Friday, April 5, 2013

Blossoms & Blood

Postmodern Media Culture 
and the Films of Paul Thomas Anderson 

by Jason Sperb 
Forthcoming from University of Texas Press, Dec. 2013 

 From his film festival debut Hard Eight to ambitious studio epics Boogie Nights, Magnolia, and There Will Be Blood, Paul Thomas Anderson’s unique cinematic vision focuses on postmodern excess and media culture. In Blossoms & Blood, Jason Sperb studies the filmmaker’s evolving aesthetic and its historical context to argue that Anderson’s films create new, often ambivalent, narratives of American identity in a media-saturated world.

Blossoms & Blood explores Anderson’s films in relation to the aesthetic and economic shifts within the film industry and to America’s changing social and political sensibilities since the mid-1990s. Sperb provides an auteur study with important implications for film history, media studies, cultural studies, and gender studies. He charts major themes in Anderson’s work, such as stardom, self-reflexivity, and masculinity, and shows how they are indicative of trends in late twentieth-century American culture. One of the first books to focus on Anderson’s work, Blossoms & Blood reveals the development of an under-studied filmmaker attuned to the contradictions of a postmodern media culture.

Table of Contents


Introduction /
White Noise Media Culture
And the Films of Paul Thomas Anderson

Chapter 1
I Remembered Your Face /
Indie Cinema, Neo-Noir and
Narrative Ambiguity in Hard Eight (1996)

Chapter 2           
I Dreamed I was in a Hollywood Movie /
Stars, Hyperreal Sounds of the `70s
and Cinephiliac Pastiche in Boogie Nights (1997)

Chapter 3
If That Was In a Movie, I Wouldn’t Believe It /
Melodramatic Ambivalence, Hypermasculinity, and
the Autobiographical Impulse in Magnolia (1999)

Chapter 4
The Art-House Adam Sandler Movie /
Commodity Culture and the
Ethereal Ephemerality of Punch-Drunk Love (2002)

Chapter 5
I Have a Competition in Me /
Political Allegory, Artistic Collaboration and
Narratives of Perfection in There Will Be Blood (2007)

Afterward
On The Master