Enjoy Paul Thomas Anderson’s ‘Cigarettes & Coffee’: Your Monday Afternoon Treat

Cigarettes & Coffee—not to be confused with Jim Jarmusch’s black and white woven vingnette masterpiece Coffee and Cigarettes—is a short film from the young mind of cinematic master Paul Thomas Anderson. Shot in 1993 on a borrowed camera, the 24-minute film debuted at the Sundance Film Festival in the Shorts Program II and was the inception of what would later be his directorial feature debut Hard Eight.

Focusing on five characters in a coffee shop outside of Las Vegas “who play out their destiny,” the script later became his first feature with the lead role he’d specifically written for actor Philip Baker Hall. After screening the short at the festival, Anderson was asked to be a part of Sundance’s Filmmaker’s Workshop where PBH attended the month-long lab with him. In the press notes for the feature, it mentions that:

“Anderson has always been fascinated with the underbelly of Nevada’s glittery gambling casinos. Also an admirer of film noir, two of his favorite were shot in Reno: “Born to Kill” and “5 Against the House.” Therefore it comes as no surprise that his first feature film, Hard Eight, and a previous short entitled Cigarettes and Coffee, were set in that world and embody the elements of classic film noir with some modern twists.

Anderson’s passion for filmmaking began at an early age and as soon as he was old enough, he began working as a production assistant on music videos, small independent films and television movies. He was working on a PBS special when he met veteran character actor Philip Baker Hall and passed him the script for Cigarettes and Coffee…”

So today, before you spend your evening indulging in cinema focused on family dysfunction with Anderson’s absolutely perfect Magnolia, take some time to enjoy the early work of one of film’s most fascinating director’s whose work continues to evolve and beguile us.

10 Alternative Films About the Porn Industry to Enjoy This Weekend

I think we can all agree that modern depictions of the porn industry’s sordid and dark underbelly peaked at Paul Thomas Anderson’s Boogie Nights. But as a rich topic that’s intriguing, not only for the lucrative and ever-evolving nature of the industry, but for the characters and people that have been a part of it, of course cinema has had its fair share of films devoted to just what really goes on between the sheets and behind the scenes.

And this week, Rob Epstein’s Lovelace rolls into theaters, telling the biographical story of Linda Lovelace in a movie “about the chasm between public perception and private experience.” But with a plethora of interesting and entertaining films that penetrate the same discussion, why not spend some time going deep into those worlds as well? So whether you’re excited for Epstein’s latest or looking for an enticing alternative, we’ve provided you with some options. From Anderson’s brilliant film to documentaries that truly take you behind the scenes, and a bit of everything in between, here are some porn-centric films to enjoy this weekend.

Boogie Nights

"Few films have been more matter-of-fact, even disenchanted, about sexuality. Adult films are a business here, not a dalliance or a pastime, and one of the charms of "Boogie Nights” is the way it shows the everyday backstage humdrum life of porno filmmaking…Boogie Nights has the quality of many great films, in that it always seems alive. A movie can be very good and yet not draw us in, not involve us in the moment-to-moment sensation of seeing lives as they are lived. As a writer and director, Paul Thomas Anderson is a skilled reporter who fills his screen with understated, authentic details…In examining the business of catering to lust, Boogie Nights demystifies its sex (that’s probably one reason it avoided the NC-17 rating). Mainstream movies use sex like porno films do, to turn us on. Boogie Nights abandons the illusion that characters are enjoying sex; in a sense, it’s about manufacturing a consumer product. By the time the final shot arrives and we see what made the Colonel stare, there is no longer any shred of illusion that it is anything more than a commodity. And in Dirk Diggler’s most anguished scene, as he shouts at Jack Horner, "I’m ready to shoot my scene RIGHT NOW!” we learn that those who live by the sword can also die by it." 

 

Inside Deep Throat

"The movie uses new and old interviews and newsreel footage to remember a time when porn was brand-new. In my 1973 review of Deep Throat, written three days after a police raid on the Chicago theater showing it, I wrote: "The movie became ‘pornographic chic’ in New York before it was busted. Mike Nichols told Truman Capote he shouldn’t miss it, and then the word just sort of got around: This is the first stag film to see with a date."…As for Deep Throat, it remembers a time before pornography was boring, and a climate in which non-pornographic films might consider bolder sexual content. It has some colorful characters, including a retired Florida exhibitor whose wife provides a running commentary on everything he says. And it tells us where they are now: Damiano is comfortably retired, Lovelace died in a traffic accident, and her co-star Harry Reems is a recovering substance abuser who now works as a realtor in Park City, Utah, home of the Sundance Film Festival."    

 

Behind the Green Door

There’s a rumor that Stanley Kubrick once considered making a big budget pornographic film just to show people how it should be done. I’m not sure it would have worked. Hard-core pornography has a way of moving beyond eroticism and into images of clinical detail. I’ve always found soft-core movies more erotic.As for the scenes in Behind the Green Door, the least you can say of them, I suppose, is that they’re incredible. The plot (if I may misuse the word) involves a series of fantasies in which Miss Chambers is forced to undergo public humiliation at an orgy attended by various freaks. She puts up a token resistance for about seven seconds, after which we get an hour of surrender. Who knows? It might have been more interesting if she had resisted.”    

Wonderland

"Rashomon was told with great clarity; we were always sure whose version we were seeing, and why. Wonderland is told through a bewildering tap-dance on the timeline, with lots of subtitles that say things like ‘Four months earlier’ or ‘July 1, 1981.’ There are so many of these titles, and the movie’s chronology is so shuffled, that they become more frustrating than helpful. The titles of course reflect the version of the facts they introduce, so that a given event might or might not have happened ‘Three weeks later.’ Actors separated from chronology have their work cut out for them. A performance can’t build if it starts at the end and circles in both directions toward the beginning. Yet Val Kilmer is convincing as John Holmes, especially when he pinballs from one emotion to another; we see him charming, ugly, self-pitying, paranoid, and above all in need of a fix. Holmes, acting under the name ‘Johnny Wadd,’ made a thousand hard-core pornos (according to this movie) or more than 2,500 (according to the Web site). But by the time of the action, drugs have replaced sex as his obsession and occupation, and Kilmer does a good job of showing how an addict is always really thinking about only one thing."    

Rated X

"Production values are thin, a sense of time and place barely indicated (entire production was shot in Toronto, hardly a good double for S.F.), and one only has to think of Boogie Nights to realize how much texture and feeling can be summoned from such similarly seedy material. But the brother angle does give this story a distinctive dimension, and the brothers Estevez and Sheen, their pates shaved to help them represent the odd-looking Mitchells, do an uncanny, genuinely impressive job. The family tidbits offered up, including the fact that the Mitchells’ aging parents were so supportive that they attended the premieres of their boys’ films, help suggest their skewed moral sense, and small hints of affection, distrust and other emotions, some no doubt real between Estevez and Sheen, accumulate to create a credible portrait of a deeply problematic sibling relationship."    

Orgazmo

"Orgazmo, a comedy by South Park co-creator Trey Parker, is the very soul of sophomorism. It is callow, gauche, obvious and awkward, and designed to appeal to those with similar qualities. It stars Parker himself as Elder Joe Young, a Mormon missionary who agrees to appear in a porn film in order to raise $20,000 so that he can be married in the temple in Salt Lake City. True to the film’s sophomorism, it is not a satire of Mormonism, but simply uses Mormons in the conviction that their seriousness will be funny to gapejaws in the audience–to whom all sincerity is threatening, and therefore funny. Orgazmo was made before Trey Parker and Matt Stone became famous for the South Park cable cartoon program. (There is an even earlier film, Cannibal: The Musical, which is unseen by me and has an excellent chance of remaining so.) South Park is elegant, in its way: A self-contained animated universe that functions as a laboratory to conduct experiments in affronting the values of viewers, who, if they held them, would not be watching. I like South Park.  It has wit. I guess Orgazmo was a stage the boys had to go through. They’re juniors now."    

 

The People Vs. Larry Flint

"…Forman constructs a fascinating biopic about a man who went from rags to riches by never overestimating the taste of his readers. If you question the dimensions of Hustler’s success, reflect that a modern skyscraper towers in Los Angeles, proclaiming FLYNT PUBLICATIONS from its rooftop…For Flynt, played by Woody Harrelson, Hustler was like winning the lottery. He was a Kentucky moonshiner’s son who ran away from home and eventually ran strip clubs in Cincinnati. There he found the love of his life: Althea Leasure (Courtney Love), a bisexual stripper who bluntly told him, "You are not the only person who has slept with every woman in this club." Hustler’s first publicity breakthrough came when Flynt printed nude photos of Jacqueline Onassis, a coup so sensational it forced the media (and the public) to notice the magazine. "The People vs. Larry Flynt" shows Flynt running a loose editorial ship in which his brother Jimmy (Brett Harrelson), hangers-on and assorted strippers and hookers seem to publish the magazine by committee.    Milos Forman’s other films include "Amadeus" and "One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest," both about inspired misfits with the courage of their eccentricity. Now Larry Flynt is another. Who else could have so instinctively combined idealism and cash, declaring at a press conference, "Americans for a Free Press is me. Who do you think is paying for this show?"    

Exhausted: John C. Holmes The Real Story

A 1981 documentary about the titular porn star who claimed to have slept with over 14,000 women, gave a darker look behind the green door into the excessive and saddening world of sex and wealth of the 1970s porn scene. Listen to Paul Thomas Anderson’s entertaining and wonderful commentary.    

 

Zack and Miri Make a Porno

 

 

"Seth Rogen and Elizabeth Banks make a lovable couple; she’s pretty and goes one-for-one on the bleep language, and Rogen, how can I say this, is growing on me, the big lug. Will this movie offend you? Somehow Kevin Smith’s very excesses defuse the material. He’s like the guy at a party who tells dirty jokes so fast, Dangerfield-style, that you laugh more at the performance than the material. He’s always coming back for more. Once during a speech at the Indie Spirits, he actually sounded like he was offering his wife as a door prize. Anything for a laugh. Nobody laughed. They all looked at each other sort of stunned. You can’t say he didn’t try."  

Hardcore

"The man is played by George C. Scott, the girl by Season Hubley. They have moments in the movie when they talk, really talk, about what’s important to them and we’re reminded of how much movie dialogue just repeats itself, movie after movie, year after year. There’s a scene in "Hardcore" where the man (who is a strict Calvinist) and the prostitute (who began selling herself in her early teens) talk about sex, religion, and morality, and we’re almost startled by the belief and simple poetry in their words. This relationship, between two people with nothing in common, who meet at an intersection in a society where many have nothing in common, is at the heart of the movie, and makes it important. It is preceded and followed by another of those story ideas that Paul Schrader seems to generate so easily. His movies are about people with values, in conflict with society. He wrote Taxi Driver and Rolling Thunder and wrote and directed Blue Collar. All three are about people prepared to defend (with violence, if necessary) their steadfast beliefs…The movie’s ending is a mess, a combination of cheap thrills, a chase, and a shoot-out, as if Schrader wasn’t quite sure how to escape from the depths he found. The film’s last ten minutes, in fact, are mostly action, the automatic resolution of the plot; the relationship between Scott and Hubley ends without being resolved, and in bringing his story to a "satisfactory" conclusion, Schrader doesn’t speak to the deeper and more human themes he’s introduced. Too bad. But Hardcore, flawed and uneven, contains moments of pure revelation."

Watch Fiona Apple’s Video for ‘Hot Knife’ Directed by Paul Thomas Anderson

Is it too early in the morning to be emotional? Oh well, too late. Although it’s been years since to the two parted ways, there was a time when Paul Thomas Anderson and Fiona Apple were one of the most beautiful and talented young couples floating through the celebrity world. Their joint emotional intelligence and passion fueling their artistic impulse, as PTA directed a handful of her best music videos from “Fast As You Can” to “Across the Universe.”

And now, after eleven years outside the video world, the two have reunited to collaborate for the final song off last year’s The Idler Wheel…, the repetitiously upbeat “Hot Knife.” It’s a minimalistic video, mainly showcasing Apple’s captivating presence on screen, but cutting from black and white to color as she plays the drums and sings in her delicate yet maniacal emphasis.

Take a look below.

Falling Into Paul Thomas Anderson’s Atmosphere

With Paul Thomas Anderson’s seventh feature currently in the works, many have been waiting with bated breath to catch an on-set glimpse of the ever-evolving cast. Based on Thomas Pynchon’s novel of the same title, Inherent Vice will once again meld the talents of Anderson and Joaquin Phoenix as he plays Larry "Doc" Sportello, in the counter cultural noir about a pot-smoking 1970s detective. And today, we got the first taste of Phoenix in costume, sporting some serious sideburns. However, the real treat was spotting a very pregnant Maya Rudolph decked out in nurse’s scrubs for the feature.

But as we wait for more photos to emerge, it’s important to remember why we make such a fuss about these photos anyhow. It’s not that we’re so excited to see Phoenix in a pair of distressed bellbottoms but the fact that each photo is another bread crumb in a trail that could possibly lead to our new favorite movie. And that’s not to say I’m assuming Inherent Voice will be the epitome of cinematic achievement (but it’s PT, so I mean, maybe) but if there’s someone whose films we can worship nowadays, if there’s a director to truly love and honor, PT is one of the best we’ve got.

And from the beginning of his career, whether he was exposing the heartbreaking and seedy underbelly of LA’s 70s porn scene, weaving a intricate web of fantastically strange and tortured modern day lives, or giving us the most awkwardly brilliant love story, there’s a distinct and rich essence to his films that runs like a through line between them all. It’s an atmosphere and a texture and with this brief but wonderful video (via Cinephelia & Beyond) we see that all brought together. Take a minute to enjoy.

Paul Thomas Anderson’s atmosphere from Leandro Copperfield on Vimeo.

Benicio Del Toro Heads to Paul Thomas Anderson’s ‘Inherent Vice’

Last week we brought you word that Paul Thomas Anderson’s follow-up to this year’s brilliant duel character study The Master, would begin shooting this month. His adaptation of Thomas Pynchon’s stoner detective novel Inherent Vice has been in the works since 2010, but is finally set to start production thanks to Warner Bros. backing and Robert Elswit shooting the picture. And now, as expected, the cast list seems to be rolling in with Benicio del Toro now in talks to join the cast of Anderson’s counterculture noir film. 

We learn from The Wrap that Del Toro would be taking on the role of an attorney who is "always trying to help the protagonist out of trouble, though he’s not an actual criminal lawyer." Not the lead role, but knowing Del Toro, this could be a memorable one. My mind wanders to his wonderful Dr. Gonzo. In addition, Cigarettes & Red Vines tells us that Anderson has once again brought on Kevin J. O’Conner for the picture, whom we’ve seen in There Will Be Blood and The Master

So this is just the beginning of the casting influx but in the coming months there’s sure to be plenty of information so if you’re as excited for this as I, stayed tuned—we’ll be keeping close watch. In the meantime, let’s watch some more videos of PTA talking movies.

Paul Thomas Anderson’s ‘Inherent Vice’ Shooting This Month With Robert Elswit as DP & WB Backing

Back in January, we shed light on Paul Thomas Anderson’s next feature, the long-discussed adaptation of Thomas Pynchon’s Inherent Vice. As the first authorized cinematic revisiting of the author’s work, the project was announced back in 2010 and has since made its way around the rumor mill, with various speculations as to who would comprise of the cast, just when it would begin production, and who would backing the film.

And today, Cigarettes & Red Vines announced that shooting is set to go underway this month, thanks to finding its backing from Warner Bros. It was assumed that Annapurna Pictures, who financed and saved The Master would be taking on the project. But in an "amicable" decision, WB has taken the reigns and will mark PTA’s first time working with the studio. With Robert Downey Jr. initially as the leading candidate to take on the role of  Sportello—a stoner detective in Pynchon’s counter-culture noir—Joaquin Phoenix is now slated for the role, after he and Anderson’s impressive work together on The Master.  As for the rest of the cast, nothing has been announced but it’s safe to assume we’ll be getting a deluge of updates on that later this month as production kicks off.

In addition, although Mihai Malaimare Jr. gave us the incrediblly vast and stunning world of Freddie Quell and Lancaster Dodd, Robert Elswit will in fact be reprising his role of cinematographer on this one. After working on all of PTA’s films, save The Master, the Oscar-winning DP will be reunited with his old pal, shooting Inherent Vice on 35mm—no digital. Centering on the story of said Sportello uncovering a plot to kidnap a billionaire land developer in 1960s Los Angeles, the film will apparently be PTA’s "first foray into comedy." However, as we noted a few months back: 

Lest we forget, Punch-Drunk Love—an early-Altman-esque film about an emotionally inept man who collects pudding to amass frequent flyer miles and has a crying problem, who falls in love with an equally bizarre woman, in a world where aesthetics and mood go hand in hand while pieces of Jeremy Blake’s abstract art are spliced like tonal cue cards between moments—was Anderson’s attempt at a mainstream romantic comedy. 
So yes, if this is comedy, full speed ahead. We’ll be keeping a close eye on this one. And in the meantime, let’s watch some videos of young PTA talking about movies because, what better way could you spend your morning?
 

Xavier Dolan Writing His First American Film ‘The Death & Life of John F. Donovan’ & More from MoMA

Last night, the charming and unfathomably talented Xavier Dolan took to the stage at MoMA in conjunction with their Modern Mondays and Canadian Front 2013—which not only premiered his debut feature I Killed My Mother in the US, but screened his sophomore effort Heartbeats, as well as his incredible upcoming epic love story Laurence Anyways. The 23-year-old actor/director/writer sat down last night for a conversation with MoMA’s Raj Ray and Indiewire’s Peter Knegt for two hours, covering everything from his voiceover work as Taylor Lautner’s character in the French-dubbed Twilight films, the importance of childhood on his cinematic mind, and his next feature, his first American film.

And for someone so insanely gifted and young who makes these films that are not only aesthetically and atmospherically engaging and dynamic, but extremely intelligent with great emotional weight and complexity, you might assume when asked to give his influences he would throw around some movies from Truffaut to Malle to van Sant. But no, the clips he chose to show from some of his favorite works that echoed the absurd and playful yet genuine and honest sensibility that’s alive in all of his films. The videos he showed were from films that he fell in love with either in childhood or recent years, projects that fulfilled their mission to excite, engage, and entertain and have stuck with him. Jumanji, Batman Returns, and Titanic were three of those, with Magnolia and the beloved television series Friday Night Lights there too, of course. 

Dolan spoke about appreciating the Michelle Pfieffer’s performance in Batman as completely free and totally going for her character. He also went on to say he admired Paul Thomas Anderson’s Magnolia for its sense of freedom as well, fully commiting to its absurd and wild nature—especially the scene of Julianne Moore in the drug store telling off Pat Healy because of how emotionally unfettered it is and how PTA allowed a character to be so raw and honest—a scene which Dolan says he stole in I Killed my Mother and Laurence Anyways (in a monologue which Suzanne Clement defends herself and Laurence, screaming at a older diner waitress, a moment so wonderful and powerful that when she finished speaking the entire audience erupted in applause when it screened this past Sunday). 

Friday Night Lights Dolan says he watched with Clement recently over a holiday break "all at once, while eating a lot." He admired how authentic and real the emotion and acting was, as if it wasn’t something to impress but to show you exactly what life is life. 

He also spoke about his follow-up to Laurence Anyways, Tom à la ferme, a "psychological thriller that is worrying and scary–I hope." Although we had assumed it would be, it turns out the film will not premiere at Cannes this year and is currently in the sound-mixing, color-timing stages. However, his follow-up to that, his fifith film and first American feature, he says is to be titled The Death and Life of John F. Donovan and tells the story of a "Dean or Brando"-esque moviestar whom "America has been waiting for," who becomes penpals with an 11-year-old boy. Dolan went on to say that the film follows what happens when the correspondence with the boy is exposed. He will be acting in he film as well but not as the titular character.

But for now, Laurence Anyways will be crawling into theaters this June and if you’ve loved his work in the past this is sure to knock you over. And if you’re unfamiliar with the young auteur’s ouevre, get ready to fall in love.

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

Paul Thomas Anderson and Joaquin Phoenix in Talks to Team Up Again for ‘Inherent Vice’

According to Variety, Joaquin Phoenix is looking to collaborate with PT Anderson once again after their extensive and impressive work together on The Master. Set to adapt and direct his version of Thomas Pynchon’s Inherent Vice, this would mark the first authorized adaptation of one of the writer’s works and has been part of the Hollywood discussion for a while now, with Annapurna Pictures backing the film—and we’ve been hearing fora while that Robert Downey Jr. has been linked to the film for the leading character, Larry "Doc" Sportello. But now, it appears that Phoenix is looking to take over the role of Sportello, a stoner detective in Pynchon’s counter-culture noir. As of earlier this month, word around town was that Charlize Theron was also looking to join the project, which centers on the story of Sportello uncovering a plot to kidnap a billionaire land developer in 1960s Los Angeles. Variety also went onto say that this will also be the first foray into comedy for Anderson.

But lest we forget, Punch-Drunk Love—an early-Altman-esque film about an emotionally inept man who collects pudding to amass frequent flyer miles and has a crying problem, who falls in love with an equally bizarre woman, in a world where aesthetics and mood go hand in hand while pieces of Jeremy Blake’s abstract art are spliced like tonal cue cards between moments—was Anderson’s attempt at a mainstream romantic comedy. So whatever realm of comedy this is in, I’m all for it.

Let’s just watch some great scenes from Punch-Drunk while we’re here.