New Jersey Stage
New Jersey Stage on social media


This article is from our magazine. To view it in its original format, click here

REVIEW: "Phantom Thread"

By Eric Hillis, TheMovieWaffler.com

originally published: 01/23/2018

REVIEW: "Phantom Thread"

Should you decide to visit your local cinema to take in a showing of Phantom Thread, Paul Thomas Anderson’s latest offbeat character study, you might want to make a bit more effort with your wardrobe than you’re accustomed to for such outings. After spending 130 minutes totally immersed in the world of 1950s high fashion, I felt like an utter rube walking out of the cinema in my jeans and hoody combo.

Phantom Thread is as immersive as cinema gets. From its opening sequence, which takes us inside the House of Woodcock, a London fashion house run in quietly tyrannical fashion by renowned dressmaker Reynolds Woodcock (Daniel Day Lewis), Anderson’s film dismisses any thoughts we might have of our own world of 2018. As we witness Reynolds go about his daily grooming routine it becomes clear we’re watching a movie about a perfectionist, one made by a perfectionist, and starring a perfectionist in what is reputedly his final acting role.

Set in his ways like a tree set in concrete, Reynolds knows what he likes, and he likes what he knows (the film is set at a time when no man was more attractive than one who made things; and if those things happened to make women feel beautiful, like Reynolds’ gowns, all the better). As such, his relationships with the many admiring members of the opposite sex rarely get past the following morning’s breakfast, where idle chit chat and toast buttering irritate him to a laughably over the top degree.

It’s during breakfast away from home, in a small country café, that Reynolds meets Alma (Vicky Krieps), a pretty Eastern European waitress who is won over by his flirtatious charm and accepts his invitation for a dinner date. The relationship blooms quickly and Reynolds invites her into his home, teaching her the ways of his trade.

REVIEW: "Phantom Thread"

It doesn’t take long for Alma’s ways to begin annoying the fiercely independent and somewhat narcissistic Reynolds, and her presence begins to disrupt his work - she’s become an anti-muse! Reynolds’ assumption that she will follow the other women in his past and leave quietly once exposed to his spoilt brat boorishness couldn’t be more wrong however. Alma is determined to make the relationship work, even if she has to take extreme measures.



The article continues after this ad

 


Hell is other people, Reynolds appears to believe, but they’re useful to have around when you’re sick. Literally haunted by memories of his mother, the only woman he seems to have truly loved before meeting Alma, Reynolds only fully appreciates Alma’s affection when he falls ill and is once again a little boy seeking comfort in a woman’s bosom. Once back on his feet however, Reynolds returns to his solipsistic state.

So extreme at times is Reynolds’ emotional cruelty towards Alma that she doesn’t know whether to laugh or cry, and you’ll find yourself in a similar quandary, as Reynolds is an utter cad, but one whose barbs are so cutting in that classic British manner that you’ll be rolling in the aisles at some of his putdowns. Phantom Thread is one of the most laugh out loud hilarious films of recent years, Lewis displaying such a natural gift for comic timing that it’s regretful he never got to explore that side of his talent in his presumably now complete career.

If you believe a well directed film is one that never makes you think about its direction, Phantom Thread is a masterclass in the craft. Perhaps on a second viewing I might be more attentive to Anderson’s camera and blocking, but two minutes into his latest film I was so engrossed in its central characters that Anderson could have filmed the whole thing with his camera upside down and I wouldn’t have noticed. It’s a film in love with the people in front of the camera, and the sumptuous world they inhabit, and Anderson gives himself over to let his actors take centre stage. When your lead actors are Daniel Day Lewis and the relative newcomer but instant star Vicky Krieps (who does far more than simply hold her own opposite the screen legend, going so far as to snatch entire scenes from his considerable grasp), that’s a wise decision.

Some commentators have described the central relationship of Phantom Thread as an extreme one, and while it’s certainly more dramatic than most, there will be few viewers who don’t find themselves uncomfortably identifying with either Reynolds or Alma at moments. Chances are you’ve been either the Reynolds or the Alma, or perhaps even both, at some point in a romantic relationship. Anyone who claims their partner loudly scraping toast at the crack of dawn wouldn’t irk them deserves a Nobel Peace prize, and we’ve all felt overly smothered by affection. Equally, few of us haven’t naively invested too much in a romantic partner who doesn’t warrant, deserve or even crave such attention.

It might be the most brutally honest movie about romantic relationships to come out of mainstream American cinema since Eyes Wide Shut, but despite such a heady exploration of how awful people can be for each other, Phantom Thread is an undeniably romantic yarn, one which never judges its protagonists for their extreme behaviour towards each other, and ultimately it leaves us content in the knowledge that two difficult but fascinating and compelling characters have found their equal.

4 1/2 Stars Out of 5

Directed by: Paul Thomas Anderson; Starring: Vicky Krieps, Daniel Day-Lewis, Lesley Manville, Gina McKee, Brian Gleeson





For more by this author, click here






2018 Westfield International Film Festival To Take Place September 20-23
(WESTFIELD, NJ) -- Anybody can go to a movie theater to watch a film, but the Westfield International Film Festival is bringing movies to the mansion with its sixth season at the James Ward Mansion in downtown Westfield from September 20 - 23, 2018!  The festival will span a four day weekend and will include Q&A sessions with actors and filmmakers, networking opportunities, and red carpet parties.
JCTC FILM Premiers DEKA-LOG, New Series Depicting Contemporary Urban Life
(JERSEY CITY, NJ) -- A new anthology web-series by an up and coming, Jersey City-based filmmaker, premiers at Merseles Studios on August 23rd when Jersey City Theater Center presents DEKA-LOG: a Finding Me story.  Doors are at 6:30pm, screening at 7:00pm.  Admission is $10.
​​​​​​​The Newton Theatre Presents a Silent Film Halloween With A Live Orchestra
(NEWTON, NJ) -- The Newton Theatre presents a trio of ghostly silent films paired with the original historic orchestral scores on Saturday, October 27 at 3:00pm. Travel back to the early 1900s to cheer and hiss with Buster Keaton in The Haunted House (1921), Laurel and Hardy in Habeus Corpus (1928), and Charlie Chaplin in One A.M. (1916). Between the films, enjoy the rollicking rhythms of the early 20th century as played by The Peacherine Ragtime Orchestra, featuring favorites by Scott Joplin, Irving Berlin, and more! Fun for the whole family!
A Look At New Jersey Film Festival's Fall 2018 Lineup
(NEW BRUNSWICK, NJ) -- The 36th Bi-annual New Jersey Film Festival Fall 2018 will take place at Rutgers University in New Brunswick from September 14 - October 26.  The festival showcases new international films, American independent features, animation, experimental and short subjects, and cutting-edge documentaries through over 30 film screenings. The Festival will run on select Thursday, Friday, Saturday, and Sunday evenings. The festival is presented by Rutgers Film Co-op/New Jersey Media Arts Center, in association with the Rutgers University Program In Cinema Studies.
​​​​​​​Montclair Film and Hackensack Meridian Health Mountainside Medical Center To Hold Free Screening of "MILK"
(MONTCLAIR, NJ) -- Montclair Film and Hackensack Meridian Health Mountainside Medical Center will present a free screening of MILK (2015) on Wednesday, August 29th at 10:30am at Montclair Film’s Cinema505. The screening, presented in celebration of World Breastfeeding Month, seeks to educate and promote breastfeeding among nursing and expecting mothers.


Newark Black Film Festival
​​​​​​​Richard Wesley is a playwright, screenwriter, and professor of Dramatic Writing at the Tisch School of the Arts at New York University, and has been involved with the Newark Black Film Festival for well over three decades. A Newark native, he’s currently the Chairperson of the festival’s Selection Committee. The NBFF is currently in full swing, with a screening of Cadillac Records tomorrow, and the biennial Paul Robeson Awards for young filmmakers taking place on Wednesday, August 8. This season’s program also features the films Selma, I Called Him Morgan, The Art of the Journey, Coco, and Hidden Figures. We recently spoke with Wesley about the history and mission of the Newark Black Film Festival, the role it plays in the lives of young filmmakers, and a chance encounter with Sidney Poitier that launched him into the film industry.
REVIEW: "Skyscraper"
Over the last half century, the concept of blockbuster spectacle has flipped on its head. In the 1960s, big budget spectacle meant Steve McQueen jumping over a barbed wire fence on a motorcycle without the aid of a stunt double, or Julie Andrews screaming her lungs out on a Swiss mountainside. Science fiction was relegated to Saturday morning screenings of b-movies, which parents would use to relieve themselves of their tykes while they went shopping. George Lucas  changed all that a decade later, and now sci-fi and fantasy dominates the multiplex, while the only movies featuring practical stunts are those low budget straight to VOD action movies designed to showcase the athleticism of former MMA fighters.
REVIEW: "BlacKkKlansman"
Spike Lee’s BlacKkKlansman isn’t a remake of Ted V. Mikels’ infamous 1966 grindhouse staple. Rather it’s based on true events (“Dis joint is based on some fo’ real, fo’ real shit,” reads the title card, because Lee is apparently a 12-year-old boy), the story of how rookie cop Ron Stallworth (played here in a star-making turn from John David Washington, son of Denzel) became a member of the Ku Klux Klan in 1978, despite being an African-American.
REVIEW: "When I Sing"
Most of the world learned of Linda Chorney in 2012 when her name was listed as one of the Grammy nominees for Best Americana Album. Her film, When I Sing, not only follows her rise from obscurity to the Grammy Awards, it goes much further.  It’s a love story between a die hard Red Sox fan and a Yankees fan; a spotlight on how indie artists survive on the road; and a deeply, revealing portrait of how the media and the music industry turned what could have been a wonderful Cinderella story into a very hurtful experience.
REVIEW: "Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom"
I recall hearing an anecdote concerning a society of pranksters in 1970s London who would take trips en masse to the cinema, only to walk out when or if the title of the movie in question was spoken by a character. That lot would get their money’s worth with Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom, as it’s not until the closing minutes that a returning original cast member (in a blink and you’ll miss it cameo) informs us that we’re now living in a “Jurassic World.” It’s the sort of cringeworthy moment that would normally cause me to groan, but I was so broken down by the laziness and ineptitude of this fifth installment in the franchise that I couldn’t even muster a sigh by that late point.






Event calendar
Wednesday, Aug 22, 2018


MUSIC

New Jersey Association of Verismo Opera Chorus Auditions @ Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, Emerson - 6:30pm

Allah-Las @ Asbury Lanes, Asbury Park - 7:30pm

CIRCLES AROUND THE SUN @ The Wonder Bar, Asbury Park - 8:00pm

STASIS @ The Saint, Asbury Park - 7:30pm

Victor Wainwright & The Train @ Lizzie Rose Music Room, Tuckerton - 7:30pm


THEATRE

Saturday Night Fever @ Surflight Theatre, Beach Haven - 8:00pm

The Lion In Winter @ Cape May Stage, Cape May - 8:00pm

Shakespeare in the Park' Twelfth Night & Macbeth @ Englewood Library, Englewood - 6:30pm







FILM

The Greatest Showman @ Englewood Public Library, Englewood - 7:00pm

FREE SUMMER MOVIE: COCO @ Mayo Performing Arts Center (MPAC), Morristown - 10:30am and 7:30pm

View all events










 






















For more on our awards, click here








New Jersey Stage © 2018 by Wine Time Media, LLC | PO Box 140, Spring Lake, NJ 07762 (732) 280-7625 | info@newjerseystage.com

Images used on this site have been sent to us from publicists, artists, and PR firms.
If there is a problem with the rights to any image, please contact us and we will look into the matter.