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! 


Donald said...

How did this get on the list? I've never seen it, so maybe it's terrible, but I've heard nothing but good things. People love this movie. This film made your list but Exorcist II didn't?

Anna said...

again, with the list questioning? it's a worthy discussion, i thought.

i have not seen exorcist 2, we'll hit that one next year.

Justin Garrett Blum said...

I've never seen this film, but I think people just like to hate on Paul Thomas Anderson. I've only seen a couple of his films: Boogie Nights and There Will Be Blood. The first was okay, and the second I really didn't care for at all. I'm willing to keep an open mind about him, though.

Donald said...

What can I say? I'm a man who loves structure and rules. You used to work with me so you know this to be true. In fact, I can be a real pain in the ass. I just feel like a list that is referred to as "Shit-Fest" should be unquestionably the shittiest of the shitty.

It'd be sort of like if I threw Halloween into the middle of my Christmas movie marathon, just because one of my friends told me his family watches it every Christmas. That would make no sense. It's not a Christmas movie!

But I'm over it and I still love you. I'm your number 1 fan!

That Chick who likes to Procreate said...

well, in terms of actual shittiness, i'll organize what i feel to be the shittiest of the shitty, so you can breathe easy on that rule. it was always of the people, for the people, and by the people, this list, so everyone gets a voice.
plus, if there weren't a few "wild card" films that actually weren't THAT shitty, i may have just offed myself by now. I tried watching THE BOUNTY HUNTER (i think that was the title) a few nights ago and i may have found something worse that Gigli.

and that's why we're complimentary; you're structured and disciplined, and equal-opportunity with your critiques, you and Justin help me keep focused. I let my emotions get the better of me and change the rules all the time.

That Chick who likes to Procreate said...

and I totally would be the one to justify putting Halloween on a Christmas list, you know I would.

That was really nice and thoughtful, though, btw. Thanks. Sometimes I wonder just how much I must annoy you (like at work). many, MANY times Chris (who talks more than I do) had to tell me to shut my cock-holster. His words.

Donald said...

Shut your cock holster? That wouldn't even be funny if you were at a bar, hanging out with friends. At work that's just awful.

What a shithead.

Anna said...

i think he meant it lovingly. i had probably been talking to the cops for 45 minutes by then. . .

Anna said...

and don't hold it against him; I'm sure I said it multiple times back so I'm an equal shit head.