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Archive for February 21st, 2018

 © 2018 by James Clark

 In the spirit of craft, so central to this film, we’ll cover first (all but one of) the essentials of where it’s going; to be followed by how it fares. Though set in London in the 1950s, purporting to be a love story about a renowned couturier, Reynolds Woodcock, and a young woman, Alma, first seen as a waitress in a rural locale, we have to get over its old-timey, sentimental sheen and take to heart how old and wooden the maestro is and how like an ungainly woodcock Alma is (searching at night in soft ground—in her case, for poisonous mushrooms by which to seal his dependency on her). They have a child, and by their lights have a happy life.

Fans of Pride and Prejudice might be tempted to imagine that the good old days are back. But how many 50s romance aficionados are left out there? Has Anderson overestimated that the emotive skills of actors, Daniel Day Lewis and Vicky Krieps, could draw a crowd to pay the bills for his deep and difficult 21st century vehicle? (From my perspective, I’m saddened, but not surprised, that in a centre of more than 6 million, only 2 theatres found it worth showing.) This massively quixotic endeavor ensnares us in its fantastic brilliance which no one wants to see.

There are many candidates vying in this picture, for filling the presence of “phantom thread.” We’re given, if we’re awake enough, a foothold on the real breakthrough very early on. Reynold’s current doll begins to chafe at the breakfast table, denouncing him (politely, of course, this being a drawing room in the realm of British good breeding) on account of, “There’s nothing I can do to get your seeing me…” The rigidly tastefully groomed owner of the mid-town Georgian mansion which doubles as his studio and production floor—seen at the outset, one morning, attending to body and raiment as if he no longer can, as if he ever did, distinguish between perfect artefact and human volcano—stages thereby what he might imagine to be a British volcano in telling the talkative serf, “I can’t begin my day with confrontation… I simply have to have silence.” At which, a rendition of “My Foolish Heart” fills the cordon bleu air. (more…)

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