In only three films PAUL THOMAS ANDERSON has carved a niche as risk taker with a penchant for exploring taboos. At the Berlin Film Festival he tells The List why he feels in his element with the three-hour opus on relationships, Magnolia. Words: Richard Mowe
The man can‘t help himself: film forms part of his DNA. He grew up watching movies. Now. at 2‘). he tnakes films with a visceral appeal. exploring intricate emotions. often with celluloid references in abundance. Paul Thomas Anderson. who has dared to make A/Iagnolia. a three—hour soap opera. albeit with intellectual overtones. about the interwoven lives of residents of the San Fernando Valley. makes no apologies.
And why should he'.’ Stars of the calibre of Tom Cruise. who plays Magnolia's woman-hating sex guru. agreed to work with him for a bargain basement discount. Julianne Moore. who received an Oscar nomination for Anderson‘s previous outing Boogie Nights. has turned into a regular collaborator. And so has Philip Seymour l-loffman and such character stalwarts as William H Macy and John C Reilly.
‘Now I have the opportttnity to make movies. it would be a lie if I did not factor in some of the elements I have imbibed from watching movies.‘ says Anderson. ‘Hoffman's character says at one point that if the situation was presented in a movie. no-one would believe it. I like that weird confusion that happens when things occur in life that you have only seen in films. You are faced with: How do I deal with this‘."
Anderson enjoys pushing the boundaries to challenge preconceptions. Why should the three—hour movie he the province of war films or subjects of vast social importance'.’ ‘1 don't know anything about being in a war. and I don't have a lot of interest in social topics. but I am fascinated by family relationships. They are epic to me. and in this case they required three hours. I always aim to write about what I know. what I have been through. and what I want to be. That‘s the best way I can describe it.‘
Unusually. the soundtrack for Magnolia was the starting point rather than the final piece of the jigsaw. Originally. Anderson had wanted to make something
24 THE llST 16—30 Mar 2000
'I always aim to write about what I know, what I have been through, and what I want to be. That's the best way I can describe it.’ PT Anderson
Pt Anderson directing histhree-hou‘io‘p
‘small and intimate‘ after Boogie Nights. but the characters just seemed to multiply. Anderson explains: ‘I was not sure what I wanted to write. I had a lot of ideas in my head. and Aimee Mann. who‘s a friend. had some music. What I ended tip doing was adapting her music to the movie in the same way you would adapt a play or novel. So the music dictated the film. not just the themes but also the structure. I think I am a frustrated musician. but I know what I like. and generally the music affects the movies I make.‘
Anderson. who began his career as a production assistant on television movies. videos and game shows. carries a lot of studio clout. He has final cut at New Line Cinema. who did not baulk at the three hour running time. All of his films. including his debut feature Hard [fig/it three years ago with Hoffman. Samuel L Jackson and Gwyneth Paltrow. have allowed him to sleep in his own bed. ‘The San Fernando Valley is my home. but I guess out of necessity for the sanity of my crew and all the people I work with I should think about moving somewhere else. muses Anderson. ‘I haven’t written the next one. but maybe it should be in the Caribbean.”
Rest assured. however. that Anderson will find the darker side of any paradise.
Magnolia opens Fri 17 Mar. See review.
Lights, camera, action
SCOTTISH STUDENTS ON SCREEN, a new festival of film and video work made by students over the past two years, will take place at Dundee g Contemporary Arts on Sat 25 Mar.
The event, organised in conjunction with Scottish Screen, aims to build bridges between Scotland's ; universities and colleges, and the
film and television industries. Debates, presentations and careers sessions run alongside screenings
and the day culminates in an awards 7 ceremony and party. For further information contact Scott
Donaldson at Scottish Screen on
0141 302 1765. For ticket
information call 01382 432 000.
BENGALI ACTRESS AND director Aparna Sen will attend a screening of her film, Parama, at the Glasgow Film Theatre on Sun 19 Mar. The
film, in Hindi with English subtitles, explores a wife and mother's efforts to assert her own identity within
the constraints of her socially
WATCH THE OSCARS on Sun 26 Mar Q live at Edinburgh's Filmhouse, ‘ where host Barry Norman and a plethora of glamorous Tinseltown stars will be beamed in live via satellite from the 72nd Academy Awards Ceremony. The evening kicks off at 9.30pm and includes a l preview screening of Tumbleweeds, I for which Janet McTeer has been i nominated Best Actress. The Filmhouse bar will be open for the duration of the award ceremony. | Tickets are £15 from the Filmhouse box office (0131 228 2688) and all proceeds go to Crusaid.
MEANWHILE, THE BAFTAs ceremony will take place in London on Sun 9 Apr. Of particular interest to Scottish readers will be the nomination of Lynne Ramsay's Ratcatcher for Best British Film and Edinburgh College of Art graduate Adrian McDowall's Who’s My Favourite Girl for Best Short Film.
A WEE REMINDER: The deadline for short and feature length film submissions to the Edinburgh International Film Festival is just under six weeks away on Fri 21 Apr. For further info call 0131 221 8709 or check out the festival's website at: www.edfilmfest.org.uk
Scottish Students On Screen