The Phantom Thread and Too Many Genius Jerks

The Phantom Thread and Too Many Genius Jerks

One of the survival mechanisms of a long flight is watching as many movies as possible to the point where the hours you’re spending stuck in a chair, inhaling what amounts to the stale taco breath of a hundred other people, blur into a haze that ends as soon as possible.

I tend to use these opportunities to catch up on films that hanging out in the void of mild curiosity, where I’m not committed enough to carve out time (or spend money) to watch them unless I’m either multi-tasking or, as in this case, trapped.

Perhaps you have your own collection of movies you could sort of watch if given an isolated opportunity. I would urge you to keep Phantom Thread right there. It’s a perfect spot.

This isn’t to say that Phantom Thread is a bad movie, or a boring one. It’s characters are well-acted, the setting and cinematography, provided you like Daniel Day Lewis’ face, is engaging. It’s also, well, familiar.

How many times have we seen a character purported to be some sort of genius who just cannot handle interacting with “normal” people in a polite, standard way? As if having some sort of singular talent means you must be rude, dismissive, or snobbish to those without your gift. Sidenote – Benedict Cumberbatch seems to have made a career out of playing these sorts of roles, now that I think of it.

Phantom Thread‘s version of a jackass genius follows fashion, which, for me, is a fatal blow to its aspirations of getting out of my mildly curious void. This isn’t to say that I won’t watch a movie with fashion as its ‘world’, but fashion alone does not compel me in the same way that, say, basketball might not compel you but you’re going to watch Space Jam because obviously.

Anyway, as soon as we begin to tread upon a familiar story, in which said genius meets someone who he/she initially repels and then comes to realize is necessary and/or that someone changes the genius in some crucial way, its’ time for the mind to hunt for those kernels of originality to keep us hooked. Fashion, and particularly the ins and outs of dress design and high-class clothes cavorting ensues, asking you to overlook the well-worn plot for the flowing lace and well-turned phrases.

Those gowns fell in the face of the Genius-Jerk onslaught. It wasn’t close. I had my laptop out, despite how cramped it made the seat, because I’d seen this movie before, if clad in a more pedestrian outfit.

Point being – if you’re going to make me watch something I’ve seen before, better dress it up in something I’m interested in. That’s not to say plenty of people wouldn’t find fashion and Phantom Thread their jam, but I’m saying you run that risk when you choose to take people through beats with characters they’ll recognize. Your supporting stuff better be enough.

A couple things:

1. The re-design is still in progress, but I feel it’s a little nicer, more pleasant than the previous theme. Of course, it does mean finding images for every post, but I should be doing that anyway, right?

2. Starshot progresses! A day job slows things down somewhat, so the routine is getting adjusted to suit the new reality. If only endless monies fell from the sky into the wallets of hopeful artists…

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