Started by SailorOfTheSeas, May 08, 2014, 03:42:40 PM
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QuoteOn the occasion of the 20th anniversary of its release, return to Magnolia , the third feature film by Paul Thomas Anderson and ultra-ambitious choral film, which follows the weather of a stormy night, the crossed destinies of nine residents of Los Angeles.Of the eight films that make up the filmography of Paul Thomas Anderson, Magnolia is perhaps the one that best crystallizes the critical and aesthetic dispute between the supporters of PTA, who hoist the filmmaker aloft in their film buff, and his detractors, who do not see in him little more than a pretentious maker. Vain show of force for some, kaleidoscopic masterpiece for others, Magnolia is one of those films that maintain differences, and exacerbate positions. Twenty years after its release, return to a monumental and intimate film, which, like its dissonant reception, cultivates oxymorons wonderfully.Rising starWhen Magnolia was released in December 1999 (March 2000 in France), PTA was not yet the super-author he would become seven years later with There Will Be Blood , but a rising star of American independent cinema, furtively passing over red carpets of international festivals, and by Sundance writing workshops. After Hard Eight , a highly seminal neonoir but remained relatively confidential, presented at Cannes in 1996 to ultimately not be distributed in France, and Boogie Nights , jubilant and neurotic plunge in the declining porn industry of the late 1970s, PTA begins to attract attention, and put on the costume of hope of young American cinema in a decade that has already seen the dubiousness of some of its peers, Tarantino in particular. Already it is said of this young Californian barely thirty years old, brimming with ambition but sure of his talent, that he could be the spiritual son of revered masters of New Hollywood, Scorsese first, but above all Altman, tutelary figure from the filmmaker, whose work will find a powerful echo in his films. Others, on the other hand, see in his first two films only a vain emulation of the cinema of his ancestors, even a shameless plagiarism of their connoted style. Genius in the making, or talented forger? It will necessarily take a third feature film to mark the right trend. Unless it further exacerbates this inextricable dissensus.This third feature film will therefore be Magnolia , a 3-hour river film that borrows its structure from Altman's choral films ( Nashville , Short Cuts ) and examines the cracks in nine main characters, all plagued by unfathomable demons, that fate (if not an improbable series of coincidences) will eventually link, until a mythological final, figured in an anthology sequence, where a rain of frogs falls on Los Angeles, freeing the space of an instant these nine souls lost from their turpitudes. Magnolia is less a choral film than a polyphony of solitudes, where we follow, for a stormy night, nine women and men riddled with anguish, crumbling under the weight of their own vices, buried family secrets, and deeply rooted unsaid.American Society on InfusionThe film draws, through these nine portraits, that of a larger American society on a drip. First of all, literally, with the character of Earl Partridge (played by Jason Robards, who will die a few months after the film's release), a former press magnate in the terminal stages of cancer, who half-loads his help - caregiver (Philip Seymour Hoffman) to find the son he once abandoned. Then metaphorically through the exploration of the backstage of a television channel, opium of a society that lives on its dreams, where we follow in parallel the tribulations of Jimmy Gator (Philip Baker Hall) - star presenter of a game televised which sees a team of adults and children gifted on questions of general culture confronting each other - and Stanley Spector, one of the children participating in the program, exploited by his father who wishes to pocket the jackpot. A company on a drip which conjures up its ill-being in a frantic consumption of products of all kinds, like the antidepressants that frantically swallows Linda (Julianne Moore), the cockroach girl of Earl Partridge, or the rails of coke that chained Rose (Melinda Dillon), stakhanovist of the knockout and daughter of Jimmy Gator, who will find relative comfort with Jim Kurring (John C. Reilly), awkward but conscientious cop, fell in love with the young woman during a search. A society on a drip, finally, which brings to the skies Frank TJ Mackey (Tom Cruise), an enlightened seminarian and erotomaniac who gives advice to a crowd of destitute sexuals to "eat pussy", but conceals beneath an a priori rust-proof confidence, and an abject character, old and deep wounds.Magnolia is a whirlwind, a washing machine that harnesses us for 3 hours to the twirling camera of PTA, offering rare moments of breathing, which then become unexpected dressings on gaping wounds; like this surreal sequence where all the characters start to sing with one voice " It's not going to stop, 'til you wise up ", or the famous one, of the rain of frogs, biblical apparition which comes to wash the City of Angels of a thousand torments in a strangely providential deluge. Parable about the links between humans, transmission, the past and coincidences, the third PTA film is above all a film about the disease (whatever it is) and its treatment (whatever it is). The cynicism that contaminates the beginning of the film is concealed as the masks fall, the past reappears, the pains are explained, and the wounds heal. Magnolia is as much a disease as a cure, a healed wound and an open wound.When it was released in France, Les Cahiers du Cinéma , in a somewhat laudatory text, said of the film that it was " a re-reading, independent American cinema style, of the routine of soap operas " and concluded: "Magnolia is worth what Les Feux de love , no more no less ". We could not, despite our otherwise more laudatory reading of the film, disqualify this analysis ( Le Monde already looked like Boogie Nights to a sitcom), because Magnolia is indeed a soap opera, or rather a degenerate, deliquescent version of the soap opera, just like PTA's next film, Punch Drunk Love , will be a sick romantic comedy, tainted by the incommunicability of its two incapacitated lovers, or Phantom Thread , its latest film, a poisonous reinterpretation of melodrama. By instilling vice in all human relationships, and in all genres it has explored, PTA takes the pulse of a disenchanted, sick and morally shaky world, to finally offer its characters an unexpected salvation. By confronting their turpitude, they give themselves the means to ward them off. By accepting their illness, they authorize their healing. This is the central subject of PTA cinema, from Magnolia to Phantom Thread , from The Master to Inherent Vice .Twenty years after its release, Magnolia continues to fascinate. And if the third PTA film remains, like its filmography, an extremely divisive work, its supporters will find there in each (re) vision an unexpected comfort, swept away by the stream of beauty which slumbers under a thick mire.
Quote from: AntiDumbFrogQuestion on May 02, 2021, 12:28:45 AMwell after watching this movie for about 20 years I think I just noticed a PTA-esque hidden detail.In the audience, right under Frank's left armpit in the front row...appears to be a woman. A woman yelling "respect the cock and tame the cunt."PTA flicks still paying dividends a couple decades later if ya ask me.
Quote from: wilberfan on May 02, 2021, 01:23:01 AMQuote from: AntiDumbFrogQuestion on May 02, 2021, 12:28:45 AMwell after watching this movie for about 20 years I think I just noticed a PTA-esque hidden detail.In the audience, right under Frank's left armpit in the front row...appears to be a woman. A woman yelling "respect the cock and tame the cunt."PTA flicks still paying dividends a couple decades later if ya ask me.I definitely agree about the dividends part, but disagree about that being a woman in the front row. Here's a couple of frames from much earlier in that scene.