Catasauqua Press

Wednesday, December 19, 2018

Movie Review: ‘Thread’ bared

Tuesday, February 6, 2018 by Paul Willistein pwillistein@tnonline.com in Focus

“Phantom Thread” is a creepy romance about “the mangled tebs we weave” (“the tangled webs we weave”). It’s Masterpiece Theatre meets Alfred Hitchcock.

Director John Paul Anderson’s screenplay is about a 1950s’ fictional London couturier, Reynolds Woodcock (Daniel Day-Lews), who treats people like so many manequins upon which to drape his designs.

“Let’s take her for a walk,” Woodcock says to his new muse in town, Alma (wonderfully chimerical Vicky Krieps), referring not to the model, but rather to how the garment is carried by the model.

“Plantom Thread” is an Academy Award contender with six Oscar nominations: Picture (JoAnne Sellar, Paul Thomas Anderson, Megan Ellison, Daniel Lupi), director (John Paul Anderson), actor (Daniel Day-Lewis), supporting actress (Lesley Manville), original score (Jonny Greenwood), and costume design (Mark Bridges).

The National Board of Review chose “Phantom Thread” as one of the Top 10 films of 2017.

The film is sumptuous, with elegant interiors and exteriors, and, of course, beautiful costumes that convey the height of glamor and sophistication in the era of Coco Chanel, Christian Dior, and Cristóbal Balenciaga (said to be an inspiration for Anderson’s screenplay).

“Phantom Thread” is a grim fairy tale with elements of the Evil Queen from “Sleeping Beauty,“ represented by Alma, who cooks up a storm for Woodcock, and the Mice and Bluebirds from “Cinderella,” represented as the female seamstresses, plus Woodcock, who ply their trade with crisp efficiency, especially for the royal wedding of a princess.

Woodcock is Prince Charming to his clients and patrons, but moody, peevish and downright nasty to Alma and, less so, to his sister, Cyril (steely and impressive Lesley Manville), manager of his fashion house. “I simply don’t have time for confrontations,” Reynolds tells Alma.

Daniel Day-Lewis (Oscar, actor, “Lincoln,” 2013; “There Will Be Blood,” 2008, also directed by Anderson, and “My Left Foot: The Story of Christy Brown,” 1989) provides yet another, ahem, seamless performance, said to be his last motion picture acting role before his retirement. Day-Lewis has a distilled style of acting that breaks performance down to its bare essentials after thorough reseach (Day-Lewis’s callused and needle-punctured fingertips do not seem to be the result of makeup or special effects),

Paul Thomas Anderson directs “Phantom Thread” at a lugubrious pace, which allows the movie-goer to absorb the film’s beautiful settings, acting and music. Anderson was cinematographer with Robert Elswit, using 35mm Kodak color film stock.

The score by Jonny Greenwood (guitar, keyboards, Radiohead) uses classical pieces to stunning effect, becoming another “character” in the film.

“Phantom Thread” tells an exquisite, but deeply disturbing story with subtlety. To quote William Butler Yeats: “As yet if it does not seem a moment’s thought, our stitching and unstitching has been naught.”

In “Phantom Thread,” as in “The Little Prince,” to quote Antoine de Saint-Exupery”: “What is essential is invisible to the eye.”

“Phantom Thread,” MPAA Rated R (Restricted: Under 17 requires accompanying parent or adult guardian. Contains some adult material. Parents are urged to learn more about the film before taking their young children with them.) for language; Genre: Drama, Romance; Run time: 2 hrs., 10 mins.; Distributed by Focus Features.

Credit Readers Anonymous: The “Phantom Thread” soundtrack includes Ned Washington and Victor Young’s “My Foolish Heart,” performed by Oscar Peterson, and several classical works, including “Berceuse (Dolly Suite, Op. 56 for Piano Duet)” by Gabriel Fauré, performed by Katia Labèque and Marielle Labèque, and “Scherzo (Assez Vif et Bien Rythmè)” by Claude Debussy, performed by the Emerson String Quartet.

Box Office, Feb. 2: Dwayne Johnson proved he’s still the king of the box office jungle as his “Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle,” with $11 million, $352.6 million, seven weeks, became his biggest hit ever, moving back up one slot and chasing the “Maze Runner: The Death Cure” from its one-week No. 1 perch to No. 2, with $10.2 million, $39.7 million, two weeks, keeping “Winchester” opening at No. 3 with $9.2 million on a low box-office tally “Super Bowl 52” weekend.

4. “The Greatest Showman” (one Oscar nomination: original song) stood at No. 4, with $7.8 million, $137.4 million, seven weeks. 5. “Hostiles” dropped two spots, with $5.5 milllion, $21.2 million, seven weeks. 6. “The Post” dropped one slot, $5.2 million, $67.1 million, seven weeks. 7. “12 Strong” dropped one place, $4.7 million, $37.3 million, three weeks. 8. “Den Of Thieves” slipped one spot, $4.6 million, $36.3 million, three weeks. 9. “The Shape Of Water” (13 Oscar nominations, Directors Guilt of America recipient, director Guillermo del Toro) streamed down one slot, $4.3 million, $44.5 million, 10 weeks. 10. ”Paddington 2” ambled down one place, $3.1 million, $36.3 million, four weeks. 17. “Phantom Thread” (six Oscar nominations) hung in there at No. 17, with $2.1 million, $14.1 million, six weeks.

Unreel, Feb. 9:

“Fifty Shades Freed,” R: James Foley directs Dakota Johnson, Jamie Dornan, Arielle Kebbel, and Kim Basinger in the Drama-Romance. Anastasia and Christian are married. And then the trouble begins.

“The 15:17 to Paris,” PG-13: Clint Eastwood directs Jenna Fischer, Judy Greer, Thomas Lennon, Lillian Solange Beaudoin and some of those actually involved in the attempt to foil a terrorist plot on a train in France in the History Thriller.

“Peter Rabbit,” PG: Will Gluck directs the voice talents of Margot Robbie, Daisy Ridley, Domhnall Gleeson, and Elizabeth Debicki in the Animation Feature adaptation of Beatrix Potter’s classic tale.

Three Popcorn Boxes out of Five Popcorn Boxes