Saturday, May 21, 2016

936. Magnolia

Directed by Paul Thomas Anderson

Today (meaning May 13th) is the day of my next surgery.  I am scheduled to go in at 10:45 am.  I was hoping to wake up rather late and not have to wait around very long.  Right now it is 8:26 am.  Oh well.  The best laid least I have time to talk about one of the most pretentious films of all time.

Basically, this film follows in the footsteps of Short Cuts, in that we follow the stories of a plethora of characters for way too long of a running time (I enjoyed Short Cuts a lot more).  I suppose I will describe some of the more interesting characters.  Police officer Jim Kurring becomes attracted to Claudia who, unbeknownst to Jim, is a coke head.  Claudia's father is Jimmy Gator (apparently Anderson had trouble thinking of more than one male name) who hosts a quiz show called What Do Kids Know?  Jimmy is dying of cancer.  Coincidentally, so is the show's former producer, Earl Partridge.  Earl's son is a sleazy pick up artist/motivational speaker for men.  I am glad white straight guys have finally found a champion.

So there are a bunch of other characters, but honestly don't have the energy to describe everyone.  The first time I tried to watch this movie, I stopped as soon as Tom Cruise's character came on the screen.  When I realized I would have to eventually finish this film to complete this project, I put it off as long as possible.  Where does all this seething hatred come from?

Well, for one thing, none of these characters seem real to me.  Unusual characters can be interesting, but none of these people seemed believable to me.  I won't give away any spoilers, but I could not fathom the motivations of Jim Kurring, Donnie Smith, Jimmy Gator, or Linda Partridge.  I don't necessarily have to relate to every character I see on screen, but I need to at least understand where they are coming from.  And then of course....the frogs.  So was God supposed to be punishing these characters like he supposedly punished the Egyptians?  As far as punishments go, it is fairly abstract.  Wasn't this plague sent down because the Pharaoh was enslaving an entire population?  I mean, the characters in Magnolia were pretty much assholes but I still don't think it is comparable.

Maybe there wasn't a biblical connection at all.  Maybe the frogs came down for another even more pretentious reason.  In any case, I am glad this film is behind me.

RATING: **---

Interesting Facts:

Fiona Apple created many of the paintings seen in the film.  Well, that's one good thing about this movie at least.

Paul Thomas Anderson has admitted that the film is too long.


  1. You reach a stage in life where you have a choice. You can either become one of those bitter old people who takes umbrage and offence at everything or you can come to see that most bad things are done out of honest or at least misguided intentions.

    And so I'm inclined to think that at least this film was born from good ideas and visions. Had it worked, we'd be calling it a masterpiece, not accusing it of pretentiousness. But, of course, most of it doesn't work, does it?

    1. I think everyone working on this thought they were creating a masterpiece. I think if they had lowered their sights a little bit, it could have been better.

  2. Possibly very true