Punch-Drunk Love (2002) marks a clear dividing line in the filmography of Paul Thomas Anderson. It is unlike anything he made before or after, and it seems to have broken him out of old habits and helped him forge a vision entirely his own.
On the three films before this one, Anderson wore his influences on his sleeve, delivering his spin on the styles of Scorsese, Tarantino, Altman and Demme. Punch-Drunk Love is his first film that feels in no way derivative.
That doesn’t make it a better movie than its predecessors, necessarily, but it makes it a key step in the maturation of one of our greatest auteurs.
If you can be a huge fan of somebody without owning a single one of his original albums, then that’s exactly what I am when it comes to Jon Brion. Over the years, Brion has put his distinctive stamp on so many things I adore.
As a producer, he has been the guiding force behind some of the best work ever recorded by Rufus Wainwright, Fiona Apple and Aimee Mann (not to mention Kanye West and Elliott Smith). And as a composer, he has scored such wonderful films as Magnolia, I Heart Huckabees and Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind.
He also released a solo album called Meaningless in 2001 that I’ve always wanted to own. All the songs I’ve heard from it are great, but it’s difficult to track down. Amazon has a copy on sale for $20 that takes several months to ship… that doesn’t seem right.