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In the "New York Herald ..."
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November 26, year 1911 ...
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there is an account of the
hanging of three men.
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They died for the murder
of Sir Edmund William Godfrey ...
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husband, father, pharmacist ...
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mag*no*li*a - a tree with large, fragrant flowers of white, pink, or purple
10/10 A serious wake up call to the land of cinema has arrived with the incredible film MAGNOLIA. Human pain and suffering, as well as the ability to avoid making familiar mistakes, are hypnotically explored in P.T. Anderson's intricate motion picture. This is the best movie I've seen in over a year and hopefully will set a new example of realistic cinema depicting real human loss and tragedy. You grow and suffer with each and every character in this huge ensemble movie.2 years ago
MAGNOLIA is indeed a sort of tree with varying branches of people, situations, and irony. To get into any plot aspects would be absurd. This is a 3 hour film that flies by so fast, you want more. You won't like every character, but you will find every character extremely interesting. I've rarely ever seen such deep character portraits in a major motion picture. The title makes much sense after witnessing such vibrant, different colors of the human spirit.
P.T. Anderson has arrived, especially after BOOGIE NIGHTS, which he parallels with this effort. His prior film had many of the same human aspects of right and wrong, life and death, but were guised by the porn industry. This guy just explodes with presence and energy, swallowing us with the events on screen. His camera roves everywhere and does not miss a beat. It takes place over a 24 hour period with roughly 12 major players whose lives interlock in multiple degrees of seriousness and sadness. Some begin sad and end hopeful, but these are the few and the lucky ones in this picture.
The standouts of the huge cast in particular were Julianne Moore as the shattered wife of TV mogul "Earl Partridge" (Jason Robards), existing now only to watch him die before her eyes of cancer. She is one of the unlucky ones, a character who made so many mistakes that she cannot do over. Philip Baker Hall is great as the host of "What Do Kids Know?" a game show with a truly engrossing side-plot. Hall is also dying and may have done irreparable damage to all around him.
John C. Reilly is the centerpiece of this extraordinary film. His cop character is the moral middle at the center of some nasty events. He is also the most likable character because he knows how to treat people, unlike most of the others. He sees how mistakes can't always be made up for. I must also mention Tom Cruise in a career altering performance that took some courage to do. He is completely original, yet not the end all and be all of a film for once.
This particular day, as captured and presented by writer-director Anderson, has had a profound effect on me. If you see it, you may know what I mean. Some scars last forever in this life and we all suffer and feel pain equally. MAGNOLIA is like FIVE EASY PIECES on speed. We see numerous people just trying to get along under some extreme circumstances in a labyrinth method, much like the structure of the film's title.
Even liked the frogs
10/10 "Magnolia" is a film of great passion, wonderful directorial virtuosity and stunning acting. In an age when filmmakers are afraid to make films that are actually about something. P.T. Anderson made a film that is about the most important thing: simply living day to day with all the tragedies and frustrations that can happen in our lives. That he does it with an incredible energy and spirit and passion makes the film even more powerful.2 years ago
I got the feeling all throughout "Magnolia" that directory P.T. Anderson really loves his characters. As the camera moves over each of the characters, allowing us to see their lives, there's a constant feeling that we are seeing the characters souls laid bare on film. When we see Quiz Kid Donnie Smith in a bar ogling the bartender he loves, so much of the character is conveyed in one or two small gestures by actor William H. Macy. In five seconds Macy has conveyed the whole inner life of this character who we then see for three more hours. It's a spectacular moment in a film that is filled with spectacular moments. We seem to see Donnie Smith's soul in that moment. And the film is filled with scenes like that.
This film is over three hours long, but every scene fits well in the movie. It's hard to imagine anything being cut, as every scene adds depth and feeling, not to mention the back story for each of the characters. I was entranced all the way through this movie; I never noticed the time at all.
This film has haunted me since I first saw it. I kept thinking about quiz kid Stanley Spector just wanting to go to the bathroom, and the haunting soliloquy by Jason Robards on his death bed, and Tom Cruise shifting uncomfortably as he was interviewed. So many amazing characters, so many amazing performances. And yes, I did think about the frogs. Unlike most people, I liked the frogs. It leant a magical realist moment to a realistic film, and symbolically acted as a kid of purification for the painful lives of the characters. Anderson included the frogs for a reason, and they fit his concept of the film brilliantly.
This is one of the best movies I've seen in years. I'd give it a 10. It's the kind of film that only comes around once every few years.
I have never before spent so much time analyzing, discussing, or viewing a film...
10/10 And it is a FILM. It is no ordinary movie. As a fan of Boogie Nights, I couldn't wait for Magnolia. Although its running time has made at least 20 people leave the auditorium, I have stayed for every single second. The mood and stories and characters keep building and building and building, and when it finally comes down, I feel this immense sense of relief and wonder at how PT Anderson was able to come up with something so clever and intertwining and wonderous, and was able to pull it off. This "movie" is not for everyone. It is thinking-hat required. I have also never been so excited to look up Bible verses before. The cast, as you have probably read, is superb. I have never been so impressed. This film has "restored my faith in the filmmaking industry. To see these actors, crew, and the writer/director/genius at work is inspiring." These people obviously love their craft, and one of my friends even said that the cast was "touched by the hands of God..." to which I whole-heartedly agree. He also has said, ""This film not only teaches film makers how to make films, but it teaches movie watchers how to watch movies!" to which I again whole-heartedly agree a thousand times over. Phillip Seymour Hoffman is absolutely outstanding as the only character who is "normal." His performance has made me smile and shake my fist in the air the three times I've seen Magnolia since it opened. Tom Cruise is also spectacular. As with every single last character, every line he utters is important to his character and what it means for the rest of the stories. Another outstanding performance/character is the part of police officer Jim Kurring, played by John C. Reilly. His character is just so perfect and JUST SOOOOO PERFECT that it makes me smile every time he is on screen. Add to all of this one incredible soundtrack, and you have something that will go down in film history as legend and probably one of the most underappreciated, misunderstood, and definitely underseen films of all time.2 years ago
The soundtrack, oh, the soundtrack. When listening to the songs, I can picture each exact moment as if I was watching the movie all over again, and it brings unexplainable feeling. Aimee Mann's songs, especially, are a perfect fit to a perfect story and mood. This film is not for everyone, but, if you want to see glorious filmmaking, acting, writing, and characters in action, I HIGHLY suggest you see Magnolia.
Best film of 1999
10/10 Magnolia is a film of epic proportions. A film that is our generation's. It's about real life, real people and real coincidences. These things happen, this is happening as Stanley Spector states. Magnolia is as perfect a film as you will see these days. P.T.'s camera acts as the protagonist, and the ensemble cast is one of the most solid in film history. Told in 24 hours, set up by a remarkable prologue and finished with a beautiful epilogue, Magnolia finds beauty in the darkness of life. In the redemption of the filth life sometimes brings us. It shows us that we are all connected through pain and suffering and sinning and yet, it does not give us this pessimistic view. Certain films cannot be described, they must be viewed and everyone should view this masterpiece!!!2 years ago
often brilliant, occasionally forced film
5/10 `Magnolia' seems to divide audiences as much as it bewilders them. Some there are who see it as a brilliant exercise in creative, thought-provoking moviemaking, a film that challenges the notion that modern American cinema is comprised exclusively of formulaic retreads of earlier films or slick, mechanical displays of technical virtuosity, devoid of meaning and feeling. Others view `Magnolia' as the nom plus ultra of pretentiousness and self-satisfied smugness. Which of the two assessments is the correct one or does the truth lie somewhere in between?2 years ago
Actually, there is much to admire and cherish in `Magnolia.' Writer/director Paul Thomas Anderson has done a commendable job in putting on the screen a relatively unique vision a qualification I feel forced to make because it does seem patently derived from much of the trailblazing work of director Robert Altman. Like Altman, Anderson creates a vast canvas of barely-related and briefly overlapping storylines and characters that come together under the umbrella of a single major theme and a few minor ones as well. Anderson's concern is to explore the concept of forgiveness and to examine the part it plays in the redemption we all seek through the course of our lifetimes. In this film, dying characters struggle to make amends with the loved ones they will soon leave behind, while estranged characters grope tentatively to establish or re-establish the bonds that must link them to other members of the human race. Anderson presents a tremendously wide range of characters, though for a film set in the northern areas of Los Angeles, `Magnolia' provides a surprisingly non-diverse sea of Caucasian faces. However, in terms of the ages of the characters, Anderson's crew seems more comprehensive, running the gamut from a pre-teen wiz kid to a terminally ill man in his mid-60's. Many of these characters seem to have created any number of facades to help them cope with the miseries and disappointments of life and much of the redemption occurs only after those masks are stripped away revealing the emptiness and hurt that, in many cases, lurks so close to the surface.
Thematically, then, Anderson's film is a compelling one. Dramatically, however, it suffers from some serious flaws. Many viewers and critics have called `Magnolia' an artistic advancement, in both depth and scope, for Anderson, whose previous film was the similarly dense, moderately freeform `Boogie Nights.' I tend to disagree. If anything, `Boogie Nights,' by limiting itself to a much more narrowly restricted milieu the 1970's porn industry and focusing intently on a single main character, managed to connect more directly with the emotions of the audience. `Magnolia,' by being more expansive, paradoxically, seems more contracted. The pacing is often languid and the screenplay, running a bit over three hours, often seems bloated given the single-mindedness of its basic theme. Certainly, a few of these characters and storylines could have been dispensed with at no great cost to the film as a whole. By lining up all his characters to fit into the same general theme, the author allows his message to become a bit heavy-handed and over-emphatic. Anderson seems to want to capture the whole range of human experience on his enormous (and enormously long) movie canvas, yet because the characters seem to all be tending in the same direction - and despite the fact that the details of their experiences are different - the net effect is thematically claustrophobic.
The controversial ending, in which an event of literally biblical proportions occurs, feels generally right in the context of this film, though with some reservations. It seems perfectly in tune with the quality of heightened realism that Anderson establishes and sustains throughout the picture. On the other hand, the ending does pinpoint one of the failures of the film as a whole. Given that the screenplay has a strong Judeo-Christian subtext running all the way through it, one wonders why Anderson felt obliged to approach the religious issues in such strictly oblique terms. None of the characters not even those who are dying seem to turn to God for their forgiveness and redemption. In fact, one wonders what purpose that quirky ending serves since the characters are well on their way to making amends by the time it happens.
Anderson has marshaled an array of first-rate performances from a talented, well-known cast. Tom Cruise provides a wrenching case study of a shallow, charismatic shyster, who has parleyed his misogyny into a lucrative self-help industry. Yet, like many of the characters, he uses this facade as a shield to hide the hurt caused by a father who abandoned him and a mother whose slow, painful death he was forced to witness alone. The other actors, too numerous to mention, turn in equally worthy performances. Particularly interesting is the young boy who, in counterpoint to one of the other characters in the story, manages to save himself at an early age from the crippling effect of identity usurpation that it has taken so many others in this film a lifetime to overcome.
In many ways, `Magnolia' is the kind of film that could easily serve as the basis for a lengthy doctoral dissertation for a student majoring in either filmmaking or sociology. The density of its vision would surely yield up many riches of character, symbolism and theme that a first time viewer of the film would undoubtedly miss. Thus, in many ways, `Magnolia' is that rare film that seems to demand repeat exposure even for those audience members who may not `get it' the first time. As a viewing experience, `Magnolia' often seems rambling and purposeless, but it does manage to get under one's skin, and, unlike so many other, less ambitious works, this one grows in retrospect.