According to FilmFisher’s rating system, to award a film the perfect 5-fish rating is to claim the film is “not merely a towering achievement in its genre” but also “makes ardent strides towards virtue and offers the viewer an acute and profound entrance into the ancient discussion of human excellence and the transcendence of God.” I am willing to make all these claims about Spider-Man 2.
Half-Blood Prince is the first, and perhaps only, Harry Potter film to feel like it isn’t trying to be a good “Harry Potter film” and just does its best at being a good film. The seventh film has a similar tone, and Azkaban encapsulates what it is to be a Harry Potter film the best, but my point stands. In the sixth cinematic installment of the franchise, Harry Potter and his friends are ordinary British teens placed in extraordinary circumstances, but instead of focusing on the circumstances, the film chooses to focus on the teens - and is much better off because of it.
Paul Thomas Anderson is one of the very best American filmmakers working today, and quite possibly the most interesting. His mastery of the craft is nearly unparalleled, placing him on that elusive, immortal plane where the likes of the Coen brothers, Martin Scorsese, and Steven Spielberg currently reside. Yet what sets him apart, even among such esteemed company, is how perplexingly eclectic he is.