Chinese culture

China is a country in Asia that has existed for more than 5,000 years. There are many religious beliefs in China like: Confucianism, Buddhism, etc. Pandas are a very important animal in China, they are one of the things that they are most known for. They are most known for their Great Wall, which is more than 13,000 miles long.

In China, there was a very bad time period, with a lot of suffering: the Chinese Cultural Revolution. Many people were hungry and didn’t have a lot of money, and there were many fights that led to deaths. The Revolution occurred in 1966 until 1976 when the leader of it passed away. It happened because the communist leader, Mao Zedong, believed that China’s government was being led in the wrong direction. Mao Zedong said that he believed that the government was becoming more secretive, but his real reason for taking control was that he wanted more power in the government.

The main people involved in the Chinese Cultural Revolution was the leader Mao Zedong, the government, and The Red Guards, which were the people who worked supporting Mao Zedong. If the main reason for the Chinese Cultural Revolution wasn’t for them to make China and its government better, it would be because Mao Zedong wanted more power for himself. The Chinese Cultural Revolution finally ended in 1976 because Mao, the leader passed away.

There were many outcomes because of the Chinese Cultural Revolution, including that it impacted childrens’ education because The Red Guards were attacking teachers. The factories were affected because there was a short supply of resources, and there were many deaths.

A short term effect of the Cultural Revolution were the deaths, and the lack of education and resources. It is significant today because it changed most of China’s old customs, habits, culture, and the people’s ways of life. There were no revolutions after the Chinese Cultural Revolution.





Classical Music: then and now


Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart image taken from:











Is classical music dead? The National Endowment for the Arts reported in 2016 that in 2012, only 8.8% of Americans had attended a classical music performance in the previous 12 months, compared to 11.6% a decade earlier. If classical music is not dead, then this statistic is a sign that it is at least dying in the United States. It’s hard to know exactly why this is the case. But, before we examine it further, we should establish what classical music is.

What is classical music?

Classical music, called “Western art music” by academics, is the tradition of music rooted in Western culture, with advanced structural and theoretical concerns, and which is almost always notated. Of course, this is a vague distinction, and the border between “classical” and “popular” music is often blurred (consider Mozart’s divertimenti in the Classical period, or Kurt Weill’s score for The Threepenny Opera in the modern era). “Classical music” also refers to a particular period, and associated style, in Western art music, from about 1730 to 1820.

Is classical music still being made?

Yes! Classical music (symphonies, chamber music, opera, etc.) is still being written in and out of universities internationally. There is a belief that all classical music sounds like Mozart or Beethoven, but this is not the case. Though less known among the general public, modern classical music developed in radical directions with composers like Karlheinz Stockhausen, who composed electronic music, and a string quartet, to be performed with each composer in a separate helicopter, among other things, and Philip Glass, whose scores can be heard in many major motion pictures including Koyaanisqatsi and The Hours.

A Brief History of Classical Music

Western art music begins in the Medieval era, with the notation of Gregorian chant. Gregorian chant, also called plainsong, is monophonic, meaning it contains only a single melodic line. Polyphony, the use of multiple melodic lines, developed by composers of organa (Leonin, Perotin) and Latin masses (Machaut). Classical music during this era was almost solely vocal, with instruments only providing support for vocal lines. It was always religious.

The Renaissance saw the blossoming of polyphony in France (Johannes Ockeghem, Guillaume Dufay), Italy (Josquin des Prez, Giovanni Pierluigi de Palestrina), and Britain (Thomas Tallis, William Byrd). Rather than use a modal system as had been previously standard, composers moved towards the contemporary tonal system with major and minor keys (Naxos). The first great opera was birthed in this period, L’Orfeo by Claudio Monteverdi.

The Baroque period, the most famous composers of which are J.S. Bach, Georg Frideric Handel, Antonio Vivaldi and Domenico Scarlatti, was the beginning of classical music as we know it. The violin, the modern orchestra, concertos, sonatas and the harpsichord were invented during this period. The music was quite literally “baroque,” often extremely complex and academic. However, baroque music could also be lighter and entertaining, as in Handel’s Water Music.

The Classical period is the period of Joseph Haydn and Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart. It held melody, clarity, and balance as its main values. Art music became less complex, favoring homophony with chordal accompaniment. The orchestra was expanded and classical music became more spectacular. The period also birthed Beethoven, who is often considered to be the first composer of the Romantic era, and the greatest composer in the Western tradition.

The Romantic era held expressivity as its highest value. It begins with Beethoven and Schubert in the 1820’s and ends with (in my opinion) the death of Richard Strauss in 1949 and the performance of his Four Last Songs in 1950, having a significant overlap with the modern period. (Classical music trends in the 20th century are so variegated that it is hard to give the period a descriptive name, rather music from it is usually just referred to as “20th-century classical music”). Nationalism was a powerful artistic force, and the virtuoso was granted an elevated status.

The Early Romantic era (1820-1860) is dominated by Berlioz, Chopin, Mendelssohn, Schumann and Liszt (Naxos). The Late Romantic era is dominated by Johannes Brahms, Giuseppe Verdi (Italian opera composer), Richard Wagner (German opera composer), Claude Debussy and two symphonic giants: Anton Bruckner and Gustav Mahler. The romantic tradition (tonality, expressivity, chromaticism) was continued in the 20th century by Jean Sibelius and Richard Strauss, despite modernist provocations.

The modern period of classical music begins with the 9th Symphony of Gustav Mahler, Igor Stravinsky’s ballet The Rite of Spring, and Arnold Schoenberg’s early atonal works. Atonal music, especially in its extreme, systemized form, called serialism, dominated the modern period. Atonal music is keyless and does not conform to Western harmony. Serialist music is based on the repetition of a certain random series of the twelve tones in the traditional tonal system. It is easier to understand by ear; listen to Arnold Schoenberg’s Piano Concerto for a notable example.

Later in the modern period, electronic music was pioneered by the German composer Karlheinz Stockhausen. Serialism was taken to an extreme by the Frenchman Pierre Boulez. Iannis Xenakis, a Greek composer, made perhaps the most incredible music of the period. His music was inspired by his work as an architect, featuring extremely large string orchestrations which pushed the boundaries of sound. Some scholars consider classical music to still be in its modern period, and that tradition persists, but most significant classical music today is apart of a new movement, Postmodern music.

Postmodern music, by its definition, is hard to define. The music author Daniel Albright identified three common elements of postmodern music; Polystylism, Randomness, and Bricolage (the use of nonmusical objects in music). John Cage, a composer who utilized the prepared piano (a piano with its strings modified by the use of inserted objects) and random-chance procedures to generate his music, is considered the father of postmodern music. Charles Ives, an American composer of the 20th century who interpreted popular music and was one of the first composers to write with semitones (the tones in between the traditional 12)  and polytonality (the use of two musical keys simultaneously) is considered a predecessor.

Tonal music has also had a resurgence in the postmodern age. Philip Glass and other minimalists, as they are called, created a style of composition based on the repetition with variation of short, highly tonal phrases.

Classical music in the modern era is perhaps more diverse than it has ever been. The number of composers and artistic movements is innumerable.

For more information on the history of classical music, see the articles “History of Classical Music” on Naxos and “Summary of Western Classical Music History” from Columbia University.

So why is classical music dying among the general public?

Again, it is hard to say. One argument has to do with concert performances. Before the recording era, concert performances were at the heart of classical music culture. Today, they are often incredibly expensive and overly formal. This has doubtlessly pushed away many would-be fans of classical music.

Classical music education, and arts education in general, is narrowing in public schools. Also, as reported by USA Today, classical music is no longer a part of popular culture in any significant way, as it once was in the 1950’s and 60’s, when the classical music recording industry was more successful than any other.

I hope that there can be a resurgence of classical music love among the general public. It was not too long ago that one could hear men humming Beethoven’s Fifth.

Appendix: Introductory musical recommendations


The organa of Léonin and Pérotin

Ordo Virtutum (Bingen, morality play)

Messe de Nostre Dame (Machaut, vocal mass)


Missa Pange lingua (des Prez, vocal mass)

Missa Papae Marcelli (Palestrina, vocal mass)

Spem in alium (Tallis, motet)


L’Orfeo (Monteverdi, opera)

Dido and Aeneas (Purcell, opera)

Messiah (Handel, oratorio)

Brandenburg Concertos (Bach, orchestral)

Mass in B minor (Bach, orchestral mass)


The Creation (Haydn, oratorio)

The Seasons (Haydn, oratorio)

Piano Sonata No. 14 (Mozart)

Cosi fan tutte (Mozart, opera)

Symphony No. 41, “Jupiter” (Mozart)

Symphony No. 3, “Eroica” (Beethoven)

Early Romantic:

Symphony No. 9, “Choral” (Beethoven)

String Quartet No. 14 (Beethoven)

Winterreise (Schubert)

Les Troyens (Berlioz)

Ballades (Chopin)

Late Romantic:

Symphony No. 4 (Brahms)

Ein deutsches requiem (Brahms, orchestral mass)

Otello (Verdi, opera)

Tristan und Isolde (Richard Wagner, opera)

Parsifal (Richard Wagner, opera)

Symphony No. 8 (Bruckner)

Symphony No. 9 (Mahler)

Pelleas et Melisande (Debussy, opera)

Symphony No. 7 (Sibelius)

Vier letzte lieder (Strauss, art songs)


Symphony No. 4 (Ives)

Le Sacre du Printemps (Stravinsky, ballet)

Symphony (Webern)

Lulu (Berg, opera)

Symphony: Mathis der Maler (Hindemith)

Quatuor pour la fin du temps (Messiaen, chamber music)

Piano Concerto (Schoenberg)

Déserts (Varèse, orchestral/electronic)

Metastaseis (Xenakis, orchestral)

Gesang der Jünglinge (Stockhausen, electronic)

Pli selon pli (Boulez, orchestral)


Sonatas and Interludes (Cage, prepared piano)

Music of Changes (Cage, piano)

Sinfonia (Berio, orchestral)

Einstein on the Beach (Glass, opera)

Rothko Chapel (Feldman, orchestral)

For Philip Guston (Feldman, chamber music)

Plexure (John Oswald, electronic)

Powder Her Face (Adès, opera)

String Quartet No. 6 (Ferneyhough)


There is a new idol in South Korea, and his name is Holland. He is the first gay kpop idol. He has recently debuted with the song “Nederland,” and the main idea he has said was to make kids feel comfortable with themselves. However, this music video is rated with 19+ age restriction because it features a gay couple/kiss. He is still an openly gay kpop idol, living in South Korea, even with all the backlash he has received about the music video and himself.

Many people are fans of Holland now. He is a clear role model for being true to himself, and the fans are proud of him for staying so strong throughout this whole thing. Holland said in an interview that when he came out to his friends, he thought that things would be fine. They were all in middle school at the time and he told just his close friends. But they were untrustworthy because they thought it was disgusting and told everyone in school. Holland ended up being a serious victim of bullying and was really depressed.

Now that he is in the music industry, he has to do everything by himself; nobody in the music industry so far wants to work with a gay man in South Korea. So, Holland does all of his song making and promoting. He has said that his main goal is to stay true to himself and to make others feel included and accepted; he just wants to make people happy with his music. Holland has received so much positive feedback, considering he had to promote for himself, and many people are saying they are proud of him and that they feel more represented.

Spyhouse review

By Piper Gallivan and Alivia Arredondo

Spyhouse is a new coffee shop in the Highland area, just over a mile from school. This is the first expansion of a very popular location in Uptown Minneapolis. We wanted to see what all the hype was about and check it out.

Spyhouse had a very cozy and modern feel to it. For a few years, it has been known as a very hipster coffee shop in Minneapolis that is Instagram famous. This is understandable as it has a very cool color scheme and mugs that are recognizable from the Minnesota outline on them. They have the perfect blank walls for pictures, and there are also plants placed here and there. The building is pretty small, about the size of a large classroom, so it could easily be overcrowded on a busy weekend morning. It is the perfect kind of vibe for a study session alone or with friends.

Due to the fact that the Spyhouse is a coffee shop, it did not have actual food on the menu. However, you can choose from a selection of pastries that are located in a case in the front. There is a long list of coffees to choose from and a variety of teas. If you’re looking for a nice coffee or tea, the Spyhouse menu is guaranteed to have it.

We ordered a chai tea latte and a chocolate croissant. Both of these were very good, and we recommend them. The latte was sweet, but not overwhelmingly sweet, and it was very warm, but not too hot that it burned your mouth. The chocolate croissant was also very sweet and tasted very good when accompanied by the chai tea latte. It tasted fresh, and not like it had been made days ago. It also wasn’t very messy like many pastries tend to be.

The food and drinks of this cafe were also very aesthetically pleasing, which is a plus. Many people nowadays love to photograph their food, and this food was overall pretty to look at. It wasn’t messy, and the mugs were really cute along with the good lighting from the windows.

The customer service was very pleasing. When you walk into the door and start to order your food the workers there all seem to be really hipster and cool. They wait there for you to decide what you would like patiently, while at the same time, they are filling up coffee orders or are working the cash register. This contributes to the chill and hipster vibes from the cafe. When you are ordering, if you have any questions or concerns, the workers there are very open to answering your questions and making your coffee just how you want it. Once your drink is ready, they will bring it to the station where you pick it up, and make sure everything is in order and how you ordered it, before you go sit down. After the meal, once you’ve placed your dish in the dish bin, they will politely wave goodbye as you leave, if they get the chance.

Overall, we had a positive experience at Spyhouse. It has proved to be a good environment to chill with your friends or work on homework. It did not have a great variety of things to order, and the drinks did not really stand out, but the food was very good and the location was hard to beat.

Oscars 2018 fashion

Even though most people watch the Oscars because of the great movies, people should be paying more attention to the dresses worn by celebrities. The styles weren’t only expensive, but also stunning. Tiffany Haddish, a comedian and actress, paid tribute to her dead father by wearing a gown that represented her Eritrean roots. Viola Davis, the stunning actress, wore a gorgeous bubblegum-pink dress, which made her reach the top of the best dressed list at the Oscars. The list of the best dressed celebrities is long.

Lupita Nyong’o lived up to her reputation as being one of Hollywood’s most fashionable individuals, when she arrived to the Oscars in custom Atelier Versace. The Black Panther star paired the look with a Versace clutch handbag, and Niwaka jewelry.

Actress Zendaya, pulled her hair into a topknot, and she paired it with a plum smokey eye, and neutral lipstick. She wore an elegant violet dress, showing her arms, and then pairing it with Niwaka earrings and shoes.

The majority of the celebrities focused on their hair rather than their outfits. For example, the Get Out star, Allison Williams, styled her brunette bob with an old Hollywood wave. Her hairstylist, Peter Lux, used Goldwell’s Kerasilk shape spray. She finished her fantastic Oscar look with a shimmery rose gold eyeshadow, and metallic pink lipstick. Laura Dern, Allison Janney, Helen Mirren, and Emma Stone all had a side swept hairstyle.

Taraji P. Henson came to impress. She came wearing a Grecian dress. It was really flowy, and it showed a lot of skin. Her skin looked very smooth and nice. She said she applied Vaseline and Coco Radient Lotion on her body. As for her makeup, she had on silver metallic eyeshadow, and plum lips. As for her hair, she had it flat-ironed, and used Oribes Gold Lust Nourishing Oil to finish her look. Taraji delivered those looks really well.

Spring break destinations

By: Riley Lumpkin and Gabe Mattick

Spring break is a very popular travel time for many Americans. Especially, students and families. Many families choose to go to resorts, mainly because of how convenient everything is. Midwesterners like to travel to warm destinations because of the cold, harsh winter, but many people travel to cold climates over their spring break.

Here are a few warm locations that are popular destinations for midwesterners. Myrtle Beach, South Carolina, and  Orlando, Florida according to TripAdvisor.

Texas is a popular destination as well, with Houston, which has beaches, and Austin, to explore the city.

Hawaii is another popular destination for spring breakers, as families with older children like to explore the tropical islands.

San Francisco and Los Angeles are popular destinations in California for families as well.

Outside of the country, Central America and the Caribbean are popular destinations, with all-inclusive resorts that are perfect for families. They offer many things for everyone to do, like guided tours such as: hikes, bike tours, and snorkeling. The all-inclusive resorts also offer an abundance of food and services.

Mexico is the most popular spring break destination that is out of the country. Cancun, Puerto Vallarta, Playa del Carmen, and Cozumel are the most popular cities in Mexico for spring breakers.

Not all people choose to go on tropical, warm vacations over spring break. Many people, and families, choose to go to cold climates. Skiing and snowboarding are very popular sports that many families participate in. In the western part of the United States; Oregon, Idaho, Utah, California have ski resorts perfect for all levels of skiers. Skiing is also popular in the east as well; Vermont and Maine offer many ski resorts that are popular spring break destinations.

Northern Minnesota is the perfect place to hike the frozen waterfalls, ice fish, and snowshoe.

In Montana, there is the Fairmont Hot Springs Resort, which is a popular location for many families.

Spring break is overall, a great time to get out and explore. Families and students take advantage of this time to relax and enjoy both cold and warm weather.

For more information, please visit:

The Oscars 2018

The Oscars of 2018 did not include the fiasco of last year’s Best Picture award blunder. The Oscar, this year, for Best Picture, went (unsurprisingly) to The Shape of Water. The Shape of Water is basically the story about a girl who falls in love with a fish (man). That does sound weird without the art involved, but it’s good. Don’t worry. The other nominees for Best Picture were: Get Out, The Post, The Darkest Hour, Phantom Thread, Lady Bird, Call Me by Your Name, Dunkirk, and Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri.

The Oscar for Best Actor went to Gary Oldman, because he wore a fat suit, and gave one of the best Winston Churchill performances ever.

The award for Best Actress went to Frances McDormand for her stunning performance in Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri.

Best Supporting Actor went to (one of my personal favorites) Sam Rockwell for his performance as a cop in Three Billboards.

Best Supporting Actress went to Allison Janney for her performance in I, Tonya.

One of the most interesting Oscar winners was Kobe Bryant, who won an award for his short film Dear Basketball. Dear Basketball was a short film that played at Kobe’s jersey retirement ceremony, and it details some of the hardships that Kobe went through in his career.

(As always) we had some of what we call “snubs” at this years Oscars. While Jordan Peele did win Best Original Screenplay for Get Out, he could certainly have won Best Director over the actual winner Guillermo Del Toro. Star Wars The Last Jedi got no love, despite its amazing visuals and music. Luckily, at this year’s Oscars, there were no Oscars that went out undeservingly, so these are just my little nitpicks.

It seemed Dunkirk got every award that didn’t include: director, actors, or Best Picture. Dunkirk won in sound design, sound mixing, film editing, and was nominated for Best Original Score.

The Oscars this year were good. They were funny, and just fun all around. It is pretty easy to have more fun when the Academy doesn’t hand out their biggest award to the wrong people.

The Maze Runner trilogy

The Maze Runner trilogy is an amazing movie series which stars a main character named Thomas, who goes through the struggles of trying to find out who/what WCKD is. Unknown to the boys who travel through the maze with Thomas, each step they take into discovering who/what WCKD is, the closer they are to either freedom or dying.

In the first movie, Thomas shows up in the Glade surrounded by a group of boys. The Glade is a pasture in the middle of a maze that serves as a shelter to the boys. The boys are lead by a leader named Albi, who as said by Newt, was the very first to arrive to the glade.

Thomas later meets the boys, and he finds both enemies and friends within the group of boys, and finds a connection with a boy named Chuck who serves as a sort of younger brother to Thomas.

Later on, Thomas learns of the “Runners” who roam the maze, and memorize each and every part of the maze, and try to find a way out. They are specially chosen to run due to the fact that they need to be fast and intelligent.

A girl shows up in the maze later on, with a note saying, “shes the last one.”

Grievers, who are a machine and monster mixed creature, that roam the maze at night, start coming out in the daytime, and Albi gets bit and dies.

Thomas doesn’t follow the rules that are laid down for him, but in doing so he finds out the secret of the maze.


Thomas and the boys including Theresa (the girl) escape the maze and it turns out that WCKD was the corporation that put them into the maze. The movie ends with the boys leaving the maze in a helicopter.

The second movie, The Scorch Trials, starts in the the facility where they put the boys to rest, but the boys don’t know that WCKD is part of the group that rescued them at the end of the last movie.

Thomas then tries to escape the facility, but he starts getting flashbacks of him and other children in tubs. He then realizes he was a part of WCKD as a scientist, along with Theresa.

Thomas makes a break for the exit as soon as he finds out the corporation who saved them was WCKD. The boys escape and travel into the Scorch, which is an area that challenges the boys in new ways.

Thomas and the boys, including Theresa, meet new characters who help them escape the dangers of the both WCKD and the Scorch.

As soon as they think they escaped WCKD, Theresa calls in WCKD. They come in, and a shootout takes place which leaves people injured. One of the boys is taken by WCKD, while Theresa leaves voluntarily.

In the last movie, I won’t spoil much! But I’ll give a short summary. The Death Cure starts with a train delivering kids to WCKD getting raided by Thomas and the gang. Thomas fails to get the missing boy, but does succeed in releasing some kids. WCKD then tries everything in their power to get Thomas back, since he holds to the key to curing the Flare Virus.

Overall, since The Death Cure just came out, I cannot say much, but it’s sad to see a trilogy that was popular, and an emotional journey for fans end. But I’ll say it ends on a good note.


Ethiopian wildlife

Types of animals:

The Ethiopian wolf, Walia ibex, the mountain nyala, Somali wild donkey, black lion, Swayne’s hartebeest, Menelik bushbucks, the bale mountain vervet and gelada baboons, are animals that can only be found in Ethiopia.

The Ethiopian wolf is one of Earth’s rarest canid species, and Africa’s most endangered carnivore. Other canid predators have large and varied diets, but the Ethiopian Wolf hunts small rodents in the Bale Mountains of Ethiopia.

Only 500 Walia Ibex still exist in the Simien Mountains of Ethiopia because of poaching and habitat loss.

The Mountain Nyala is on Ethiopia’s ten cent coin, marking its importance in Ethiopian culture. They live in Ethiopia’s Bale mountain park, with most of them living within 200 square kilometers. Despite once living in Somalia, Eritrea, and Ethiopia, the Somali Wild Donkey is believed to only live in Ethiopia now, mostly in the Afar plains. Although their numbers are small in the wild, there are a lot of  captive populations around the world to make sure they can someday regain their previous numbers.

The Bale Mountain Vervet is one of Africa’s least studied primates. They make their homes in the thick bamboo forests of the park.

Menilik bushbucks are part of a sub-species found only in the Ethiopian highlands, and they are very shy around humans. They are similar to the Mountain Nyala, except they are much smaller.

Gelada baboons can be found in huge numbers throughout the Simien Mountains. They are also called the “Bleeding Heart Monkey” because of the unique red skin patch each baboon has on their chests. They are very social animals, and will typically be spotted in huge family groups.

Swayne’s hartebeest is a large Antelope and are native to Ethiopia. They have been the target of large sanctuary projects to help save them from their current extinction danger.

The Ethiopian black lion is genetically distinct from all other lions in Africa. They are typically found in the Bale mountain park and have a distinctive black mane which they are named after.

Preservation and foundation: 

Ethiopia started preserving wildlife in the 1960s. The wildlife and forest areas of Ethiopia are very important to the people.

85% of Ethiopia’s population is dependant on the natural resources. The growing population is wearing down the environment, illegal animal trade, poaching, and wildlife are dwindling resources, so it puts more pressure on the government to prevent further damage.

Then came the Ethiopian Wildlife Conservation Authority or the EWCA. They started using tourism as a way to earn more money for the EWCA, and for farmers, so they could make money on their land over and over again.

Then came another organization 2 decades later, called Born Free. They rescue, rehabilitate and release animals back into the wild.

For more information, please visit:

Film review: Phantom Tread

Phantom Thread is Paul Thomas Anderson’s most recent film, starring Daniel Day-Lewis in his supposedly final role. Set in the London couture world of the 1950’s, it follows the turbulent romance of Reynolds Woodcock (Lewis), an obsessive fashion designer, and his muse and lover Alma (Vicky Krieps). Like the dresses Woodcock’s sewers meticulously craft, Phantom Thread is a work of fine beauty.

The first thing to notice is the atmosphere. The cinematography is, as one would expect of an Anderson feature, elegant and gorgeous. The camera seems to float through the various living rooms, sewing rooms, and spiral staircases in the Woodcock mansion. Or, in one incredible scene, it is fixed to the back of Woodcock’s car as he drives through the English countryside. Jonny Greenwood’s lyrical soundtrack plays in the background for nearly the entirety of the first 30 minutes, and for much of the rest of the film. Phantom Thread feels like a dream. As Mark Kermode has pointed out, Phantom Thread plays like a modern fairy tale, with its dresses and magic charms.

Rarely in film, and especially in dramas, are the aesthetic elements, image and sound, so masterfully composed as to be totally enjoyable on their own, despite plot. But, Phantom Thread’s aesthetic value is comparable to that of any art film. The simplicity of the film’s first act led me to believe that this would be the biggest compliment that I could pay it, but as the film progressed I realized that I was sorely mistaken. Phantom Thread is not only a beautiful movie, but a captivating drama.

Characters in Paul Thomas Anderson’s films never have simple (or healthy) relationships, a fact which becomes invariably more important as each film progresses. Consider Eddie and Maggie’s Oedipal romance in Boogie Nights and Daniel and H.W.’s abusive father-son relationship in There Will Be Blood. From a dramatic point-of-view, this is Anderson’s greatest skill as a filmmaker. His stories begin archetypal, but progress by subverting those very archetypes.

Phantom Thread follows this pattern. It is ostensibly a love story, but its perverse developments and sickly romantic ending lead us to reconsider love itself. In a Fresh Air interview with Terry Gross, Anderson is asked if he “sanctions” the actions Alma takes in order to get closer to Woodcock, and if he considers Alma and Woodcock’s relationship to be in any way “healthy.” Anderson responds that he is, “Groovy with love of all kinds.”

Anderson is not a psychologist, but a poet. If we are to appreciate Phantom Thread as a work of cinematic poetry, we must focus on the impression that it makes, and not on its underlying morality, which may very well be sick. We must not worry about justifying the beauty of Phantom Thread. Instead we should focus on appreciating it.

The film ends with a montage of Alma and Woodcock’s life together beyond the movie, and the multiple false endings within it create a sense of unending love and beauty. If this ove is unrealistic or even sick, it is at least beautiful. With Greenwood’s soundtrack in the background, it is reminiscent of the film’s beginning, creating a satisfying circular structure, at least aesthetically.

Lastly, it should be mentioned just how “funny” Phantom Thread is. Woodcock’s fussiness, and Alma’s waywardness, create a dynamic that is hilarious and adorable in its immaturity. Cyril, Woodcock’s deathly serious sister and business partner, also provides comic relief, as well as deep insight into either star. The stars act like two children, which may be why they are so likeable even when they do the most evil things.

So, Phantom Thread succeeds on all fronts. It is a feast for the senses and for the heart. I agree with Mark Kermode that it is, in fact, Paul Thomas Anderson’s greatest film yet.

★★★★ out of four

On Sunday night, Phantom Thread received one (for Best Costume Design) out of the six Academy Awards it was nominated for. It lost in the Best Picture and Best Director categories to The Shape of Water and its director Guillermo Del Toro, respectively. Though Phantom Thread deserved to win both, I am not totally unsatisfied with those results. The Shape of Water is a very good film, and Del Toro a talented director. Daniel Day-Lewis losing to Gary Oldman (Darkest Hour) in the Best Actor category, however, was incredibly disappointing.