PHANTOM THREAD (USA 2017) ****

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Phantom Thread Poster
Trailer

2:31 | Trailer
Set in 1950’s London, Reynolds Woodcock is a renowned dressmaker whose fastidious life is disrupted by a young, strong-willed woman, Alma, who becomes his muse and lover.

 

Screened for critics and press ‘for your consideration’ awards season, PHANTOM THREAD (opening Christmas Day) already arrives with accolades of good news.  PHANTOM THREAD marks two of writer/director Paul Thomas Anderson’s firsts.  PHANTOM THREAD is his first film shot outside the U.S. and also makes his most structured film..  Which is good, as his looser piece THE MASTER was a mess.

50’s London.  The film’s main character is renowned dressmaker named Reynolds Jeremiah Woodcock (Daniel Day-Lewis).  He and his sister Cyril (Lesley Manville) dress members of the royal family, film stars, heiresses, socialites, debutants and dames with the distinctive style of The House of Woodcock.  Women come and go through Woodcock’s life, providing the confirmed bachelor with inspiration and companionship, until he comes across a strong-willed young woman, Alma (Vicky Krieps), who soon becomes a fixture in his life as his muse and lover. Once controlled and planned, he finds his carefully tailored life disrupted by love.

A major factor in PHANTOM THREAD is necessarily the costumes.   Mark Bridges is credited for doing the costumes which include some of his original designs along with designs from Versace and Balenciaga.  Supporting actress Lesley Manville has been quoted as saying that she spent more time fitting than in acting rehearsals.  

Three-time Oscar WinnerDay-Lewis is nothing short of perfect as the obsessive perfectionist designer.  But star credit goes to Mike Leigh’s favourite actress Lesley Manville who plays Reynold’s sister,  Cyril who is more that just a sister.  She controls her brother and everything around her.  Obviously things come to a boil when she tries to keep Alma under her hand.

The film is bookmarked by Alma telling and narrating her love story.  Written by Anderson, one assumes that the film is based on fiction as the story includes a chapter in which Ama poisons Woodcock with mushrooms.  A murderer would never confess a murder in his or her story.  The film is best described as a trouble romantic drama rather that a biopic of a famous designer.  Anderson captures perfectly the moment of love when the two fall in love for the first time.

Anderson’s film unfolds meticulously in every scene, planned and executed, reflecting the careful care the subject Woodcock puts into the design of his dresses.  Though the film’s pace is slow, the film is no less compelling.  The audience is kept on their toes from start to finish.  One cannot predict what raw emotion will unfold next, whether Woodcock would blow up or be pleased.  The best example is the segment in which Alma empties the Woodcock house so that she can prepare dinner for with with just the two of them.  When Cyril advises against it, Alma still goes ahead.  The suspense on how the evening will go, makes the film’s mosts suspenseful moment.  Anderson  uses closeups frequently as well as piano playing on the soundtrack to heighten the tension in a scene.

PHANTOM THREAD marks Anderson’s best movie along with THERE WILL BE BLOOD, also incidentally starring Daniel Day-Lewis.
Trailer: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xNsiQMeSvMk

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TIFF 2017 Movie Review: GUTLAND (Luxembourg/Germany/Belgium) ***

Movie Reviews of films that will be playing at TIFF (Toronto International Film Festival) in 2017. Go to TIFF 2017 Movie Reviews and read reviews of films showing at the festival.

Gutland Poster

Writers:

Razvan Radulescu (script doctor), Govinda Van Maele

Stars:

Frederick LauVicky KriepsPit Bukowski

A very surreal thriller noir set in a farming Luxembourg community, a rarity that makes GUTLAND a very intriguing film. It begins with the arrival of an outsider in the agricultural community of Schandelsmillen. Harvest season is already well underway, but Jens (Frederick Lau), a German drifter, is looking for work.

He is taken on as a farmhand — and also to bed by Lucy (Vicky Krieps), a single mother who picks him up at the village beer hall. He is visited by the town mayor who warns him never to sleep with the folk’s married women.

It turns out that Jens is not an innocent outsider but a robber with a past to hide. But the townsfolk are not that innocent either. The mayor’s band with Jens as a new recruit makes good irony.

The film is quite confusing and I had to sit back and ponder the plot and put the pieces after the closing credits. But that is not necessarily a bad thing.

Trailer: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Sif439KtxWM

GUTLAND