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Magnolia (New Line Platinum Series)
Magnolia (New Line Platinum Series)
DVD ~ Michael Bowen
Price: $15.00
34 used & new from $2.52

13 of 16 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The Best Film of the Decade, June 5, 2000
Paul Thomas Anderson excels at writing tragic and love deprivedcharacters. The deft director proved this ability in his secondfeature, "Boogie Nights", which is considered by many, including Roger Ebert, a sprawling masterpiece. At the age of 29 P.T. Anderson has been praised as part of Hollywood's young and innovative directors. Just by seeing "Boogie Nights" one can notice Anderson's affection and keenness for cinema. His camera movement is electrifying. He shoots long, subtle takes that slither from one character to the next. And when tasked with assembling a cast, he can put the comparable Robert Altman to shame. Born and raised in Los Angeles's San Fernando Valley, Paul didn't feel that rules apply to him (one can notice this in his editing process), so, he dropped out of high school due to bad grades and a lack of interest. Anderson spent most of his time either at the theatre or working as a production assistant on various television movies. Much like directors such as Martin Scorsese and Spike Lee have the map of New York engraved in their palms, Anderson knows L.A like the back of his hand.
"Magnolia", which is a moody film, manages to hold your attention for an entire three hours without seeming tedious or pretentious. It tells stories of chance and coincidence and is able to prove that strange things do happen. Complex and bizarre matters are feasible. Take the assassination of President John F. Kennedy for instance. But what about the dozens of missiles Iraq launched at Israel during the Gulf War in 1991? These missiles were supposed to inflict a substantial number of casualties, but only two people died and a few were moderately injured. These unexplainable acts do occur. As one of the film's characters says, "these strange things happen all the time".
All but one of the characters in this movie has at least one tragic incident in his/her background. These people, both rich and poor, lead lonely and depressing lives. The film's opening credit sequence appropriately plays the song "One Is The Loneliest Number", which is sung by Aimee Mann. But, the sheer beauty of these 10 assorted characters Anderson compiles is that they all want to redeem themselves by mending the wrong they've caused. These are neglected human beings who yearn for attention.
With excellent performances ranging from Tom Cruise, in his most audacious role to date, to Melora Walters, the ensemble cast is first-rate. Clocking in at 190 minutes, this is the year's longest, and perhaps best film. A great deal of patience is required, but if you're willing to sit through it all, the payoff is worthwhile. "Magnolia" is an awe-inspiring motion picture. It delivers deep emotions that rarely grow weary or sell out much like most of the sappy and artificial dramas currently in theatres. When we see William H. Macy's character, Quiz Kid Donny Smith, pleading for his job as an electronic salesman, informing his boss that there is not a worse time for him to be unemployed, the actor's subtle facial expression as he faces the torment of not being able to hold on to a job, is on the money. Later on when the audience hears him say, "My name is Quiz Kid Donny Smith and I have a lot of love to give", our hearts go out to his bluntness in admitting an intimate secret. This is the sort of integrity "Magnolia" sustains. It is straightforward in expressing the pain of reality. Such as molestation, sexual infidelity, child abuse, and responsibilities.
On a technical level, it's candy for the eye. From the Scorsese-like camera movement to original angle shots, almost every frame is saturated with beautiful colors. The kinetic camerawork and quick cuts all add up to its look. The soundtrack is booming. With numerous songs from Aimee Mann and a score composed by Jon Brion, the tone is well set. Cruise, who is better in the 45 minutes on-screen here than he was in the entire "Eyes Wide Shut", is wickedly brutal.
"Magnolia" begins with the narration of three unrelated stories, which I will not reveal due to their ingenuity. Then, we are taken to the present day and introduced to ten L.A dwellers. Meet Frank T.J. Mackey (Tom Cruise), a seminar guru whose program, "Seduce and Destroy", teaches indecisive men how to pick up gorgeous women. Frank's motto, makes him a male icon for millions. His father, Earl Partridge (Jason Robards), is rapidly dying of cancer and wishes to see Frank, who has not spoken to him for quite some time, before his ultimate demise. Earl's trophy wife, Linda (Julianne Moore), has a guilty conscience since she only now begins to love her husband, who she just married for his money. Earl's caretaker, Phil Parma (Phillip Seymour Hoffman), has the difficult task of locating Frank.
There's the story of a boy genius named Stanley Spector (Jeremy Blackman), who is getting tired of always answering the questions on a famous television show, "What Do Kids Know?" The pompous host of this show, Jimmy Gator (Phillip Baker Hall), is dying of cancer as well, and wants to clear up matters with his family. His cocaine-snorting daughter, Claudia (Melora Walters), refuses to speak to him, and throws a tantrum when they interact in the beginning. The ex-boy genius, Quiz Kid Donny Smith (William H. Macy), wants corrective oral surgery (braces) to impress a bartender named Brad, who also has braces. And finally there's Officer Jim Kurring (John C. Reilly), an honest and bible abiding cop who has fallen in love with Claudia. Jim is a philanthropist that screeches every time he is exposed to vulgar language.
"Magnolia" takes an interlude in the middle for a song sequence in which all the characters nonchalantly sing the lyrics to Aimee Mann's "Wise Up". By this scene you have to acknowledge the fact that Anderson is a bold filmmaker. After sitting on the accolades of "Boogie Nights" for a while, Anderson wanted to take advantage of his power in Hollywood and make a risky movie, even if it meant taking over three hours out of our lives. As for the amphibious creatures displayed in the film's posters and trailers, prepare to be shocked. I was able to empathize with these characters, for they are all tormented souls experiencing difficult dilemmas. Such as Cruise's situation of whether he should see his dying father, who he feels contempt for. This movie will not appeal to some. It demands a lot of attention and time, so those moviegoers who prefer to see nonsensical films, catch "Deuce Bigalow", for the more artistic film-lovers, "Magnolia" is not to be missed.

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