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Punch-Drunk Love (2002)


DanBuck
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Okay saw PDL finally, and was sooooo ready to love it. But I just thought it was okay. I felt like it had interesting characters but never really developed or explored any of them. I like Anderson's films, and have always thought that his strength (unlike Payne and Jonez) is that his dispicable characters become friends because we get to know them so well. Three hours will do that for ya. But in 96 minutes I felt like I had just met this guy and all the sudden it was over.

Perhaps Anderson has been criticized for his lengthy films and is overcompensating. But I wanted more. I walked away from the film thinking, it was going in good directions, but never got anywhere.

I know a lot of you love this film - defend it. A lot of you have talked about a second viewing, and I'll have to give that a shot I suppose. But I would think even people who loved the film might have agreed that it would've been better had there been more of it.

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But in 96 minutes I felt like I had just met this guy and all the sudden it was over.

Perhaps Anderson has been criticized for his lengthy films and is overcompensating. But I wanted more. I walked away from the film thinking, it was going in good directions, but never got anywhere.

The last time I saw this movie was in the theatre. I need to see it again before I say too much but in its defense, I know one of P.T. Anderson's goals with this film was to do something light. Initially he said that Magnolia was supposed to be something fast (as in production time) and fun among friends but it turned into something epic and serious - he said that's what happens when you give someone like him Final Draft (screenwriting software).

So PDL was the fun movie that Magnolia was not. Along these lines, he said the reason he chose to work with Adam Sandler was because he was a big fan of his films. Anderson said that after a long, stressful day of shooting, one of the ways he would unwind would be to pop in a Sandler flick. He wanted to work with Sandler to get some insight into how Sandler makes HIS films.

Now that I'm writing about the film I'm reminded about why I loved it so. I lump PDL in with Amelie and Ocean's Eleven - fun films made by serious directors, like eatting desert at a fine restaurant as opposed to buying a pie at K-Mart. Oh, The Italian Job belongs in there as well.

Now that the DVD is out, I'll be picking it up soon. I may have more to write then if this thread is still around.

God bless,

randall

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Alright, I'll jump in. I loved this, and while I haven't seen it since the theater, I did catch it twice there. I think of three things off the top of my head that make me love this movie.

One, the unexpectedness of the whole story. I had no idea where it was going next, and I find that to be a rare occurrence these days. What makes this unexpectedness great though is that it left me so unsettled, which I think flows really well with the kind of character that Sandler inhabits. On a related note, I think the music beautifully contributes to this unsettled feeling. The scene when his sister brings Lena to visit him is masterful in its use of sound. Great stuff.

Two, I really liked the place of the Harmonium in the story. I liked Barry's interaction with it, and the progression he makes with it, as he progresses in his own life, dealing with his own issues.

Third, and most importantly, the picture of grace that we see in Lena's character. She is mysterious, yet she is the element that enter's into Barry's life from outside himself to bring him healing and peace. Lena admires him from afar. She knows him first. She sets up a meeting with him when she drops off her car, just for a chance to meet him in person. She pursues him after finally being introduced by his sister. She initiates the first date. It

All great art is pared down to the essential.
--Henri Langlois

 

Movies are not barium enemas, you're not supposed to get them over with as quickly as possible.

--James Gray

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Okay saw PDL finally, and was sooooo ready to love it. But I just thought it was okay. ... In 96 minutes I felt like I had just met this guy and all the sudden it was over.

I know a lot of you love this film - defend it.

Not me. I agree with you, 100%. Saying that I didn't think the film amounted to a masterpiece doesn't mean that I thought it was terrible, but just so-so. It's missing something, and I think you may have tapped into it with your comment on the running time. The ending is quite abrupt.

John, your comments are well taken, and I see your point without agreeing with your conclusions. You felt sated at the end of the film, but others, like me, were let down. Still, I envy the experience you, and others, had watching the film. I love it when a film sends me soaring. I wish I could say I experienced the same thing, but I didn't.

Like Dan, I might watch the film again. It's certainly got a lot going for it, and it does have some notable performances, but the end product just misses. I'm not sure why.

"What matters are movies, not awards; experiences, not celebrations; the subjective power of individual critical points of view, not the declamatory compromises of consensus." - Richard Brody, "Godard's Surprise Win Is a Victory for Independent Cinema," The New Yorker

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Guest Russell Lucas

That second viewing really might catch you by surprise. My wife and I saw it theatrically. I walked out thinking that the film had thrown me several curves as far as my expectations went, that his use of light and color and sound had really caught me off-guard and that after the intricate relational layers of the ensembles in his previous two films, I couldn't quite grasp that this film had such a comparatively straightforward narrative. Still, though, I thought it had so much emotional honesty that I liked it. My wife, who shares my taste in movies seventy-five percent or so of the time, scoffed and heaped scorn on the film the entire ride home.

We watched it again last week. I was attuned to both his technical language and the way he was telling the story this time around, and I went from having strong liking to loving the film. My wife 180'd, and found a lot to like in Anderson's story of one misfit finding another.

I really wouldn't add another minute. As I said on the other board, I found myself identifying with Barry's hesitancy, and there's so much genuine sweetness in the relief he and she feel when they discover that they're in the company of someone who can abide and adore their sensitivities and strangenesses.

Perhaps Anderson was trying to throw back at his critics their complaint that he was running overlong. If so, I think he succeeded.

On second viewing, I'm not quite as enamored of the harmonium. Maybe I'll change my mind, but it seems just a little too obvious a symbol.

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Christian wrote:

: It's missing something, and I think you may have tapped into it with your

: comment on the running time. The ending is quite abrupt.

So, rather than think it should have told the same story but twice as slowly (which is how I interpreted Dan's comments), you think it should have told twice as much story? I disagree, either way. I think this film revealed just enough to make its point, and given how self-indulgent Anderson's last two films were, I appreciated his restraint here.

"Sympathy must precede belligerence. First I must understand the other, as it were, from the inside; then I can critique it from the outside. So many people skip right to the latter." -- Steven D. Greydanus
Now blogging at Patheos.com. I can also still be found at Facebook, Twitter and Flickr. See also my film journal.

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Perhaps my expectations played a role here. This ultimately is like a "Filmella" (klike a novella but on screen) Half as long as his other films, 3/4 of the average film these days. Its length felt awkward. Not enough to be a full film, too much to be a short film. Not that a film has to confine to my expectations, but that might exaplin why I felt cheated.

You know when you're eating a candy bar and you eat the last bite without really paying attention. Then you look down and realize there's none left. You feel cheated. I call it "Lacking Candy Bar Finality." That's what seemed to happen in this film.

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I think my experience with Punch-Drunk Love is similar to Russell's. I saw it in theatre and thought it was pretty good, but nothing spectacular. However after watching it on dvd I loved it. It was weird, but things I found odd or didn't understand the first time started to come together for me. I ended up watching it a third time also, and it just got better and better.

Of course, now I'm in the awkward position of being the only person at work who actually liked it at all. Everyone else hated it. And on that note, off to work I go. Later.

"A director must live with the fact that his work will be called to judgment by someone who has never seen a film of Murnau's." - François Truffaut

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Guest Russell Lucas

Again, Dan, on a second viewing you might find that the length is just right. There's a degree of minimalism (in dialogue, in action, certainly in exposition) present in the film that would make unnecessary scenes stick out like sore thumbs. I sure don't want to see an epilogue with Sandler and Watson and a yard full of kids breaking sliding glass doors. :wink:

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Again, Dan, on a second viewing you might find that the length is just right. There's a degree of minimalism (in dialogue, in action, certainly in exposition) present in the film that would make unnecessary scenes stick out like sore thumbs. I sure don't want to see an epilogue with Sandler and Watson and a yard full of kids breaking sliding glass doors. :wink:

Not unless Norm McDonald and a large penguin are there as well.

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Christian wrote:

: It's missing something, and I think you may have tapped into it with your

: comment on the running time. The ending is quite abrupt.

So, rather than think it should have told the same story but twice as slowly (which is how I interpreted Dan's comments), you think it should have told twice as much story? I disagree, either way. I think this film revealed just enough to make its point, and given how self-indulgent Anderson's last two films were, I appreciated his restraint here.

Huh? You take from my comments that I want twice as much story?

"What matters are movies, not awards; experiences, not celebrations; the subjective power of individual critical points of view, not the declamatory compromises of consensus." - Richard Brody, "Godard's Surprise Win Is a Victory for Independent Cinema," The New Yorker

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Christian wrote:

: Huh? You take from my comments that I want twice as much story?

Well, a comment like "the ending is quite abrupt" implies that you don't want the story to end, yeah.

"Sympathy must precede belligerence. First I must understand the other, as it were, from the inside; then I can critique it from the outside. So many people skip right to the latter." -- Steven D. Greydanus
Now blogging at Patheos.com. I can also still be found at Facebook, Twitter and Flickr. See also my film journal.

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Christian wrote:

: Huh? You take from my comments that I want twice as much story?

Well, a comment like "the ending is quite abrupt" implies that you don't want the story to end, yeah.

But it doesn't imply I want twice as much story. So you're setting up a strawman.

"What matters are movies, not awards; experiences, not celebrations; the subjective power of individual critical points of view, not the declamatory compromises of consensus." - Richard Brody, "Godard's Surprise Win Is a Victory for Independent Cinema," The New Yorker

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Christian wrote:

: But it doesn't imply I want twice as much story. So you're setting up a

: strawman.

Well, you were responding to (and agreeing "100%" with) someone who complained that this film was only half as long as the director's previous films, but whatever. (In fact, now that I re-read DanBuck's comments ("I had just met this guy and all the sudden it was over"), it seems to me that maybe HE wanted twice as much story, too.)

"Sympathy must precede belligerence. First I must understand the other, as it were, from the inside; then I can critique it from the outside. So many people skip right to the latter." -- Steven D. Greydanus
Now blogging at Patheos.com. I can also still be found at Facebook, Twitter and Flickr. See also my film journal.

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Of course, now I'm in the awkward position of being the only person at work who actually liked it at all. Everyone else hated it. And on that note, off to work I go. Later.

I saw this movie twice in the theater. Both times, I withheld a guilty glee in watching the moviegoers file out of the theater because it was almost always obvious who saw this movie because it was a P.T. Anderson movie and who saw it because they thought it was an Adam Sandler flick.

Ah, simple pleasures.

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Guest Russell Lucas

I saw this movie twice in the theater. Both times, I withheld a guilty glee in watching the moviegoers file out of the theater because it was almost always obvious who saw this movie because it was a P.T. Anderson movie and who saw it because they thought it was an Adam Sandler flick.

Ah, simple pleasures.

Regrettably, there weren't enough Sandler fans fooled by his presence to give the film box office success. If Chris Farley had been around to take the Mattress Man role...box office gold, I tell you.

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  • 4 weeks later...

I saw this movie twice in the theater. Both times, I withheld a guilty glee in watching the moviegoers file out of the theater because it was almost always obvious who saw this movie because it was a P.T. Anderson movie and who saw it because they thought it was an Adam Sandler flick.

Ah, simple pleasures.

LOL. Had a similar experience recommending Unbreakable to friends who evidently thought it was going to be a Bruce Willis movie--oops. But I'm not trying to hijack this thread.

Loved PDL--look! Adam Sandler can really act, when he's not writing and directing himself! Put it on list of of movies for students to review. Only one chose it; unfortunately, she also chose to plagiarize her review, so I'll never know whether she watched the film herself or not, or what she really thought about it.

Guess I'll try again this year.

There is this difference between the growth of some human beings and that of others: in the one case it is a continuous dying, in the other a continuous resurrection. (George MacDonald, The Princess and Curdie)

Isn't narrative structure enough of an ideology for art? (Greg Wright)

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BethR wrote:

: Had a similar experience recommending Unbreakable to friends who

: evidently thought it was going to be a Bruce Willis movie--oops.

Huh? Unbreakable was directed by the same director who made The Sixth Sense -- was THAT not a "Bruce Willis movie"?

One of the things about Bruce Willis that I've always liked is that he does try to mix his genres or lend his star power to off-beat projects every now and then. Die Hard (intense action movie), Pulp Fiction (hip indie flick), The Sixth Sense (ghost story), The Kid (Disney movie), The Whole Nine Yards (silly comedy), Nobody's Fool (drama), Color of Night (erotic thriller), Breakfast of Champions (which I admit I have never seen -- for that matter, I haven't seen the last two films I mentioned either -- but it's an Alan Rudolph film based on a Kurt Vonnegut book, so I throw it in for good measure) -- these are all very, very different kinds of movies.

In comparison, there was really only ONE kind of "Adam Sandler movie" before Punch-Drunk Love came along.

"Sympathy must precede belligerence. First I must understand the other, as it were, from the inside; then I can critique it from the outside. So many people skip right to the latter." -- Steven D. Greydanus
Now blogging at Patheos.com. I can also still be found at Facebook, Twitter and Flickr. See also my film journal.

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I loved PDL. I thought Maglonia was got bogged down in trying to bring all it's elements together, but one aspect of that movie that catches me every time and makes the whole experience worthwhile is the relationship between the cop and the coke-head. It's beautiful how badly they need eachother, neither of them being whole on their own. Punch-Drunk Love took a similar idea, and made it the main feature. I know that it's not a particularly original premise, but Anderson goes so far over the top to make Bary completely disfunctional when he's without Lena that it works. As always, Anderson was spot on with regards to the music, color, and other technical details, but what make the movie work for me was that story.

Scott -- 2nd Story -- Twitter

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"I hate to hear 'I lo-ove you,' when all you mean is need / You need her like you need a drug, to keep you cool inside..." -- 'I Hate', by Logic Conspiracy (the short-lived Trinity Western University-based band on whose demo tape Carolyn Arends sang a few BGVs; one of the band members, now with Clumsy Lovers, was her brother)

"Sympathy must precede belligerence. First I must understand the other, as it were, from the inside; then I can critique it from the outside. So many people skip right to the latter." -- Steven D. Greydanus
Now blogging at Patheos.com. I can also still be found at Facebook, Twitter and Flickr. See also my film journal.

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  • 6 years later...

I find this hard to believe, but according to the Film Journals I haven't seen this in over five years.

Maybe it just caught me right, I don't know, but I am moving from a four out of five to a 5/5 at Netflix.

I don't know if I'm in a groove or if it's only because I'm checking out a lot of films from this decade to compare together for my Top 10 list, but I'm on one of those film rolls right now, and don't you just love it when that happens?

It's my personal belief that Paul Thomas Anderson has now done three masterpieces in a row. It just took me a few years to really admit that this was the second one.

And man. Adam Sandler! Never thought I would be a huge fan. But here, once -- count me in. WHY doesn't he do more films like this instead of that goofy silly stuff he gets stuck in?

I'm going to watch the other three films, I'm giddy with excitement.

HEck I'm even going to watch Hard Eight for the first time ever...

Edited by Persona

In an interstellar burst, I am back to save the Universe.

Filmsweep by Persona. 2013 Film Journal. IlPersona.

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PS What year was the Brew and View, mL? What year did you leave to go overseas? I just can't believe it's been that long, and that it's taken me this long to call it a masterpiece.

Edited by Persona

In an interstellar burst, I am back to save the Universe.

Filmsweep by Persona. 2013 Film Journal. IlPersona.

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