The Art of Reinvention: Paul Thomas Anderson & His Influences

  • July 24, 2015 — September 5, 2015

Paul Thomas Anderson occupies a unique position in the American film industry: a cinephile auteur working within the confines of the major Hollywood studios but making his own brand of idiosyncratic, distinctive films with an eye for art over commerce. Anderson’s films cover wide dramatic terrain, from the inner workings of American pseudo-cults in Boogie Nights and The Master, to the sprawling interrogation of family in Magnolia, to the Southern California oil boom at the turn of the 20th century in There Will be Blood. A child of Los Angeles, his work has largely focused on the marginalia of the City of Angels, off the well-worn, glamorous path, shaping everyday lives into poetic meditations on modern existence. In addition to Anderson’s seven features we are pleased to offer 14 films that have influenced his work over the years. As all of Anderson’s films have been shot on film, most of the films in the retrospective will be screened on 35mm prints—an increasingly limited possibility in the era of digital cinema.

Hard Eight 1

Hard Eight AKA Sydney

Directed by Paul Thomas Anderson

Anderson’s first feature announced a powerful new voice in American cinema at a time when Quentin Tarantino and the Coen

Chinese Bookie 4

The Killing of a Chinese Bookie

Directed by John Cassavetes

Cassavetes’ foray into the crime genre follows small-time nightclub owner Cosmo Vitelli (Ben Gazzara), who jumps from one big debt

House of Games 1

House of Games

Directed by David Mamet

Having won the Pulitzer Prize for his play Glengarry Glen Ross, Mamet turned his attention to the silver screen with

Boogie Nights 1

Boogie Nights

Directed by Paul Thomas Anderson

With a script first developed in his teens and a story previously filmed as a short, Anderson delivered this wake-up

Jackie Brown 1

Jackie Brown

Directed by Quentin Tarantino

Tarantino’s perhaps underappreciated crime drama stars Pam Grier as Jackie Brown, a flight attendant for a small Mexican airline who

I Am Cuba 1

I Am Cuba

Directed by Mikhail Kalatozov

For a film ostensibly dealing with the Cuban Revolution, and produced essentially as Communist propaganda, I Am Cuba has somehow

Magnolia 1


Directed by Paul Thomas Anderson

Anderson’s third feature takes the theme of chance and applies it to the stories of a cadre of Angelinos on

Takashi Shimura and Toshiro Mifune in Akira Kurosawa's STRAY DOG (1949). Courtesy Janus Films. Playing 1/6-1/14.

Stray Dog

Directed by Akira Kurosawa

Kurosawa’s neorealist, post-war tale of urban malaise follows homicide detective Murakami (Kurosawa regular Toshiro Mifune) during a sweltering heat wave

Short Cuts 1

Short Cuts

Directed by Robert Altman

Adapting several short stories by the Pacific Northwest author Raymond Carver and transplanting them to a bristling early-90s Los Angeles,

Punch Drunk Love 4

Punch Drunk Love

Directed by Paul Thomas Anderson

With two sprawling, epic works preceding it, with this film Anderson sought to make a “Friday night film,” a short,

The Band Wagon 1

The Band Wagon

Directed by Vincente Minnelli

This Technicolor extravaganza came at a time when MGM could do no wrong, especially the Freed Unit (named for producer


Shoot the Piano Player!

Directed by François Truffaut

Truffaut, hot off The 400 Blows, his masterpiece of adolescent dread, completely changes directions with Shoot the Piano Player!, a

There Will Be Blood 1

There Will Be Blood

Directed by Paul Thomas Anderson

Anderson’s features, while always sharpening their edges as they go, have never been hard-as-nails as this adaptation of Upton Sinclair’s

Black Rock 1

Bad Day At Black Rock

Directed by John Sturges

This hard, economical, hybrid Western noir follows one-armed WWII vet John Macreedy (Spencer Tracy) as he stops in the small



Directed by George Stevens

Featuring James Dean in the final role of his mercurial career, Giant transcends it’s myth-laden reputation to be a key

The Master 4

The Master

Directed by Paul Thomas Anderson

WWII veteran and consummate alcoholic Freddie Quell (Joaquin Phoenix), aimless and adrift following the end of the war and his

Putney Swope

Putney Swope

Directed by Robert Downey, Sr.

Downey, Sr., always the incisive provocateur, here fabricates a kind of fable in which the chairman of the board of

Melvin and Howard 1

Melvin and Howard

Directed by Jonathan Demme

Demme’s fifth feature and first major critical success is a film dealing with the peculiarities of American lower-middle-class life that

BFI Southbank, Howard Hawks season. January 2011

The Big Sleep

Directed by Howard Hawks

One of the key noirs of the 1940s, The Big Sleep features several legends of the American page and screen—Lauren

Inherent Vice 1

Inherent Vice

Directed by Paul Thomas Anderson

Adapting a Thomas Pynchon novel for the screen is a task at which none have succeeded before Anderson, who sculpts

Goodfellas 2


Directed by Martin Scorsese

Scorsese’s masterpiece of late-American Dream excess and the decaying effects of a ceaseless lust for money follows Henry Hill (Ray