Sunday, December 12, 2010

Beware the Fury of a Patient Man: Punch Drunk Love.

Punch Drunk Love, 2002, directed by Paul Thomas Anderson. Written by Paul Thomas Anderson.
starring: Adam Sandler, Emily Watson, Phillip Seymour Hoffman.

"A beleaguered small-business owner gets a harmonium and embarks on a romantic journey with a mysterious woman." (IMDB).

Before I say anything, I'll say that I *loved* this, loved it in the theater, loved it ever since, and loved it last night. But I can absolutely see how it would really annoy the piss and blood out of people. The score alone was like tin foil on fillings, but I think everything worked as a production because that uncomfortable flow, that tense anti-Sandler-like weirdness (I dare speculate) was the point of it all. I don't think they marketed this as a traditional comedy, but they maybe should have warned people about it since I've talked to about a million people who truly hated this film.

This is why I liked it:

1. I think Adam Sandler did this role really, really well. "Yeah, no, I gotta stay here. I can't leave, I gotta stay here." It was an interesting, believable portrayal of a man who has been beaten down his whole life (by women). I cheered every time he broke something or started beating up inanimate objects.

2. I won't get too political with this (light hearted blog), but those sisters? Horrible human beings, all of them. Shrew/wife-beater/bully, it's all the same to me. 

3. The love story was amazingly well done in the midst of all the erupting chaos. Those scenes where Barry (Sandler) stands with all the ringing, the scolding, the questions, and the forklifts crashing, I realize this is not a traditional picture of what happens in mixed company, but I thought it was a really skillful take on building anger and frustration, and not one that's limited to the socially awkward. Had this not ended well between Barry and Lena I would feel very differently about it, but as things were, I was extremely pleased when all was said and done. 

4. Uncomfortable humor (as a genre) I don't think really got going maintstream until The Office (American production wasn't until 2005), so I don't think that many people quite anticipated this sort of humor, especially from Adam Sandler. Paul Thomas Anderson seems to have a gift for it---one of my very favorite scenes from Boogie Nights was Dirk Diggler's (Mark Wahlberg) uncomfortable deadpan on the couch in the cocaine house with the exploding firecrackers and Jesse's Girl blasting? It went on forever and I'm sure it annoyed people but man, I thought it was killer! Life is full of those weird, awkward pauses and blank looks, isn't it? People say strange things. People lose their tempers. Families members are weird to each other. Humanity is crazy! 

So as Dexter's season finale airs tonight, I'll be taking a break from the shit-fest. I can barely wait to see what tomorrow's mail holds in store for my netflix, if the mail carrier can actually get here, of course. We just got done with the biggest blizzard in at least a couple years over here!