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P. T. Anderson: a Classic Filmmaker in his Own Time?


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As noted in a recent thread on subject of American Beauty, what Spielberg said to Sam Mendes upon a first Dreamworks screening of his and Alan Ball's masterpiece was, "You have made a classic."


So, if you'll take it from Spielberg that such a thing can happen, that a motion picture can be a 'classic' in its own time, then what may be said of the stellar output we've been getting from the oeuvre of P. T. Anderson? What if you had to choose just one--would it be Magnolia? There Will Be Blood? Punch Drunk Love? Or what of his latest, as reviewed in this week's New Yorker, this brilliant director's adaption to the screen of Thomas Pynchon's Inherent Vice?


Upon hearing first news of this project in preproduction, critics familiar with Pynchon were volubly pessimistic, skeptical, if not downright trepidatious for Anderson's own reputation's sake, offering the view that it simply could not be done. And it was as Anthony Lane at the New Yorker is now saying, to recall these earlier impressions: it then seemed such a daunting task as 'trying to fit the New York Philharmonic into the space of a Ford Falcon.'


And yet, by and large, Lane and most the other critics are largely astonished to agree that, "By George, he's done it!"


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