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Last updateTue, 18 Sep 2018 1pm

Thom Yorke, the lead singer of Radiohead, played a second sold-out night at the Greek Theatre in Los Angeles in support of his third solo album, Anima.

Yorke’s solo work goes beyond experimental. Envision the best of Radiohead, mixed with electronic goodness and then darkly weaved into a styling that would please EDM fans—and perhaps make New Order jealous.

Yorke’s bottomless rhythms make one want to rave. He bounded from keyboards to guitar to electronic doodads, turning switches and knobs to summon beats and bass—and wow his followers. Yorke was clearly enjoying himself, interacting with the audience via eye contact and the gleeful grin of a musician clearly having a ball.

The set list included “Two Feet off the Ground,” “Runwayaway,” “Has Ended,” “Impossible Knots” and the dance-y “Black Swan.” Fans expecting Radiohead tunes left disappointed—but frankly, his new material is a fantastic example of how artists evolve and grow.

The lighting and visuals projected on the giant screen made for a striking abstract complement to Yorke’s frenzied dance moves, which I suspect were not learned at an Arthur Murray Dance Studio.

Except for an occasional “thank you” here and there, Yorke said little and instead focused on the music. I had seen Yorke perform before, at Coachella, but this solo concert was a more a refined effort that would make any music fan get up and feel life.

On a side note, I highly recommend the short film Anima, directed by Paul Thomas Anderson with Yorke’s score, now streaming on Netflix. It’s a must see—and a great introduction to Yorke’s solo material.

Published in Reviews

The latest film from Paul Thomas Anderson finally did in actor Daniel Day-Lewis: He announced his retirement from acting before Phantom Thread made it to movie screens late last year—just in time for awards season.

Timing is everything: The film nabbed six Oscar nominations, including Best Picture and a Best Actor nom for Day-Lewis.

Day-Lewis tends to kick his own ass when he plays roles. A notorious method actor, he stayed in the role of Abe Lincoln for the Spielberg biopic when cameras weren’t rolling, and word has it that he did heavy research for his role as a 1950s dress-maker and fashion maverick in Phantom Thread.

That crazy research and attention to detail most contributes to Day-Lewis’s tendency to inhabit a role like no other. I maintain that the greatest single performance by any actor, anywhere, ever, is his portrayal of Daniel Plainview in There Will Be Blood—Day-Lewis’s first, and best, collaboration with Anderson.

Reynolds Woodcock (Day-Lewis) runs a tight ship when it comes to his dressmaking business. He works and lives alongside his sister, Cyril (Lesley Manville), along with the occasional muse. When his latest muse starts interrupting too much during breakfast time, she’s dismissed—and Woodcock goes on the hunt.

He finds a new muse in Alma (Vicky Krieps), a waitress he quickly asks out to dinner, and then to come back to his place. Rather than pouring some wine and getting to know her better, Woodcock immediately—and literally—puts Alma up on a pedestal and starts building a dress. Alma goes from enchanted to mildly bewildered by Woodcock’s actions, but she sticks around and eventually moves in.

Alma is not the standard Woodcock muse, in that she wants more of his time—and wants him to slow down. A scene in which Alma hatches a plan for a romantic dinner for two proves to be the best in the film and a turning point in the movie.

In the dinner scene’s aftermath, Alma does something that carries the film into the sort of weird, bizarre territory that we’ve come to expect in an Anderson film. (It’s not quite as wacky as frogs falling from the sky in Magnolia, but still.) In fact, the final act of this movie is so strange that it left me wondering whether the whole thing was just a fantasy or dream playing out in a character’s mind. It’s not your standard, tidy romance film. Instead, it ventures over to the more twisted, haunted side—with a helping of dark comedy.

Day-Lewis turns Woodcock into an obsessive prick, a narcissistic celebrity who has no regard for other people’s time. Krieps, a relatively unknown actress from Luxembourg, doesn’t just share the screen with Day-Lewis; she often steals scenes from him. Her Alma holds a lot of surprises, not all of them the happy kind. Also, Manville is masterful as the controlling sister who knows her brother’s routine.

The movie works on many fronts. It’s an acting showcase for Day-Lewis and Krieps, and another fine example of technical achievement for Anderson (who did his own camerawork), in service of another great script from the director. You could view Phantom Thread one time as a statement on relationship codependency, and then watch it again as an observance of celebrity selfishness. There’s plenty of meat on the bone.

There are a few slow stretches, but the movie mostly moves at a good pace, accompanied by another fine score from Radiohead’s Jonny Greenwood. This is the fourth film Greenwood has scored for Anderson, after There Will Be Blood, The Master and Inherent Vice.

If this is indeed Daniel Day-Lewis’ last film, I’m genuinely satisfied with what this man did with his career. Also … I want the man to live a long and happy, healthy life. He takes the craft a bit too seriously, so him calling it quits now lowers the risk of him traveling to Mars to play an alien, or sucking on meth pipes to play a junkie.

As for Anderson, while Phantom Thread doesn’t achieve the majestic heights of There Will Be Blood or Magnolia, it’s another great installment in a career that has had no missteps.

Phantom Thread is playing at theaters across the valley.

Published in Reviews

I abstain from weed because some people really shouldn’t do drugs. If you are like me, you might need two or three viewings to completely get the vibe and plot of Inherent Vice.

However, if you watch the movie while mildly high, you might follow everything in one shot.

I’ve watched director Paul Thomas Anderson’s latest film twice now, and it was almost like watching a different movie the second time through. I enjoyed it both times, but the language and proceedings made more sense to me on the second go-round. I must have some sort of latent stoner sensibility stored in my brain from bong hits in years past.

Joaquin Phoenix plays Doc, a sloppy private investigator in 1970 Los Angeles who operates, inexplicably, out of a doctor’s office. When an ex-girlfriend (Katherine Waterston) goes missing, he conducts a haphazard investigation into her disappearance that involves dead people who aren’t dead, drug-dealers and kidnapped real estate moguls. All of these things are being investigated by a guy who is seriously high most of the time, and who pieces things together at his own mellow, clumsy pace.

Along the way, Doc comes across a parade of colorful characters—with each one played by a brilliant actor or actress. Josh Brolin is perfection as an unstable, macho cop with a penchant for kicking down Doc’s door. Phoenix and Brolin have a lot of fun making the characters bitter enemies, even though they’re almost chummy at times. Brolin’s final scene is, shall we say, surreal and bizarre on joyous levels.

Owen Wilson does some of his best work in years as a musician, believed dead, who has gone into hiding. He has scenes with Phoenix that are borderline brilliant, as does Martin Short as a lascivious dentist with a taste for young girls and pharmaceutical-grade cocaine. Anderson may have given Short his best role since his SCTV days, even though Short is only in a few scenes.

Benicio del Toro shows up as Doc’s attorney; his character reminded me of his similar role in Terry Gilliam’s Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas. Reese Witherspoon caps off a great year by playing Doc’s uptight current girlfriend, and Jena Malone has a terrific scene as a wife who pleasantly and happily discusses her drug addiction and missing husband.

The mystery, if you want to call it that, ties up fairly cleanly. The film, despite what some folks are saying, has a beginning, a middle and an end that makes sense. You just have to work at it a bit.

The locations, clothing and hairstyles are very 1970s. The film plays like a stoner mood piece, swinging from relaxed to paranoid, unintelligible to highly coherent—as if you are going through the various phases of some high-grade kush.

You might be thinking, “Hey, this sounds a little bit like The Big Lebowski.” Lebowski was a lot cuter, and far funnier. Both stories do, however, feature a stoner dude investigating a missing person. (It should be noted that the Coens wrote and produced Lebowski 11 years before Thomas Pynchon put out the novel on which Inherent Vice is based.)

If you’ve never smoked weed, but have a friend that does smoke, go see the movie with them. You may not get it, while your friend’s mind will be blown. He or she will explain some things to you, and you’ll be all set for a second, more-informed viewing.

Also: Do not smoke weed for the first time before seeing Inherent Vice. The stuff out there now is pretty damn powerful, and the site of Phoenix’s Wolverine chops will surely freak out a first-timer.

Inherent Vice opens Thursday, Jan. 8, at theaters including the Cinémas Palme d’Or (72840 Highway 111, Palm Desert; 760-779-0430).

Published in Reviews

I count director Paul Thomas Anderson’s There Will Be Blood and Magnolia as two of my all-time-favorite films. The Daniel Day-Lewis performance in Blood currently stands as my favorite performance by anybody, in any movie, ever.

What I’m saying is that Paul Thomas Anderson is one of the greatest directors to ever set foot on the planet. I suppose as a critic, I’m supposed to avoid such grandiose remarks, but screw it: I feel confident my declaration will stand until my dying days.

That said, The Master—out Feb. 26 on DVD and Blu-ray—is my least-favorite of his movies. However, on a grading scale, I’d still give it a “B,” which is a good grade, and lord knows I’m a tough grader.

The pre-release scuttlebutt about the film declared that it was Anderson’s take on the advent of Scientology—but it isn’t. Instead, it’s about a stressed-out World War II Navy sailor (Joaquin Phoenix), a cult leader (Philip Seymour Hoffman) and their strange, almost-codependent relationship.

Watching these two square off is a delight. They both received Oscar nominations, and they both deserved them. I guess I was seeking a little more substance in the story itself, and felt Anderson was repeating himself a tad (especially with the Jonny Greenwood soundtrack; Greenwood also provided the music for Blood).

It’s a good movie featuring astonishingly great performances. I just want more from Anderson. I’m a selfish bastard, and I admit to this, so there.

Special Features: The disc takes a unique approach to deleted scenes by creating a short film of outtakes and even bloopers scored by Greenwood. It’s a great way to watch deleted footage, and I actually wish some of these cuts had made it into the movie. There’s also a behind-the-scenes short film, culminating in a rather funny fart moment. Finally, you also get John Huston’s World War II documentary Let There Be Light, a film Anderson borrowed from while making The Master. Some of Phoenix’s dialogue is directly drawn from it.

Published in DVDs/Home Viewing