Author

Joe Amendola

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How do you satirize what is already a joke? How do you peel beneath the surface to reveal the underlying absurdity within when the surface no longer exists? Does pointing out these absurdities encourage meaningful activism and change, or does it lull people into a false sense of complacency and hopelessness? How do you create a caricature of a consequential figure without minimizing their real world harms? These are all tough questions with no straightforward answers, but that isn’t stopping anyone from trying. Showtime’s “Our Cartoon President” is the newest entry into the already bloated Trump-satire micro-industry. The show follows a cartoon rendering of Donald Trump around the White House as he attempts to perform a job he almost certainly has no interest in doing. The show attempts to make colorful characters out of everyone in the president’s orbit; Trump’s immediate family, speechwriter Stephen Miller, Vice President Mike Pence, White…

There’s a moment early on in “Phantom Thread” where Reynolds Woodcock — the much-lauded dressmaker and central character of the film — is chastising his partner Johanna. Following this scene, she is never heard from again. Johanna, bemoaning Reynolds’ coldness, simply asks him where he has gone, referring to his emotional distance. Reynolds decides to forgo an answer and simply replies, “I cannot begin my day with a confrontation.” Reynolds, a man of rigid routine, views confrontation as the ultimate evil, tripping him up and disrupting his carefully planned inner world. “Phantom Thread” is, in essence, a film about confrontation, and what happens when such a man’s norms are eroded — the consequences of living a meticulously planned existence. “Phantom Thread” is the newest film by writer-director auteur Paul Thomas Anderson, the filmmaker behind such classics as 2007’s “There Will Be Blood,” 1997’s “Boogie Nights” and 2003’s “Punch Drunk Love.”…