Tuesday, February 24, 2009

PTA/GVS marathon film #1: Punch-Drunk Love.

"Shut up! Shut the f- up! Shut up! Will you..Shut Up! Shut, Shut, Shut, Shut, Shut up! Shut up! Now, are you threatening me?" Dean Trumbell(Phillip Seymour Hoffman)

We open on Adam Sandler. He's not quipping, not making jokes, not even relaxed. he's uptight, straight, uncomfortable. He's talking about some deal, something about frequent flyer miles. Is it important, I don't know. It's too early in the movie too tell. After the call, Barry Egan, Adam Sandler's character goes outside to look at the row of cars that lay in front of him. They start out of focus, then turn into focus. We then get a going around the corner and looking down the street. Silent and tranquil, it could be described as a cutaway. If only PTA had decided not to crash a car down the street. Disturbing the peace of the scene, it comes as a surprise. To us and Barry Egan. We then see another van, in a desperate attempt to get rid of evidence, leaves a piano on the sidewalk. Barry looks at piano. Piano doesn't move.
The phone call is the most important part of that scene.
It's surreal. It jumps and twists in ways physically incapable to a world like this. This isn't earth. this is Punch Drunk Love world.
Wait, this is a PTA film, right? Not Gus Van Sant? You sure?
My god it's surreal. It gets down to these eccentricities on display from Barry Egan. He gets mad, breaks windows, breaks down crying at random moments, and all during his sister's birthday party. He doesn't seem to be able to interact with anybody without being uptight and awkward, without feeling put on the spot. At one point he even says to one of his sisters, when trying to explain why he won't meet a girl whose interested in him "I feel like I would be put on the spot." You're always put on the spot deal with it.
No one seems to understand this world except for maybe Adam Sandler. Well, he doesn't really understand it, he just lives with it. He captures the eccentricities of Barry Egan, of this world, and yet his character doesn't seem to know what they are. You've got character's questioning him on and on about the pudding and the piano and he hates it because he doesn't have an answer to it. He doesn't, unlike every single other character in the movie, question his existence. He just goes with it.
Other then him, no one really knows. The only person who is seemingly is comfortable is Phillip Seymour Hoffman, because not only does he make sure he is detached from the surreality, but he's Phillip Seymour Hoffman, so he really kind of seems to be on top of everything. However, we never know if this is the case or just his personage.
But it's not just the characters, but also PTA who doesn't seem to understand. His camera doesn't understand. His script doesn't understand. his editing, well it kind of understands. No one understands.
This movie is amazing. You just have to go with it instead of fight it. Just say, "I'm going to go for the ride with you", and you will love it.
PTA just lets the movie move at such a fast pace. Two scenes have Barry Egan juggling four or five things at a time. One has him dealing with sisters while working with clients, more a preliminary scene to the main scene with multiple things happening, where he is trying to juggle his sister, her friend, the workplace, and a sex phone line person(what are they called?) who is blackmailing him. Nice.
This was such a huge surprise, as I thought I would love magnolia and Boogie Nights more then this. I still could, but this will be hard to top.

Verdict: This movie is so strange, and so wierd, but if you go with it, it is an amazing experience. The word is surreal.


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  2. I loved the car crash, because it was so random, a staple of PTA's in every film outside of There Will Be Blood, at least I don't think there was any surreal random moment in that film.

    Great review, great movie.


    Was that not surreal?