My Top Five Favorite Movies By Paul Thomas Anderson

Image Credits: Myke Simon

I don’t remember exactly what was the first Paul Thomas Anderson film I ever watched because it has been a few years but I’m pretty sure it was Magnolia; considered to be one of the first films that introduced the director to a wide audience, I watched Magnolia one afternoon about ten years ago and it made a huge impression on me. I was eighteen at the time, and although it was a complex and very long film (more than three hours), I remember it as something unique, something quite different from most of the films I had seen up to that time. 

Over the years, I have had the opportunity to see all of Paul Thomas Anderson’s films and have noticed that they always have one or more factors in common with each other, including autobiographical elements. 

Anderson’s themes concern celebrity culture, media, patriarchy, and commodities in the postmodern America of the late 20th century, with a focus on the preponderant media culture in our lives, to the point that reality and media are inevitably interconnected. A cinephile from childhood, growing up in the San Fernando Valley (born in Studio City, the heart of the Hollywood film industry) and the son of a well-known television personality (Ernie Anderson, voice of the ABC channel), Paul Thomas Anderson experienced firsthand the rise of dominant masculinity in the Reagan 1980s, and many of the male characters in his films seek to reinvent themselves while simultaneously trying to outgrow their past. As with many of the films released in the postmodern media culture of the late ‘70s/early ‘80s, Anderson’s films often revolve around the relationship between father and son, which is often difficult and troubled. Moreover, as author Jason Sperb points out in his book Blossoms & Blood: Postmodern Media Culture and the Films of Paul Thomas Anderson, “many Anderson characters ambivalently engage in endless cycles of consumption while the physical act of labor – of actually producing a material good with use value – seems nonexistent.” In Anderson’s films, many of the characters work as salesmen and represent the center of transactions that are part of everyday life, as well as having both dissatisfaction with and dependence on material wealth. 

Sperb writes: “His films explicitly posit characters’ drive for financial success, as well as their conspicuos consumption, as an emotionally unsatisfying journey, filled with moments of excess, egomania, and greed. These same people are often situated as socially marginalized. […] Anderson’s early films, set in the media-saturated commodity culture of upper-middle-class Southern California, also suggest that no other meaningful options exist. They often end on a cautious note of reconciliation that implies patriarchal capitalism is the solution to the same problems it created.” 

I have enjoyed many of Paul Thomas Anderson’s films, both for the structure and unfolding of the plot and for how they address the themes expressed. Here below are five of his movies I have loved the most, in no particular order: 

Image Credits: New Line Cinema

1) Magnolia (1999): although not considered by critics to be the director’s most successful movie (he was only 28 years old at the time of its release), I believe there is something incredibly magnetic and captivating about Magnolia, Anderson’s third movie, which remains one of the landmark movies of independent cinema at the dawn of the 21st century. Magnolia features a series of intertwining plots and characters, with a cast full of established and audience-pleasing actors, like Tom Cruise as Mackey, a ruthless motivational guru who profits from dispensing secrets to middle-aged men about how to “seduce and destroy women” and who to this day remains one of Anderson’s most iconic characters. The central themes of the film are the disintegration of the white middle-class family, the ephemeral satisfaction provided by success and commodities, and the deconstruction of masculinity. Magnolia is an epic story set in the San Fernando Valley which depicts in an almost apocalyptic way the inadequacy of the characters in outgrowing their past; the stories of these characters intersect during one day, with a great importance given to random fate, while also touching on themes of guilt and redemption. It is thus a movie that strikes more of an emotional resonance than a linear plot in itself, and I think viewers who enjoyed the movie as I did happened to identify themselves with what one or more of the characters were feeling. It is perhaps the director’s most autobiographical film, and although he later pointed out some of the film’s flaws (such as its excessive length), he also said, “I consider Magnolia a kind of beautiful accident. It gets me. I put my heart-every embarrassing thing that I wanted to say-in Magnolia.” The movie is a tribute to Robert Altman, Anderson’s mentor; it is a profound story about childhood, love and illness in the world of Southern California television celebrities. Magnolia is not for everyone, but there is no denying that it has something incredibly lyrical and meaningful about it.

Image Credits: Paramount / Ghoulardi Film Company

2) There Will Be Blood (2007): one of the two Paul Thomas Anderson movies starring Daniel Day-Lewis, I only got to watch it eight years ago because I was still in middle school when the movie was released. I think it is undeniable that There Will Be Blood is one of Anderson’s masterpieces; it was an incredible success with audiences and critics, winning Oscars for Best Picture and Best Lead Actor, and is considered one of the best American movies of the decade. The  plot emphasizes how chasing perfection is dangerous and virtually impossible, and this is especially evident in the destructive journey of Daniel Plainview’s character (played by Daniel Day-Lewis), which is also a critique of ruthless capitalism, intersected with the religious theme as well. Indeed, one Hollywood critic said that There Will Be Blood, filmed near Marfa, Texas, “tackles all the big themes about America: blood, oil, religion.” It is the story of a silver miner in the early 20th century who makes the pursuit of oil the center of his life; in the process, he buys all the land he can by destroying the competition in what is an unscrupulous quest to gain absolute power over everything around him (the character was inspired by oilman Edward Doheny). As highlighted by Sperb in Blossoms & Blood, Plainview’s character also embodies the figure of the salesman because he cons people into selling their land. Another of the themes taken from Anderson’s earlier movies is the figure of the surrogate father, as well as the father-son relationship (after one of his employees is killed in an accident, Plainview decides to raise his orphaned son). Unlike some of his previous movies, there is neither love nor redemption in There Will Be Blood. I think it is wonderful both visually and in terms of plot; the long narrative sequences of isolation, interrupted by sudden bursts of violence, were influenced by Stanley Kubrick’s style (especially from The Shining), as well as the film’s dialogue-free opening sequence, which is very reminiscent of 2001: A Space Odyssey. A reminder of the industrial origins of the state of California (well before the advent of the entertainment industry), There Will Be Blood is a film that stays with viewers even after its ending, both because of Day-Lewis’s masterful performance, which finds humanity in a character with monstrous traits, and Anderson’s skills as a screenwriter, which as Sperb states: “The strength of Anderson’s writing abilities is that he never loses sympathy for his characters-he never loses sight of how they see the world, even if he doesn’t expect audiences to empathize with them at their worst.”


Fashion Thread By Rina (From La Vida Prada) On Twitter – My Answers

Image Credits: Toa Heftiba

This fashion thread was created by Rina from La Vida Prada on Twitter a while ago. Her account is one of the most popular on the platform and it is part of High Fashion Twitter; I find the thread comprehensive and I think it touches on many different aspects of fashion so I chose to include it on my blog. 

1. How would you describe your aesthetic? (use pictures if you want)

Being born in the 1990s, I grew up following the Y2K aesthetic because I became a teenager in the early 2000s; during that time I often wore low-waisted jeans (which I later came to dislike) and mini tank tops. Even looking back at photos from that era, I realize that I would often wear belts with large buckles with big Gucci or D&G logos. Over the years, my style has changed a lot, and I have to say that the old money aesthetic is the one I identify with the most; it is an aesthetic that focuses mainly on quality instead of appearance and also includes the preppy style, which I have always loved very much. I don’t like to sport brand logos excessively; I usually prefer high-quality outfits and accessories with a sophisticated and elegant touch. I also love Parisian style and the recent quiet luxury trend. 

2. What other aesthetics would you like to be? (use pictures if you want)

I was very fascinated by the coastal grandmother aesthetic (think Diane Keaton in Anything Can Happen, with comfy, light-colored clothes) and the coconut girl aesthetic (which communicates a 2000s summer vacation vibe), which I got to learn more about thanks to one of the brilliant YouTube videos by ModernGurlz. I would also like to try the dark academia (in homage to The Secret History by Donna Tartt, one of my favorite novels) or light academia, which uses a more neutral color palette following the white and beige tones.

3. What is the next item of clothing you’re planning to buy?

Probably a few pairs of high-rise jeans by Zara. 

4. What items are on the top of your wishlist?

I don’t list them in any particular order, but I think they are a Saint Laurent clutch, a black jumpsuit by Norma Kamali, and a short floral dress by Dolce&Gabbana. 

5. Do you own designer anything? If so, what? (makeup and perfume included).

I became aware with the world of Made in Italy luxury fashion from an early age through my father’s work (I also currently work in the fashion industry), so I own several items from European designers. As for clothing and accessories, I love mixing and matching high-street fashion with luxury designers and brands. A Burberry trench coat from the Christopher Bailey era, a Burberry cashmere scarf, and a pair of Giorgio Armani men’s scarves that my father used to wear when he was younger. I really love my Chanel graffiti hobo bag from the 2007 resort collection because my mother gave it to me for my birthday a few years ago. My Balenciaga Triple S black/pink sneakers. A long evening dress in blue from Ralph Lauren’s Lauren line. As for perfumes, I mainly buy those from luxury maisons, mainly Armani and Dolce & Gabbana (of the latter brand my favorite is Light Blue, one of the first I bought) but I also love the more youthful ones from Juicy Couture and other niche perfumes. For makeup I mainly use products from the beauty industry (BioNike, Max Factor…), but I have a fondness for lipsticks by Dior and I also own a couple of Chanel nail polishes (although I generally buy nail polishes from brands that belong to the nail care industry). 

6. What is a designer item you really want?

Is the book on the history of the Burberry fashion house published by Assouline to be considered a designer item? If not, I’m mainly interested in vintage garments going back a few years or decades (e.g. Ossie Clark’s vintage dresses, since I recently visited a retrospective of the British designer and wrote about it on the blog. If we are thinking of something more recent, I saw pictures of the Jacquemus giant bag parade in Paris a few days ago and would be interested in a Jacquemus Le Bambino bag. 

7. Do you buy sustainable?

I try to buy sustainable as much as possible, despite the fact that this often means spending more money. However, I believe in buying clothes that will last and that come from a “transparent” supply chain; I like to buy from sustainable brands such as Reformation, Sézane and Faithfull The Brand, as well as People Tree, which is one of the most popular brands in the sustainable fashion field.  

8. What are your thoughts on sustainability?

I studied the concept of sustainability in detail during my graduate course in Fashion Business with NYC Parsons School of Design and analyzed the negative impact of fast fashion on our planet. I have always been environmentally conscious and have often donated to causes that are concerned with the preservation of the planet and its inhabitants. I believe that all brands should move toward sustainability; we should buy less and focus on key wardrobe items that are primarily quality garments and whose making does not come from the exploitation of workers in developing countries. 


Growing Up With Vampires: Twilight, The Originals and Other (Vampire) Stories

The Originals (2013). Image Credits: CW Network

I was born in the ’90s so I had the opportunity to witness the mass phenomenon that was Stephenie Meyer’s Twilight novel; I was 14 years old when the book series became incredibly popular in Italy and I still remember when the first book in the series, with its iconic cover featuring two white hands holding a red apple, became a common presence on school desks thanks to word of mouth among my classmates. It was the year 2008 (it had been three years since Twilight was published in the States); at that time Facebook was in its infancy, while Instagram and TikTok were yet to be founded. The concept of “viral” as we know it today did not yet exist (think of what is happening these days with Greta Gerwig’s upcoming Barbie movie, whose teaser trailer has accumulated more than 13 million views on YouTube in just 48 hours), but in 2008 the popularity of the book series was mainly due to the imminent release of the Twilight film adaptation starring Kristen Stewart and Robert Pattinson. I remember spotting the Twilight novels everywhere, passed from hand to hand and read by dozens of my peers, including those who were not particularly fond of reading. Having been an avid reader since I was a child (my parents recall that I learned to read when I was less than four years old), I was urged to buy Twilight and immersed myself in reading the novel that was probably my official introduction to the world of vampires. I say official because I have actually been a fan of horror tales since primary school; I used to love R.L. Stine’s Goosebumps series (to which I would like to devote a separate blog article), published during the 1990s and early 2000s and including more than 60 titles. Although there was no vampire present as a recurring character, the 21st Goosebumps book, titled Vampire Breath, was among my favorites in the series.

The book numbered just over 100 pages and was both chilling and humorous. Although vampires were already present in the history of film and literature, Twilight signified the birth of a genre of its own, which became one of the main subcategories of the fantasy novel.

Twilight book cover. Image Credits: Little, Brown and Company


Reading Twilight was like discovering something completely new and distinguished: the books helped establish the paranormal romance genre, and Twilight was one of the first novels in which the human protagonist falls in love with a supernatural being. The plot revolves around Bella Swan, a teenager who has recently moved to live with her father in the rainy town of Forks( in the Washington state), where she falls madly in love with a schoolmate, the vampire Edward Cullen. The series consists of four novels, and although it is full of supernatural elements and fights between fantastic creatures, the story focuses mainly on the love story between the two main characters, which is also full of twists and turns. Twilight created a real cult following in those years, especially with the release of all four films based on the books; the Bella/Edward/Jacob love triangle helped create Team Edward and Team Jacob “groups” (I remember changing my opinion on this matter several times back in the day) and fifteen years later the series remains a staple of late 2000s/early 2010s pop culture. The love story between Bella and Edward was a perfect representation of thwarted love and the meeting of different worlds; moreover, Bella’s character is portrayed as shy and clumsy, so it was easy for most teenagers of the time (including yours truly) to identify with her. Twilight has recently been rediscovered by today’s teenagers, who review the book series, make parodies of scenes from the movies and mimic Bella’s style on TikTok; personally, however, I would be very interested in visiting some of the places where the series was filmed, especially Cannon Beach in Oregon and Montepulciano in Central Italy (Volterra in the books).


Mr & Mrs Clark: Ossie Clark And Celia Birtwell, Fashion And Prints 1965-74 At Fondazione Sozzani (10 Corso Como) in Milan

Mr and Mrs Clark: Ossie Clark and Celia Birtwell – Fondazione Sozzani, 10 Corso Como, Milan

As a longtime fan of Ossie Clark and British fashion, I was delighted to be able to attend the exhibition organized by the Sozzani Foundation in Milan under the sponsorship of CNMI (National Chamber for Italian Fashion). The exhibition had previously been held at the Textile Museum of Prato, which took part in the exhibition project as well.

“Mr & Mrs Clark” is the first exhibition in Italy dedicated to Ossie Clark and Celia Birtwell, the creative couple who were among the leading figures of British fashion in one of its most prosperous periods, the 1960s and ’70s decades. The exhibition chronicles their artistic journey and explores the brilliance of Celia’s designs, with prints inspired by nature and avant-garde art; Ossie’s talent and mastery of pattern-making and cutting enabled the creation of feminine and sensual clothes.

In the exhibition space at Fondazione Sozzani, it is also possible to admire a number of photos depicting Ossie Clark and Celia Birtwell together, as the two were united in both their work and personal lives. Their artistic journey has also been documented in the book Mr & Mrs Clark, which chronicles the artistic and personal partnership of the two designers through essays and interviews, enhancing the beauty of Ossie Clark’s creations with sketchbooks and period photos. In the preface, Carla Sozzani wrote: “Ossie and Celia are also the story of a special alchemy, one of the earliest examples of creative couples who worked together to complement each other in total harmony. Celia Birtwell and Ossie Clark are among the famous couples where one can never tell where one’s creativity ended and the other’s began.”

Federico Poletti, curator of the exhibition, also pointed out that “Ossie’s shapes and cuts would not have had the same impact without Celia’s prints”, which is why the two designers’ work is presented together.

The dresses on display come from a variety of sources, such as the private collection of acclaimed costume designer Massimo Cantini Parrini and that of Lauren Lepire, founder of the Los Angeles vintage store Timeless Vixen, as well as from the archives of Celia Birtwell and the Clark family.

Sketchbook with designs, 1970, Collection Celia Birtwell
1972 dress by Ossie Clark / Textile designer Celia Birtwell
Lips Dress by Ossie Clark, 1965 (Quorum label, polka dot pattern design)
“Plane Crash” print by Jim Lee, 1969 / Ossie Clark poster, “Target Print” by Celia Birtwell