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Magnolia is a mosaic of American life woven through a series of comic & poignant vignettes, through a collusion of coincidence, chance, human action, shared media, past history & divine intervention, nine people will weave & warp through each other's lives on a day that builds to an unforgettable climax. Some will seek forgiveness, other escape. Some will mend frayed bonds, other will be exposed.
- Two discs - disc two has supplemental material
- Deleted scenes
- Feature length "making of" documentary
- TV spots
- Aimee Mann "Save Me" music video
Top Customer Reviews
"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.
If you can appreciate that a movie can touch your heart, can be something more than just simple entertainment, and can actually say something both simple and profound about the human condition, then you will love Magnolia. It is not easy watching. It is at turns foul-mouthed, confused, chaotic, irrational, depressing, uplifting, unrealistic, too realistic, unpredictable, heavily symbolic, violent, and unflinchingly, gut-wrenchingly honest in its portrayal of damaged characters trying to make sense of the wreckage of their lives. And yet, through all of this there is a beacon of hope and redemption that shines through, and most of the characters do find the strength to carry on. Watching Magnolia is like having an entire lifetime's worth of powerful emotions crammed into a three hour movie. If you have an open mind, and an open heart, you must see this movie. I have a hard time imagining how anyone will ever be able to make a better one.
The film follows eleven characters through one rainy day which culminates in a sequence so forceful that you feel just as physically and mentally drained as those inside the celluloid. The eleven characters all branch off from an old man dying of cancer named Earl Partridge (Jason Robards) who lays in a bed through the whole movie. He is married to Linda (Julianne Moore) and is looked after by nurse Phil Parma (Phillip Seymour Hoffman). Earl's last wish is to speak with his son, Frank (Cruise).
Earl is also the executive producer of "the longest running quiz show on television: What Do Kids Know?" The TV game show is at an exciting point in its run for a new group of "Kids" led by Stanley Spector (Jeremy Blackman) is close to breaking the record for consecutive wins held by former quiz kid Donnie Smith (William H. Macy). Jimmy Gator (Phillip Baker Hall) is the host who is also dying of cancer. He has a wife, Rose (Melinda Dillon), and an estranged daughter of his own: Claudia (Melora Walters).
Claudia is addicted to cocaine and listens to her music way too loud. Her neighbors call the cops and Officer Jim Kurring (John C. Reilly) is sent to her door and they subsequently flirt which leads to a date. It is their romance which I feel is central to the film.
The eleventh character does not have nearly as much screen time as the previous ten, but is the most important character of all. He is Dixon (Emmanuel Johnson), the candy selling, ten year old "rapper" who drops clues as to what might happen in an early freestyle flow.
What does happen is a painfully brilliant and heartbreaking story of love, coincidence and redemption. There are many double stories like in King Lear: the two dying fathers with estranged children; both fathers have people who work for them who love them even more than their own family; we also see the young and old versions of a child genius showing how the present parental mistreating will affect him in the future; and there is a set of designated caregivers (the cop and the nurse), who echos Lear's fool.
The whole film is told through constant cross cutting between stories and interactions. For the first two thirds of the film there is always some form of music the pictures are set to, be it the score or rock songs. The director has learned a lot of his show-offy technique from Martin Scorsese and Robert Altman; he has Scorsese's eye and ear for mood setting music and Altman's grand scope and vision-a great foundation for a director. In his previous film, Boogie Nights, the director just seemed to be quoting those two, but in this present film, he has found his own style and rhythm. His ear for dialogue is great, he elicits great performances from his actors and knows how to make every minute count. A running time of 180 minutes is pretty steep but it flew right by. And if asked, I would not know where to cut the film. Paul Thomas Anderson is completely enamored with everything in this film-his story, his actors and his own filmmaking (the camera in particular).
Roger Ebert refers to the movie as "operatic." I can see where he is coming from, its ambition and length are operatic and there is the incessant use of music in the background, sometimes drowning out the dialogue so we only hear phrases and have to read lips. I would refer to the film as rhapsodic, ecstatic in the act of filmmaking and storytelling, coming to peaks just short enough not to peak too early and eventually reaching the ultimate climax like a great jazz song. All this to tell us you can't really plan ahead because you don't know what will happen. It also reminds us that sometimes plans work out and you should just go with it like when Claudia kisses Jim upon returning from the bathroom and said, "I'm glad I did that, I needed to do that."
I'm glad Mr. Anderson make this film. It showed me that I should remember the small things, that love isn't as hard as it may seem to find, and that I need to know somebody loves me back and I should accept their love. This may sound like the lovelorn teenager in me, but I feel it to be true. This is my kind of romance film.
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