Michael Mann still owns pacing–he always will. But director Paul Thomas Anderson owns something else. What is it? I have not found the word yet. But when I do, it will describe the way Phantom Thread is not about dresses. It will also convey the way this motion picture about some dressmaker makes me want to wake up early every morning. Oh, and this word will describe how without Mr. Anderson spending any precious time on patronizing summaries, technical explanations, or unambiguous declarations, I felt like I learned something–something that I might have otherwise missed. I wonder, what will you learn?
Not to argue with Shakespeare, but from my humble experience all the world’s not a stage–it’s a runway. I don’t mean Top Gun runway, I mean runway like Zoolander–the place where fashion is king.
Topping a long list of very surprising situations in which I have discovered, post Air Force, that appearance reigns is last Saturday’s episode. I found myself wearing a black suit with a black open-collar button-down underneath it. A gold chain around my neck suspended a gold security officer badge. I was stationed at the front of a bar while the St. Patrick’s Day parade was passing by just outside. My mission: prevent liquid from passing by me in either direction.
At least I had a stool to sit on.
The guy who arranged the gig freely told me he wanted me specifically (out of three others) to man this highly visible post at the fairly nice bar because I had “the look.” It didn’t take long for a few of the older women from the group nearest me to come over.
“What are you? Off-duty cop?”
“Right. You’re the best dressed off-duty cop I’ve ever seen. What’s that badge say?”
“It’s just for show.”
“Sure it is. I like your glasses.”
“Can we get a picture with you?” Turning to a friend, she says, “Hey. Use my phone, I want to get a picture with this guy. Isn’t he the best-dressed cop you’ve seen?”
One of the older guys with them then says to me with a knowing nod, “It’s pays to be good-looking, no?”
That proved the day’s only photo-op (luckily–it was exhausting) but about three more times before the end of the shift I found myself unable to convince talkative admirers that I was not an off-duty policeman and that the badge was just a psychological aide to calmness and security for the less talkative. Can you imagine my consternation? I’d suggest envisioning an ironic, unbelieving smile for starters.
A new portrait of the world is slowly forming in my head. One that includes me dressing like a millionaire and parking my Elantra several brisk-paced blocks away.