What should Paul Thomas Anderson's next movie be about?

PT-ANDERSON-MASTER

Image Credit: Phil Bray

So, you’ve spent your weekend watching, dissecting, and violently debating Paul Thomas Anderson’s The Master. But what now?

The feted filmmaker has yet to confirm his next project, although he has begun the process of adapting Thomas Pynchon’s Inherent Vice into a movie. But since that’s far from concrete, P.T. Anderson’s next subject is still very much up in the air.

So PopWatch has some suggestions!

Since we’ve already divined the ingredients to what makes an Anderson feature go, we figured we’d offer up some ideas for his next one. Keeping in mind that the director has a soft spot for compelling huckster-hustlers propagating some sort of American dream/scam/movement, we came up with a few topics or figures that we think would serve as great backdrops for his next movie:

P.T. Barnum: And not just because they partially share the same initials. The nineteenth-century we-have-something-for-everybody entertainer was undoubtedly the most cinematic hype man of his time, responsible not only for blowing up the circus industry but also the public relations and advertising worlds. Besides, Barnum himself has already written the perfect tagline: “Every crowd has a silver lining.”

Robert Ripley: In a similar vein as Barnum, this theatrical oddball’s life offers a lot for the filmmaker to plumb.

William Jennings Bryan: The tireless turn-of-the-century Democrat’s story is just a movie waiting to happen. Known as “the Great Commoner,” the dude supported prohibition, testified against Clarence Darrow on the topic of evolution during the Scopes Trial (itself a movie we’d watch), and famously delivered the made-for-the-big-screen “Cross of Gold” speech at the 1896 Democratic Convention.

Amway: The Michigan-based company, founded in 1959, built an empire by selling health products in what many have considered a pyramid scheme. Just imagine a sweaty Philip Seymour Hoffman as one of the founders!

Mary Kay: Same as above, but with maybe Laura Linney instead of PSH.

William Levitt/Levittown: The developer is credited with expanding postwar suburban sprawl (Anderson loves wide-open spaces!), and his planned communities — Levittowns — gained infamy for their early whites-only policies.

Tammany Hall/Boss Tweed: A corrupt and crowded New York story like this might actually be more Martin Scorsese territory (Anderson tends to skew west anyway), but we’d still pay to see his take on the matter.

Robert Moses: The controversial, automobile-obsessed city planner who built many of New York City’s bridges, tunnels, and highways is often reviled for destroying the city’s neighborhood-y fabric, dooming ethnic communities, and hammering the nail into the Brooklyn Dodgers’ coffin. Play ball, Anderson!

Joseph Smith: Sure, Mormonism’s already been tackled by the likes of Big Love and The Book of Mormon, but what about the man who founded the American religion? As the New Yorker recently reminded us, his tale is fascinating. Plus, “The American Prophet” makes for a great title.

Jim Jones: There are so many things about the Peoples Temple and Jonestown founder that Anderson could work with — particularly the Rainbow Family angle.

Branch Davidians: Again, as with Jim Jones (and The Master, at that), cults are kinda overt movie topics, but we trust Anderson to employ a deliciously effective touch.

Read more:
13 Signs You’re Watching a Paul Thomas Anderson Movie
‘The Master': Do you care if it’s about Scientology?
How ‘The Master’ almost won everything (but didn’t) at the Venice Film Festival

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