Phantom Thread

Year: 2017
Directed By: Paul Thomas Anderson
Cast: Daniel Day-Lewis, Lesley Manville, Vicky Krieps

Written by Dave Curtis

On the 11th of May 1997 one the greatest footballers, Eric Cantona played his last competitive game of football for Manchester United. At the end of that season he announced his surprise retirement at the relatively young age of 30 years old. Having won countless trophies and awards he decided to call it a day because he no longer had the passion for the game. I was gutted. He was a hero of mine. My favourite player, I could watch him play for hours. The thought of not being able watch him play the game I loved for the team I supported was unthinkable. Of course over time I grew up, I got over it. Other favourite players came and went. I got used to that feeling. I thought nothing would surprise me anymore.

Just over 20 years later on the 20th June 2017 it was announced that one of greatest actors of their generation was making one more film before retiring. Daniel Day-Lewis, the winner of 3 ‘Best Actor Oscars’ appeared to have fallen out of love with his profession. It took me back to that day in 1997 when King Eric hung up his boots, back to way I felt when I was 12 years old. Back to that feeling that I had in my gut that day; disappointment and sadness. So be prepared, this may be the last 130 minutes to watch a new film from a real life icon. Day-Lewis may not have done as many films as De Niro and Pacino but the standard of his work can’t be questioned.

‘Phantom Thread’ is another team up from director Paul Thomas Anderson and Daniel Day-Lewis, the pairing that gave us ‘There Will Be Blood’. The premise is pretty simple. Set in the 1950’s post-war London, well renowned dressmaker Reynolds Woodcock (Day-Lewis) and his sister Cyril (Lesley Manville) who are at the very centre of the British fashion industry, dress the elite with the styles of The House of Woodcock. Reynolds lives a bachelor life style, many women have come and gone until he comes across a young waitress, Alma (Vicky Krieps), who soon becomes a fixture in his life.

As always, a PT Anderson film is an experience. His work has always stood out, for better or worse his films are always talked about. He is a master craftsman whose attitude and work has always had a whiff of an older generation filmmaker about himself, but yet he is always on the edge of doing something new and different. Here with ‘Phantom Thread’ he has created a very British gothic romance which is extremely funny. The film is layered in rich visceral storytelling which uses every tool of cinematic magic to add a sense of wonder about it.

Like the suits he gets to wear, Daniel Day-Lewis instantly stands out. He never goes into a project where he isn’t completely prepared. He embodies every character he plays. This is a less bombastic performance compared to Bill Cutting in ‘Gangs Of New York’ or Daniel Plainview in ‘There Will be Blood’. Reynolds is much more soft spoken and a refined man, but is he also very fierce and always straight to the point. He is very much a man who likes things done his way and on his terms, like the way he works or his breakfast routine. Another Oscar nomination is high praise and nobody can question if he deserves it or not. Very few actors can portray an array of different emotions with the way they look or the way they handle themselves quite like Daniel Day-Lewis can.

As good as Daniel Day-Lewis is, it’s the woman in Reynolds Woodcock’s life that really make ‘Phantom Thread’ stand out. Lesley Manville and Vicky Krieps both hold their own against one of cinema’s finest. Krieps a relative newcomer shines as Alma, Woodcock latest muse. The evolution of Alma from the quiet waitress to Reynolds main lady is handled beautifully in her hands. It’s strange that her performance hasn’t attracted more award talk. Unlike Manville, who has been nominated in a number of different awards including best supporting actress at this year’s Oscars. Manville plays Reynolds sister Cyril; the one woman is his life that he listens to. Manville brings a touch of class and heart to a character that could quite easily be portrayed as a stone cold cartoon villain.

Sight and sound are equally important and thanks to Johnny Greenwood’s score (also has a Oscar nom) this film is given life that many films just miss out on. His work here not only enriches each character, it provokes emotions that enhance the visuals to another level.

When it comes down to it, ‘Phantom Thread’ is surprisingly quotable, cinematically very pleasing and a joy to watch. The cast all share strong chemistry and with a little help from Johnny Greenwood, Paul Thomas Anderson has created another excellent film which sits very nicely with his back catalogue.

If this is Daniel Day-Lewis’ last ever film, then I will happily watch his old films with a smile on my face, just like I do with old Eric Cantona clips on YouTube, but I do hope he changes his mind. He is just too good. He has loads left in the tank.

Dave’s Rating: 9/10


First Trailer And Poster For Paul Thomas Anderson’s 8th Film – ‘Phantom Thread’

“Set in the glamour of 1950’s post-war London, renowned dressmaker Reynolds Woodcock (Daniel Day-Lewis) and his sister Cyril (Lesley Manville) are at the center of British fashion, dressing royalty, movie stars, heiresses, socialites, debutants and dames with the distinct style of The House of Woodcock. Women come and go through Woodcock’s life, providing the confirmed bachelor with inspiration and companionship, until he comes across a young, strong-willed woman, Alma (Vicky Krieps), who soon becomes a fixture in his life as his muse and lover. Once controlled and planned, he finds his carefully tailored life disrupted by love. With his latest film, Paul Thomas Anderson paints an illuminating portrait both of an artist on a creative journey, and the women who keep his world running. Phantom Thread is Paul Thomas Anderson’s eighth movie, and his second collaboration with Daniel Day-Lewis.”

Directed By: Paul Thomas Anderson
Cast: Daniel Day-Lewis, Lesley Manville, Camilla Rutherford
Release Date: 2nd February


Dave Vescio

Dave Vescio is a criminal turned actor who, since leaving prison, has gone on to work alongside the likes of Eddie Redmayne, Chloe Grace Moretz and Kate Beckinsale. Dave has mastered the art of playing the villain, but he’s actually a really nice guy, and here’s the proof.

Interview by Jakob Lewis Barnes
Q. You’ve had quite the journey into the world of acting. At what moment did you realize that performing was the way to go?
A. I was always taught to follow my heart, no matter what.  And I’ve had the privilege to work with some of the best people on this planet, or at least be mentored by them. From my childhood, during my time in the infantry and in prison, learning culinary arts and TV photojournalism, to where I am today, and these people were the best of the best at what they did. They taught me that you’ll know when you love your job because you’ll want to do it every single day of your life, and if by chance you can’t do it, you’ll be depressed as hell.  And let me tell you, it does feel like hell when you can’t do it. So, that’s when I knew that acting was my one true love, and I knew that the very first day I walked into my first acting class.
Q. Is there times when you find that your experiences as a criminal have actually benefited your acting career?
A. For sure! First off, I specialise at playing movie villains, so I can always bring real life experiences into each and every single one of my roles, either from my own personal crimes or by having the privilege of being caged up with these kinds of twisted villains at Fort Leavenworth Maximum Prison. I have actually met a lot of criminals since then too, and I’m always researching them in their environments as well. It’s my job to bring the hard truths to the world, that’s what professional art actually is. So that’s what I do, or try to do, with every one of my antagonistic roles. Plus, I get to release my skeletons and confront them, because the truth will definitely set you free, it always has, and it always will. 
Q. You’ve been involved in projects with some huge names, including Chloe Grace Moretz and Oscar winner Eddie Redmayne, how did you find working alongside these actors?
A. I LOVE working with the best of the best! It’s the best way to truly learn how to be a better actor. And every single one of my directors has made me a better actor as well. I have been very, very privileged to work along side Oscar winners, Golden Globe winners, Primetime Emmy winners; there’s been a lot of them so far!
Q. Which actors inspire you the most? And who would you love to work with in the future?
A. Since I’m a villain actor, I am mostly inspired by actors who play great villains on the big screen. Such as Ted Levine in ‘The Silence Of The Lambs’, Anthony Perkins in ‘Psycho’, Ralph Fiennes in ‘Schindler’s List’, and Michael Douglas in ‘Wall Street’. Those were phenomenal performances that will rock the world for decades to come!
As for who I would like to work with, honestly, any major award-winning or nominee actor, or any veteran actor. If I had to pick, then I would love to work opposite Daniel Day Lewis. He’s the most method actor there is and he’s going to beat Katherine Hepburn’s record of winning the most Best Actor/Actress Academy Awards. So Daniel, for sure!
Q. Of all the acting roles in your catalogue, which has been your favourite?
A. So, far it’s what I have on my current acting reel right now: the stranger character in ‘Hick’ starring Oscar winner Eddie Redmayne & Chloe Grace Moretz, the salesman in ‘The Odd Way Home’ starring Rumer Willis & Chris Marquette, and Eddie in ‘The Millionaire Tour’ starring Dominic Monaghan. But, I also loved my role as the sign man in ‘The Trials Of Cate McCall’ starring Kate Beckinsale & Nick Nolte. But, since the movie was sold to Lifetime Television, my scenes had to be cut out due to violence. But, that’s fine; it was great working opposite of Kate & Nick. They definitely taught me a lot!
But, I’m also looking forward to being Bobby in ‘Wolf Mother’ starring Golden Globe nominee Tom Sizemore. It’s a villain role I’ve definitely played before, but not like this. This is new territory for me, so I’m excited to start shooting.
Q. If you could play any movie character, who would it be and why?
A. I love indie films, and honestly, indie film is brand new territory for movies. They tend to be storylines that are so different from any ever told before, or the direction and editing of them is totally brand new. We just don’t do remakes in indie films, only studio movies do that, and I’m just not a fan of most studio films. I also see myself as an artist who is trying to bring the hard truths to the world, and studio films rarely do that nowadays. That wasn’t always the case, but it is nowadays. So, I would rather stick to original characters in original storylines in the indie film world, because that’s what I love most!
Q. Can you tell us anything about your upcoming projects?
A. From August 28th, AMC Theatres  give you the chance to see my lead villain role in the movie ‘Going To America’ starring Eddie Griffin, Josh Meyers, Najarra Townsend, Mindy Robinson, & Penny Marshall. It’s a hilarious story about two crazy guys who break out of a mental asylum, because one of them (Eddie Griffin) thinks he’s a prince on a mission to save a princess. Well, let’s just say that ‘princess’ is my prostitute. So, my character is not happy about that at all! So, if you get the chance, definitely check it out. We won fifteen different awards in the film festival circuit this past year for this film.
Q. What is the best piece of advice you can pass on to aspiring actors?
A. That’s a tough question. There’s so much advice to be given. If I had to sum it up in one neat soundbite, I would say that the only thing stopping you from making your dreams come true is applied knowledge. That’s it. So, go out there in the world and find that knowledge and start applying it to your daily habits. And the ones who have this knowledge are the ones who actually make their dreams come true; only they know how to get there, because everyone else is just guessing and assuming, and we all know what making assumptions truly means: making an ass out of you and me. Only study the best of the best, they will always teach you the way!

Learn more about Dave by following him on Twitter @DaveVescio and on his IMDb page. Dave’s next project, ‘Going To America’, is released in selected US theatres from August 28th.