In its ongoing tradition of surprise drops and musical experiments, Netflix announced on Thursday that Anima, a 12-minute musical film and “mind-bending visual piece,” will start streaming in exactly one week, on June 27.
The film pairs two artists who’ve collaborated before: director Paul Thomas Anderson and Thom Yorke, lead singer of Radiohead. It’s a “one-reeler,” which a teaser defines as “a motion picture, especially a cartoon or comedy, of 10-12 minutes duration and contained on one reel of film; popular especially in the era of silent films.”
Anima shares a name with Yorke’s new solo album, due out July 19. He’s no stranger to scoring mind-bending films, either; among other work, he scored last year’s dance horror film Suspiria, which made the Oscar shortlist for Best Musical Score, though it didn’t ultimately garner a nomination.
Anderson is a celebrated American auteur with eight Oscar nominations under his belt; among his narrative films are Magnolia (1999), There Will Be Blood (2007), and Phantom Thread (2017). But he has a long history of directing music videos as well, for artists including Fiona Apple, Michael Penn, Haim, Aimee Mann, Joanna Newsom, and, unsurprisingly, Radiohead.
The publicity stills distributed by Netflix are credited to Darius Khondji, the Oscar-nominated cinematographer of movies like David Fincher’s Se7en, Bong Joon-ho’s Okja, Wong Kar-Wai’s My Blueberry Nights, and Alan Parker’s Evita — which likely indicates Khondji shot Anima as well.
Yorke tweeted about the film, which will also screen in IMAX theaters for sneak previews on June 26:
ANIMA, also a one-reeler by Paul Thomas Anderson & me. 27 June. pic.twitter.com/q8d4P2kDWA— Thom Yorke (@thomyorke) June 20, 2019
Of course, what the film actually is isn’t at all clear right now. It’s a “mind-bending visual piece” that is, as the publicity logline proclaims, “best played loud.”
But it’s another significant move and experimentation for Netflix, which has released films like Roma in theaters and on its streaming service at the same time, but never exclusively in IMAX. (The tickets for the IMAX sneak peek are free.) Most people, ultimately, will watch it on their TV — or their phone.
Still, with Anderson’s keen sense for music videos and Yorke’s increasingly experimental compositions — as well as the unusually short run time — it’s clear Netflix is still trying to figure out how to navigate its place in the digital video landscape.
And for fans of Anderson, Yorke, or both, it’s very good news.