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July 17th, 2018

Nominated For Best Picture, Phantom Thread:****

One of the most perverse and unnecessary spectacles in our society is when a woman is put on trial for killing her husband and then carted off to prison.

I am not defending murderers, but I don’t understand the point of locking away women like this for the rest of their lives. There are times when that Lady Justice statue needs to take off her blindfold, put down those scales, and use some common sense.

In every murder case, I think the primary question that jurors should be asking themselves before sending someone to prison is: “Is the defendant any danger to society?” In the case of a woman who killed her husband, the answer is a hard “no.”

To whom is she a danger? Maybe, just maybe, her next boyfriend. If you want to force a convicted killer to get a painful tattoo across her back that reads: “I killed my last husband. Beware,” I’m okay with that. But tossing her in prison? That’s not productive; it is blind vengeance disguised as justice.

If there is one thing that a dozen relationships and two marriages has taught me, it is that every love affair is different. There is no magic formula that ensures that a relationship will work and be healthy and will last.

Every couple is different. Every couple is fighting its own unique battle against the odds to make the relationships work. If you think you know everything that’s going on behind closed doors in another couple’s marriage, you are mistaken.

“Phantom Thread” is a simple story of a successful marriage. It’s also a unique, perverse art film that explores a relationship that most people would define as abusive and all people would define as illegal.

Daniel Day Lewis stars as Randolph Woodcock: the most revered fashion designer in post-war London. He is a rich, beloved celebrity and he’s a terrible man.

Randolph is obsessed with his work and his daily routine. Anyone who bothers him while working gets sniped at and cut down to size. He is self-centered, ungrateful, and childish. Oh, and he has weird mommy issues.

How the heck do you live with a man like that? Our heroine Alma is going to find out. For a while, it feels like “Phantom Thread” is about jerk Randolph dominating and destroying his unfortunate young lover.

But Alma is smarter, more willful, and more relentless than any of us give her credit for. The film is part Hitchcock, part Taming of the Shrew in reverse, and all genius.

Director Paul Thomas Anderson forces you to rethink what you know about power struggles within a marriage. Anderson argues that all is fair in love. And that anything Alma does to take control of her relationship is clever, reasonable, and justified. In fact, she is doing her idiot husband a favor.

If you have seen “Phantom Thread,” I want you to ask yourself: if Alma kills Randolph after the closing credits, is it right to put her on trial and condemn her to life in prison? If you seriously answered yes, you are as blind and cold as that Lady Justice statue.

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