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Punch-Drunk Love (free)

  • Central Library 201 West Mifflin Street Madison, WI, 53703 United States (map)

Paul Thomas Anderson's equally poetic and candid Punch-Drunk Love (2002) is a reminder that great art can elevate an actor's craft. This subversive take on the romantic comedy centers around Adam Sandler's magnetic performance as socially awkward novelty plunger salesman Barry Egan. Donning a Superman-like royal-blue suit here, the boyish comic becomes a sensitive, unpredictable hero motivated by his desire to overcome the oppression of his seven sisters and find meaning in the empty, dizzying world of modern Los Angeles. Barry's most sympathetic sibling, Elizabeth (Mary Lynn Rajskub), introduces him to her coworker Lena (Emily Watson), whose wanderlust defines her charmingly assertive affections. But the couple's earnest encounters are not without complications within the framework of this surreal meet-cute, nor outside it at a Utah mattress outlet posing as a sex hotline headquarters that's trying to extort Barry. Part of the film's enduring appeal, beyond its whimsical yet honest representations of loneliness and wonderment of first love, are Jon Brion's warm, percussive, avant-garde orchestral themes, which remarkably capture the spirit of Godard's Une Femme Est Une Femme (1961) and 1950s Hollywood musicals in lieu of traditional song breaks. The film's welling beauty is further lifted by Jeremy Blake's watercolor overture and interludes, which celebrate the rapturous nature of its quirky momentum—the synesthesia of love. —Grant Phipps

Earlier Event: August 3
Faux Fawn (free)