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Ebook Information

Paul Thomas Anderson

The acclaimed critic and screenwriter charts P. T. Anderson's landscape of disconnection

Since his explosive debut with the indie sensation Hard Eight, Paul Thomas Anderson has established himself as one of contemporary cinema's most exciting artists. His 2002 feature Punch-Drunk Love radically reimagined the romantic comedy. Critics hailed There Will Be Blood as a key film of the new millennium. In The Master, Anderson jarred audiences with dreamy amorphousness and a departure from conventional story mechanics.

Acclaimed film scholar and screenwriter George Toles approaches these three films in particular, and Anderson's oeuvre in general, with a focus on the role of emergence and the production of the unaccountable. Anderson, Toles shows, is an artist obsessed with history, workplaces, and environments but also intrigued by spaces as projections of the people who dwell within. Toles follows Anderson from the open narratives of Boogie Nights and Magnolia through the pivot that led to his more recent films, Janus-faced masterpieces that orbit around isolated central characters--and advance Anderson's journey into allegory and myth.

Blending penetrative analysis with a deep knowledge of filmic storytelling, Paul Thomas Anderson tours an important filmmaker's ever-deepening landscape of disconnection.


"Part of the increasingly influential 'Contemporary Film Directors' series published by the University of Illinois Press. . . . [Paul Thomas Anderson] is full of literary shine and sparkle."--Los Angeles Review of Books

"Tole's detailed, close readings of these three films provide a lens to look at Anderson's work, and his insights into the director's creative process are keen. A model of cinema scholarship, this is another solid entry in Illinois's "Contemporary Film Directors" series."--Choice

"With Paul Thomas Anderson, Toles raises many insightful points about one of the most consistently interesting filmmakers to emerge from the '90's indie boom."--Shepherd Express

"George Toles is film studies' most astute close reader and its finest prose stylist. This book captures the ineffable strangeness of P. T. Anderson's films--their unusual forms, unsettled soundscapes, and characters wanting unmet connections. Toles explores the subjective interiors and cultural terrain these blinkered selves--and we viewers--cannot fully see. It's been said that actors are our substitutes, avatars who test unplumbed psychic depths. So it is with Toles, our guide to these miraculous films."--Carol Vernallis, author of Unruly Media: Youtube, Music Video, and the New Digital Cinema

"Scriptwriter for films by Guy Maddin, George Toles is also one of the most insightful and articulate critics writing today. Tackling the enigmatic Paul Thomas Anderson, Toles probes these dramas of isolation, revealing both desperate violence and the possibility of communion."--Tom Gunning, author of The Films of Fritz Lang: Allegories of Vision and Modernity

"Here, caught within its covers, is the inimitable George Toles's richly challenging and brilliantly lambent voyage into the world of P. T. Anderson. Always turning and returning, always leaping and quivering with thought, the book opens Anderson to a new sense of value and depth that reveals his poetry, his multiplicities, and his touch upon our lives."--Murray Pomerance, author of Moment of Action: Riddles of Cinematic Performance


George Toles is Distinguished Professor of English at the University of Manitoba. He is the author of A House Made of Light: Essays on the Art of Film.

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