Phantom Thread was arguably the best film of 2017: a sumptuous, strange masterpiece that felt all too personal to the auteur who crafted it. Featuring what's supposed to be the final performance from Daniel Day-Lewis, it's a realtionship drama that - despite its eccentricities - becomes all too real and truthful for anyone who's ever committed themselves to another human being. Paul Thomas Anderson keeps maturing and getting better with every motion picture, so even imagining him quitting would be a crime.
Turns out PTA agrees, as in a recent discussion of the picture, he made it clear he's not looking to put his camera away any time soon:
“This is what I want to do as long as I’m able to do it."
The response came to a question regarding how long an artist can maintain their level of quality, to which PTA playfully continued:
“Apparently there was a kind of health report that went out to Directors’ Guild of America members, and it said something to the extent that the average life expectancy for a DGA member is 57 years [laughs]. It can take a lot out of you. You’ll see other filmmakers that you like whose best work is here or there and in the middle or at the end.”
Anderson also took a moment to poke Quentin Tarantino, who has said on more than one occasion that he'd like to retire after completing his tenth film:
"I know Quentin [Tarantino] likes to say, ‘I’m making 10 movies and then I’m quitting.’ But I could never do that. I don’t know how he could say that, or how he could take himself seriously when he says that...I think things can become peculiar when directors don’t act their age maybe, or seeing them try to keep up with the kids or trying to be hip. That’s never a good look.”
Oooooh, diss. Just kidding. PTA and QT have had a long-standing friendly rivalry when it comes to each other's work, as Tarantino has even labeled Anderson the only living filmmaker he thinks is on the same level as he is (we'd tend to agree).
But Anderson's tour doesn't stop there, as he recently appeared on Bill Simmons' podcast, and started dropping some rather ambitous hints as to what he's got lined up next, including some mysterious 600-page script:
"What I will probably try to do next, foolishly, is go back to that 600-page thing that I have and try to see if there’s anything to carve out of it."
And how does one approach whittling 600 pages into a feature film?
“I will probably try to daydream about what I know is in there and wonder how much I can get away with not looking at it and just write from what I know that’s in there that is good. Because when you go back into those 600 pages, it’s a briar patch isn’t it? Right? You start to see something, ‘well this is not a bad idea and maybe I should follow that thread?’ And the next thing you know, two hours later you really pissed the day away, right?”
I'm not even going to try and say I totally understand PTA's creative process, because he's a maniac that I love so much. What I will do is throw on my copy of Phantom Thread tonight, just to let it wash over me again. I'd suggest you do the same.
(Header photo courtesy Jürgen Fauth for Wikimedia Commons.)