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PUNCH-DRUNK LOVE
2002 - Paul Thomas Anderson
United States
10
Opening Shot

I explore this and many other shots in the website dedicated to the film (SoHereWeGo.com). By simply framing Barry isolated in the corner of the frame with nothing but a white and blue background wall, the audience is able to understand the loneliness of the character. This becomes even more evident as the expressions of the film (be it the colors, the sounds, or the framing of the shot) begin to take shape.

The Film

I'll keep my thoughts on this film simple, by saying there is no question Punch-Drunk Love is one of my favorite films of all-time!! There is so much I take from this perfect little film, but I guess essentially Punch-Drunk Love displays the power and joy of finding freedom and falling in love against a society of pressures and of conformity (all while being made in a filmmaking style and expressionism that embraces the beauty, joy, artistry and magic of films). Through love, Barry finds redemption and strength to break through the repressed emotional and physical “window” he has been trapped into. Love gives him the strength to break out of this “window” and we see this towards the end as he walks out of The Mattress Man building by “breaking” through the front doors, which (like the rest of the building and Barry's own office) is made of glass. Next Barry must find Lena, redeem the mileage, play the harmonium, and “so here we go….”

>>> Because of Anderson's visionary expression within each visual detail as well as each emotional and physical state of his characters, the film becomes a breathtaking experience that could be analyzed (or simply admired) for years - and I have attempted to do so at a website I created in 2004: SoHereWeGo.com

The Filmmaker

Paul Thomas Anderson was born to be a great filmmaker. He has it in his blood. An obvious film buff, Anderson's vast knowledge and love of cinema is displayed in his work. His influences range from all over the world, notably Jacques Tati, Max Ophuls, Stanley Kubrick, Jean-Luc Godard, John Cassavetes, or Jonathan Demme. But his most basic filmmaking roots come from Poetic Realists like Robert Altman, or more notably Jean Renoir (the great master of Poetic Realism). To date, Anderson has only made five films, each of which I believe are great filmmaking achievements. He has already established himself a true auteur. Though distinctly different in terms of time and settings, Anderson's films share stylistic and thematic characteristics that define his signature as a master auteur. Clearly the dialogue, camera movement and takes, narrative techniques and structure, similar cast and crew, or use of music and sound are evident in all four films, but there are also themes and emotions that connect each of his films. The opening image of Anderson's debut feature (Hard Eight aka Sydney) is one of his most expressive and ideal. As a long-haul truck (possible metaphoric of the characters emotional state?) clears the frame we see a man sitting alone as the camera tracks with the presence of another man moving toward him. This shot alone captures one of the primary cores of his films, which is family or human relationships and loneliness. Within the loneliness and human relationship is Anderson's use of compositions, colors, camera work, metaphoric objects and sound to express the emotions and feelings of the film and more importantly of the characters. Another prominent factor of his films are uncontrollable forces within them that are connected with coincidence and chance (this is most obvious in the weather in Magnolia). But the greatest uncontrollable force that is evident in every Anderson film is the past, which is often the cause of loneliness or of failed human relationships. As such Anderson's characters disregard or lie about the past, and even in some cases will form new relationships, new families, or even new names and identities. Anderson's films examine the importance of the past as a form of determining the future. Centering on individuality, insecurity, loneliness, and substitute families, the human relationships struggle with the past and it's affect on the future. Characters of Anderson's films also share emotional similarities. Each of Anderson's films contain characters that gain strength from their own innocence and longing (examples include: John in Hard Eight; Dirk Diggler in Boogie Nights; Jim Kurring or Donnie Smith in Magnolia; and Barry Egan in Punch-Drunk Love). These characters are very often met by a "guardian" character who cares and protects them, and ultimately gives them redemption and hope (notable examples include Sydney in Hard Eight; Jack Horner in Boogie Nights; Claudia in Magnolia; and of course Lena in Punch-Drunk Love). I think one of the great gifts of Anderson as a filmmaker is his ability to risk the narrative structure of the film without conforming to boundaries. He captures the essence of human emotions and behavior and presents it in a way that is both real and yet unlike anything we've seen or even expect to see in a film. His films can be equally sad, funny, exciting, and hopeful at the same time. I believe he has probably topped himself with each of his four releases. All of his films have effected me deeply, but his last his last two have impacted me on a personal level that I hope to always cherish. Magnolia may be the film Anderson is most remembered for and I do believe it is one of the very great achievements of American film. I think with Punch-Drunk Love, Anderson ascended into the auteur status. Punch-Drunk Love is filmmaking at it's most artistic and Anderson's ability to use compositions, colors, sounds, music, and metaphors as a form of emotional state and expression make it one of the most original and exciting films I've ever seen (you can read more of my many thoughts at soherewego.com). Anderson really ascended into amore prominent name as a director with his 2007 film There Will Be Blood, his first film adapted from a previous source (in this case, Upton Sinclair's novel Oil). The film was widely praised and even considered among the very best of the decade by many audiences and critics alike. The film earned Anderson his first Best Director Oscar nomination and in total was nominated for eight Academy Awards including Best Picture.

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Resources
so here we go link    
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