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Elegantly Crafted Masterpiece
imew27 December 2017
Intimate, delicate, and a beautifully crafted masterpiece. Paul Thomas Anderson manages to expresses an artist's creative journey through threads of fashion and romance with such subtlety that it could only be conveyed through the medium of film. An atmosphere reminiscent of Kubrick's achievements, this romantic odyssey illustrates a unique perspective of love; a perspective in which love is shaped and manipulated by the fragile strings of each character's hearts.

To begin with, I will praise an awfully disregarded aspect of "Phantom Thread": the cinematography and direction. The style and manner in which Paul Thomas Anderson uses silence and long takes is ingenious, and as stated above, was most likely inspired from Kubrick's works. Similar to the quote, "The less you say, the more your words will matter," the more silence, the more each line will signify. The more long takes, the more each short take will signify. Therefore, this method permits a greater control over the variety of dramatic effects; and in turn, the audience's emotions. Anderson also utilized this technique in many of his other films, including "The Master", "Magnolia", and his masterpiece, "There Will Be Blood".

Of course, this strategy doesn't always serve well. The more the audience regards the dialogue, the more engaging the screenplay has to be. The more engaging the screenplay is, the more compelling the performances have to be.

Yet "Phantom Thread" has all of this. Magnificent lead performances by Daniel Day-Lewis and Vicky Krieps, a strong and often overlooked supporting performance by Lesley Manville, and a sharp, dense original screenplay written by Paul Thomas Anderson himself. A few sprinkles of comedy are also blended in the script, which is always valuable for a romance. Not to forget the costume design either, which was essential to establish a post-war 1950s London environment.

And finally, the score. Arguably the strongest part of the film, the score possesses Paul Thomas Anderson's signature strange aura that is found in several of his other films. It's not a coincidence that one of his most frequent collaborators is Jonny Greenwood, who composed the score for this film, "There Will Be Blood", and many others. While most movies nowadays would use music to heighten drama, Paul Thomas Anderson rejects the common norm; valuing music to form an atmosphere. This atmosphere is crucial in almost all of his works, creating an eerie tone for a mystery that drives the story forward.

A transcendental and sublime work of art so remarkably subtle- delicately transfixing the audience ever so slightly, exploring the convoluted depths of an artist's obsession, and expanding cinema's horizons for miles of wonder- all woven beneath the intertwined threads of the phantom.

Farewell, Daniel Day-Lewis. We will miss you.
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The Art Of Being
damian-fuller22 December 2017
Daniel Day Lewis adds a new extraordinary character to his gallery of extraordinary characters. All men and each one of them a total original variety of male. From the gay punck rocker of "My Beautiful Launderette' to Abraham Lincoln in "Lincoln" Now Reynolds Woodcock, an artist in the world of fashion a man who lives his work as his only form of expression. The frustration by any form of interruption by anything or anyone out of place guarantees his private isolation and yet he craves the warmth of human intimacy. The complexity of Ryan Woodcock becomes totally accessible in Daniel Day Lewis's eyes, with every move, with every silence. It is a monumental, beautiful creation. His Alma - the Alma that he chooses - is played with Bergmanesque intensity by Vicky Krieps and she's a perfect framer/embracer/provocateur in a remarkable performance. Lesley Manville is chillingly perfect as a sort of Mrs Danvers. A sister/gate keeper with an eye on everything. Was she the one that protected him from his homosexuality or it's just my imagination? I love Phantom Thread. I will see it again soon. P T Anderson gives us another scrumptious gourmet dish. Tank you for that.
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When a film looses its thread
axb16 January 2018
Let us get this out of the way- Phantom Thread is a beautiful film with a great premise and promise. A couture dress designer (Daniel Day Lewis) is demanding in the extreme and finds a muse (Vicky Krieps). He enjoys using her as a dress model and a companion, but she wants more. Along the way, the director, Paul Thomas Anderson, throws hints of intrigue starting with the title of the film. There are empty pretensions of dress-making as high art, secret messages sown into dresses and haunting memories. All of this leads to- exactly nowhere. Everything Lewis and Krieps do is recorded lovingly and meticulously on film with great mood music in the background. But there is no great reveal, no deep insight into human psyche, no higher truth. In the end it comes down to what a woman wants and what the man can live with. Lewis and Krieps are excellent, especially Krieps, but Lesley Manville as Lewis's sister has the thankless job of looking stern in every scene. Nothing in the film sticks with you when you leave the theater except the dresses, photography and the music; because Anderson has not come up with anything really interesting in the story. Unlike his "There Will Blood", which was a great film, Phantom Thread is a phantom film. It is a beautiful ghost of what should have been a really good film. See it if you wish to say goodbye to Daniel Day Lewis, but keep your expectations low.
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It's a waste of time
margins20 January 2018
Warning: Spoilers
It is a pretentious film that masquerades as a work of art. It should have been and could have been an outstanding film. The photography, period pieces, countryside, etc. were all beautiful; however, the story and plot (or lack thereof) suffered and droned on unbearably. I kept waiting for the film to finally take hold of its viewers, but it never did and it never got off the ground either. Such a shame. It's a movie about an aging, single dressmaker to the wealthy with a fetish for his mother, who lives with his aging, bossy single sister and takes on a young female lover from time to time until he is annoyed with them and until his sister bosses them out. He then meets a daughter-like lover who is deadly and is even more manipulative and devious than his sister. Total waste of two hours that I'll never get back. I only gave it 4 stars because of the scenery and photography.
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Another one of those complicated elegance
noskins-2334916 January 2019
You have to wrap your head around this one but man this is one of the best film of the year 2017. I loved it. Great acting what-so-ever by my favorite Daniel day Lewis. He is riveting as always. Cast is good. Background music plays the trick for them. Direction is very good too. People are saying that it is boring then what i think is that they lack a taste for drama. This is what we call pure drama. Many people are complaining for it being so slow. Some don't understand it at all. Some don't like the idea. Well, you should've known for what you were going. Didn't you watch the trailer? Did they promise Avengers where every character is flying around and bla bla bla. Man, This movie is something. Just like the Florida project, this one is great too. Claustrophobic elegance mate. Thankyou for making my evening this good. Cheers,give it a try
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Completely unrelatable.
maxsale18 January 2018
While the movie was well acted and well put together with interesting camera work and novel use of even the most mundane sounds (such as the amplified scraping of butter on toast transforming the scene at breakfast), a character study simply does not work if you can't relate to the characters. The experience is like being stuck in the beautiful house of an intolerable acquaintance for two hours. This was the worst movie I've seen in quite some time.
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dull, weird and pointless
mvitulli-0079225 January 2018
Sorry, i thought it was beautiful, and obviously acted well. but the plot was odd, the characters poorly defined and the ending maddening. i can appreciate the work done but disappointed in the overall flow of the film. should win for best costume design for sure though.
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A Creepy Movie With A Strange Plot Being Touted As Artistic But Its Not
Unlimitedmovies22 January 2018
Warning: Spoilers
I have been looking forward to Phantom Thread for several months and chose not to read a review because I wanted to make up my own mind on this film without another's opinion clouding my judgment. I adore Daniel Day-Lewis and think he is an incredible actor and I thought he must have picked a wonderful script if this is his last movie. I got settled in the theater's new recliner seats excited to finally see this highly anticipated film. I enjoyed looking at the clothes and 1950's London scenery but that's about all that I enjoyed. I am a mental health nurse and quickly deducted that Alma is a sociopath. She figures out Ryan's weaknesses and uses them to irritate him and manipulate him. Ryan thinks his life is cursed and had sewn "never cursed" into the lining of a Royal's wedding dress. When Alma sees these words sewn in the wedding gown her sociopathic scheming goes into overdrive. She cooks up an omelette with poisionous mushrooms and there is a tense scene....will he or will he not take a bite? Both characters are playing head games with each other and it develops into she poisons him then nurses him back to health and continues to do this Russian roulette until one day "he will be waiting for me on the other side of eternity". The head games and cat and mouse story line are uncomfortable to watch and not intriguing as the director wanted us to be. Most of the movie was dragging, so much so that I almost left but I wanted to stick it out and be fair to the film. Bottom line is this movie is meant to be strange so that is is touted as artistic but it is anything but. It is a dark draggy movie and I feel like I could have done something more productive with my time. I'm disappointed that Daniel Day Lewis choose to do this script. And one more thing....this ain't love people. No matter how you slice it these two characters do not love each other.
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Okay. I don't get it.
bluesunflowersb18 February 2018
Warning: Spoilers
All I could think at the end was, "Okay. I don't get it." But I will still try to make a modicum of sense out of it, just for you.

Let me say here, in case you don't feel like reading further: Don't watch this movie if you haven't already done so. Find something better to view. ("Message from the King" isn't half-bad.)

My understanding of this film:

The control freak meets his soulmate. She loves him but she wants to tame his OCD-ness. She will poison him over and over, with his permission, until he is (my rendering of her words) "flat on his back, gentle and needing her again."

Ugh. Ever since "My Beautiful Launderette" I have loved Daniel Day-Lewis and enjoyed his masterful acting. Even though "Last of the Mohicans" was absolutely cringe-worthy, it was fun to watch Day-Lewis running through the forests, lugging that ancient flintlock musket (or flintlock rifle or whatever it was), brown curls flying. Wow. That was something. My Left Foot, Room with a View, Lincoln, etc. All of his great performances over the years . . . And now we have this piano-tinkling, violin- downer music codswallop?

As always, Day-Lewis is riveting. The storyline is somewhat intriguing, too-----until you realize the whole thing is about this Alma chick not getting the attention she needs. She will not be tossed aside. She suddenly has the inspiration and means to bring this great artist to his knees. We learn how she is going to give him near-death experiences and settle his hash and thereby win his love.

Bah. Shame on her. She is not a muse, she's a low-life jealous ninny. Jealous of his talent and artistry. And she tells us she will find him throughout the ages, no matter where he is. What? And make him miserable over and over again, in those many lifetimes? And he goes along with this? What a bunch of tripe.
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Well-filmed Pretentious Bore
strumdatjag26 January 2018
Maybe i just don';t like movies directed by Paul Thomas Anderson. Long periods of non-conversation and silent glances leading up to a big who-cares climax. The movie is a well-shot, well-acted, pretentious bore, Give me my 130 minutes back.
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pink-sugar3 February 2018
Warning: Spoilers
Ok first things first, give credit where credit is due. The acting cannot be faulted; Day-Lewis, Manville and Krieps are superb - captivating and convincing. Manville's portrayal of Cyril, Reynolds' sister, was highly enjoyable (indeed, I think her's was the only character I liked). The camera work also facilitated the storytelling and the setting was elegant.

Now for the bad. SPOILERS BELOW. Try as much as the cinematography might there simply was nothing to tell. Or there was and I simply did not like it. I oscillated between the two whilst watching. Perhaps it was my fault for not doing my research beforehand (I simply saw Day-Lewis name and put it on my 'to-watch' list) but I thought it would be a drama/romance. What it actually turned out to be was an extremely dysfunctional and borderline abusive relationship between a work-obssessed fashion designer, Reynolds, and his live-in human mannequin (and part-time muse, part-time annoyance), Alma, who looks 30 years his junior. Only this time it's the young woman doing the sort-of abusing. Call me crazy but any relationship which relies on one party being poisoned every now and then in order to know how to show his 'soft side' and express his affections is not something to be lauded (please don't call it love... might I suggest unhealthy interdependence or obsession instead). Someone should refer them to counselling. Alma openly relishes in Reynolds' increasing reliance on her. His willing submission to her ministrations left me aghast and left me watching their whirling vortex of intense attraction and destruction with increasing apprehension and distaste. Now I don't need protagonists to be potential bosom buddy material in order appreciate a film but I need at least to like them in some respect (even a very small one will do). Unfortunately I found the couple's actions, emotions and motivations simply difficult to empathise with.

I've watched plenty of films/tv shows where 'disturbing' was the main course but this film somehow managed to disturb me more than all of those combined. Perhaps it was because I wasn't prepared for it and it therefore amplified my reaction. I watch films to be moved, educated or entertained. I'm sorry, but this was none of the above. Don't watch if you want any more than a glimpse of a good time.
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An Exquisite Slow-Burn Drama...
Amyth4727 September 2018
My Rating : 8/10

This is a delicately executed drama intimately woven around the characters of Daniel Day-Lewis as Reynolds Woodcock and Vicky Krieps as Alma.

Right from the opening shots I was engaged and the brilliant performances, beautiful background music coupled with breathtaking cinematography make this a worthwhile watch if you are in the mood for something slow, something a bit art-y. However if you are not in the mood for something like this it can become a chore to watch so I ask the viewer to understand that it is a very beautiful film and in the right frame of mind you will be absorbed into the world of this renowned mid-twentieth century dressmaker who can be a bit fussy.

Daniel Day-Lewis is at his typical level of brilliance here. He perfectly plays the role of an obsessive personality, who is so averse to letting someone interfere with his work, yet who more and more, through both natural and artificial means, also doesn't want to lose the new woman in his life.

Stylish camera work, wonderfully-paced drama. Solid 8/10.
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A slow n non erotic version of Bitter moon with an awesome performance by Day Lewis.
Fella_shibby13 February 2018
Saw this in a theatre. Movie aint that good but Daniel Day-Lewis' acting was phenomenal. He superbly potrayed the character of Reynolds Woodcock, who is obsessed with order, symmetry n following an organised routine. DDLs mannerisms, facial expressions n costumes were spot on. Many may hate the characters controlled behaviour but Woodcocks breakfast time was superb n so was his appetite. The film does hav repetitive trope of breakfasts for foodies. Also noteworthy is costume designer Mark Bridges incredible work, the look of Woodcocks suits n the gorgeous female dresses added a charm. Another aspect one cannot ignore is the mesmerizing musical score.
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After 20 minutes I started looking at my watch
archiecm9 February 2018
Warning: Spoilers
I didn't like the main character, Woodcock (for the most part . . . he did have a charming side which he showed stingily). He was a bully at times and as a love partner, took more than he gave knowing that his talent and money would substitute for actual effort. Alma is quite likeable. Her devotion to him is endearing. But she wants more. Here the movie starts to decline. Her solution to the logjam of their personality clash is to poison him. Oddly, it (his illness) makes him fall for her and seek marriage whereas he has known himself to be a bachelor up to now. I'm thinking to myself, "That's just sick." And I ask myself, "Is it love any more when attempted murder becomes part of it? No wonder it takes her so long to answer "yes" to his marriage proposal! It's not surprising that the marriage fails miserably but we're asked to believe that another poisoning is just the remedy and that the whole ritual is some sort of acceptable romantic dance . . . and we're asked to accept that it works. Woodcock figures it out and since it's OK with him it should be OK with us. I endure a lot of pain at times when I have bowel trouble so I have a lot of trouble seeing this as a happy ending. I don't understand why the critics liked it so much.
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Awful and boring.
NpMoviez23 July 2018
Warning: Spoilers
One of the most boring and on the whole, one of the most awfully written movies ever made, I am surprised how "Phantom Thread" is in the 2017's top 10 list of National Board of Review. It feels like a completely typical period piece that was done to death and felt like it was trying hard to get nominated for Oscars. In simple words, it is just "try hard" movie that was simply made for being nominated because it looks so different than other ones. Daniel Day-Lewis and Vicky Krieps have given a very good performance, can't take anything away from them. The characterization given to Day-Lewis was not bad, but at the same not something that we have not seen before. And, Krieps's character is obviously the polar opposite of what Day-Lewis's character is. The way they fall in love is done very abruptly. And, during that and after that, all the movie does is repetition. A whole lot of plotlines are simply showing their polarizing characters and just that. Then, we don't know why but Krieps poisons Day-Lewis kind of like to .... develop some romance, I guess. Then, after that plotline is over, we get the repetition ..... again! Then towards the end, he agrees to get poisoned because that's the only way he can be with her, because he is some sort of a terrible stubborn ..... I think. It doesn't sound so bad, but it's done quite horribly. During all the repetitions, a brief character development of Lesley Manville's character is there. Otherwise, until towards the end, at the point where I stopped caring about this movie, we get literally no character development whatsoever. It was the same thing in a slightly different situation. The storytelling is very very poor. The only merits are the performances of the lead actors, the production and costume design. Else, nothing is redeeming about this movie. I still have an opinion that "The Shape of Water" is the worst best picture ever. But it wasn't the worst nominee in that category. Guess which one was? Yup. "Phantom Thread". In short, it's a ridiculous period piece and a ridiculous romantic movie that doesn't even have the most generic romance.

Score : 2.1/10

Grade : E+

Label : Will forget after you watched it once
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Mindblowing Depiction Of a Suspenseful Romance
KamSinghOfficial4 December 2017
This is the most unique romance film to come out in all of history. Paul Thomas Anderson has struck Gold again with this masterpiece. The Screenplay is really original and very engaging.

Usually when people watch a film, they tend to doze off at times because of slow moments. This film however, you cannot look away, you cannot blink because the timeless beauty and sheer elegance that this film has is unparalleled. What keeps you so engaged is the breathtaking cinematography shot on a 35mm camera, the Stand out performances from Daniel Day Lewis , and Vicky Kriceps and also the amazing dialogue which keeps you drowned in the film.

Many people might think ''Oh its a movie about the love story of a dressmaker''so they might not watch it. If you feel that way, its your loss to miss this masterpiece of a film. It is a suspenseful romance film which has never been done before and the fact that you cannot look away from the screen, it proves that this film is the best film of 2017. This film is going to be mentioned for years to come. Just like ''There Will Be Blood'', it will be shown in film classes to learn from and just like ''There Will Be Blood''it will be mentioned as one of the best films of all time.

As this is Daniel Day Lewis's last role, i can say that it is worth being called a movie worthy of Daniel Day Lewis's last. In fact, It is his best film to date and in terms of performance, he gives one of the best of his career. I would not be surprised if he wins best Actor for this one over Gary Oldman. Day Lewis totally deserves to be the only actor to have 4 Oscars.

If Vicky Criceps is not nominated for Best supporting actress or best actress then we know that the Oscars are unreliable, She equally matches Day Lewis in terms of performance and that is saying a lot because she is working with one of the best.

Paul Thomas Anderson continues his legacy in film with this epic, and he deserves a nomination for best director, if not, he deserves a win.

This film is one of the best to come out in the past 5 years and i could say its perfect.

I give it a 10 out of 10.
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Quiet and crackling
cliftonofun6 October 2018
Quiet movies are not usually my thing. I like pace and story and energy. But this film crackles in the quiet. PTA makes every scene feel like a battle, and the actors' performances rise to that challenge. It may be a quiet movie about a dress maker, but it is so much more - a battle of wills, a tension against each seam, a few characters slowly resigning themselves to something other than what they planned. If you described the plot, I would be like, "Really? That is the story?" After watching it, I can say it is not just a is a great story.
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Dying of the past
ReadingFilm14 May 2019
The artist and control; Guido suited him better in the 8 1/2 musical. The film's subversion is the child deviance beneath the handsome shell. When he meets her, he first smiles like a ten year old boy. When he shows her the dresses upstairs, he might as well have been dragging her to show off his model trains. I also saw Christoph Waltz all across this. That by extension, the Nazi, with Hitler in the artistic closet expresses his impotence for total fascist control. Here, every creak is demanded action against. What was most fascinating is on the first viewing you buy into his power and genuinely sort of fear him, but on the second he's an utter joke, an idiot. What is it that you gradually buy into her view to navigate the self-importance of the male ego. She sees the boy only. Problem. The entire film crumbles without his authority; the sister becomes sad not mean, Reynolds the tantrum baby. Alma becomes totally selfless which is the worst kind of writer-fantasy, a sort of art-house Mary Sue. Then it's a function of genre, as genX can only seem to do, films about films they grew up watching. Its thriller stunt disappears. The first act parodies these sort of romances. The middle, a black comedy. The last, well, there is none. Why it fails is it loves him too much, which goes against everything in our time. Anderson's trademark male gaze goes across every one of his works showing impotent or sexually frustrated men, that accidentally resonated across an entire generation for showing it as epic and cool male angst. "You're ruining my entire life." (What the Anderson fans say to their mums.) One problem with Phantom Thread is its indulgence meeting its restraint, is... the very tradition of the period piece bursting out its seams. It's what drove those artists already! Which might bring them to cheer, 'Thank goodness, those are great films.' But then measuring against literary masterpieces is it really the field you want to die on? Because the film itself is a hopeless cartoon outside its textures. His climactic scene: "She's turning us against each other" was tedious as he already had the revelation of love; it's going over the same bump twice. Jealousy? Why? She embodies perfect female virtue. Its conclusion is where it exposes the entire project as a half-thought out stoner fantasy: "I need you sick and helpless"--and she explains why, proceeding to give the doctor the least scandalous confession ever heard. Now its hollowness frustrates as Gothic romance, the spiders beneath, doomed and haunted relationships, it's the best genre, but it requires a real subversion rather than becoming this polished product of the House of Woodcock. Whether that makes an entire act where he's exposed as a true psychopath and she has to kill him. Whether he comes out of the closet. Whether she falls in love with another man. Something. Anything. It needs to feed the poisoned mushrooms.
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Could not survive it
jasontheterrible26 January 2018
I made it through two hours and walked out. That is pretty bad considering it was almost over and I did not care about missing the rest of it. I kept wondering when it would become dramatic or interesting in the least. It never does. The main character smiles incessantly at his next young lover. He has the maniacal leer of a 12 year old adolescent and that is how the film opens and carries on for 20 minutes. So I am immediately thinking "he may be a talented designer but he is a moron and so is she." There are no highs and lows throughout, just maudlin dialogue and frustrating relationships. The entire two hours I sat there was work and I could not make it all the way through.
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dkad-8429928 April 2018
I expected this movie to focus more on the glamour but there was no depth to the characters, only the appearance of depth. We never learned anything significant about them, but by the end I didn't care because their actions were pointless and empty, meant to impress the inexperienced. There is nothing interesting about selfish, ignoble, infantile characters no matter how beautiful the setting or strong the acting. At least there could have been a lesson, a point made, anything. Where are the dramas we used to love? Where is the soul? This was postmodernist garbage. Lazy, unimpressive writing. The glamorization of weak and ugly personalities with no redemption or lesson and no further point but to appeal to the vanity of the audience is becoming such a turn off this will probably be the last movie I watch for a long time.
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What a Let Down
kerrimp28 January 2018
Warning: Spoilers
I waited and waited to see this movie. I was expecting something completely different than what this movie is. I was looking forward to DDL's swan song. This was more like a lame duck song. His portrayal of Mr. Woodcock is excellent as is all of the roles he plays in other productions. But Alma grated on my nerves the entire movie. There are much better actresses that could have played this role. The movie has so many 'loose threads' (pun intended). So many times the story could have fanned out to create a more in depth and cerebral experience. And, once again, a movie that had a perfect time to end (at the New Year's Eve Ball) and it would have been very effective. No hugs, kisses, cries...just grab DDL's hand and walk out. Perfect. BUT, no. It went on for another 20 minutes or so with just a great deal of nonsense and useless information that added little to the movie. It seemed like a desperate attempt to save the entire movie. When I walked out of the theater after the movie was over I was actually ticked off. For me, DDL was great but he picked a dog of a movie to retire on. BUMMER.
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Phantom plot, if that
thrall75 February 2018
I cannot understand the praise this movie has received, aside from that for Daniel Day-Lewis' performance. It is, frankly, an insult to the movie-going public. My wife and I are both very well-educated individuals, which I think is important for anyone to know who thinks we just "didn't get it" with this movie. The same can be said about the couple who saw the movie with us. When it ended, we all looked at each other and felt that we had been had. The movie's title has no apparent connection with what passes for action in the film. Is this movie a love story? A study of the fashion industry decades ago? A battle of the sexes? Well, whatever it purports to be, it fails. It's pretentious, with lingering shots of couples or individuals passing for deep meaning. Long silences that do nothing to advance, or even explain, what passes for the story. Moody stares and shadowy lighting do not make a great film, or one as lousy as this. The musical score is probably the most intrusive of any film I've ever seen. Music swells to let you know that "This is important!" That doesn't work, and it interfered with scene after scene. Maybe the producers and director thought it added gravity to a movie desperately trying to show you that it is meaningful in so many ways. For many years the movie that most offended me, as an utter waste of my viewing time, was "Titanic." It has now been supplanted by this overwrought couple of hours of cinema. The worst movie I've ever suffered through, and that includes many of the ones lampooned on "Mystery Science Theater 3000." Come to think of it, that might be an appropriate venue for future screenings of this pretentious bore.
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Go See This With Caution
statuskuo17 January 2018
I cannot, with good conscience, recommend this film to typical Americans, but will say, it would be worth it if you gave it a chance. Because the nuance will fall on folks who want to be relieved of their lives. This film is about the social elite and their issues when it comes to a consumed artist. Most people who have made art as a profession will understand completely. The story is of a man who excelled at his craft and is forced to see the human in rough sketched lines. Does that sound interesting to people who've just stepped out of "Jumanji"? Nope. But it is high art. This film is artwork come to life which will fall on deaf ears of the general public who want a more visceral experience. This is atmosphere and mood. The details are exquisite and beautiful. Again, if your meals require you yell through a drive-thru squaw box, don't see this.
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This Could Have Been Pretentious, But It Wasn't
MarkoutTV17 January 2018
Tweet me @MarkoutTV if you have a comment about this review that you want me to see.

Most of the interest in this movie will stem from the reunion of Daniel Day-Lewis and Paul Thomas Anderson, star and director of There Will Be Blood, respectively. Moreover this allegedly will be the final performance of Daniel Day-Lewis' brilliant career. I say allegedly because similar rumors surrounded Lincoln, but given his famous selectivity regarding films, I am inclined to believe him and if this is truly his final performance, bravo on an unimpeachable career, sir (he won't read this).

This is a splendid film and one of the most captivating experiences I have had at a movie theater in quite some time. From scene one to the final, not a single person left the theater, not a single person talked or cracked a joke, and nobody took out their phone. An entire theater of people, singularly invested in what was on the screen. That is rare nowadays... even more rare when it comes to movies about dresses.

The credit for this phenomenon is all round. Let's start with the performers.

Although there are great supporting characters to be found here, particularly from Leslie Manville's performance as Reynold's stoic but well-mannered assistant, Cyril, this is a story about the relationship between two people: Reynolds Woodcock and Alma. Reynolds Woodcock is one of the mid-twentieth century's greatest dress-makers, his greatness brought about by his fiercely stringent routine and slavish devotion to his craft over any personal relationships. After a particularly stressful day he makes a solo sojourn to a diner where he meets Alma. There, they immediately take an interest in each other. Alma is a polite and self-conscious woman who immediately allows herself to become vulnerable in the confident-if-demanding arms of Reynolds.

I hesitate to call this film a "romance" or a "love story." I rather refer to the relationship between Reynolds and Alma as a great game: a game to see which one of them will get the other to make the necessary changes in order for their relationship to either become stronger, or fall apart. Reynolds is detached, possibly out of fear of falling in love or ruining his routine, possibly not. Alma's newfound sense of self-worth drives her to break down the rigid shell of Reynolds in order for him to prioritize her more. Again this may be because she is in love with him, or maybe she has never gotten close enough to another man to know how a relationship works, or maybe she secretly has the same need for power and control that Reynolds does, and not having it is maddening to her. All things are possibilities and there are infinite more.

I am using words like "possibly" a lot when describing the feelings and motivations of the characters here, and it's because this movie doesn't give you answers, and that's what makes it challenging, and therefore worth seeing. You will see these characters develop, you will see them argue, you will see them get along, you will see them exhibit coldness to one another, you will see them exhibit love and you will see them make some incredible decisions on their mutual-yet-connected journeys. However at no point will you be spoon-fed. Instead you will have to ask yourself: "what the hell are they thinking?" and be fine when you have to figure it out yourself. This film doesn't even answer the question of whether either of these people actually love one another. The most it does is show that to some extent, they learn to understand one another.

Daniel Day-Lewis is at his typical level of brilliance here. He perfectly plays the role of an obsessive personality, who is so averse to letting someone interfere with his work, yet who more and more, through both natural and artificial means, also doesn't want to lose the new woman in his life. It was a challenging role, with the need for confidence, intensity, comedic timing, physical and mental weakness at times, nonverbal communication and everything in between. If this ultimately becomes the framework for the definitive Daniel Day-Lewis performance, it will be earned.

However, I need to give a special shout-out to someone who was previously unknown to me, Vicky Krieps as Alma. She was given a difficult role to perform: she needed to have moments of vulnerability, confidence, sadness and glee. She needed to have both moments of submissiveness and vindictiveness and she had to make every second of her growth believable while acting alongside one of the most esteemed actors of all time. And she nailed it.

Only elevating the performances, Paul Thomas Anderson's direction is superb here. The film is lengthy, but not a single frame of 70mm film is wasted (and that's a good thing because that stuff is freaking expensive. Seriously those projectors are like tens of thousands of dollars each. The Alamo is one of the few theaters that has one and my ticket would've been like 23 bucks if it wasn't my birthday. Oh yeah, the movie).

Every moment of the film serves to advance the story. It's a slow burn, but you are always moving forward, and that is the important thing. The pace is consistently moving and therefore even though there are no time jumps or action scenes, it never gets boring. There is some damn stylish camera work here to boot, but it doesn't come off as pretentious. Pretentious is when M. Night Shyamalan says "Hey look what I can do" by trying to do a single-shot fight scene in The Last Airbender. When Paul Thomas Anderson does a single shot of Reynolds leaving his comfort zone while trying to find Alma (a woman who he still doesn't know how he truly feels about) at a crowded ball, you feel every level of his conflict. Everything from the beautiful imagery, to the spectacular camera work, to the authentic period representation, to the deliberate pacing and certainly to the career defining-performance of one lead, and the career-making performance of another, combine to make a delightful theater-going experience.

Oh and the ending is brilliant.

See it in 70mm if there is a theater near you with the capability.
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Same Thing, New Year
tommya-446442 March 2018
Warning: Spoilers
Arrogant designer to the aristocracy speaks in hushed tones and impossibly naive young girl "falls in love" with him for no apparently good reason.

I've never been a big fan of Daniel Day-Lewis and in fact find most of his movies dreadful, but I try. . . I try. In my opinion though, this just adds to the pantheon of dreadful work he has turned in over the years. I don't understand how or why people think he is as great as they claim.

Every year in awards season there is at least one, and usually more, film that some critics somewhere rave about and unknowing sheep get on the bandwagon and inflate their own egos by pretending to be intelligent movie watchers and continue the raving to the point where the film is grossly overrated. This is yet another example of that.

If you want to go to sleep, just take an Ambien!
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