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In Praise of Paul Thomas Anderson’s Open Mind on Cinema

Ever since Marvel’s Avengers: Endgame became the biggest earning film of all time, the success factor has turned into a scrutinised debate. Are they really cinematic? Or is it just superficial entertainment for a studio to make the big bucks? Each individual has an opinion, but ever since director Martin Scorsese chimed in saying that they simply aren’t fundamental pieces of ‘cinema’ the debate has been placed directly under the big Hollywood lights.

Scorsese, whose film The Irishman is set to debut in limited theatre release and on Netflix soon, likened the effect of Marvel’s Cinematic Universe to that of theme parks. “It isn’t the cinema of human beings trying to convey emotional, psychological experiences to another human being,” the director said during an interview with Empire. And while it is true they aren’t your typical award nominated, or film festival screened flicks, they are exhibits of entertainment fitted for a certain type of audience and genre lover.

The divide of opinions is uncommon when talking about this particular industry, that’s the art of cinema. However, it’s hard to ignore the advice actor-director John Krasinski got from Paul Thomas Anderson when they discussed a film he didn’t like. “He so sweetly took me aside and said very quietly, ‘Don’t say that. Don’t say that it’s not a good movie. If it wasn’t for you, that’s fine, but in our business, we’ve all got to support each other,” Krasinski said of PTA. The Inherent Vice and There Will Be Blood director is unlike anyone in the film industry. His protection towards movie making should be praised during this argument. Anderson brings up a valid counter argument to those who want to diminish the efforts that go into making big budget superhero films such as Endgame.

Joaquin Phoenix and Paul Thomas Anderson on the set of Inherent Vice (2014)

Despite dropping out of filmmaking school after a few days, PTA truly appreciates the graft of creating something that people will appreciate, even if it doesn’t smash box office records. It’s clear through promotional Q&A’s on both Reddit and Twitter for his film Phantom Thread last year that he’s a film buff who has a genuine interest in other movies and loves to shine praise on his fellow directors. He doesn’t treat their work as enemies but insists on throwing support and highlighting the talent behind the production process.

“Dude, Paul Thomas Anderson is out there on the wall for us! He’s defending the value of the artistic experience,” Krasinski said. True. If there’s one top lad in cinema its PTA.  Our hero, the lover and supporter of all things cinematic. In this generation where films are now heading straight to Netflix, we need people such as Anderson to continue putting out films for audiences to watch the proper way, sitting in front a big screen and enjoying every bit of essence that the cinema provides. Plus you can’t have the pleasure of watching his films in 35mm and 70mm (a camera style PTA’s pals Tarantino and Nolan also have an adoration for) if your sat at home indulging in a Netflix and chill.

And, while the complicated factor of his films make us think logically, Paul Thomas Anderson’s affirmation of the value of cinema in an age of digital viewing is clear. Don’t hate on films, but instead appreciate the process of what goes into making them. Films are a both a source and product of creativity, we don’t know if Anderson agrees or disagrees with Scorsese but what we do know is that films of all genres and narratives are welcome for us to enjoy.

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