Paul Thomas Anderson’s Radiohead Music Video, “The Numbers” (2016)

The entirety of director Paul Thomas Anderson’s 2016 output has been exclusively for celebrated art-rock outfit Radiohead, an association that no doubt came about via Anderson’s frequent collaborations with guitarist Jonny Greenwood on the score for his last three features.  The release of prior music videos for “DAYDREAMING” and “PRESENT TENSE” were both surprise events in the spring and summer, respectively, and in the autumn, Anderson released a third surprise video– this time for Radiohead’s track “THE NUMBERS”.

This particular piece recalls the casual, intimate vibe that Anderson created previously for “PRESENT TENSE”, setting up a vignette that finds frontman Thom Yorke and Greenwood sitting on a park bench and performing the song to the accompaniment of a CR78 drum machine.  “THE NUMBERS” take the opposite tack in its visual presentation, setting the action during a bright, sunny day in the California mountains.  Strung together in a series of four distinct shots, “THE NUMBERS” possesses more of a formal approach than its predecessor, tracking in on its subjects from a wide establishing frame via an elegant dolly move.  

Indeed, the piece is an interesting mix of the formal and casual; a tone entirely appropriate for this current period of growth and experimentation Anderson seems to be undergoing.  Nestled somewhere between the classical camerawork of his narrative features and the handheld naturalism of JUNUN, “THE NUMBERS” further implies Anderson’s hand via the backdrop of Los Angeles’ dramatic mountain vistas and the subtle portraiture of Yorke’s face, captured at an oblique angle.  It remains to be seen if Anderson and Radiohead will collaborate on any further performance videos, but it’s a safe bet that the director’s experimentations here will lay the groundwork for whatever form his aesthetic takes in his next feature effort next year.

RADIOHEAD: “THE NUMBERS” is currently available via the YouTube embed above.