Paul Thomas Anderson’s films contain a rare depth, revealing new subtleties after every viewing. They have been increasingly composed to leave the viewer with questions, evolving from the “What the fuck?” ending of Magnolia to the elliptical nature of The Master and the appropriately Pynchonian intricacies of Inherent Vice. So it’s worth devoting some obsessiveness to the director’s video for Radiohead’s “Daydreaming,” which juxtaposes the surrealist premise of an endless journey through teleporting doors with clean, naturalistic settings: laundromats, kitchens, hospitals, and so on.
And boy, some obsessive attention has been paid! Thanking, at the outset, the Radiohead subreddit, a new video analysis by Rishi Kaneria goes full-on Room 237 with the seven-minute work, wrapping seemingly every disparate detail into a unified theory of Radiohead. That wheel on the wall is a reference to “Airbag” (from 1997)! The song is 6:24, but 6=2+4! His outfit is by Rick Owen, and Thom Yorke had just broken up with a woman named Rachel Owen!
Still, these sorts of obsessive readings are a lot of fun (as evidenced by Room 237), and Kaneria’s general analysis is valid—that the song is about Thom Yorke’s breakup with his longtime partner, as well as the tension between domesticity and big-time artistic dreams. The recurring images of women and motherhood are hard to deny, as well as the video’s reverse narrative of death to birth. Whether or not Yorke, Anderson, and co. meticulously placed six places for coats as a subtle reference to ancient numerological notions of maternity or something, well, that is up to you.