Jon Brion on Creating the Rhythms of Punch-Drunk Love

Few films have combined the effervescence of classic Hollywood with the anxious rhythms of modern life as boldly as Punch-Drunk Love, Paul Thomas Anderson’s manic portrait of a novelty-toilet-plunger salesman whose world is unsettled by a new romance. Anderson’s stylistic idiosyncrasies, as in many of his other films, are reflected in his audacious approach to music. To provide the film with its jittering heartbeat, the director worked closely with Jon Brion, a producer and instrumentalist renowned for his collaborations with a wide range of artists, including Rufus Wainwright, Aimee Mann, and Fiona Apple. The resulting score, a mix of swooning, melodic orchestration and startling dissonance, highlights the film’s relentless push and pull between joy and dread.

For our edition of the film, available tomorrow on Blu-ray and DVD, Brion sat down with us to discuss his work on the film. In the clip below, Brion recalls the unconventional methods he and Anderson used to create the rhythms of the score.

Below, Brion talks about the film’s off-kilter interpretation of the Hollywood musical tradition.

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