XIXAX Film Forum

The Director's Chair => Paul Thomas Anderson => Topic started by: SailorOfTheSeas on May 08, 2014, 03:42:40 PM

Title: Magnolia discussion
Post by: SailorOfTheSeas on May 08, 2014, 03:42:40 PM
Hey, couldn't find a broad Magnolia thread in the last few pages so decided to make one, to put all little things you find and thoughts you have on Magnolia.

I got a question to start it off with tho.

What encouraged me to make this was finding out about Short Cuts. I've spent a lot of my recent PTA loving years oblivious to it and thinking Magnolia's framework was totally original. I haven't seen the film and haven't gt the time atm because of exams, but i read something that pointed out loads of similarities that go beyond simple thematic and story links. Both 3 hr and 8 mins long.  Both have a similar police-man character. Both culminate in a natural disaster. Both play with the idea of luck and coincidence.Things like that. Not that this ruins Magnolia for me at all, it's still phenomenal and one of the best films i've seen, but just punctures my awe of its originality and character a lil bit. I get that the two probably have very different messages and styles and are their own films, but these kinda similarities are quite crazy.

Can anyone who's seen Short Cuts debunk this and say that they do have some similarities but nothing major or is it true that the two are extremely similar? 

Title: Re: Magnolia discussion
Post by: SailorOfTheSeas on May 08, 2014, 03:54:05 PM
Please tell me if comparing these two films is as stupid as saying Requiem for a Dream copied Trainspotting because they both feature a group of characters and drugs, or if the comparison is entirely justified.
Title: Re: Magnolia discussion
Post by: jenkins on May 08, 2014, 04:20:04 PM
short cuts thread:
http://xixax.com/index.php?topic=789
Title: Re: Magnolia discussion
Post by: SailorOfTheSeas on May 08, 2014, 04:31:24 PM
Thanks!
Title: Re: Magnolia discussion
Post by: Mel on May 09, 2014, 03:20:59 AM
There is no question that Altman has been and is huge inspiration to PTA. In that regard comparing any work of Altman to Anderson doesn't seem artificial to me.

"Magnolia" was the first film of PTA I have seen. Since then I re-watched it again somewhere between "CMBB" and "Master", so my memories aren't fresh. Maybe it is time to revisit it?

Anyway "Magnolia" feels much formal to me than "Short Cuts". Opening of "Magnolia" is good example of that. It set ups mood and themes in the beginning of the film, in your face way. On the other hand "Short Cuts" are more subliminal (probably same goes for other Altman). There is voyeuristic feel to it - we got glimpses at lives of characters, often without much explanation to their behavior, film is resolved without conclusion.

Compared to that PTA is much more attached to characters, he cares a lot more for them. Cop character is good example of that - in both films they are stupid, but in case of PTA there is true sense of calling and that makes him much more likable.

Themes are also more visible in "Magnolia", maybe even to the point of being sometimes repetitive. In case of "Short Cuts" it is easier to point out themes after seeing the film than in the middle of watching.

Not sure if this is helpful at all, since I compared those films in very abstract way.
Title: Re: Magnolia discussion
Post by: modage on August 06, 2014, 10:20:43 AM
Must-read piece on Tom Cruise in MAGNOLIA with quotes from PTA & Cruise from Amy Nicholson's new book on Cruise...

http://grantland.com/features/tom-cruise-magnolia-amy-nicholson/
Title: Re: Magnolia discussion
Post by: Jeremy Blackman on August 06, 2014, 04:59:13 PM
Loved that. Beautifully written and researched. Basically everything about Tom Cruise & Magnolia that had been missing.
Title: Re: Magnolia discussion
Post by: ©brad on August 06, 2014, 07:24:55 PM
Great stuff. I wish Cruise would take a break from saving the world and do another Magnolia or something small and character driven.
Title: Re: Magnolia discussion
Post by: polkablues on August 07, 2014, 07:20:48 PM
Not to be that guy, but I assumed everyone knew that already.
Title: Re: Magnolia discussion
Post by: Jeremy Blackman on August 07, 2014, 08:11:04 PM
I had no idea, personally. I actually thought Reelist was joking at first, until I recognized the resemblance, then a few seconds later, the actual sincerity in Reelist's post.
Title: Re: Magnolia discussion
Post by: Fuzzy Dunlop on August 08, 2014, 05:48:55 PM
Its a great week to be a MagnoliaFan, between the Grantland excerpt and now this essay from The Dissolve:

http://thedissolve.com/features/encore/696-the-beautiful-imperfection-of-magnolia/ (http://thedissolve.com/features/encore/696-the-beautiful-imperfection-of-magnolia/)
Title: Re: Magnolia discussion
Post by: AntiDumbFrogQuestion on August 09, 2014, 02:17:30 PM
Not to be that guy, but I assumed everyone knew that already.

haha yeah, you're totally "that guy"
Title: Re: Magnolia discussion
Post by: Fuzzy Dunlop on November 13, 2014, 05:54:15 PM
A nice little essay about Magnolia, by Britt Hayes over at Badass Digest.

http://badassdigest.com/2014/11/12/this-is-something-that-happens-the-loneliness-of-magnolia/ (http://badassdigest.com/2014/11/12/this-is-something-that-happens-the-loneliness-of-magnolia/)

It's a little strange that it's been 15 years and all these 'looking back' articles are trickling out. I've been watching this film for over half of my human life.
Title: Re: Magnolia discussion
Post by: Fuzzy Dunlop on December 01, 2015, 07:05:34 PM
If you're anything like me, you've been waiting to see Julianne Moore scream her Magnolia drug store monologue into a real stranger's face for years. Today is our day.

&feature=share
Title: Re: Magnolia discussion
Post by: Jeremy Blackman on December 01, 2015, 07:37:22 PM
If you're anything like me, you've been waiting to see Julianne Moore scream her Magnolia drug store monologue into a real stranger's face for years. Today is our day.

&feature=share

Jeremy Blackman [01|Dec 02:52 PM]:   Hahaha... confused bystander at 2:06 is priceless
Title: Re: Magnolia discussion
Post by: Jeremy Blackman on February 16, 2016, 04:17:49 PM
(https://pbs.twimg.com/media/CZabiqlUEAAa-Qb.jpg)
Title: Re: Magnolia discussion
Post by: Jeremy Blackman on June 08, 2016, 01:28:59 PM
The hosts of my favorite Game of Thrones podcast recently reviewed Magnolia:

http://baldmove.com/bald-movies/magnolia-1999-commissioned-podcast/

(You can also search for the podcast "Bald Movies.")

It's an hour and a half reaction to the movie from a fairly personal POV. I found it interesting to hear what a couple civilians thought of Magnolia, seeing it for the first time 16+ years later.
Title: Re: Magnolia discussion
Post by: Jeremy Blackman on February 12, 2017, 12:37:32 PM
The host of the podcast Read It And Weep (http://read-weep.com/) makes a sly reference to Magnolia at 5:28 in Episode 295 - Criminal Minds (http://read-weep.com/#!/episode.php/criminal-minds). He directly quotes a character from the movie, completely in context. I don't think the guests realized it was a Magnolia quote. But it definitely is, because he's talked about Magnolia several times in subsequent episodes.
Title: Re: Magnolia discussion
Post by: Alexandro on February 26, 2017, 10:21:27 PM
is this the place to post about a pretty nice aimee mann/magnolia tribute in the fucking lego batman movie? made me chuckle. actually the whole movie is pretty funny. check it out.
Title: Re: Magnolia discussion
Post by: RegularKarate on March 01, 2017, 09:13:19 AM
I saw that movie and must have missed the Magnolia tribute while trying to keep up with all the subtle (and not so subtle) Batman in-jokes.
Where was the reference?
Title: Re: Magnolia discussion
Post by: Alexandro on March 01, 2017, 09:20:22 AM
I saw that movie and must have missed the Magnolia tribute while trying to keep up with all the subtle (and not so subtle) Batman in-jokes.
Where was the reference?

really? there's a whole sequence of batman dead set on working alone with a cover of "one" playing all through it, showing how lonely he and the other characters feel.
Title: Re: Magnolia discussion
Post by: RegularKarate on March 01, 2017, 09:46:15 AM
I guess I didn't see that as a Magnolia reference since they're playing the original Harry Nilsson version and "one is the loneliest number" just matches the moment. Now, if they had been playing "Wise up"...
Title: Re: Magnolia discussion
Post by: Alexandro on March 01, 2017, 01:30:36 PM
that film is so crammed with all sorts of crazy references I wouldn't think it was a stretch.
Title: Re: Magnolia discussion
Post by: Shughes on March 04, 2017, 08:21:44 AM
This is a great article:

https://cinephiliabeyond.org/magnolia-paul-thomas-andersons-absorbing-mosaic-compassion-humanity-importance-forgiveness/ (https://cinephiliabeyond.org/magnolia-paul-thomas-andersons-absorbing-mosaic-compassion-humanity-importance-forgiveness/)

Probably not news to anyone here, but nice to have the screenplay, those interviews, and some great production stills all in one place.
Title: Re: Magnolia discussion
Post by: Sleepless on October 25, 2017, 08:55:29 AM
Has anyone heard of or seen this movie? It's currently on Mubi, they say: A murder mystery that doubles as a drama about the interconnected lives of strangers, this Australian import—which won numerous awards in its homeland—was a critical success, earning comparisons to Paul Thomas Anderson’s Magnolia. The trailer is definitely trying to make the most of that comparison:



Btw, if you want to check it out, use this link to get a free month on Mubi (https://mubi.com/t/web/global/14cz5r7) (I'll get a free month too).
Title: Re: Magnolia discussion
Post by: wilder on October 25, 2017, 11:37:57 AM
I saw it upon its DVD release for the very reason that it was lumped together with Magnolia on many film lists at the time. Sorry to say I remember almost nothing about it other than it wasn’t for me, but I seem to have trouble connecting to Australian films on the whole. It’s like they’re operating on an entirely different wavelength. There’s also the possibility that I was just too young.
Title: Re: Magnolia discussion
Post by: Sleepless on October 25, 2017, 12:36:53 PM
I haven't watched it yet, but I will. The trailer doesn't look great. Haven't watched a ton of Australian cinema, but I still love The Dish (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RwVsZumdab8).
Title: Re: Magnolia discussion
Post by: wilder on October 25, 2017, 02:24:44 PM
Ah, The Dish. I always heard good things. Let us know what you think of Lantana. I was just looking up Ray Lawrence's other movies - he also made Jindabyne (2006) (http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0382765/?ref_=nm_flmg_dr_1) starring Laura Linney and Gabriel Byrne, based on that same Raymond Carver short story Short Cuts was partially adapted from with the three fishermen discovering the dead girl's body in the creek (I never got around to seeing it). And his first movie Bliss (1985) certainly looks worth watching. The guy's made only three films in just over 30 years of his career. I always wonder what directors who have sporadic projects like that do with the rest of their lives...

(https://i.imgur.com/41Ufurw.jpg)

After a near-death experience, a man wonders if he actually did die and is now in Hell.








Title: Re: Magnolia discussion
Post by: Sleepless on November 15, 2017, 08:40:06 AM
Let us know what you think of Lantana.

My thoughts. (http://www.davidtharwood.com/blog/lantana-lifes-a-bitch-but-just-get-on-with-it-mate/)

Also, I just found out it has it's own thread (http://xixax.com/index.php?topic=2603). Best bits from there:

There are so many great moments in this film, one of which I really remember: Leon (LaPaglia) is running and he slams into another guy and explodes, yelling at him.  Both their faces are bloodied, the other man's nose possibly broken.  Leon sees the man has dropped a bag, and feeling bad, he runs after him and gets it and tries to smooth things over.  And the man (full grown, strong, goatee and everything) just breaks down and starts crying in Leon's arms.  And I haven't seen anything like that since Brando in Last Tango in Paris.  My jaw dropped open, it was so real, so powerful.  Later on, Leon meets John, the man whose wife he's having an affair with, unbeknownst to him.  They share drinks, and discuss the incident in the bathroom, wondering what it would take for someone to cry like that.  It gets even better when the scene was paralleled later on in the movie when Leon cries upon hearing a tape where his wife professes she still loves him (long story; see the film to understand it).

it really wasn't about a murder case. It's about love and marriage. Two Thumbs Way Up for me for "Lantana".

I was just fucking blown away.

Brilliant, absolutely BRILLIANT! It's an unrecognised gem that nobody should miss.Why?!?

It's still on Mubi for another week. If anyone wants a free month trial and thus give me a free month in return. (https://mubi.com/t/web/global/14cz5r7)
Title: Re: Magnolia discussion
Post by: wilberfan on November 27, 2017, 07:15:36 PM
I watched Lantana last week because of the mention in this thread.  I ultimately found it a little too one-noted.  It didn't really end-up anywhere (if that makes any sense).  I can see the comparison to Magnolia, but no where near as compelling for me.  I do agree about the jogging collision scene, though.
Title: Re: Magnolia discussion
Post by: wilberfan on January 14, 2019, 06:24:24 PM
Shall we start an in-house GoFundMe?   It's ours for a measly $10K.


(https://i.imgur.com/Gf9K65r.jpg)
Title: Re: Magnolia discussion
Post by: polkablues on January 14, 2019, 06:27:50 PM
We could make that back in the first seminar alone!
Title: Re: Magnolia discussion
Post by: eward on January 15, 2019, 03:29:51 PM
And what's the first thing we're gonna do?

That's right, we're gonna MARK THAT CALENDAR.
Title: Re: Magnolia discussion
Post by: Something Spanish on January 15, 2019, 07:42:00 PM
come August, it’s saint suck my big fat juicy fucking sausage-ah
Title: Re: Magnolia discussion
Post by: Something Spanish on January 15, 2019, 07:46:00 PM
you think she’s your friend Geoff? she’s not your friend
Title: Re: Magnolia discussion
Post by: Fuzzy Dunlop on August 07, 2019, 09:19:14 PM
https://film.avclub.com/the-best-and-worst-of-magnolia-s-multiple-melodramas-1836941555 (https://film.avclub.com/the-best-and-worst-of-magnolia-s-multiple-melodramas-1836941555)

I disagree with a lot of this, including the concept of ranking the storylines itself ("I'm trying to tell ONE story!"), but its still fun to pick at. 20 years! God damn.
Title: Re: Magnolia discussion
Post by: wilberfan on August 07, 2019, 09:27:30 PM
I wouldn't change a frame.

And PTA would have to get past me first to cut 20 minutes.
Title: Re: Magnolia discussion
Post by: eward on August 08, 2019, 11:00:12 AM
Much as I love Magnolia, I wouldn't necessarily disagree with most of that. Not that I care ultimately; its reckless earnestness is a key aspect of its overall power.
Title: Re: Magnolia discussion
Post by: Drenk on August 08, 2019, 11:05:43 AM
Quote
There’s a prescience to Frank in an age in which we’re forced to reckon with the online and real-life violence of the anti-feminist “incel” community, men who believe they’re owed sex by what they perceive to be an inferior gender, a mindset that’s propagated by Frank’s teachings. It’s not hard to draw parallels between his seminar and snake oil grifts of some of the alt-right’s ugliest personalities.

Damn. PTA predicted misogyny.  :bravo:

The only issue I developed with Magnolia over the years—probably my favorite film—is Linda: she's really one note, so the over topness of her arc is...kind of boring. It feels like PTA didn't really tried to get in her head.
Title: Re: Magnolia discussion
Post by: Jeremy Blackman on August 08, 2019, 11:16:39 AM
The only issue I developed with Magnolia over the years—probably my favorite film—is Linda: she's really one note, so the over topness of her arc is...kind of boring. It feels like PTA didn't really tried to get in her head.

I agree. Magnolia is absolutely my favorite film, but not all of the Linda stuff holds up.

I wouldn't remove a frame of the pharmacy scene. Elsewhere, though, I think we do spend too much time with her. Some of those scenes are hard to get through, and (hate to say it) this is not the strongest performance in the movie.
Title: Re: Magnolia discussion
Post by: polkablues on August 08, 2019, 02:46:47 PM
Much as I love Magnolia, I wouldn't necessarily disagree with most of that. Not that I care overall; its reckless earnestness is a key aspect of its overall power.

That’s where I’m at. If it were more polished, I don’t think I would love it as much.

I once had a film professor suggest that Donnie’s entire storyline should have been cut. I almost had to leave the room.
Title: Re: Magnolia discussion
Post by: wilberfan on August 11, 2019, 10:12:30 PM
Apparently there is a stage adaptation of MAGNOLIA running in Poland.  (At least according to this barely readable review.)


https://www.broadwayworld.com/poland/article/BWW-Review-MAGNOLIA-at-Teatr-Wspolczesny-Wroclaw-Frog-Rain-of-Emotions-20190809 (https://www.broadwayworld.com/poland/article/BWW-Review-MAGNOLIA-at-Teatr-Wspolczesny-Wroclaw-Frog-Rain-of-Emotions-20190809)



Title: Re: Magnolia discussion
Post by: d on August 12, 2019, 03:14:50 AM
Yes there is. It is directed by Krzysztof Skonieczny, who had a very successful HBO series here in Poland a few months ago titled Blinded by The Lights based on a rather popular modern novel. I guess there are plans to dub it and release it worldwide. Not a masterpiece by any means but one of the best Polish TV series in recent years (which is sadly not a great achievement considering the quality of TV series made in Poland recently). It was well made and made Skonieczny quite a hot name here. While not shocking, the stage adaptation of a great but not very popular movie was not an obvious choice for his next project but he mentioned PTA as one of his most important inspirations and Magnolia in particular. The TV series features among other smaller references to PTA style a montage which is an obvious homage to Magnolia Wise-up sequence. here it is if you want to have a look:

Spoiler: ShowHide




Here are some more photos (the article is all in Polish):
https://www.tuwroclaw.com/wiadomosci,dlugi-spektakl-o-braku-milosci-recenzja-magnolii,wia5-3267-48972-1.html

I see the play is receiving good reviews. I am considering seeing it in a few weeks.

Title: Re: Magnolia discussion
Post by: eward on August 12, 2019, 09:03:56 AM
I am caught between being unable to fathom how in the hell that could ever work and wanting to see it desperately.
Title: Re: Magnolia discussion
Post by: d on August 12, 2019, 09:23:04 AM
As far as I remember, based on what I read about it, it's rather a loose adaptation.
Title: Re: Magnolia discussion
Post by: Robyn on August 12, 2019, 09:36:45 AM
This must be Polish Philip Seymour Hoffman, right?

(https://www.tuwroclaw.com/images/galbig3/gallery/7305/images/foto-btw-photographers-maziarz-rajter-4146_5ce7c06c81f972_93448728.jpg.jpg)

And this, is this the Polish version of Tom Cruise?  :ponder:

(https://www.tuwroclaw.com/images/galbig3/gallery/7305/images/foto-btw-photographers-maziarz-rajter-309080_5ce7c077f14862_72352897.jpg.jpg)
Title: Re: Magnolia discussion
Post by: wilberfan on August 12, 2019, 12:20:57 PM
Yes there is. It is directed by Krzysztof Skonieczny...
I see the play is receiving good reviews. I am considering seeing it in a few weeks.


Well, you'll certainly have to share your reactions with us if you do!
Title: Re: Magnolia discussion
Post by: jviness02 on August 12, 2019, 06:04:42 PM
As time has gone on, Magnolia has slowly fallen in my ranking of  PTA’s filmography,  but it’s still fantastic. I don’t know if a filtered, less messy version of Magnolia would actually be better, though. Part of the charm is the “writing from the gut” aspect and I think that’s what makes it special.


But Julianne Moore, who I genuinely like, is borderline awful in this movie.
Title: Re: Magnolia discussion
Post by: eward on November 15, 2019, 03:03:52 PM
This week on Filmspotting: Magnolia at 20.

https://www.filmspotting.net/episodes-archive/2019/11/15/752-magnolia-at-20-jojo-rabbit-the-report-the-king (https://www.filmspotting.net/episodes-archive/2019/11/15/752-magnolia-at-20-jojo-rabbit-the-report-the-king)
Title: Re: Magnolia discussion
Post by: wilberfan on November 15, 2019, 03:16:33 PM
Cool.  Did the (problematic) Simmons podcast come out from behind the paywall yet...?
Title: Re: Magnolia discussion
Post by: eward on November 15, 2019, 03:26:59 PM
It's available for free on Youtube, among other platforms. Unless I'm misunderstanding something...
Title: Re: Magnolia discussion
Post by: trytotell on November 28, 2019, 11:13:09 AM
Title: Re: Magnolia discussion
Post by: Drill on November 29, 2019, 07:05:02 PM
Quote
There’s a prescience to Frank in an age in which we’re forced to reckon with the online and real-life violence of the anti-feminist “incel” community, men who believe they’re owed sex by what they perceive to be an inferior gender, a mindset that’s propagated by Frank’s teachings. It’s not hard to draw parallels between his seminar and snake oil grifts of some of the alt-right’s ugliest personalities.

Damn. PTA predicted misogyny.  :bravo:

The only issue I developed with Magnolia over the years—probably my favorite film—is Linda: she's really one note, so the over topness of her arc is...kind of boring. It feels like PTA didn't really tried to get in her head.

I'd argue the same thing is even more true of Claudia. She's a cokehead because daddy molested her. You can't really get more one note or cliche than that.
Title: Re: Magnolia discussion
Post by: Drenk on November 29, 2019, 07:12:05 PM
That's a cliché because it's true. She's over the top, but that's an over the top movie: special, overwhelming, night and all.
Title: Re: Magnolia discussion
Post by: Drill on November 29, 2019, 11:28:43 PM
That's a cliché because it's true. She's over the top, but that's an over the top movie: special, overwhelming, night and all.

But she's boring and one note. At least the Linda character was somewhat unpredictable. But female characters are likely always going to be a nut he can't crack.
Title: Re: Magnolia discussion
Post by: Pringle on November 29, 2019, 11:48:12 PM
The protagonist and main character of his last film was a complex and multi-layered woman.
Title: Re: Magnolia discussion
Post by: Drill on November 30, 2019, 12:14:00 AM
The protagonist and main character of his last film was a complex and multi-layered woman.

I like PT but eh...I've never seen a movie "about a woman" be more about a man. It fails the Bechdel test, Alma doesn't really have any agency (you could say the movie was about that but still). His best female character is probably his first: Clementine in Hard Eight.

If that rumor about his new movie is true, that the lead is a mixed race girl, then that's probably the best shot given his daughters. Other than that, I think his bad relationship with his mom has always prevented him from knowing how to get inside a female character's head. He's hardly the worst offender, but it's always been a bit disappointing/something he's been allowed to skate by on.
Title: Re: Magnolia discussion
Post by: wilberfan on December 10, 2019, 10:39:45 PM
We should have had a party or something.  So glad I had a chance to see it (yet again) on the big screen 3 nights ago.  Took my baby sister with me for her first viewing, too, which added something to the experience.  (She loved it.)

Title: Re: Magnolia discussion
Post by: Something Spanish on December 11, 2019, 01:16:37 PM
Fuck, 20 years? I remember seeing it on the big screen like yesterday. It opened in NYC on a Wednesday, if memory serves, and I saw it that Sat at Lincoln Square. Had never been so hyped about a movie in my 16 years of moviegoing at the time. I remember all 9 times I've seen this movie on the big screen. Still my favorite of the bunch, haven't revisited in 2 years, but safe to say i've seen it enough times to stand firm on that claim. Probably will take a gander tonight for as long as I can stay awake. I'll always remember to Respect the Cock thanks to this movie.
Title: Re: Magnolia discussion
Post by: wilberfan on December 11, 2019, 01:31:00 PM
I can't remember if I told this story here, but I remember seeing it on a weekday afternoon at the local AMC with about 10 of us in attendance.  At the end of the prologue I remember saying--my memory is actually having done so out loud--"who IS this guy?!" with great excitement (referring to PTA). 

I had seen and very much enjoyed  Boogie Nights two years before, but those opening minutes of Magnolia made me realize there was a new filmmaker I would really have to keep track of.  When Punch-Drunk Love arrived in a couple of more years, I was smiling like an idiot, knowing my new Cinema Savior had arrived (Stanley having proved mortal in the end).
Title: Re: Magnolia discussion
Post by: Robyn on December 11, 2019, 01:52:39 PM
I saw it in 2008 when I lived at grandmom and needed to think about something else then her being angry at me for sleeping all day.

it was my first PTA love, hehe  (had seen TWBB and BN but didn't fall in love with them until later)
Title: Re: Magnolia discussion
Post by: wilberfan on December 18, 2019, 01:00:01 AM
From the Ranks of the Freaks: “Magnolia” at 20 (https://thespool.net/movies/2019/12/magnolia-review/)
Paul Thomas Anderson’s character study baffled, aggravated & emotionally moved a divisive audience.

We say we want to see movies with people that look like us, with ordinary, unremarkable lives, but that’s not really true. Give us fantasy, give us beautiful people with lives that may be a little messy, but get better by the time the credits roll. Our time is short, why waste it on movies that illustrate how life is a long, often lonely series of fateful encounters and occurrences that, try as we might, we have no control over?

Magnolia, released twenty years ago this month, is arguably Paul Thomas Anderson’s most polarizing film. It has the audacity to be over three hours long, while not actually being about anything. There’s no real plot to speak of, not in the “point A to point B” sense, at least. There’s very little conflict (and when there is, it’s never really resolved), there’s no hero’s journey, and if the characters experience any sort of growth or change, it’s almost imperceptible, just enough to keep them going the next day. In the middle of the action (if you can even call it that), everyone stops to sing a melancholy song about how they’re foolish for thinking life is going to get any better. For some, Magnolia is a twee, melodramatic slog. For others, it offers comfort and hope, albeit served in tiny spoonfuls. Few major studio films have so accurately depicted the concept of bittersweet ordinariness — none of us are special, we’re at the mercy of what life decides to throw at us, and how we decide to handle it.

An ensemble piece, the closest thing the film has to a protagonist is Jim (John C. Reilly), a good-hearted man who’s unfortunately not all that great of a cop. Reilly has become so familiar for his comedic work that it’s hard to remember that his sad, expressive eyes–he was born to be a silent film actor–give his serious roles an exhausted, touching humanity. You believe in Jim, and his good intentions, and his embarrassment over losing his gun, and his awkward tenderness while courting Claudia (Melora Walters). We know right away that Claudia, with her drug addiction and traumatic childhood, might be too much for Jim to handle, but he wants to try, and the fact that anyone does is more than she’s experienced in a long time.

Far ahead of Jim in the sad sack-a-thon is Donnie (William H. Macy), a real life version of those memes about gifted children growing up to be miserable, neurotic adults. Donnie was bilked out of all the money he won as a kid on a TV quiz show by his parents, and now is just stumbling around in life alone, and, like Jim, stuck in a job he’s not very successful at. Donnie has laid all his hopes and dreams at the feet of Brad, a handsome bartender he’s besotted with, but who barely acknowledges his presence. He believes that the best way to get Brad to notice he exists is to get his teeth fixed, which he plans to do with money stolen from his ex-employer. There’s an interesting meta feel to this–Donnie clearly got the idea from a movie or TV show, and it doesn’t occur to him that such a thing isn’t as easy to get away with in real life. We see a movie character figure out that reality isn’t like the movies.

The character connecting everyone, even if just indirectly, is Earl (Jason Robards), former producer of the children’s quiz show Donnie won, which is hosted by Jimmy Gator (Philip Baker Hall), Claudia’s estranged father. Earl is dying, and reckoning with a series of bad choices in his life, most predominantly abandoning his sick wife years earlier. Now all he has is a son who doesn’t speak to him, and a trophy wife, Linda (Julianne Moore), who has grown to love him, but is too caught up in her own shame and regret to tell him.

The only person who’s there to see Earl into his last days is Phil (Philip Seymour Hoffman), his nurse, and, along with Jim, the film’s moral compass. Considering how much of Hoffman’s career was devoted to playing troubled creeps and losers, it’s poignant to see him in such a role, with warmth and kindness all but emanating from his pores, particularly when you know that Anderson wrote the part with him in mind. We don’t really know much about Phil, but the fact that he offers comfort to Earl, and weeps at his impending death is what matters. Earl matters, to him at least, and, like Jim and Claudia, that’s enough.

Earl’s estranged son, Frank (Tom Cruise), is the closest thing the movie has to a villain. Frank is a motivational speaker/dating coach who says stuff like “Respect the cock, and tame the cunt,” while insecurity and sadness hangs in the air around him like bad cologne. He doesn’t seem like he really believes what he’s saying, and we see no evidence that his misogynist “dating advice” works for him. He’s just angry, and has found an easy, gullible audience in other angry men. If Magnolia was released now, he’d have a YouTube channel with a million subscribers.

Magnolia is one of the few times in Cruise’s career where he’s been genuinely great, rather than just okay. Like when he portrayed a hammy 18th century vampire, he’s taking a real risk here, playing a character who seems to have no redeeming qualities, up until perhaps the last quarter of the film. Frank’s bedside reunion with Earl is fraught with rage and sorrow — he’s come back into his father’s life, only to face losing him again, for good. Largely improvised, it’s one of Cruise’s finest onscreen moments.

Despite their connections, and the fact that they’re all within a mile of the same place, many of these characters don’t ever encounter each other. They’re all tiny ripples in each other’s ponds, becoming indirectly associated by chance. There’s a saying about how we’re all walk-on characters in the movies of other people’s lives, and that’s what Magnolia is, a series of short films that all have a thread tying them together. Sometimes the thread is so thin you can barely see it, but it’s there.

Many of the characters, without ever realizing it, have something in common — Claudia and Linda are both addicts, Frank and Claudia both refuse to use their father’s last names, Earl and Jimmy both have cancer, Jimmy and Donnie are both alcoholics. There’s even two quiz kids: Donnie, and Stanley (Jeremy Blackman), both of whom only matter to their parents when they’re winning money. The fact that Stanley’s father, near the end of the film, icily ignores Stanley’s suggestion that he needs to “be nicer” to him is sobering proof that the cycle always continues, for good or ill. Maybe Stanley will grow up to be just like Donnie, or maybe something he’ll never see coming will turn him down a different path.

While focusing so much on the bleaker aspects of it, it’s hard to remember that Magnolia is genuinely funny at times. Not fall down funny, but in that sort of bemusing way, like when you have an encounter with an eccentric stranger. Donnie has a strange, elliptical conversation with a fellow bar patron who calls himself Thurston Howell (Henry Gibson). During their sweetly clumsy first date, Jim abruptly blurts out his embarrassment and insecurity about his job, and Claudia is so impressed with his honesty that she kisses him. Jim seems a little surprised and puzzled by this. After all, he doesn’t know any other way to be.

If Magnolia doesn’t have a happy ending, per se, it at least has a hopeful one. Because like I said above, with hope there’s a reason to keep going. Every day we wake up and choose to keep moving ahead is another day for things to turn around and go our way. And if not, then maybe the next day, or the one after that. We won’t know unless we keep going.

Earl’s pain comes to an end, and though it’s a fraught reunion, he gets to see his son one more time. Jim’s missing gun reappears, having seemingly fallen out of the sky. When Linda awakens from a suicide attempt, she’ll find a most unlikely person sitting at her bedside: Frank, taking the first steps towards letting go of years of hurt and anger. We close on Claudia (appropriately, as she was the first character Anderson created, spinning everything off of her), sure she’s pushed kind, tenderhearted Jim away with all the broken, jagged parts of her. But he’s there, and he’s asking for a chance to be with her, to be the strength and steadfastness that she needs. Claudia, her teary, tired eyes telling the truth, that this life, it’s so damn hard, and so long, looks at Jim as he makes his speech. Then she look at us, and smiles. A little bit.
Title: Re: Magnolia discussion
Post by: wilberfan on December 20, 2019, 02:32:02 AM
On Location with Jared Cowan
Ep. 11: Tim Hillman at the Fox Fire Room from "Magnolia (https://soundcloud.com/onlocationpodcast/ep-11-tim-hillman-magnolia)"

For the 20th anniversary of Paul Thomas Anderson's 1999 San Fernando Valley mosaic, "Magnolia," we were "up before the dawn" to meet location manager Tim Hillman at one of the film's most recognizable shooting locations. We talk specificity of locations when working for the auteur filmmaker, Hillman's change of career in his early 30s, working on the 1991 comedy "Drop Dead Fred," and much more.
Title: Re: Magnolia discussion
Post by: wilberfan on December 20, 2019, 06:27:18 PM
Not to bump my own thread, but this Valley Boy really enjoyed this discussion with Tim.  All of PTA's Valley-based films resonate extra deeply for me having grown up here, and I've made a pilgrimage to about 97% of the BOOGIE NIGHTS locations (some based on original research), and 3 or 4 of the places used in MAGNOLIA.  (The bar, the pharmacy, the froggie gas station, the hospital....)   It was also fun to hear him good-naturedly dish about what it was like to work with Paul back in his youthfully  exuberant days.  I don't think you have to be a Location Nerd, like I am, to enjoy this, but I would encourage a listen.
Title: Re: Magnolia discussion
Post by: wilberfan on December 26, 2019, 07:49:23 PM
‘Magnolia’ at 20: Paul Thomas Anderson’s Masterpiece Still Blossoms with Pure Emotion (https://www.slashfilm.com/magnolia-revisited/)
Title: Re: Magnolia discussion
Post by: jenkins on December 26, 2019, 07:55:42 PM
Cunning Emotion
Title: Re: Magnolia discussion
Post by: wilberfan on March 04, 2020, 03:33:06 PM
The 20th Anniversary of the release of MAGNOLIA in France is this month.  Prompting this (Google Translation) of an article in "Inrocktubtibles".  (Anyone speak French?  This could use a bit of a polish in places.)

https://www.lesinrocks.com/2020/03/03/cinema/actualite-cinema/magnolia-monument-de-paul-thomas-anderson-fete-ses-20-ans/

“Magnolia”, monument to Paul Thomas Anderson, celebrates its 20th anniversary

Quote
On 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 star
When 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 Infusion
The 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.
Title: Re: Magnolia discussion
Post by: wilberfan on June 10, 2020, 11:22:34 PM
Title: Re: Magnolia discussion
Post by: Fuzzy Dunlop on June 25, 2020, 03:19:17 PM
"The Magnolia soundtrack made sweet music from a cinematic ode to Aimee Mann"
https://music.avclub.com/the-magnolia-soundtrack-made-sweet-music-from-a-cinemat-1844139288 (https://music.avclub.com/the-magnolia-soundtrack-made-sweet-music-from-a-cinemat-1844139288)

I kind of love how magnolia is becoming his most underrated movie (even to paul, maybe). Imagine making a movie like this and its your most underrated movie?? It makes me want to double down on loving it even harder.
Title: Re: Magnolia discussion
Post by: wilberfan on July 16, 2020, 09:24:49 PM
All this time, all these viewings--and I did NOT recognize Veronica Hart as "Dentist Nurse #1" in MAGNOLIA.

(https://i.imgur.com/M7yibEG.png)