2002, Sony Repertory, 95 min, USA, Dir: Paul Thomas Anderson

Adam Sandler gives one of the strongest, most nuanced performances of his career in his Golden Globe-nominated portrayal of Barry, the lonely, rage-filled owner of a novelty plunger company courted by shy, fellow troubled soul Lena (Emily Watson). Both beautifully romantic and tensely thrilling, PUNCH-DRUNK LOVE is a surreal fever dream following Barry and Lena’s whirlwind love story as they battle a wide array of threats to their relationship, ranging from a violent phone-sex hotline “supervisor” (Philip Seymour Hoffman) to their own temperaments. Anderson won the Best Director award at Cannes in 2002 for his highly inventive, aesthetically gorgeous portrait of innocent love contrasted against a world of corruption.

1997, Warner Bros., 155 min, USA, Dir: Paul Thomas Anderson

Eddie Adams, aka "Dirk Diggler" (Mark Wahlberg), is a high school dropout-turned-porn star whose career is on a dizzying upward trajectory thanks to the guidance of adult-movie kingpin Rick Horner (Burt Reynolds). As Eddie and the adult industry descend into the excesses of the late ’70s, devastating personal narratives unfold against a historic shift in America’s cultural landscape. Both intimate and epic in tone, this sprawling ensemble piece is populated by superb actors (Julianne Moore, Philip Seymour Hoffman, William H. Macy) whom Anderson guides with masterful, Altmanesque care.

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