Anderson and company have other things in mind, however, and the ways in which Reynolds and Alma push and pull together and apart (oh, that New Year’s Eve sequence!) will spark with familiarity to many couples.

“Phantom Thread” is dedicated to Jonathan Demme, and one imagines the filmmaker would have loved it. The movie presents a concrete world that complements the deceptively straightforward story events as they unfold. And yet, Anderson adds so much to the margins, the multiple themes and rich subtext will bring back admirers for second and third servings.

“Phantom Thread” wonders about the boundaries of vocation and avocation, the self-doubt that panics the artist who -- no matter the level of talent -- must sing for supper, and the thin line that separates love and contempt.  

Recently in:

FARGO – Nearly half of the Walmart employees claiming discrimination from management at the world’s largest retail chain came before Fargo’s Human Relations Commission Thursday, to appeal for help, and the commission…

Culture

​Gaming and Steam

by Chuck Solly

I have hesitated in the past to ride into the gaming world with my guns blazing and my hair blowing in the wind. My reasons are many and varied.In my own personal case, I don’t play online or offline games because it is a huge…

Artist reception: Saturday, February 17, 6pmKaddatz Galleries, 111 W Lincoln Ave, Fergus Falls MNFirst regional solo photo exhibition for the Bemidji native, documentary filmmaker and photojournalist, featuring rural, marginalized,…

Editorial

​Savoring local flavor

by Sabrina Hornung

What draws people to a particular area? Food? Culture? Nostalgia? It’s hard to speak on behalf of the populace but we obviously know what draws us in as individuals.Here’s another question: What makes an area thrive and what…

Do we finally have ‘beauteous mankind in a brave new world?’British philosopher and writer Aldous Huxley used a line of Miranda’s speech in Shakespeare’s play "The Tempest" as the title for his book about the future…

This year’s Cocktail Showdown yielded a mixture of familiar and fresh faces to compete in the Fifth Annual Bartenders Battle when it returns to the Holiday Inn on Sunday February 18th. With a bright and colorful Tiki theme, we…

By Melissa Martin, Ph.D. Melissamartincounselor@live.com Emotional eating refers to a range of behaviors in which individuals eat for reasons other than physiological hunger; and eating is an attempt to self-soothe emotions.…

Whoever said rock n’roll ain’t pretty must have never had the opportunity to speak with Wanda Jackson, often referred to as “the queen of rockabilly” and even the “first lady of rock n’ roll.” The Oklahoma native just…

Given the film’s somewhat odd marriage of style -- the personality-driven presence of chatty neophyte documentarian Bryan Fogel -- and substance -- the ugly realities of the longtime Russian doping program for Olympic competitors…

The Red Raven had their annual opening party for the Erotic Art Show last week, drawing in a sizeable crowd that got to take home free condoms, lubricant, chapstick, and Planned Parenthood pins and brochures.The red candles at each…

By Nathan Roybardsdream@gmail.comYou are absolutely right. The title is not “To be or not to be” from the famous Shakespeare soliloquy in "Hamlet." I won’t be talking about Shakespeare particularly. I will expound the…

Fargo has its share of people who are passionate about stand-up comedy, even if the success of clubs devoted to it has been mixed. Despite the fact we have seen places like Courtney’s Comedy Club and Level 2 Comedy Club close…

“What are some of your favorite bottles of whiskey?” is a question I get asked quite frequently and is often harder to answer than one might think. One of the great rewards of my profession is getting to sample some of the…

Essential oils. They are all the buzz lately. It seems everyone has heard of them or is purchasing them. Some people know how to use them; others are just interested in the wonder of their complex scents.Essential oils are as…

Live and Learn

​The other shoe

by HPR Contributor

By Elizabeth Nawrotnawrot@mnstate.eduI look up from my hotel lobby breakfast astonished to see a framed print of Wassily Kandinsky's "Mit und Gegen,” a masterpiece of color and composition that just happens to be my favorite…

By Gary Olsonolsong@moravian.eduThe ideas of the ruling class are in every epoch the ruling ideas; the class which is the ruling material force in society is at the same time the ruling intellectual force.- Karl Marx and Friedrich…