Going To Extremes: Jacob T. Swinney’s PT Anderson supercuts, part 1

By on August 18, 2015

Filmmaker and video essayist Jacob T. Swinney’s very cool supercut edit projects have included a Quentin Tarantino 4-part supercut series highlighting four specific areas found in QT’s films, and now he’s back with the first two installments of his new 4-part series — this time he’s showcasing the extreme close-up use of both sight and sound in the films of Paul Thomas Anderson, director of Inherent Vice, The Master, There Will Be Blood, Boogie Nights and more.


Once again, we’ve pulled Swinney’s owns comments from his Vimeo page below. Here’s part 1 of 4:

“While perhaps his films are better known for cinematography and acting performances, the sounds of a PT Anderson picture deserve equal merit. Many of these sounds seem to create their impact through a certain degree of harshness. The sounds are cold and sterile, standing out amongst the lush, extravagant cinematography. From lines of cocaine being savagely snorted, to oil rigs exploding in the desert, to bullfrogs cracking windshields, here is a showcase of some of PTA’s greatest sounds.”


Here’s part 2 of 4, and once again, Jacob T. Swinney’s comments:

“During his lone director’s commentary for Boogie Nights, Paul Thomas Anderson confesses his admiration for the extreme close-up. He states, ‘I loved extreme close-ups for the longest time, but for some reason, I always felt like, ‘No one is getting it exactly the way I want to see it–the way I want to see an extreme close-up’ Anderson notes Jonathan Demme’s The Silence of the Lambs as the first time he saw an extreme close-up executed to his liking, stating ‘That’s what an extreme close-up should look like.’

Anderson confesses to spending a great deal of time perfecting his now trademark extreme close-ups, stylizing the detailed shots to fit his specific vision. A PTA extreme close-up usually features a very shallow depth of field, keeping just a tiny portion of the subject sharp while the rest gradually falls out of focus. While it is clear that Anderson often employs these shots as a fun way to stylistically enhance a scene, he is also able to convey meaning with a well-timed ECU–a simple door lock creates tension, tiny pills establish overbearing dependence, a signature foreshadows pending turbulence. Here is a look at some of Paul Thomas Anderson’s wonderful extreme close-ups.”


Music: “Wonderful World” by Sam Cooke & “Boogie Shoes” by K.C. and The Sunshine Band

Hard Eight (1996)
Boogie Nights (1997)
Magnolia (1999)
Punch-Drunk Love (2002)
There Will be Blood (2007)
The Master (2012)
Inherent Vice (2014)

Nicholas Laskin at Indiewire’s Playlist blog did a sweet little write-up on Swinney’s supercuts, so we’re just going to quote from it here, but go to the link and you can read the whole post:

“Paul Thomas Anderson is not timid. Whatever he’s making a movie about – a family of surrogate pornographers, the shadowy inner workings of a cult, a father-son relationship nourished by gambling – he dives right into it headfirst. While it’s hard to argue that the director’s disposition has become dreamier and less contained with his last two pictures, Anderson remains a director whose work is emotionally immediate and charged with intelligence and a deep feeling. Not surprisingly, he’s a big fan of the E.C.U., or the Extreme Close Up, as it’s more commonly known. It’s a motif that has appeared in nearly all of the director’s movies, from Hard Eight to There Will Be Blood all the way to last year’s Inherent Vice, and now we have a new supercut that highlights the auteur’s most memorable uses of the shot.”


Here’s another of Jacob T. Swinney’s supercuts if you happened to have missed it.

About Bryan Thomas

Bryan Thomas has been a freelancing writer/critic for All Music Guide, and a contributor to Launch, Music Connection, Big Takeover and numerous other publications and entertainment websites, blogs and zines, most of them long gone. He's written more than sixty sets of liner notes. He’s also worked for over twenty years at mostly reissue record labels -- prior to that he worked in bookstores and record stores, going all the way back to the original vinyl daze. He lives in the Miracle Mile neighborhood of Los Angeles, CA.