Punch-Drunk Love (2002) Film Review


Watching this film several years ago, I recall thinking it was like watching a really awful car accident. Barry Egan is a very insecure, introverted man who has been tormented by his seven sisters his entire life and is prone to outbreaks of violence against inanimate objects. At the same time as he meets love interest Lena Leonard (Emily Watson), he ends up in a battle with the man running a phone sex line which Barry used once and who is running a scam to extort money.

It’s a tough film for a lot of reasons. It is intensely emotional, with such massive extremes, and Barry Egan is clearly such a broken man who needs a lot of help to get anywhere near being “normal”. Yet, every person in his life (or at least, his family, including his brothers-in-law) seem to be unable to help in any real way. When Lena comes along, there is a sense of hope, but on the other hand, it is totally implausible that a relationship could develop between these two. Perhaps if she’d been seen to be more messed up, or something. If there was some hope that Barry could actually pull it together… I don’t know. Thinking about this reminds me of Silver Linings Playbook that I watched last year. I didn’t like it all that much, and again I think it was the implausibility of the relationship. At lease Silver Linings showed more of the female character and her flaws, but I still found that relationship hard to believe.

Definitely a sadtacular film. But it has reminded me of the admiration I have for the marvelous Emily Watson.

The Master (2012) Film Review


Freddy Quell (Joaquin Phoenix) returns from war a broken and deeply alcoholic man. He is violent, finds it hard to hold down a job, and is surprised one day to wake up on a boat with a group called ‘The Cause’. This is a cult-like religion headed by ‘The Master’, Lancaster Dodd (Philip Seymour Hoffman) a charismatic leader who believes that current issues in life can be solved through processing past lives and experiences. Despite the belief of much of Dodd’s family, including his wife Peggy (Amy Adams) that Quell is not committed to the cause and is instead the source of many problems, The Master embraces him as a subject.

I found this a hard film to watch because Phoenix’s portrayal of Quell is so raw and aggressive, and there is the sense that there is no hope for the man. Director Paul Thomas Anderson tells epic stories laced with tragedy – including Magnolia, Boogie Nights, Punch-Drunk Love and There Will Be Blood. I’m going to have to revisit There Will Be Blood, which bored me to tears. I feel I must have missed something.

Joaquin Phoenix was nominated for an Oscar for Best Performance by an Actor in a Leading Role, a BAFTA for Leading Actor and a Golden Globe for Best Performance by an Actor in a Motion Picture – Drama.

Philip Seymour Hoffman was nominated for an Oscar for Best Performance by an Actor in a Supporting Role, a BAFTA for Supporting Actor and a Golden Globe for Best Performance by an Actor in a Supporting Role in a Motion Picture – Drama.

Amy Adams was nominated for an Oscar for Best Performance by an Actress in a Supporting Role, a BAFTA for Supporting Actress and a Golden Globe for Best Performance by an Actress in a  Supporting Role in a Motion Picture – Drama.

Paul Thomas Anderson was nominated for a BAFTA for Original Screenplay

Boogie Nights (1997) Film Review


It had been so long since I’d seen the film. All I could remember was that it was fabulous. It did not disappoint – such magnificent performances, excellent scripting, wonderful costume and set designs. It is amazing.

Boogie Nights is the story of the rise of Dirk Diggler (Mark Wahlberg) a young and extremely well-endowed man who forged a career in the adult film industry. Led by one of the top producers in the field, Jack Horner (Burt Reynolds in one of the film world’s greatest comeback roles) and taken under the wing of actress Amber Waves (Julianne Moore), Diggler achieves stardom in the porn world. But, for all of the players, the partying, drugs and money have a finite life. Especially when the industry is turned on its head with the introduction of video.

I’m such a whinger about long films – I truly believe that most film stories can be told in ninety to a hundred minutes, and that going above this is rarely worth it. Boogie nights is two-and-a-half hours long, and not a moment is wasted. If every long movie was as good as this, I’d stop complaining. I promise.