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Paul Thomas Anderson
Daniel Day-Lewis, Vicky Krieps, Lesley Manville
Writing Credits:
Paul Thomas Anderson

Set in 1950s London, Reynolds Woodcock is a renowned dressmaker whose fastidious life is disrupted by Alma, a waitress who becomes his muse and lover.

Rated R.

Aspect Ratio: 1.85:1
English DTS X
Spanish DTS 5.1
French DTS 5.1
English DVS
Supplements Subtitles:

Runtime: 130 min.
Price: $34.98
Release Date: 4/10/2018

• Camera Tests
• Deleted Scenes
• “House of Woodcock Fashion Show”
• Behind the Scenes Photographs
• Previews


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-SVS SB12-NSD 12" 400-watt Sealed Box Subwoofer


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Phantom Thread [Blu-Ray] (2017)

Reviewed by Colin Jacobson (April 15, 2018)

No one will call Paul Thomas Anderson a prolific filmmaker. Since he gained fame with 1997’s breakout Boogie Nights, he’s only directed six more feature productions.

One movie every three years isn’t a horribly slow rate, but it’s a little on the sluggish side. Still, since these films tend to receive lots of praise, who can fault Anderson for his preference to take his time?

2017’s Oscar-nominated Phantom Thread sends us to London circa the 1950s, where Reynolds Woodcock (Daniel Day-Lewis) designs dresses for much of high society. Along with his sister Cyril (Lesley Manville), he runs the “House of Woodcock” and enjoys fame and fortune.

Into this setting steps Alma (Vicky Krieps), a waitress Reynolds meets at her workplace. She becomes his muse, his lover, and a disruptive force in the aging bachelor’s neatly-planned life.

Thread became the final one of 2017’s nine Oscar Best Picture nominees that I saw. Along with Lady Bird and Call Me By Your Name, it stood as one of the three that I skipped theatrically.

Though I almost pulled the trigger on Thread, mainly due to Anderson’s presence. A period drama about a fashion designer doesn’t do much to excite me, but I maintain a fair amount of faith in Anderson – granted, not enough to ultimately indulge in a ticket purchase, but I came closer that I would’ve had most other directors made the film.

I won’t say that Thread dispels that goodwill I feel toward Anderson, as it provides a more than competent effort. However, it never quite gets into gear, so it ends up as a disappointment.

At its heart, Thread provides a variant on the time-tested “uptight man meets free-willed woman” theme - though not to an extreme. Neither Reynolds nor Alma provide cartoony caricatures ala those in films like Harold and Maude, as the film prefers more low-key portrayals.

Still, the leads remain part of a long-established template, and it becomes easy to see Thread as a more dramatic update of My Fair Lady. Reynolds shows a clear connection to Henry Higgins, as he turns the “lower class” Alma into his “upgrade project” ala Eliza Doolittle.

Thread also feels like an homage to cinema of the 1950s, as it gives off a Powell/Pressburger vibe. Anderson creates a highly planned, succinct production that emphasizes a certain visual and narrative rigor.

Anderson’s approach to the film seems interesting, but it doesn’t result in an especially enjoyable end result, mainly because he seems too focused on the visual nuances. At times Thread feels a bit more like an art project than a narrative, one that doesn’t invest in its characters especially well.

This means the movie seems meticulous and precise but without much inner life. It turns into a character piece with dull characters who fail to bring out a lot to interest the viewer.

Honestly, I wanted to dig into in the tale, but Anderson keeps the viewer at arm’s length. Sometimes that approach works – Kubrick’s films used a chilly sense of distance well – but when a supposed romantic tale makes the characters detached from the audience, it falters.

I respect Anderson’s approach to some degree, and I like the absence of melodrama or sappy sentiment. However, Phantom Thread feels too cold and distant for me to embrace it or particularly enjoy it.

The Disc Grades: Picture B/ Audio B-/ Bonus C-

Phantom Thread appears in an aspect ratio of approximately 1.85:1 on this Blu-ray Disc. While not the most appealing image, I suspect the Blu-ray replicated the source as intended.

This led to a moderate amount of softness. Most of the movie came with nice delineation, but the photography opted for a gauzy, hazy feel at times that could lead to some less-than-defined material.

Still, the majority of the image looked concise, and I saw no signs of jagged edges or moiré effects. Both edge haloes and print flaws remained absent as well.

Thread went with a palette that usually favored a blue impression, though we got some yellows and oranges as well. These tones appeared well-rendered within the production design.

Blacks seemed dark and deep, and shadows came across as largely smooth and clear, though a few low-light shots displayed a bit of murkiness. I felt this turned into a more than acceptable presentation given the photographic choices.

To my surprise, Thread provided a DTS X soundtrack. Downconverted to DTS-HD MA 7.1 on my system, this seemed like an odd choice for multi-directional audio, as the film did little to take advantage of the format’s possibilities.

A quiet character piece, the mix favored music above all else, as the score emanated from the side and rear channels in an appealing way. Effects didn’t get much to do, so they remained fairly passive. Some driving scenes and shots at social gatherings added a bit of involvement, but the track stayed restrained and occasionally felt borderline monaural.

Audio quality worked fine, with speech that seemed natural and distinctive. Though effects lacked much ambition, they felt accurate and tight.

Music worked best, as the score appeared warm and full, with nice dynamic range. No one will buy an elaborate sound system for this film, so expect a low-key mix here.

With that, we head to the set’s extras and a collection of Camera Tests. This reel lasts eight minutes, 42 seconds and can be viewed with or without commentary from writer/director/producer Paul Thomas Anderson.

The “Tests” show different makeup, location, costume, film stock and lighting options. I wouldn’t call these fascinating, but it’s moderately interesting to view various ways the movie could’ve looked, and Anderson gives us useful notes about the choices.

Called “For the Hungry Boy”, we find package of Deleted Scenes. These fill a total of four minutes, 51 seconds and give us a mix of fairly minor extensions to existing scenes or brief snippets. They seem largely inconsequential and not particularly interesting.

Narrated by comedian Adam Buxton, House of Woodcock Fashion Show lasts two minutes, 47 seconds. As we watch the clothes, Buxton narrates in a manner to emulate a 1950s newsreel. This seems mildly entertaining at best.

Finally, we locate a running 11-minute, 56-second compilation of 172 Behind the Scenes Photographs. Shot by Michael Bauman, demo versions of the score accompany the images. These become appealing photos that merit a look.

The disc opens with ads for Tully, Darkest Hour, Thoroughbreds and Molly’s Game. No trailer for Thread appears here.

Professional and well-crafted, Phantom Thread feels like a film that should make an impact – but it doesn’t. The movie comes across as too clinical and it lacks much real drama or involvement. The Blu-ray brings us generally positive picture and audio along with minor supplements. I’ve liked a lot of Paul Thomas Anderson’s work but Thread leaves me cold.

Viewer Film Ratings: 4.6666 Stars Number of Votes: 6
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