Paul Thomas Anderson’s Haim Music Video: “Right Now” (2017)

Director Paul Thomas Anderson’s output since his 2014 feature INHERENT VICE has been emblematic of a seasoned visionary dropping the selectiveness implied by his “prestige filmmaker” status and rediscovering the joys of artistic expression for sheer creativity’s sake.  The 2015 music documentary JUNUN is arguably his most substantial work in this vein, with him embracing the mobility and cost-effectiveness of digital filmmaking for the first time in a bid to capture the recording of the eponymous Jonny Greenwood album.  His ensuing trio of music videos for Radiohead’s 2016 album “A Moon Shaped Pool” doubled down on this approach, with the latter two in particular content to simply sit and observe Greenwood and Thom Yorke perform the respective tracks acoustically in simple surroundings.  JUNUN and the Radiohead videos were executed under relative secrecy, with the former making a surprise debut at the New York Film Festival and the Radiohead videos dropping on the unsuspecting blogerati with no advance warning.  2017 looks to continue this phase of Anderson’s career, judging by the similarly-surprising release of his music video for “RIGHT NOW”, a track off indie rock band Haim’s first album since their 2013 debut.

Anderson’s involvement with the project is certainly unexpected, given his relative celebrity in regards to Haim’s own artistic profile, but just like his prior music videos for Fiona Apple and Radiohead, his connection here is highly personal.  He had reached out to them strictly as a fan around the time of their debut, but through their correspondence, he came to discover that the trio’s mother had been his art teacher (1). “RIGHT NOW” came about specifically when the band asked him down to their studio for his creative input on the track– a visit that apparently inspired him to document the song’s recording right then and there (1).  Anderson’ execution is indicative of the extremely tight prep window, but nonetheless exhibits his impeccable taste for composition and movement.  He brings his compelling cinematic eye to the image, harnessing the soft ambient light of the studio to create a cold color palette of cerulean & steel tones.  The video is comprised of just four cuts in all, creating a minimalistic aesthetic that echoes the spare, deconstructionist nature of the track itself.  Anderson’s camera smoothly tracks, pans, and zooms around the studio as the three Haim sisters move lay down the track with a variety of instruments.  In that regard, his execution is relatively straightforward and documentary, but it’s subtle emphasis on the track’s physical construction via its constituent parts evokes the transcendent joys of artistic creation.  Anderson typically frames his close-ups in a manner reassembling portraiture, a conceit that ably captures the Haim sisters as they lose themselves in the expression of self via their music.  Like the musicians featured in JUNUN, the Haim sisters seem to enter a state of heightened internal connection to their creative engines, manifest outwardly in facial expressions one might describe simply as “rapture”.  

“RIGHT NOW” might be understated in its execution, but it is an impeccably-crafted and profoundly resonant addition to his canon of music videos.  Haim couldn’t have asked for a better collaborator to kick off the release of their second album, and given Anderson’s history of doing multiple videos for a single album, they may yet coax him back for another round.  In the meantime, the Cinemax community waits feverishly for his next feature– a reunion with THERE WILL BE BLOOD’s Daniel Day-Lewis set in the fashion world of midcentury London and slated for release this Christmas..  

HAIM: “RIGHT NOW” is currently available on Youtube via the emblem above.

References:

  1. Schechet, Ellie. (2017, April 27).  “Haim Released A Paul Thomas Anderson-directed Video For Their New Song ‘Right Now’”.  Retrieved from http://themuse.jezebel.com/haim-released-a-paul-thomas-anderson-directed-video-for-1794704210