Paul Thomas Anderson thinks movies are “at their best” when theyre two hours long

The ideal movie, according to Paul Thomas Anderson? One that’s two hours long. 

The topic came up in a recent interview when the director was asked about working on the small screen – despite having nine feature films and numerous music videos for artists including Fiona Apple, Radiohead, and Haim, he has never helmed a TV show.

“No one asks [me to do television]. I’m just sort of playing in my own corner of the sandbox,” Anderson told The New York Times (opens in new tab). “As a writer, I think we have fantasies when you struggle with editing material down: ‘I have so much material, perhaps this is a limited series.’ When in fact, no, it’s not, you just need to edit down your story. I mean, a film should preferably be two hours. That’s when they’re at their best. I’ve missed that mark multiple times, but that’s really the goal.”

His next movie, Licorice Pizza, is 130 minutes long (the same length as his last movie, 2017’s Phantom Thread). The ’70s-set coming of age flick stars Cooper Hoffman (the son of the late Philip Seymour Hoffman, a frequent collaborator of Anderson’s), Alana Haim, and Bradley Cooper. 

Magnolia is Anderson’s longest movie at 188 minutes, while Punch-Drunk Love comes in at the shortest at 95 minutes – along with his debut feature, Hard Eight, these are the only movies of Anderson’s that fall under the two-hour mark. 

While we wait for Licorice Pizza to arrive on the big screen on December 25 in the US and January 7 in the UK, check out our list of the other upcoming movies to get excited about in 2021 and beyond.

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