|Dutch subtitles Punch-Drunk Love||4 years ago|
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Biggest surprise of the year - an Adam Sandler art film
10/10 I caught this at the New York film festival and my expectations were about as low as they could be. I was never a huge Adam Sandler fan, and I hadn't ever taken a liking to PT Anderson's other films. I thought that Magnolia was pretty flimsy writing-wise, and I also thought that it got way too much undue attention when it came out.5 years ago
I couldn't believe how great Punch Drunk Love was. It seems to be the polar opposite of Magnolia. Where Magnolia was sprawling, messy and often generic, Punch Drunk Love is short, tight and completely fresh. It reminded me of Fargo, in a way. It centers on a very small cadre of characters, it's incredibly focused, and it creates its own world for those characters to live and move around in.
It's been mentioned here before, but the art direction is stunning. I haven't seen such memorable visuals since The Royal Tenenbaums. In a grocery store scene, the items are stacked vertically by color (echoing the color bars that appear periodically between scenes), making the scene appear otherworldly. Other sets are bare of color or distinction. Sandler's love interest in the film (played by Emily Watson) lives in a maze of white corridors. Somehow, every "place" in the film has its own character and association. Even the characters become associated with particular colors.
The movie ends up being genuinely romantic while deviating completely from the very stale paradigm for romantic comedies of the last decade: Watson's character pursues Barry Egan; their inability to hit it off from the start is more character-driven and psychological than situational. Through the use of bizarre props and surreal scenes, the anxiety and frustration of Barry Egan becomes totally absorbing and affecting.
This is a wonderfully directed film. There isn't an extraneous moment. The visual style and pacing are particularly great. There's an interesting subtext in the film about communication - enormous background noise while characters are on the phone, Barry Egan's sisters' voices create this wall of noise (all voices making fun of him), telephones figure predominantly, the opening scene is completely bereft of background noise or music. There are a lot of interesting things to consider when it comes to the theme of communication and how sound is handled in the film.
That said, I'm already cringing at how most people are going to react to this. The Adam Sandler fans might find it too weird. People who liked PT Anderson's other movies might find it too pretensious. I was thrilled to have my low expectations completely overturned. This movie is great.
Know What You're In For Before You See This
8/10 Boy, did this movie disappoint a lot of people.....but not me. The "disappointed" were the Adam Sandler fans who expected another "Happy Gilmore"-type character, the kind of goofball the comedian has built a career on portraying. Instead, they got a dark comedy/drama that was anything but the typical Sandler fare. They also got a weird story.5 years ago
I had the advantage of knowing what to expect, and that helped a lot. Also, I guess I've watched too many movies because I am beginning to like some of these oddball films....and this one certainly qualifies as "odd." I thought the mixture of dark humor, drama, suspense and romance all made for a fascinating film. You just never knew what was coming next, something funny or something horrifying. This is definitely something different and I suspect one of those movies you'll either really like or really hate.
I supposed it helped I like Emily Watson, who is the female love interest in here. No one that nice would keep seeing a wacko like Sandler's character in here, but that's the movies for you. In most cases, you have to suspend your belief.
The storyline, whether pleasant or very unpleasant, got me involved and the camera-work in here was interesting, too. In summary, it's a curiosity piece for those who like something different. Just don't expect a happy, hilarious Happy Gilmore.
The stuff dreams are made of.
10/10 I saw Punch Drunk Love at the Gothenburg film festival today and I was totally overwhelmed by it. I had really looked forward to it since I love Paul Thomas Anderson's earlier films. Magnolia is still among my top five favourite movies ever and my expectations were therefore almost too high. I5 years ago
must admit I was sceptical of Adam Sandler playing a serious part. But he makes fantastic interpretation of his character Barry Egan, a small business owner pushed around by his seven (!) sisters who's miserable life takes a turn when he meets love in Emily Watson's character. Watson makes a beautiful portrait of the mysterious and lonely Lena who falls in love with Barry.
The movie isn't just well acted, it's also magnificent to watch. The camerawork is exquisite and Anderson really shows of his visual talent. Every frame in the one and a half hour film could be frozen and displayed as a piece of art. But the most impressive thing in the film is still Adam Sandler. Every word, expression and nuance is perfect and genuine. If this doesn't deserve an Oscar nomination I don't now what will. His performance is superior to the last five winners.
Punch Drunk Love is the way a movie should be. It's the way you wish all movies were like and I wish I could hang it on my wall. The poster will have to do.
PTA unlocks Sandler with a brilliant film
10/10 We've come to expect a lot from Paul Thomas Anderson. After his twin masterpieces "Boogie Nights" and "Magnolia", not to mention the sure-handed and satisfying "Hard Eight", we knew he was a filmmaker of skill and magic. So when it was announced that the next PTA film would be a 90-minute romantic comedy starring (Gasp!) Adam Sandler, I was, for one, not worried. This man had taken Mark Wahlberg and turned him into someone we could be proud to watch onscreen. He cast icon Tom Cruise, gave him the character of Frank "T.J." Mackey, and directed the actor to one of the most repulsive, offensive, and inspired performances of the "Top Gun" star's career. So, I5 years ago
was pretty confident in his ability to handle the star of "Little Nicky". But, boy, I still wasn't prepared for what I saw. Sandler just wasn't good, he was INCREDIBLE. I couldn't believe my eyes-here was the man behind "Eight Crazy Nights" creating a completely realized, utterly human character with a studied, nuanced performance. Many have commented on the fact that Barry Egan, Sandler's character, is not that different from his previous incarnations. Socially akward and prone to explosive violence, Barry might just be the key to explainging Sandler's Billy Madison or Happy Gilmore. The character helps shine a light on the inner torment of those man-children.
The plot is a bit more complicated than your usual romantic-comedy fair. First off, it's really not a comedy. Second off, the two major players-Sandler and Emily Watson as the beautiful and mysterious Lena Leonard-both have quirks and tension that ordinary movie characters who fall in love don't in movies today. Barry has been terribly scarred (perhaps irreperably) by the constant torment and abuse of his seven sisters. There are several scenes where he bursts into destructive rages for no real reason-to sum it up, this guy has problems. Lena seems to have some of the same hurt simmering under her, but she controls it and accepts Barry for who he is, eventually coming to a stage where she understands him better than anyone truly ever has. Much of "Punch-Drunk Love"'s story is how Egan manages to regain control of himself and experience truly human feelings for the first time. Lena is his salvation-through his devotion to her he saves himself.
The film's other specifics are a bizarre, but extremely original mix of details. Barry is a toilet-plunger salesman. He one day wanders onto a loophole in a snack-foods sponsored contest that would allow him to get enough frequent flier miles to never have to pay for a plane ticket again. First, however, is the nasty business with a small-time porn entrepeneur in Utah who is trying to extort a large sum of money from Barry, using the company's "Four Blonde Brothers" to threaten the (for a time) hapless Egan. The film is so utterly free that to reveal how these disparate elements come together would ruin the movie. Much of the joy of "Punch-Drunk Love" is that you never truly know where the movie is going to go next.
The performances are uniformly excellent. Philip Seymour Hoffman is "the heavy", but he puts a small line of tragedy in his character. Dean Trumbell seems fierce, but a telling look at his "empire" reveals he is all bark and no bite. The always-great Luis Guzman is Sandler's well-wishing co-worker, Lance, who is constantly supportive of Barry despite his doubts about what is really going on inside his boss's head. And Emily Watson is appropriately fascinating and quietly alluring as Lena, who drops her car off one day and admits the next she did it just to meet Barry.
The film might seem weird and violent, but this is truly one of the sweetest movies I have seen at a long time. At its core, "PDL" is decent, honest, and beautiful. It is reminiscent of "Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas", which, despite its rampant drug use and other disturbing subject matter, was a film that had a heart of gold. One of the best of 2002, "Punch-Drunk Love" will be seen in the future as a shining moment for all involved. Here's to hoping it will also be seen as the beginning of Adam Sandler's serious film career.
Wow, I never *felt* a movie before
5/10 One of my old English teachers once asked us about a book, "Did you all like the book? I'm not asking whether you enjoyed it; I don't care. I want to know if you liked it." She was making an important distinction.5 years ago
I remembered that as I watched Punch-Drunk Love. It's very unusual. The film is set in L.A., but you don't see much scenery indicating that. You see unpleasant things. Adam Sandler's office is long and empty: just seeing him sitting at his desk assaults you with a feeling of loneliness (not because of any sappy music--but because of the set and the camera work). He walks out into a never-ending warehouse; it feels empty, brutal. He exits the warehouse and you see another unending sight: the row of garage-like doors of all the other warehouses. It feels like it lasts forever, this row of doors, and when Adam gets to the end of it, he looks out onto a long, straight, industrial, empty street. It looks HORRIBLE, but why? Nothing is happening on the street, there are no gruesome sights, no particular signs of squalor or anything, and yet you feel repulsed, hopeless, alone. Then, out of the distance, a car whizzes by, nothing unusual, but it feels abrasive. With no relation at all to the plot, just as it appears, this car hits something and explodes, its remains slide off into the distance and you see nothing more of it. It's trivial. But you feel like the movie is being hostile toward YOU, the viewer.
Yes, that's the best way I can put it: you feel like the movie is being hostile toward YOU. A few minutes later, a truck flies by, again very abrasively, and drops a harmonium in front of Adam Sandler. There is no rhyme or reason to this, it just happens, and it's all very unpleasant.
About a third of the way through the video, my phone rang. I told my friend what I was watching, and she asked how it was. I told her, "I can't decide. I'm not sure I like it." I kept watching. At the end, I understood. What I
had meant to tell my friend was that I wasn't enjoying it. And I wasn't meant to.
The film starts out with a very bad point in Adam Sandler's life. He is neurotic, you want to kill his sisters even though they're not malicious per se, he is lonely, his life is unpleasant. This movie is trying to do more than TELL you it's unpleasant, and even more than SHOW you it's unpleasant: the movie is trying to get inside you and make you FEEL it. You seriously feel the abrasiveness of every image, every sound, every character; you feel accosted by it. When there's silence, it's brutal silence. When there are sounds, they're brutal sounds. Images and movements are abrasive. Until Adam's life begins to flourish: then you get pretty sounds, pretty colors--as the viewer, you're let off the hook, too.
So when it was over, I was in amazement. How many movies succeed at this, at taking you WITH them to the discomfort the character is living? The cinematography, the sound work, the script--none of it is any accident. When his life isn't going well, you FEEL it. Did I like the movie? Very much. And if you appreciate a very unusual take on an old topic, you will too.