A seemingly wise, benevolent middle-aged figure adopts a temperamental loser as a surrogate son of sorts, resulting in a lengthy, complicated and volatile relationship. This is the main basic storyline for at least two of writer-director Paul Thomas Anderson’s six features, including his debut Hard Eight (1996) and his latest release, The Master, not to mention one of the dozen or so plot threads in his cult-classic porn epic, Boogie Nights (1997). Father-son relationships also dominate his one-day-in-the-Valley omnibus, Magnolia (1999), and his previous effort, the one-of-a-kind oil saga, There Will Be Blood (2007).
What we’re getting at here, then, is that however much he’s advanced as a filmmaker over the years, the dude’s evidently still got some daddy issues. But how much has he advanced as a filmmaker? It’s a first-vs.-last Smackdown today as we reach all the way back to the mid-90’s to find a movie brave enough to face down this highly anticipated newcomer. […]