I couldn't understand my feelings after seeing The Master. My friend Matt will say "Maybe because you spent the whole time checking your phone". Well, Matt is like me in that he's 'particular' and he exaggerates. I checked my phone a couple of times, possibly four, but not the whole time. Still, me missing .5 seconds of screen time to see how long my dog had been alone isn't why I felt lost after the movie. I honestly couldn't tell if I loved it or not. I guess it was kind of like cleaning your car - it takes awhile and you end up breaking a sweat but the next day you feel like a different person. Bad analogy. I guess it's more like a one night stand. Actually I've never had one of those. Maybe what I can compare it to the most is this: It's like watching Magnolia - you somehow feel smart and dumb at the same time, PT Anderson does that a lot to me.
My first introduction to PT Anderson was in 2000 while scanning a rack of new releases at Hollywood Video. It was probably a Friday around 5:30, I was probably with my Mom and I was definitely picking out movies to watch over the weekend. In junior high that was what I spent most of my weekends doing; being locked in my room watching movies that were either rated R or from the 80s while most kids were at football games or dances. That wasn't me though, and not for lack of trying. I can almost remember exactly what movies I rented that weekend. I'm pretty sure it was Fight Club, Magnolia and Reindeer Games. I was pretty cool.
That was a confusing first viewing of Magnolia. It was the last of three in a triple feature movie night all done while guzzling Pepsi and smashing on Domino's Pizza and breadsticks. As a kid, I wasn't sure of what to make of it. But it was long and it was fast and I think it was even funny. I can't remember, but I do remember feeling something - enough to get me to rent it the next weekend.
In high school during my second lonely period, this one caused by girlfriend things, I rented Punch Drunk Love. Same feeling as before: confusion mixed with joy. I wasn't sure if I loved it, but I felt inclined to buy the Special Edition on DVD and watch by myself on Saturday nights when I had nothing (and no one) to do. It wasn't until after that I realized this was the same guy who made that weird movie I saw a couple years back.
When There Will Be Blood came out I was in college and had an internet connection and a lot of time to myself. So, I knew everything about PT Anderson and Daniel Day Lewis that JoBlo.com could tell me. I watched it on my laptop (illegally, sorry) and god dammit, there's that feeling again. I don't know what to make of this thing. I know I like it but I couldn't tell ya why. I watched it several times with my film major hat on and pretended to understand what the fuck was going on.
This past year was my first time seeing a PT Anderson film in the theaters with an audience. It was a semi-packed house for the opening weekend of The Master and to be honest, I didn't care for the experience. No, Matt it was not because of my phone you dick. There is something about Anderson's films that seem... solitary. I feel like maybe they should be seen alone, at home, with the lights off and with a feeling inside that maybe no one will ever love you. Not in a packed theater with people laughing at the things I find sad. I need to see a PT Anderson movie in my old room at my parents on a futon.
Anderson's films are certainly divisive. People love them or they don't get them. They are never exactly what you want and rarely give you the answers. I think that's how kids felt about me in junior high, or how girls thought about me in high school. Now that I'm an adult though, I could care less. I'm Barry Egan and Daniel Plainview and Freddie Quell. My friend Matt is John C. Reilly.
Dylan Wise is the creative director of TMSDOTORG as well as host, producer, writer and overall fancy-pants. He is on twitter because he is very important.