During his lone director’s commentary for “Boogie Nights”, Paul Thomas Anderson confesses his admiration for the extreme close-up. He states, “I loved extreme close-ups for the longest time, but for some reason,
I always felt like, ‘No one is getting it exactly the way I want to see it–the way I want to see an extreme close-up.'” Anderson notes Jonathan Demme’s “The Silence of the Lambs” as the first time he saw an extreme close-up executed to his liking, stating “That’s what an extreme close-up should look like.”
Anderson confesses to spending a great deal of time perfecting his now trademark extreme close-ups, stylizing the detailed shots to fit his specific vision. A PTA extreme close-up usually features a very shallow depth of field, keeping just a tiny portion of the subject sharp while the rest gradually falls out of focus. While it is clear that Anderson often employs these shots as a fun way to stylistically enhance a scene, he is also able to convey meaning with a well-timed ECU–a simple door lock creates tension, tiny pills establish overbearing dependence, a signature foreshadows pending turbulence. Here is a look at some of Paul Thomas Anderson’s wonderful extreme close-ups.