Thursday, June 12, 2008

archive -- Magnolia

Directed by PT Anderson
Starring William Macy, Tom Cruise, Philip Baker Hall.

"How come there's no 10 o'clock show?"
"The movie is 3 1/2 hours long sir."
So I sat in the front row so I could stretch my legs.

The movie opens "Bond style", a few minutes of action, then credits, then into the film proper.
The few minutes of action were 3 short "films", all shot in wildly different styles.

After the credits the camera began throwing images at us as the narrator continued. He stopped. The camera
did not. After about twenty minutes of the camera pouring information straight into my hind brain I leaned to my partner and said,
"if he can keep up this pace for 3 hours I'm going to pop." It was like a moving "Run Lola Run" jag.

Of course it is not all that fast, and we soon settle into solid story(ies)telling. Multiple characters, same general location, same day.
Variable weather titles break the action up into chapters, or movements. We've seen similar technique, "Go", "Pulp Fiction", "Happiness".

Well, this is the film "Happiness" should have been, and is just as ambitious. Sure, we all have the scenes we'd like to trim out, but who are we?
I had written some painters a while back about the size of their canvas. Cristo is the only one who responded, with the point that if I was orbiting the planet his scale would seem just right.

Our themes here? Guilt, regret, forgiveness, aging. Why would a young, charismatic guy develop a mysogynistic self help system called Seduce and Destroy? What sends a man into that kind of rage?

"It's in my bones, I'm fucked. "

"It is dangerous to confuse children with angels."

These people careen through the day mindless of the connections, watching a quiz show developed by a dying old man, hosted by a dying man, turning parents into monsters and kids into freaks and in the end we slip the shoes on and pull the strings taut and who would have guessed how well they fit?

Great cast, worked well together. Some of the "notes" of this symphony seemed more phony than symphonic, which hurt the film, like Spike Lee's hammy acting in Summer of Sam. Sure, they pulled you out of the frame, but there was way too much greatness there, and in this film, to make it fatal.

Have an early supper, catch this film. Spend a few days looking inward at the heart of darkness, stare the beast down.
Oh yeah, buy the soundtrack!

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