Author Topic: Magnolia and Boogie Nights also coming to Blu-ray before end of '09  (Read 15390 times)

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Gold Trumpet

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Re: Magnolia and Boogie Nights also coming to Blu-ray before end of '09
« Reply #75 on: January 09, 2011, 03:36:59 PM »
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So everything is equal and fine in surrealism? Besides, I wasn't just talking about believability.

Okay. "Dumb" is subjective (unless you have something more specific to say), so I'll move on from that...

You implied that it was "unbelievable" because it was surreal. Do you prefer believable surrealism?

Also... I disagree with your analysis of the sequence on a basic level. The lyrics that each character sings do not neatly sum up their specific states or experiences. Some fit nicely, some fit vaguely, some don't exactly fit. That's too literal an interpretation.

Yes, but the sequence does ask you to inject the meaning of the song into each story and find some relevance in it. The sequence is a defining moment for some emotional clarity in what's happening but for the stories where the song doesn't have much meaning or connection, it isn't like they are given other chances for emblems (in this manner) of distinction to their stories so the film does set it up where you lend more meaning to the lyrics in the song. I think it's a false dramatic move and undermines the potential of each story. I say that because I didn't think some of the stories, subsequently, did not do much afterward that was surprising or challenging to their general outcome assumptions.

It isn't about believability or literalism, it's about a rational call to what would help push the story to be more interesting. I first interpreted the story on a believability basis because because at its core, the scene wasn't rational on many parts, so for me that made the scene very weak. It's easy to throw an unbelievable figment of reality into a film this and have it make only some sense. The challenge is to make it sense on more levels but continue cloud your best assumptions of what will happen later. This song made everything too explainable and easy.

Jeremy Blackman

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Re: Magnolia and Boogie Nights also coming to Blu-ray before end of '09
« Reply #76 on: January 09, 2011, 05:08:01 PM »
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In a sense, I think you're getting at something important...

Wise Up is the first real ultimatum and/or litmus test of the movie (the second being the frogs). If you have trouble accepting it as a legitimate and meaningful scene, you're going to have trouble with the film overall. I can't do anything about that.

But again, still, I think you're crippling your experience with literalism.

It's like you're depending on the Wise Up sequence to do what you imagine it doing—defining the characters. Though many of the lyrics do match the characters, they are not summaries of those characters, and they are especially not precise descriptions of those characters' current states.

How much screen time is spent defining the characters outside of Wise Up? Lots. Magnolia does not depend on this sequence to do that. The Wise Up sequence is also not supposed to "push the story to be more interesting"—and it's certainly not a "false dramatic move," because it's not a "dramatic move" at all. By definition, it doesn't try to move anything. The characters are sitting there doing nothing, singing along to a song, introspecting. It's more a reflective interlude than anything else.

I generally believe people are entitled to their own interpretations, but I think this is a clear case of misinterpretation.

If you really are desperate for the sequence to serve some utilitarian purpose, one could easily argue that it offers a quick and dirty survey of the characters, tying them (and their desperation) together in a simple/beautiful way, much like the earlier whip pan sequence.

And I don't know about you, but the first (and eighth) time I saw Magnolia, I was too giddy during the Wise Up sequence to ask a question like "How does this advance the story?"

Who are you, Syd Field?
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polkablues

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Re: Magnolia and Boogie Nights also coming to Blu-ray before end of '09
« Reply #77 on: January 09, 2011, 05:30:16 PM »
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Who are you, Syd Field?

Syd Field loved it:

Quote from: Syd Field
As the rain thunders down, we see the nine characters singing about their pain and guilt and lack of self-worth, knowing it's just not going to stop "til you wise up." Until they can accept themselves for who they are, until they can forgive themselves and accept their own sense of self-worth, until they can let somebody love them for who they are and let the past go, it's not going to stop. Just "wise up."

When I first saw this scene, I was taken aback. To have the characters break into song, expressing their pain and discomfort in a musical lyric, is an extraordinary accomplishment. I remember James Brooks tried to do this in "I'll Do Anything," and it didn't work. Finally, after several different approaches in cutting the movie, Brooks had to drop the songs and tried to structure the film in a different way. But it never really worked. Paul Anderson makes it work.
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Jeremy Blackman

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Re: Magnolia and Boogie Nights also coming to Blu-ray before end of '09
« Reply #78 on: January 09, 2011, 05:56:34 PM »
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Haha, wow.

I remember reading that Syd Field liked Magnolia because he believed it adhered to his beloved three-act structure, but I didn't know about this.
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Gold Trumpet

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Re: Magnolia and Boogie Nights also coming to Blu-ray before end of '09
« Reply #79 on: January 09, 2011, 06:04:09 PM »
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In a sense, I think you're getting at something important...

Wise Up is the first real ultimatum and/or litmus test of the movie (the second being the frogs). If you have trouble accepting it as a legitimate and meaningful scene, you're going to have trouble with the film overall. I can't do anything about that.

Get this, I'm fine with the frog scene. Get off me not being able to accept a little surrealism.

It's like you're depending on the Wise Up sequence to do what you imagine it doing—defining the characters. Though many of the lyrics do match the characters, they are not summaries of those characters, and they are especially not precise descriptions of those characters' current states.

How much screen time is spent defining the characters outside of Wise Up? Lots. Magnolia does not depend on this sequence to do that. The Wise Up sequence is also not supposed to "push the story to be more interesting"—and it's certainly not a "false dramatic move," because it's not a "dramatic move" at all. By definition, it doesn't try to move anything. The characters are sitting there doing nothing, singing along to a song, introspecting. It's more a reflective interlude than anything else.

Now I think you're being too literal with your interpretation. Since the musical number is technically a standstill moment, it isn't trying to advance anything at all? I'll grant you it doesn't advance any story, but I'm sorry, on the character front, I disagree. When every character is singing a song where a connection between the lyrics and their emotional states can be made, the film is trying to point to some clarity about their emotional states. Is it a lot? Maybe not, but the film does want you to see relevance between what every character is singing and what they are feeling. You say we should discount some connections, but I say the film should just not have included those characters. This isn't like defenders of the Bible where every story has the same intention and they just discount some because they make less sense. The overall structure of the story should take more consideration.

If you really are desperate for the sequence to serve some utilitarian purpose, one could easily argue that it offers a quick and dirty survey of the characters, tying them (and their desperation) together in a simple/beautiful way, much like the earlier whip pan sequence.

I'm looking for a little unitarian harmony considering the choices the film make. If I was in charge, I would have had a musical number without lyrics. It's the same effect and adds an element of surrealism but doesn't force the situation where you can start picking what parts of the lyrics makes most sense for what characters and how. The sequence doesn't have to advance the story, but the inclusion of lyrics do try to show an unnecessary amount of clarity. I think if they were going to go with lyrics, don't try to pigeonhole every into the simple ramifications of a pop song.


polkablues

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Re: Magnolia and Boogie Nights also coming to Blu-ray before end of '09
« Reply #80 on: January 09, 2011, 06:07:18 PM »
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Haha, wow.

I remember reading that Syd Field liked Magnolia because he believed it adhered to his beloved three-act structure, but I didn't know about this.

http://www.sydfield.com/featured_magnolia.htm

He actually seems to really appreciate it entirely on its own terms. I gained a lot of respect for Field when I first read this piece.


EDIT: And can we please stop using the word surrealism in regards to Magnolia? In every case, you all actually mean magic realism.
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Jeremy Blackman

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Re: Magnolia and Boogie Nights also coming to Blu-ray before end of '09
« Reply #81 on: January 09, 2011, 07:23:30 PM »
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GT -

I only understood about 1/3 of that.

But I can work with this:

If I was in charge, I would have had a musical number without lyrics. It's the same effect and adds an element of surrealism but doesn't force the situation where you can start picking what parts of the lyrics makes most sense for what characters and how.

Actually, that would have been horrible. Most of the genius and thrill of the Wise Up sequence comes directly from the singalong. Yes, it's crazy, it's challenging, and it barely works, but that's why it's so great.

I still think you want the Wise Up sequence to do something it never promised. I also think you're uncomfortable with the sequence being such a huge thing in the movie without justifying its existence with more utility.
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modage

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Re: Magnolia and Boogie Nights also coming to Blu-ray before end of '09
« Reply #82 on: January 09, 2011, 07:49:19 PM »
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It's good to have JB back.  It brings balance to The Force.
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Gold Trumpet

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Re: Magnolia and Boogie Nights also coming to Blu-ray before end of '09
« Reply #83 on: January 09, 2011, 07:57:08 PM »
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This argument is going nowhere so,

1.) Your new point isn't an argument. I'll take it as a disagreement.  

To maybe just reinforce my point since all I seem to be doing is reestablishing my argument, the lyrics in the song cornered the characters for me. You had a development of characterization throughout the story and they all join in a Greek Chorus type of song when it only seemed to be truly meaningful in symbolism for a few of the singers.

You don't attribute lyrics to characters. I do and I don't understand how it's beng too literal or whatever. You admit it's a "survey" of the characters, but I don't even see that for everyone. All I think it represents is a general tone at best and if you start thinking about some characters in any context of the lyrics, it marginalizes their characterization and storyline. It takes me out of their storyline.

Gold Trumpet

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Re: Magnolia and Boogie Nights also coming to Blu-ray before end of '09
« Reply #84 on: January 09, 2011, 07:57:43 PM »
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It's good to have JB back.  It brings balance to The Force.

Ha, yea, I had too many people on my side before.

Jeremy Blackman

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Re: Magnolia and Boogie Nights also coming to Blu-ray before end of '09
« Reply #85 on: January 09, 2011, 09:23:34 PM »
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1.) Your new point isn't an argument. I'll take it as a disagreement.

I agree.

To maybe just reinforce my point since all I seem to be doing is reestablishing my argument, the lyrics in the song cornered the characters for me. You had a development of characterization throughout the story and they all join in a Greek Chorus type of song when it only seemed to be truly meaningful in symbolism for a few of the singers.

You don't attribute lyrics to characters. I do and I don't understand how it's beng too literal or whatever. You admit it's a "survey" of the characters, but I don't even see that for everyone. All I think it represents is a general tone at best and if you start thinking about some characters in any context of the lyrics, it marginalizes their characterization and storyline. It takes me out of their storyline.

I feel like I should quote what I originally said:

I disagree with your analysis of the sequence on a basic level. The lyrics that each character sings do not neatly sum up their specific states or experiences. Some fit nicely, some fit vaguely, some don't exactly fit. That's too literal an interpretation.

Remember, it's not as if each character is singing their line spontaneously. They are all singing along to the same song. This is one song which collectively summarizes (and even then, not precisely) the general state of the ensemble.

If your interpretation is that each line sung by each character is meant to neatly summarize that individual character's specific state, then I think you are wrong, and I think your dislike of the sequence is at least partially a result of that misinterpretation.

It's worth mentioning that "Wise Up" was not written for the film. Beyond that, "Wise Up" isn't even the Aimee Mann song that partially inspired the movie... that was "Deathly." It wasn't written for each character, and the characters were certainly not written for it. PTA most likely matched up each line to a character so that they would approximately make sense. The result is that, like I'm saying, it's a collective survey of the ensemble... which I thought was always clear enough.
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Gold Trumpet

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Re: Magnolia and Boogie Nights also coming to Blu-ray before end of '09
« Reply #86 on: January 09, 2011, 09:33:30 PM »
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So, it's a collective summary of the ensemble? Any relevance of the lyrics to a character specifically is useless? Yea, that's a dumb way to use a song in a movie. I mind disliking the scene even less now.

Jeremy Blackman

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Re: Magnolia and Boogie Nights also coming to Blu-ray before end of '09
« Reply #87 on: January 09, 2011, 09:35:43 PM »
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In every case, you all actually mean magic realism.

It just doesn't have the same ring to it... unless I can say MR.

"GT, I assumed the frogs would be too MR for you. Interesting."
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polkablues

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Re: Magnolia and Boogie Nights also coming to Blu-ray before end of '09
« Reply #88 on: January 09, 2011, 10:22:50 PM »
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The song isn't meant to narratively tie the characters together, but to do so thematically.  Matching each character line by line is a futile effort, one that will surely result in the frustration GT seems to have with the scene.  The idea is that all the characters are at a crossroad at that point in their arc, and the song serves as a bridge to carry them all through to the next phase of the story.  Tonally, it works just the same way as the musical montage that occurs at that point in 90% of American films that have ever been made, but simultaneously manages to further the underlying theme of coincidence and connectedness that carries through the entire film.


In every case, you all actually mean magic realism.

It just doesn't have the same ring to it... unless I can say MR.

"GT, I assumed the frogs would be too MR for you. Interesting."

Fair enough.  I just hate when a perfectly good ism loses its meaning.
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Gold Trumpet

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Re: Magnolia and Boogie Nights also coming to Blu-ray before end of '09
« Reply #89 on: January 09, 2011, 10:50:58 PM »
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The song isn't meant to narratively tie the characters together, but to do so thematically.  Matching each character line by line is a futile effort, one that will surely result in the frustration GT seems to have with the scene.  The idea is that all the characters are at a crossroad at that point in their arc, and the song serves as a bridge to carry them all through to the next phase of the story.  Tonally, it works just the same way as the musical montage that occurs at that point in 90% of American films that have ever been made, but simultaneously manages to further the underlying theme of coincidence and connectedness that carries through the entire film.

Most musical montages in American films don't have sit downs with the characters where they sing every line of a song. The musical montages in most films are just focused on the musical montage element. As I said before, if it was just instrumental music being played, I would be fine with the scene. While I watch the scene and I see specific characters singing specific lines, my brain starts registering the lyrics with the characters. It's a critical component of the brain. I would argue there is some correlation for lyrics to characters. People think I need to see an entire character understanding in the lyrics. I just want some but in the end, I wish it was just music (with no lyrics) because structurally, what is in Magnolia makes my brain play connect to the dot too much with other parts of the story.

Also, I realize my feeling about that point is like Blackman's to how he feels. It can be argued, but the speakers aren't going to be argued out of it. The song takes me out of the story in all those ways.

And Magical Realism is a good thing.

 

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