Paul Thomas Anderson and Todd Field are continuing their professional love affair.
The respective directors of “Licorice Pizza” and “TÁR” have been outspoken about their admiration for one another’s work, with Anderson most recently introducing Field during the 2023 Directors Guild Awards on February 18, where Field received the Feature Film Medallion for “TÁR.”
“The last time that Todd Field made a movie, George Bush was president and there was no iPhone,” Anderson told the audience in an exclusive IndieWire video. “There were rumors that he was playing graveyards, secretly performing for corpses, but it turns out he was waiting to pounce on us and make this beast of a film called ‘TÁR.’ We’ve all agreed it was worth the wait.”
The “Boogie Nights” helmer continued, “The opening shot is of a phone and it’s a firm but unsettling shot that plants us in a contemporary story and proceeds to make us look at our world and all of its foibles over the last few years. I know we’re here to honor you as a director, but I want to appreciate your writing, as ‘TÁR’ makes its first incision with the audience in the first reel with the line, ‘We’re all capable of murder, and that’s a fantastic handbag by the way.'”
“TÁR” stars Cate Blanchett as Lydia Tár, a disgraced conductor who grapples with the fallout of a #MeToo scandal and its cancel culture repercussions on her career.
“‘TÁR’ is funny. It’s really funny. It’s deeply, deeply funny. It’s also a ghost story,” Anderson said. “Every detail matters in this film. The slightest touch of someone’s shoulders…Nothing is not deliberate or full of intention. This creates an incredibly suspenseful film. A huge crash of an orchestra makes you think Michael Myers or Jason Voorhees just entered the building. You’re on edge, you’re waiting to see what happens next or even what the film is about and it’s 45 minutes in. And then when Lydia Tár says, ‘Where’s the matcha?’ it becomes the first moment when you get to see the big dam crack and the pieces start to fall.”
As for Field’s partnership with Blanchett, Anderson gushed, “He certainly picked the best partner in crime to pull off this story as the director of Cate Blanchett. Every director must wonder at some point, ‘Am I driving the car, or is the car driving me?’ She’s a little like that car she drives in the film: a fast German sports car capable of excessive power. But he has guided her towards probably her best performance.”
Anderson added, “It’s directed with such perfectly controlled mayhem and glee by Todd, it’s really hard not to drool as another director.”
But, according to Anderson, the most important achievement of “TÁR” is that it’s reinvigorating the “art film.”
“For me it was just magical as an audience member to watch. He made a film which for some years was considered a very dirty word. He made an art film,” the “Magnolia” auteur said. “But for those of you who haven’t seen it, don’t worry: It’s art that is not fussy or pretentious. It’s just razor-sharp, pitch black, and hilarious. It’s a very focused mirror that it holds up to some of the worst of our human behaviors. It’s also a blast.”
During Field’s acceptance speech, he applauded the other fellow nominees at the 75th annual DGA Awards.
“Each of us honored here tonight stand on the shoulders of giants, members of our team whose superhuman efforts helped achieve our respective aims. My DGA brothers and sisters are indeed such giants,” Field said. “There is often a war analogy when we talk about filmmaking, and anyone who has had the opportunity to direct a film understands why that is.”
Field reflected, “Some years ago, I was receiving an award for my first film [‘In the Bedroom’] and I looked out at a sea of faces similar to this. There was Mike Nichols, Martin Scorsese, and Steven Spielberg. I thought I was going to throw up. The room started to spin and all I could think of was the years I spent looking at these three masters’ work, learning from them, obsessing over every detail. And essentially I found myself telling that room I had seen ‘Raiders of the Lost Ark’ 350 times. This was not hyperbole. In high school, I worked as a projectionist on a second-run movie house and I read everything I could get my hands on to learn how someone like Steven Spielberg becomes Steven Spielberg. At the end of that event, Steven crossed the room and said hello. I was trembling. He was warm and courtly and incredibly generous and congratulated me. And then he said, ‘But the one that counts is the DGA. When your peers, when the people that actually make films, when they tip your hat to you.’ That was a dream and of course, you were right…I am grateful to be in your company sir.”
Field also praised lead actress Blanchett, calling the Oscar winner the “greatest collaborator with any artist I’ve ever experienced.”
“TÁR” is currently nominated for six Academy Awards, including Best Picture, Best Actress for Blanchett, and Best Original Screenplay and Best Director for Field.
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