Categories
Filmmakers

Book Review: Paul Thomas Anderson — Masterworks

Distributor: Abrams Books

Release Date: October 20, 2020

Adam Nayman’s (author of The Coen Brothers: This Book Really Ties the Films Together) career spanning examination of Paul Thomas Anderson’s filmography is one of only two books about the director’s work and the only comprehensive text that covers each of his films to date. Each of the director’s eight films is discussed and examined in some detail, but Nayman organizes his book quite differently than similar books. Instead of examining Anderson’s work in chronological order, he presents his essays in the order of the era that each of his movies are set (with the notable exception of Phantom Thread): There Will Be Blood, The Master, Inherent Vice, Boogie Nights, Hard Eight, Magnolia, Punch Drunk Love, and Phantom Thread. Anderson’s influences, his style, and the recurring themes of alienation, reinvention, ambition, and destiny that course through his movies are analyzed in enough detail to add enormously to the reader’s appreciation of these films.

This would be more than enough to warrant our enthusiasm for this volume, but Nayman also includes a selection of interviews with seven of Anderson’s closest collaborators — including JoAnne Sellar (producer), Dylan Tichenor (editor), Robert Elswit (cinematographer), Jonny Greenwood (composer), Jack Fisk (production designer), Mark Bridges (costume designer), and Vicky Krieps (actor) — and illuminated by film stills, archival photos, original illustrations, and an appropriately psychedelic design aesthetic. It’s a wonderful gift for anyone who admires the Anderson’s work and may very well earn him a few new fans.

Categories
Classic Cinema Filmmakers

Book Review: The Coen Brothers – This Book Really Ties the Films Together

Book Cover.jpg

Publisher: Abrams Books

Release Date: September 11, 2018

Adam Nayman’s epic new career spanning examination of the filmography of the Coen Brothers is every bit as analytical and informative as Ian Nathan’s excellent book on the same subject. It offers fans and scholars a rewarding experience as it should add enormously to the reader’s appreciation of the films that inhabit the Coen canon. Actually, the book’s marketing description does an admirable job at describing its contents without unnecessary hyperbolic phrases:

“In The Coen Brothers: This Book Really Ties the Films Together, film critic Adam Nayman carefully sifts through their complex cinematic universe in an effort to plot, as he puts it, “some Grand Unified Theory of Coen-ness” and combines critical text—biography, close film analysis, and enlightening interviews with key Coen collaborators—with a visual aesthetic that honors the Coens’ singular mix of darkness and levity. Featuring film stills, beautiful and evocative illustrations, punchy infographics, and hard insight, this book will be the definitive exploration of the Coen brothers’ oeuvre.”

Nayman is a film critic for The Globe and Mail and The Grid, is a contributing editor to Cinema Scope, and has written on film for the Village Voice, L.A. Weekly, Film Comment, Cineaste, Montage, POV, Reverse Shot, The Walrus, Saturday Night, Little White Lies, and The Dissolve. This background served him well here as his insights are always interesting and illuminating (even if one doesn’t always agree with his interpretation of certain Coen moments). The book’s primary weakness it is that it comes at a time when the Coen’s career is far from over (the last film covered in the book is Hail, Caesar!) Everything about the book earns our enthusiastic approval and recommendation.