Paul Thomas Anderson’s Best Clips


For almost as long as he has been making feature films, Paul thomas anderson has also had a low-key career as a leading music video director. Given that Anderson’s features are often the kind of cinematic statements the viewer is forced to grapple with intellectually, it’s hard not to view his music videos as a simple, fun thing that he does in parallel. However, if you watch PTA’s release as a music video director, you can see all kinds of visual touches that appear in his films as well and vice versa. Moreover, the fact that Anderson threw Alana Chaim as the leader of his neighbor Licorice Pizza argues that PTA’s music videos are an integral part of his development as an artist.

Although at the same time they are always a fun thing he does on the side. Freed from the boundaries of narrative storytelling (for the most part), his clips allow the director to indulge his more playful side while seeing how much he can do different things with a steadicam. If you thought his films showed a love of long shots and traveling shots, they have nothing to do with the elaborate journeys Anderson’s camera takes around the various empty buildings and streets of LA featured in his videos. While Anderson’s films have become more meticulous as his career has progressed, his low-budget music videos show a place where the director can scale it down and see what he can do with just a camera, a musician and a great song.

RELATED: Every Paul Thomas Anderson Movie Ranked From, Er, “Least Best” To “Most Best”

“Try” – Michael Penn (1997)

Known for his heavy use of ’70s pop music set to a stray camera penetrating the lives of some messed up porn industry figures, Boogie evenings also includes a score provided by the composer and singer / songwriter Michael penn. Apart from this obvious link with Boogie evenings, Paul Thomas Anderson’s debut music video (shot around the same time) has all kinds of connections to his breakout movie. Not only does Anderson indulge in the same mastery of the “long take in music” that he has shown in Boogie evenings‘opening sequence, but the video also presents Boogie evenings old students Philippe Seymour Hoffman and Thomas jane. Shot in a downtown LA office building that contains North America’s largest hallway, this uninterrupted shot of a video is remarkably ambitious for a 3-minute clip and gives a taste of what was to come. happen in movies and music videos from PTA. .


“Save Me” – Aimée Mann (1999)

Since there is a memorable scene in the late 1999s Magnolia where all the people of the San Fernando Valley who inhabit the film sing Aimee MannIn “Wise Up”, the singer had already left her mark on the film. However, this single (nominated for an Oscar) and the accompanying music video make Aimee Mann and Magnolia feel even more connected. While this might not be the most impressive of PTA’s videos, it’s still more inspired than it should be considering it was shot at the same time as the movie itself. Choosing not to go the lazy route of shooting a soundtrack music video that inserts random movie clips into an otherwise unrelated video, Anderson is literally letting Mann down in the film universe. We see her singing fervently in front of the camera in these long, lingering shots where she haunts the characters, much like her music haunts. Magnolia himself.

“Paper bag” – Fiona Apple (2000)

Paul Thomas Anderson and Fiona Apple were, quite simply, a Gen X match made in heaven. The two dated for a year or two around the turn of the century, and both inhabited a certain mark of raw and bewildering freshness in their work, which would only become less. commercial until after their separation. Although, for this short and glorious period of time that the two were dating, Anderson made a series of memorable videos, which encompassed the dizzying black-and-white accompaniment of Apple’s takeover of “Across the universe” and most Apple videos When the pawn album. In these videos you see both Anderson’s bravery filmmaking (in the case of “Across The Universe”) and more improvised nature (see “Quick as fast as you can”) which would inhabit many of his later videos.

The highlight of these video collaborations has to be “Paper Bag,” which might be Fiona Apple’s best song besides the video which is perhaps Anderson’s best in the medium. One thing (among many) that’s so great about it is how much it contrasts with the more pungent nature of the Anderson and Apple characters. It’s just a beautifully crafted ode to Hollywood musicals, while the visual of Apple dancing with a group of boys dressed like the 40s is way cuter than anything you’d expect to see in a PTA movie. Yet here he allows his more sentimental side to flourish, while the video’s lighter tone and use of reds and blues also paves the way for his next film, 2002. Drunk love punch. But even taken out of Anderson’s context as a filmmaker, the 3-minute clip is one of the most perfect things he’s ever filmed.

“Hot knife” – Fiona Apple (2013)

There is plenty of room to speculate as to why Paul Thomas Anderson went over a decade without directing music videos. Maybe that’s because he focused on cinematic opuses like There will be blood and The master it did not allow the distractions of less ambitious projects. Maybe it’s also because Anderson assimilated making music videos with his ex-girlfriend and was more interested in spending time with his new partner, Maya Rodolphe, and forge a family together in his spare time from making movies. Either way, Anderson buried the hatchet with his former romantic and creative partner in his stead and Apple teamed up for “Hot Knife.” It’s hard not to remember the amber-tinted simplicity of The master‘s visuals while watching this video, while the silhouettes of Apple and its sister, Maude Maggart, bear more than a striking resemblance to Joaquin phoenix and Philip Seymour Hoffman watching himself in this movie. While not on the more extravagant side of PTA’s music videos, the stark lighting and boldness of the visuals make him one of the best examples of him doing a lot with little.

“Sapokanikan” – Joanna Newsom (2015)

Certainly a product of Inherent vice, the adaptation by Thomas Pynchon stars Joanna Newsom in a small role and as the film’s narrator. The video has an equally spontaneous vibe as this movie, although it’s much easier to get a feel for as it consists of little more than Newsom singing the song’s bouncy melody and walking the cold city streets. It’s a little weird to see anything done by Paul Thomas Anderson that doesn’t take place in California, but the video embraces New York City as that place where there’s always something interesting going on back- plan. It’s easy to imagine they were making up the video while they were filming it, which culminates in the happy fire truck red light accident that lights up Newsom’s face as she says goodbye to her camera. Anderson at the end of the video.

“Reverie” – Radiohead (2016)

Whereas Radiohead guitarist Jonny Greenwood has been one of Paul Thomas Anderson’s most essential collaborators (he is the songwriter of every PTA movie of There will be blood To Phantom wire), a Radiohead / PTA clip seemed inevitable. In many of the director’s films, there is an affinity for eccentric and elusive men, so placing Thom Yorke in the middle of another of PTA’s signature “follow a singer around” videos feels absolutely natural. There isn’t a lot that sets “Daydreaming” apart, for example, the Michael Penn video or the Joanna Newsom video, as it also sees Thom Yorke walk through the doors of different environments while scenes from life everyday (literally) pass by. But the formula works well with the dream of the song, while the sheer alienation inherent in the visuals feels so appropriate to what a lot of Radiohead’s music represents. Plus, the video finale where Yorke jumps down a snow tunnel and falls into a fire-induced sleep is the kind of wonderful weirdness you’d expect from PTA and Radiohead.

“Summer Girl” – HAIM (2019)

Since meeting in the mid-2010s through a mutual friend and their mutual love for the San Fernando Valley, HAIM and Paul Thomas Anderson have been almost inseparable when it comes to directing music videos. Their collaboration began with the 15 minutes “Valentine” video that captures the band in the studio in one long take, what Alana Haim said referred to “something no one else had seen before and really captured us as a group.” Since then, they’ve made a series of videos together that build on the shaggy Los Angeles aesthetic that Haim already established in their early clips, but have that PTA way of making something look crisp, even though the videos were designed and filmed. in a few days.

It’s hard to pick a favorite from the Haim / PTA videos, but there’s something particularly contagious about the 2019 ‘Summer Girl’ video, which was prepped while Haim was working on the song in the studio and PTA dropped by. . The simple “gimmick” of the video is that the three Haim sisters are constantly removing layers of clothing as the video progresses as they inevitably embrace the heat of a summer in LA. We see them walking through a series of different LA landscapes (which includes the cinephile mecca, The New Beverly Cinema) and generally indulging in a cheerful casualness that captures the hazy vibe of a hot summer night. Regarding Paul Thomas Anderson’s collaborations with musicians, we can say that this one is now the most successful, as it led Alana Haim to play in Licorice Pizza, and we’ll see if the movie has any other directorial tips that PTA has learned since filming HAIM. Or any other musician for that matter.


‘Licorice Pizza’ poster reveals Paul Thomas Anderson’s coming-of-age story set against the backdrop of 1970s Hollywood

The film is slated for release this year.

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