240 of 264 people found the following review helpful
Controversial, engrossing, spellbinding...and WONDERFUL.,
This review is from: Magnolia (New Line Platinum Series) (DVD)
There have been many terrific reviews written by other Amazon members that go into great detail about why this film was fabulous or why it worked or didn't. So I won't waste time boiling down all of the stories going on in this film again.
"Magnolia" is a near masterpiece...
The reasons it was a box office dud are too numerous to mention, but they run the gamut from its confusing title - to the decision to keep super star Tom Cruise's name in the background - to the bad word-of-mouth recorded by rating services which survey people looking for conventional narratives and resolutions as they walk out of theaters.
I see 50 to 60 films a year (and not for a living), and I avoided "Magnolia" out of fear. Fear of wasting time, more important than wasting money. And another concern was the film's controversial resolution, the critical element that determines the success or failure of most movies with a mass audience. Now that I've seen "Magnolia" on video and have finally been able to philosophically, intellectually and logically string together its elements, there is no doubt that this is a wonderful accomplishment on film. "Magnolia" takes you on a journey whereby a master story teller challenges you to hang onto a breathtaking ride of images, content and music, and find the thread that strings everything, including the last 20 minutes...together in a way that makes sense.
Yes, the point of the movie is that there are things which defy scientific logic. "Magnolia" tackles this premise and applies it to human behavior in a dazzling kaleidoscope of aural, verbal and visual montages - which make it IMPOSSIBLE - to stop this film to come back to later. You're pulled into a whirlpool, asking yourself, how is all of this going to end?
This film is worth buying, especially with all of the extras on DVD. But it's also worth renting instead. Why? I'm not going to lie to you. A conventional audience won't like "Magnolia's" structure, its constant profanity and its twists and turns during the last 20 minutes. But the rest of it is compelling, exhilarating and uncomfortable at the same time. The acting, the story, the dialogue are consistently mesmerizing. I can't guarantee you will agree with the cosmic, unexplainable force that joins everything together at the end. And personally, I would have chosen something less comical and less biblical - (and saying "frogs falling from the sky" doesn't spoil the point as they were featured in this film's poster when it was released) - even though I think huge hailstones on a July afternoon in California would have more effectively delivered the same message to audiences. The controversial decision to visualize what for most of the movie is abstract - is the root of why I think the film is misunderstood by some - and hated by others.
Yet I believe "Magnolia" is an intriguingly subversive film. Whether you like it or not, I guarantee you won't be bored, which is the curse of all lousy movies. Everything about "Magnolia" is in-your-face hypnotic. And if the resolution seems initially perplexing - if you think about it some more, everything might start to come together well after the film ends and you go back to resuming the monotonies of daily life. You COULD conclude that things which seem visibly ridiculous or irrational - are no more or less the same - as the "unscientific randomness" of human interactions and situations that we accept as plausible.
In sum, see this, rent this, buy this - but don't dismiss or ignore "Magnolia" - it's 99 7/8ths the work of a young master.
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Showing 1-10 of 11 posts in this discussion
Initial post: Oct 26, 2008 12:06:01 AM PDT
C. CRADDOCK says:
You make a great case for Magnolia, and while I am still skeptical that the ending will make "sense" even if I do think about it for a very long while, nevertheless, I agree that it is a mesmerizing film, 99 7/8th the work of a great young master.
Posted on Jan 4, 2011 10:38:03 AM PST
Yes! Huge hailstones in July would have been perfect!! Frogs really lost me.
Posted on Mar 1, 2011 5:34:10 PM PST
I saw this movie in the theatre and was very weirded out. The guy I was with hated the picture. Many people left the movie during the first half. I stayed as I was convinced that it would make sense eventually. Years after seeing this movie, it still doesn't make any sense to me. However, I still remember it.
In reply to an earlier post on Nov 20, 2012 6:52:21 AM PST
Last edited by the author on Nov 20, 2012 7:05:17 AM PST
Mark O. Avery says:
I, too, got lost with the frogs. That fragmented me more and left me confused......'weird movie'. Not good or bad........ just weird. I DO have an affinity for the unusual..............
Posted on May 11, 2013 4:25:31 PM PDT
[Deleted by the author on May 11, 2013 5:09:39 PM PDT]
Posted on May 11, 2013 5:14:35 PM PDT
Last edited by the author on May 11, 2013 5:16:44 PM PDT
Jami Creager says:
To those of you commenting about the frogs, I wrote a review addressing the meaning behind this sequence. I actually wrote it at first as a response to the comments on this post, but, realizing this was probably a point of confusion for many viewers (I bet it is the number one reason many of the people who hated the film would give for why), I thought posting it as a review where people would be more likely to see it would be a better idea.
I love this film so much and hope that I can add insight to help people appreciate it more. I titled the review "About the frogs *SPOILER ALERT*".
Posted on Jan 22, 2014 8:45:21 PM PST
Last edited by the author on Jan 22, 2014 8:48:44 PM PST
Hai H. Phan says:
Human behavior is only random when there is an exercise of free will, which only happens in the complete absence of emotions OR when there is conscious awareness of all present emotions. There are subtle, nearly unidentifiable emotions that are resident in, and underlies the actions of, nearly all humans on the planet. Very few individuals have attained the level of consciousness necessary to recognize them. The point is while science does not understand the facility of random action, it understands well the preconditions for randomness. Perhaps this movie is not hated by people because they misunderstood, but because they felt subconsciously that its premise is incongruent.
In reply to an earlier post on Sep 18, 2014 9:04:12 PM PDT
Last edited by the author on Sep 18, 2014 9:10:34 PM PDT
Amazon Adict says:
Hey, Promise, Have you seen a mile of road thickly covered with one-inch frogs or possibly toads all piled up on each other?
I am not sure if they came directly from the sky but they certainly showed up in one place, one time and how do frogs find this remote wilderness spot on a given day. they were all over everything you could see..trees etc.
I Yukon Territory as I recall. fairly awful and bizarre, to be on a smaller road but it was truely random and not a man- made mistake .
I dont think people know this really happens and how it is SO startling and puzzling.. and really made chaos.
just a comment.
In reply to an earlier post on Sep 18, 2014 9:45:44 PM PDT
Last edited by the author on Sep 18, 2014 10:05:18 PM PDT
Amazon Adict says:
Hai H. Phan', Your comment on what is random was helpful. I am not cognitively brilliant but I am aware of my emotions and moods that come around often. So I think I have had a few breaks from emotions and did something unplanned. I saw an ambulance that was trapped in downtown traffic in a full blown construction-caused gridlock. Drivers are not polite in this city when trapped. I saw a semi further down that had hit a strategic tunnel. The truck did not clear the massive I-90/94 interstate tunnel, in downtown Chicago. I have lost my sister when an ambulance was slow to arrive. And also her nearly born twins were taken. So countless emotions all brought up/pain recalled deeply, I somehow just got out of my car and went into a frantic traffic management fit. There were no shoulders open for emergencies. i started pointing back to the ambulance. it was 100 degrees outside and ac's were running along with music etc in most all of the funace-like cars. I was in a 3 piece biz suit..getting cooked. The standing hundreds of cars now had windshield entertainment. I motioned cars on the left 2 lanes to PUSH over to their right.. inch by inch. Frantically and emotionally. And I wave with fuvor for cars to move to the opposite opposite for the fast lanes..to push to their left, bit by bit. many had ony inches between them. I may have lloked scary but I am a small frail woman. Tears were streamingall over my face and I was angry. my emotions were on display and my rage was misplaced and also perfectly placed. but! it worked. I90-94 drivers, all together, was able to form a fifth lane and that ambulance got to the front of the jam where the truck was. I felt a little better. i was suprised I did it, but then I had observed so many drivers be rude to ambulances on streets and highways, which, even thirty years later still geatly affect me viscerally. But with wrecks where people slow down to LOOK AT-truly make me angry..an emotion, and- disgusted, an emotion. T slowing and sometimes causing multiple accidents for slowing too much, this gaping into cars with people trapped..affects me the most.
but the act of parting an interstate was never a plan. circumstance made my gut crawl with rage and the adrenaline boosted what seems random. I never heard of this being done but people did se when I pointed way back at the ambulance and then made breast stroke moves while pointing to the sides of the road. it was uncontrollable, maybe that makes it random. but I dont understand the premise that people may have felt that the premise of randomness is incongruent? Are others unable to think random acts and moments are not random? or that coincidence is too strange and therefore its not random at all? or the possibility of higher forces, OR the desires of most people- can create great random moments and or perfect timing that we all dream of. I may be way off on my guessing here. But beauty of odd case of the right place/ right time..like a kid saving a senior.. seen suddenly.. in a odd way can be overwhelming and also saddening,- as it can be so rare that it takes emotions for a wild ride.
its too bad that a movie with this much passionate response has haters. But maybe their experience makes them cynical. is that how the prmise is seen as incongruent? I have been there too many times and try to stay away from cynicism. i try to flip a situation into just people who dont generally want to do harm, but here they are getting caught up when they dont even want to be involved. life is a series of recoveries from miserable times or events or life events.struggling to recovery seems impossible or pointless at times.
Posted on Sep 20, 2014 8:45:42 PM PDT
[Deleted by Amazon on Sep 21, 2014 1:14:54 AM PDT]