Enjoy a 10 Minute Study of Paul Thomas Anderson’s Use of Steadicam and Some of His Best Scenes

Attention film nerds: you’re going to want to watch this. If you’re a fan of Paul Thomas Anderson—which if you aren’t, what is wrong with you?—you understand that the 42-year-old genius has the most incredible gift for storytelling that’s as rich as reading any novel while remaining visually and technically skilled. It’s pretty incredible to think that with only six feature films under his belt, Anderson has become one of the most acclaimed directors of our time, not only awakening our love of cinema but showing us the ways in which a filmmaker can evolve with each movie he makes.

And when it comes to analyzing the work of PTA, Sight & Sound’s Kevin B. Lee has a intelligent and fluid understanding of his films. And in his latest critique Lee looks at Anderson’s work through the lens his affinity for Steadicam. He analyzes PTA’s love of a good tracking shot and the ways in which Anderson has changed his use of the style throughout his career. If you can carve out a solid ten minutes, I would suggest watching this and taking a look back on some of the dynmaic director’s finest moments.

The Career of Paul Thomas Anderson in Five Shots from Kevin B. Lee on Vimeo.

The Career of Paul Thomas Anderson in Five Shots

Magnolia, Restaurant Scene

Boogie Nights, Pool Party

Hard Eight, Gonna Light the Cigarette

Punch-Drunk Love, I Want to Bite Your Cheek

There Will Be Blood, I Drink Your Milkshake


Magnolia, I’ve Done So Many Bad Things



Hard Eight, Prologue



Boogie Nights, Opening Scene



Punch-Drunk Love, Phone Scene



There Will Be Blood, Church Preaching

It’s Jon Brion’s Birthday So Let’s All Have a Cry

If this sounds incoherent, it’s only because I am listening to the Magnolia soundtrack and am growing too emotional to type. Sorry. But that only makes sense, considering today is the 49th birthday of cinematically minded musical genius Jon Brion. Although perhaps best known for his work in the PT Anderson-Fiona Apple-Aimee Mann world of collaboration, the whimsically dramatic singer/songwriter/composer/record producer has scored dozens of films—ranging from Adam McKay’s Step Brothers to his absolutely perfect work on Michel Gondry’s Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind—while producing for everyone from Kanye West to Rufus Wainwright.

Although his projects may vary in medium and style, there’s a very specific sensation that wanders through all of his work—like gentle fingers plucking away at your heart strings, unhinging tearducts, and allowing you to journey even farther into the work it’s a part of. He isn’t melodramatic or devious with senitment, but provides an atmospheric, emotional through-line to guide you amidst the tangled worlds that his work speaks to. But however you see it, here’s a tasting of some favorites from his wonderful body of music.

Magnolia, “Stanley/Frank/Linda’s Breakdown” 

Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind, “Phone Call”

Punch-Drunk Love, “Punch-Drunk Melody”

Hard Eight, “Sydney Doesn’t Speak”

I ♥ Huckabees, “Monday”

Magnolia, “Showtime”

Step Brothers, “Back and Forth”

Fionna Apple, “Fast as You Can”

Rufus Wainwright, “Damned Ladies”


Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind Full OST

The Jon Brion Show – Feat. Elliott Smith / Brad Mehldau

Magnolia, “I’ve Got a Surprise For You Today”