Hard Eight (“Sydney” as P.T. calls it) – Very good introduction to his work. The great Philip Baker Hall is a terrific screen presence. Gwinny Paltrow and John C. Reilly are convincing morons.
Boogie Nights – Great follow up, and PT’s tribute to Scorsese’s style. He borrows things from many other films like I Am Cuba and Putney Swope to name a couple, but he’s not pretentious about it. Burt Reynolds‘ last great performance I’m afraid.
Punch Drunk Love – Notice how I skipped Magnolia? That’s because it’s a failure. PT’s attempt at Altman and self indulgence. All the characters spoke with the same voice (P.T.’s), and at times it just seemed like an acting improv class to see who could yell and emote better. But what it did was get it out of his system. For me, Punch Drunk Love was the first time he was using his own voice and not trying to imitate someone else. Lots of folks don’t like it, and I’m not 100% sure he deserved best director at Cannes for it, but it’s a nice reboot for him. Philip Seymour Hoffman is a little too much in this one, but I’ll give him a pass.