Sunday, June 19, 2011


This is only the second film by Paul Thomas Anderson that I've seen, but he's more than convinced me at this point that he's one of the most talented directors working today, and moreover one that will do nothing to compromise his vision in order to appeal to a wider audience. This is a movie I can easily see a lot of people hating, either because it's too long and boring or because it's pretentious or because there are some pretty eccentric scenes and performances or because the ending is one of the most out-of-left-field things I've ever seen. Only the first one really bothered me at all, not that it was boring, but that three hours is a lot for a movie about the strange connections between regular people, and they probably didn't need all that time. But the most part I loved the movie, enjoying the twists and turns of its coincidence-driven plot, laughing at the funny parts, and being impressed by the power of the dramatic parts.

The crazy part about the movie being three hours is that it's not even the whole story - there's a subplot with a body found in apartment that is touched on again but not resolved. It's tangential to the real movie though, which is about a group of characters played by an all-star cast of actors as they experience one of the most eventful and unusual days to go by in their city. A lot of the characters are larger than life, especially the ones played by Tom Cruise and Julianne Moore, who are both affected by the looming death of a bed-ridden old man.The main thing that ties everything together is a long-running game show that pits regular adults against smart children, a show that everyone seems to be watching as the current group of kids approaches the record for longest run on the show, and one that William H. Macy's character was on as a kid before he grew up to become William H. Macy. My favorite character was probably John C. Reilly's, a bumbling cop with a good heart and a particular distaste for foul language. If you're going to watch Magnolia it should be with the knowledge that it's a strange movie, but if you have the same taste for unique experiments and genuinely shocking and entertaining moments as me, you'll probably like it.

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