Punch-Drunk Love

Paul Thomas Anderson really likes his long takes. If he can fit it into one shot to get the feeling he wants, he'll do it, and always with good reason. When the camera follows Will Macy's character in Boogie Nights out of the party, to his car, where he grabs his gun, then back through the party as everyone counts down to the New Year, then watches from a distance as he shoots his wife then turns to camera and shoots himself... it's long long long, and never boring, but suspenseful and voyeuristically shocking. Anderson knows you don't have to cut to the other person's face during a dialogue scene. You can leave it a mystery, as you study the reactions of the other. His boldness also applies to his music choices. Jon Brion's work here is never obvious, and it heightens the movie from modern-day romance to nostalgic homage, from awkward and dry to sunny.

More than anyone else of his generation, Anderson nails the complexity of real emotions. His philosophy is that life is entertaining and funny, but always full of real heartbreak, real insecurity and desire. That's why he gives his actors such emotionally-developed roles. Sometimes I feel like his movies are short on a "message", but you very clearly come out with a feeling, rendered in a combo of calculated formality and raw energy. With Punch-Drunk Love, we see Barry's insecurity over his anger issues later get channeled into a constructive defense of the woman who accepts him. There's a similar point to Intoxicated, which at first shows my main character successfully subduing his impetuosity, before the new woman enters his life...