Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Paul Thomas Anderson - The Next Kubrick?

The late Stanley Kubrick was known to be the first of the filmmakers to exercise total control over all aspects of his movies. He is also an artist - a man with at least three faces as writer, producer and a director. Subsequent and successful filmmakers like Francis Coppola, George Lucas, James Cameron and Steven Spielberg all followed the traits and skills of Kubrick in exercising their own creative control without restrictions and interference from the studio who would all agree to their control over the picture.

It was during the making of Spartacus when Kubrick complained that he could not rework the script - not allowed by star and producer Kirk Douglas - that Kubrick started to learn to exercise control and authority over all aspects of the movie.

All of these top filmmakers came from the experience of battling media moguls over their work on their earlier pictures. In the end, they won, they achieved great successes and that paved the way into reaching the pinnacle of top filmmakers in the world.

In the late 90s, additional players came in like Michael Mann, with his signature work, Heat, Luc Besson and among others. But there was one very young player, a rookie in the field that the world does not know until late 1999. He has the passion of making movies, wearing three hats in one identity and has a strict discipline in control over work. He is the youngest of the lot and judging by his works, he was claimed by some as the next Kubrick.

Paul Thomas Anderson (b. June 26 1970) is the son of Ernie Anderson, the host of the TV show Ghoulardi, (hence his company is called Ghoulardi Pictures). At a very young age of 23 he worked on his first short called Cigarettes and Coffee that served as an entry at the Sundance Festival. Like Kubrick, during the making of his first feature, Sydney, he had to battle with the studio over several matters, including the title (he wanted to called as Sydney, but the studio called it Hard Eight in exchange for him to keep the final cut), the film and of course the titles. Like in Kubrick's movies, he wanted just one title card and the end credits to show up at the end of the movie. Working on Sydney, he learned that being a filmmaker involves dealing with egos who would butcher the movie just to suit the marketing needs, and in the battle, he won of course.

Anderson is one of a kind that sticks to the basic principles of film making procedures which hearkens back to the 40s to the 60s. He did cited John Huston as a basic example. Robert Elswit, his cameraman in all of his movies since Sydney did say that he was a walking filmmaking encyclopedia at the tender age of 25. Only Cameron was a bit later than him. To Anderson, the technical side is the one that he loved most.

I thought once a while that some attitudes reflect either the current trend or the past. For me, I was more of sticking to my dad, wearing non-punk retro style clothes, listening to the music of the 80s and the 90s. This was in contrast with my brother who loves watching anime and listening to all those punk, techno and Japanese music. As it was something that drove him to behave like that. I have no answer to explain why it could be like that.

The major difference between Anderson and Kubrick is that most of the films that Anderson wrote are original unlike Kubrick who would adapt a book that would match the message and themes he would like to deliver. In his movies since Spartacus, only 2001 was his only original work.

Not even at 30 and his film, Magnolia was considered as his magnum opus. It was incredible for a kid at the age of 28/9 to write multiple storylines that encapsulate into one film. And there are numerous references to the infamous Exodus 8:2 thing that happens everywhere in the movie itself. It took him about two weeks to write a 3 hour plus script movie in William H. Macy's cabin and judging from that, he was incredible to pump out many ideas to form a big epic story.

Of course that gave him an AA nomination of an original screenplay award. But some people think that once you reach the pinnacle, you would not have the same success again. Wrong. Anderson's best buddies are Adam Sandler and John Reilly. It was when Sandler wanted to work on a serious drama, since most of the time he is considered a funny man, and people thought that when Anderson replying a question of his next project after Magnolia - "I'm going to do an 80-minute film with Adam Sandler," - was a joke. That resulted in Punch Drunk Love about a man who could not find love with an opposite eventually meets a girl thing.

There Will Be A Blood, his new film (I suspect that he took his time in making the movie) was out and it did well. He was consistent in all of his movies. Most of it got a 7.5 to 8 out of 10 rating and it seems that he still repeat the same thing over and over again and yet he's not even at 50. So you can say that he as much more energetic as Kubrick but he was not a perfectionist as he gives actors space to try out new things and so on. Shelley Duvall was made to do 127 takes in one scene that put him into exhaustion. Kubrick had everything planned out in advance. Fincher was another guy that follows like Kubrick. But in the overall work rate and methodology, Anderson was kind of close to Kubrick.

Add. Material: Blood For Oil


  1. 2001 was adapted by Kubrick and the orginal author of the book, Arthur C. Clarke.

  2. urm no 2001 was a collaboartion with Arthur C. Clarke, as the film was being the made, the book was being written.


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