1. PAUL THOMAS (dir. Bad Housewives, The Masseuse, The New Devil in Mrs. Jones) – A real actor (he played Peter in the film version of Jesus Christ Superstar), Paul Thomas is that rarity in the world of porn, a genuine “human.” Whether he’s adopting a snarling Southern gym coach accent, or talking deadpan to the camera about the joy of “discovering virgins” Thomas brought real class, droll humor and even warmth to every performance, no matter how caricatured (such as the sexist chief pilot in Coffee, Tea or Me?), and us kids–taking advantage of lenient parental restrictions in the early days of VHS rentals–found in him a man we could look up to and trust as an older brother-ish guide to the world of sex; it somehow wasn’t as dirty–but rather beautiful–in Paul’s hands. His smooth vocal delivery, dewy eyes, decent height and crazy hair made him both oddly handsome and comforting (especially in comparison with his often sleazy cohorts) in an array of memorable films, many of which are now long banned since they co-starred the then under-age Traci Lords.
2. PAUL THOMAS ANDERSON (dir. Boogie Nights, Magnolia, There Will Be Blood) – Genius filmmaker whose second feature, Boogie Nights chronicles the world of late 1970s-early 1980s L.A. porn. Read my Andrew Sarris-canon entry for Paul Thomas Anderson, on Acidemic for more info.
PAUL W.S. ANDERSON (dir: Resident Evil Trilogy) – The problem with this guy is, he makes a slick looking product, but the Resident Evil films are almost impossible to love. They’re like lengthy fanboy tributes to other movies, made by a team with lots of respect for the classics: Alien, Terminator, Road Warrior, Dawn of the Dead, Blade Runner, The Birds, even The Long Kiss Goodnight–but very few new ideas and almost no warmth or characterization. Somehow this Anderson managed to marry Milla Jovovich, the star of the Resident Evil series. They’re a cute couple (above), but she deserves a guy who can make a film around her that holds up, like The Fifth Element.
From here we could go to the guy who directed the similarly sexy but inert Underworld trilogy and married Kate Beckinsale, but he’s named Len Wiseman.
The connections? What about, how the Resident Evil films show us an America that has drifted far, far away from the languidly inclusive hedonism of the 1970s and into the cold, sterile implant and AIDS charred landscape of Raccoon City? Is that really a good thing? Would you rather have your teenage kids learning about the birds, bees from healthy, relaxed 1970s California swingers, or learning instead how to kill zombies while growing obese on snack treats? Choose your Paul carefully, oh mom or dad of tomorrow; our future is in your hands.