Paul Thomas Anderson Season at the Light House Cinema

By Cora Quigley

To celebrate the release of his upcoming feature – sure to be a compelling indirect look at the roots of Scientology – ‘The Master’, the Light House Cinema in Smithfield will be hosting a retrospective of the films of Paul Thomas Anderson from the 4th till the 21st of November. This will be Anderson’s sixth film since his first feature length film, ‘Hard Eight’, in 1996. In the sixteen years since his debut, Anderson has managed to produce quite a diverse and almost universally critically acclaimed body of work which has cemented his status as an auteur in the Hollywood of today. Whether or not you’re a seasoned veteran when it comes to his films or a complete newbie, the chance to see any one of his films on the big screen is definitely one worth availing of.

Hard Eight (1996) – 7th of November

Anderson’s first feature film sees John (John C. Reilly) being taken under the wing of Sydney (Philip Baker Hall) in more ways than one. At the beginning of the film Sydney finds John sitting dejectedly outside a diner, alone and penniless. Sydney buys him coffee, gives him a cigarette and offers him 50 dollars and a ride to Vegas. Once there, Sydney shows John how to manipulate casino etiquette and sets him up with someone who can give him money to pay for his mother’s funeral. Following the day of their fated meeting, their lives become unwittingly intertwined, and we soon learn that there’s more to the mysterious Sydney than meets the eye. While not the best of his films, Hard Eight is an exciting and intriguing crime thriller with a simple story that serves as a good introduction to Anderson’s directing style. It is also interesting to see how he formed a relationship with Reilly and Hall who he used in subsequent films.

Boogie Nights (1997) – 7th and 11th of November

Boogie Nights is a more ambitious feature than Anderson’s debut, and definitely one of his best. It features Mark Wahlberg as Eddie, a high school drop out with a strained relationship with his alcoholic mother. He soon catches the eye of porn director Jack Horner. Eddie then enters the industry under the name Dirk Diggler and becomes a great success because of his rather large, er, package.  Not to mention the 70s camp, action-themed porn movies he creates and stars in alongside Reed Rothchild. The film focuses not only on Eddie’s rise and fall, but chronicles the hardships in the lives of many of those around him during the Golden Age of Porn in the 1970s. Like many of Anderson’s other films, its strength lies in the believable and empathetic characterisations of the supporting cast. Julianne Moore is heart-breaking as porn actress Amber Waves with a turbulent family life, and Heather Graham shines as the youthful Rollergirl who is continuously tormented by the judgment of her chauvinistic classmates.

Magnolia (1999) – 11th and 14th of November

The power of coincidence and the meaning of chance serves as the main theme for Anderson’s 1999 drama. The film begins by introducing us to an array of seemingly unrelated characters, whose lives, as the film progresses, turn out to be more intertwined than we are initially led to believe. Among these characters we have Julianne Moore as a soon-to- widow, Phillip Seymour Hoffman as her dying husband’s nurse, Philip Baker Hall as a kids quiz show presenter, William H. Macy as a former winner of said kids quiz show and John C. Reilly as a lonely cop who is constantly seeking to validate his work – to name but a few of this extensive, talented cast.  The film also contains one of Tom Cruise’s best performances as the misogynistic, self-help men’s dating guru Frank Mackey, which led to an Oscar nomination for the actor. The Aimee Mann penned soundtrack which brings it all together adds a further emotional punch to these entwining stories.

Punch-Drunk Love (2002) – 14th and 18th of November

Punch-Drunk Love is Anderson’s take on a romantic comedy drama and, much like his other films, it isn’t what one would typically expect from the genre. Not least the startlingly emotional performance from Adam Sandler which leaves you wishing that he would take on similar roles more often. He plays the emotionally distressed Barry. He’s stuck in a thankless job and has an even more thankless role among his family of female siblings who seem to take pleasure in criticising him. His life has left him lonely and prone to fits of rage, without anybody to turn to for help. Things begin to change one day after a bizarre incident involving a car accident, an abandoned piano and an unexpected meeting with the beautiful Lena, played by Emily Watson.

There Will be Blood (2007) – 18th and 21st of November

‘There will be Blood’ sees Daniel Day Lewis step into the shoes of the charismatic and bitter prospector Daniel Plainview in this epic, set during the era of Southern California’s oil boom. The story spans a number of years, from his adoption of H.W. in 1902, to where he eventually ends up in 1927. What occurs in these 25 years are the sacrifices, risks and the abandonment of  human empathy that must occur in order for Plainview to establish himself as a successful business man and a force to be reckoned with. The film also features Paul Dano as the twins Paul and the truly detestable Eli Sunday, proving himself yet again as a staple for characters we love to hate. Also, it was quite frankly robbed of the Best Picture Oscar in 2008.

A season pass for the whole event is available for €30.

Tickets for the event can be booked here.

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