The Art of Reinvention: Paul Thomas Anderson & His Influences – GOODFELLAS

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Martin Scorsese’s masterpiece of late-American Dream excess and the decaying effects of a ceaseless lust for money follows Henry Hill (Ray Liotta), a young man who idolizes the mobsters he sees in his neighborhood every day, as he works his way up the Brooklyn mafia hierarchy over a thirty-year period.  Perched above him in the pecking order is a ferocious trio: soft-spoken patriarch Paul Cicero (Paul Sorvino), the charismatic “Jimmy the Gent” (Robert DeNiro), and the terrifying, high-strung Tommy DeVito (Joe Pesci). As we learn the deep inner workings of the Italian-American mafia through Hill’s experiences, longtime Scorsese cinematographer Michael Ballhaus’s camera incessantly roves, capturing every minute detail, while Thelma Schoonmaker’s crisp editing propels the story along at near-breakneck pace. (146 mins.)

GOODFELLAS screens Saturday, September 5 at 7pm in our Whitsell Auditorium (located in the Portland Art Museum). The film is showing as part of our The Art of Reinvention: Paul Thomas Anderson & His Influences series.

Tickets are available online or at the door.

The Art of Reinvention: Paul Thomas Anderson & His Influences – INHERENT VICE on 35mm

INHERENT VICE

Adapting a Thomas Pynchon novel for the screen is a task at which none have succeeded before Anderson, who sculpts a highly amusing, atmospheric screenplay out of Pynchon’s novel of the same name. Joaquin Phoenix returns for his second work with Anderson as Larry “Doc” Sportello, an incessantly pot-smoking private detective on the trail of several cases: keeping ex-girlfriend Shasta Fay Hepworth’s (Katherine Waterston) affair with a married man from exploding, hunting down a member of the Aryan Brotherhood with a debt to pay, and finding the missing, adrift Coy Harlingen (Owen Wilson). As all of these cases begin to intertwine, Doc comes in contact with a cadre of characters that could only populate the beaches and canyons of Los Angeles in the early 1970s—and could only come from a mingling of the eccentric imaginations of Pynchon and Anderson. (148 mins.)

INHERENT VICE screens Friday, September 4 at 7pm and Saturday, September 5 at 4pm in our Whitsell Auditorium (located in the Portland Art Museum). The film is showing as part of our The Art of Reinvention: Paul Thomas Anderson & His Influences series.

Tickets are available online or at the door.

The Art of Reinvention: Paul Thomas Anderson & His Influences – THE BIG SLEEP on 35mm

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One of the key noirs of the 1940s, THE BIG SLEEP features several legends of the American page and screen—Lauren Bacall, Humphrey Bogart, Howard Hawks, Raymond Chandler, William Faulkner, and Leigh Brackett—collaborating on a messy masterpiece that, fittingly, lacks traditional narrative logic but more than makes up for it with dripping atmosphere and fine performances. Bogart stars as private detective Philip Marlowe, hired by an elderly tycoon to ostensibly track down a man blackmailing his daughter, who has gotten into some gambling trouble. The enigmatic, sharp-talking Vivian Rutledge (Bacall)—the tycoon’s elder daughter—warns Marlowe to more nefarious things at play, and as he chances upon increasingly shady dealings, the two get closer while the treachery multiplies at a gallop. (114 mins.)

Screening on Thursday is the 1945 pre-release version, Hawks’ preferred cut. Screening on Sunday is the 1946 wide-release version, which Roger Ebert has called “a case where ‘studio interference’ was exactly the right thing.”

 

THE BIG SLEEP screens Thursday, September 3 at 7pm and Sunday, September 6 at 7pm in our Whitsell Auditorium (located in the Portland Art Museum). The film is showing as part of our The Art of Reinvention: Paul Thomas Anderson & His Influences series.

Tickets are available online or at the door.

The Art of Reinvention: Paul Thomas Anderson & His Influences – GIANT

Giant

Featuring James Dean in the final role of his mercurial career, GIANT transcends it’s myth-laden reputation to be a key film of the mid-50s. A grand, sprawling epic, it  follows two generations of a Texas cattle family in the years leading up to and following World War II. Rock Hudson plays patriarch Bick opposite Elizabeth Taylor as his new bride Leslie, leading the family ranch through an oil boom against the backdrop of institutional discrimination, here focusing on Mexican immigrants employed by the family. Dean’s Jett Rink troubles the waters while working for Bick’s sister when he becomes enamored with Leslie—leading to inevitable tragedy. In addition to the excellent performances by the three leads, the film builds room for several key supporting roles, including turns by Dennis Hopper, Mercedes McCambridge, Sal Mineo, and Carroll Baker. (201 mins.)

GIANT screens Sunday, August 23 at 6pm in our Whitsell Auditorium (located in the Portland Art Museum). The film is showing as part of our The Art of Reinvention: Paul Thomas Anderson & His Influences series.

Tickets are available online or at the door.

The Art of Reinvention: Paul Thomas Anderson & His Influences – BAD DAY AT BLACK

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This hard, economical, hybrid Western noir follows one-armed WWII vet John Macreedy (Spencer Tracy) as he stops in the small desert town of Black Rock, looking for a man named Komoko. Initially rebuffed, as Macreedy digs deeper, he learns that not only has the train failed to stop in Black Rock for four years, but also that Reno Smith (Robert Ryan) has been bullying the townspeople into silence about Komoko and his whereabouts. But Smith has friends as well, who threaten Macreedy at every turn, leading to an explosive finale. “You can learn more from John Sturges’ audio track on the BAD DAY AT BLACK ROCK laserdisc than you can in 20 years of film school.”—Paul Thomas Anderson. (81 mins.)

BAD DAY AT BLACK ROCK screens Saturday, August 22 at 7pm in our Whitsell Auditorium (located in the Portland Art Museum). The film is showing as part of our The Art of Reinvention: Paul Thomas Anderson & His Influences series.

Tickets are available online or at the door.

The Art of Reinvention: Paul Thomas Anderson & His Influences – THERE WILL BE BLOOD

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Anderson’s features, while always sharpening their edges as they go, have never been hard-as-nails as this adaptation of Upton Sinclair’s novel OIL!. Daniel Day-Lewis inhabits oilman Daniel Plainview, a leathery explorer intent on creating and quickly expanding an oil empire during the late-19th Century. With his adopted son as his partner, Plainview soon strikes it rich on the land of the Sunday family—and, ultimately, the surrounding land—until he’s nearly bought up an entire town. With his newfound success, Plainview is bombarded on all sides: by an estranged brother, by a larger oil company in search of a buy-out, and finally, by Eli Sunday (Paul Dano), an old school, up-and-coming evangelist with a new church inextricably wrapped into the local fabric. Structuring the film are the pull of capital and the spirit of discovery at all costs—an American odyssey with a spiking trajectory mirroring stock market booms and crashes. (158 mins.)

THERE WILL BE BLOOD screens Friday, August 21 at 7pm and Saturday, August 22 at 4pm in our Whitsell Auditorium (located in the Portland Art Museum). The film is showing as part of our The Art of Reinvention: Paul Thomas Anderson & His Influences series.

Tickets are available online or at the door.

The Art of Reinvention: Paul Thomas Anderson & His Influences – SHOOT THE PIANO PLAYER!

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Truffaut, hot off THE 400 BLOWS, his masterpiece of adolescent dread, completely changes directions with SHOOT THE PIANO PLAYER, a film influenced by Hollywood gangster movies that trades in claustrophobic framing for black-and-white Cinemascope grandeur and invention on a small scale. “France’s Frank Sinatra” Charles Aznavour (THE TIN DRUM, UN FLIC) stars as Charlie Koller/Eduoard Saroyan, a nightclub pianist in the depths of depression following the death of his wife. Léna (Marie Dubois), a waitress, is falling in love with Charlie, but his past, unclear at best, begins to catch up with him—threatening not only his newfound love but much, much more. “Even more than BREATHLESS, this 1960 Truffaut was the movie that broke the French new wave on American audiences. The mode is romantic gangster soulfulness; the theme is the audio equivalent of a pack of Gitanes.”—J. Hoberman, The Village Voice. (92 mins.)

SHOOT THE PIANO PLAYER! screens Sunday, August 16 at 7pm in our Whitsell Auditorium (located in the Portland Art Museum). The film is showing as part of our The Art of Reinvention: Paul Thomas Anderson & His Influences series.

Tickets are available online or at the door.

The Art of Reinvention: Paul Thomas Anderson & His Influences – THE BAND WAGON on 35mm

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This Technicolor extravaganza came at a time when MGM could do no wrong, especially the Freed Unit (named for producer Arthur Freed), which released the justly famous SINGIN’ IN THE RAIN the prior year to rapturous critical and audience reception. Minnelli’s film—produced by Freed and written by the same team behind SINGIN’—while lesser known, offers much of the same visual and aural pleasure and self-reflexivity while adding a melancholic edge, focusing on declining star Tony Hunter (Fred Astaire), who seeks to revitalize his career on Broadway. However, Tony, along with co-star Gaby (Cyd Charisse), must overcome a pretentious director who seeks to turn a light comedy into a retelling of the Faust legend—and, somehow, fall in love on the way to saving the show. (112 mins.)

THE BAND WAGON screens Saturday, August 15 at 7pm in our Whitsell Auditorium (located in the Portland Art Museum). The film is showing as part of our The Art of Reinvention: Paul Thomas Anderson & His Influences series.

Tickets are available online or at the door.

The Art of Reinvention: Paul Thomas Anderson & His Influences – PUNCH-DRUNK LOVE on 35mm

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With two sprawling, epic works preceding it, with this film Anderson sought to make a “Friday night film,” a short, compact entertainment in the classical mode—as much as possible with Anderson, anyway. Reinvigorating Adam Sandler’s career as Barry Egan, a neurotic plunger salesman with seven sisters and a newfound harmonium, this unassuming, highly unconventional film finds its nucleus with a fledgling relationship between Barry and Lena Leonard (Emily Watson). However, when Barry calls a phone sex line, he’s dragged into a tangled web of fraud and threats of violence from a ring led by a sleazy Philip Seymour Hoffman. This brings Lena into danger, and Barry must act to preserve not only her safety but also, ultimately, the one meaningful relationship he’s ever forged. “What Mr. Anderson wants to do is recapture, without nostalgia, the giddiness and sweep of old movies, and his mastery of the emotional machinery of the medium is breathtaking.”—A.O. Scott, The New York Times. (95 mins.)

PUNCH-DRUNK LOVE screens Friday, August 14 at 7pm and Saturday, August 15 at 4:30pm in our Whitsell Auditorium (located in the Portland Art Museum). The film is showing as part of our The Art of Reinvention: Paul Thomas Anderson & His Influences series.

Tickets are available online or at the door.

Guest Blogger Sean Strauss on Paul Thomas Anderson’s MAGNOLIA

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“Do Good.”

(Love yourself. Love your children.)

All in this together.You never know when

the hard rains are gonna fall:::

Earl – Frank – Jimmy – Rose – Claudia – Donnie – Stanley – Linda – Phil – Jim Kurring suffer their individual catharsis in Paul Thomas Anderson’s third film, Magnolia (1999). Through interwoven plays on chance and anguish within a San Fernando Valley day, Mr. Anderson explores the effects of trauma in the realm of family dysfunction, and more significantly the necessity of its resolution through forgiveness, love or death.

In the Northwest Film Center’s “Art of Reinvention” context, the mirror film to Magnolia’s storytelling approach is Robert Altman’s Short Cuts (1993), equally grand in scope of character and narrative fluidity, and also set within the confines of Los Angeles (with the exception in Mr. Altman’s movie of a disturbing fishing trip). Both films pull off a three-hour plus meltdown marathon. Short Cuts peeks into the awkward lives and behaviors of its 22 characters from a zoom lens, the clouded realizations and the moral rust. Magnolia is more portrait than voyeuristic. Mr. Altman’s film is observational; Mr. Anderson’s is involved, intimate. It’s important to note each filmmaker had his unique aesthetics and desires in creating the work.

Mr. Anderson’s personal life experiences leading up to the penning of Magnolia made for something more than a film.

Magnolia is an experience conjured by a highly intelligent 29-year old man who had lost his father, was falling in love with another highly intelligent understanding artist, and had proven himself a filmic storyteller twice over. Art like this rarely makes it to the screen. It’s too expensive to gamble on emotion.

So, the man got a cast of players to commit all in. Phenomenal performances are abound, from Jason Robards, Julianne Moore, Melora Walters, William H. Macy, John C. Reilly, the mighty Tom Cruise and the incomparable Philip Seymour Hoffman. Also, Jeremy Blackman, as the young genius Stanley Spector, who delivers his every moment from an impenetrable innocence.

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Stirred in with Magnolia’s constellation ensemble are a songstress and a composer who respectfully translate the unfathomable pain and absurdity of heartbreak and redemption with care: Aimee Mann and Jon Brion. Mr. Anderson has made it clear from the beginning that Aimee Mann’s lyrics were his personal spark and guide for the writing of Magnolia. The kismet relationship of Ms. Mann’s lyrics and Mr. Anderson’s story works wonders. The mutual need of the artists to build a ship with all of the accumulated floating debris from life blowing up is out in the open, going as far as to incorporate Mann’s tough love lullaby “Wise Up” as an intimate ensemble sing-along.

Furthermore, Jon Brion’s score is an achievement in the lost art of film music (which seems to accompany each P.T. Anderson film). Mr. Brion’s orchestra weaves in and out of the story so gracefully it’s dramatic exit somewhere during Act II reminds the audience it’s been present not for a cue or a scene or a section but the entire film up to that point.

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Magnolia is a reverential film for anyone at the end of his/her rope. Whether it’s trying to overcome the loss of identity, the loss of parental love, the pressure-cracked floodgate of all the mistakes and needs… Magnolia offers a life jacket. In Mark Rance’s making of documentary “That Moment”, Mr. Anderson jokes that Magnolia is him “working out his psychosis at every one else’s $8.50.” Perhaps, but the pay off is worth the coin and the reflection. Rather than drowning the audience in tears and leaving the clean up to the audience, Mr. Anderson at just the right moments offers patches of hope and humor, allowing tears a moment to dry, a chance for the light to resurrect, so we can see what’s up.

Sean Strauss is the director of the documentary BACK THE WAY WE CAME, which was featured in the Northwest Film Center’s Northwest Tracking series in January 2015. Like us, he loves the work of Paul Thomas Anderson.

MAGNOLIA screens Friday, August 7 at 7pm and Saturday, August 8 at 3pm in our Whitsell Auditorium (located in the Portland Art Museum). The film is showing as part of our The Art of Reinvention: Paul Thomas Anderson & His Influences series.

Tickets are available online or at the door.