What movie was that...?

22 November 2009

Magnolia

directed by Paul Thomas Anderson

Nothing says grand like Paul Thomas Anderson’s sprawling piece of Americana, Magnolia, a film about many stories that crash land into one another over the course of one day. Anderson’s films are always a rough tonic indeed, but to experience any of his masterworks is to be transformed somehow, to be affected. Certainly this is true for Punch Drunk Love and Boogie Nights, Hard Eight and his filmic gut-puncher There Will Be Blood (starring a Daniel Day Lewis so frightening that I couldn’t look him directly in the eye), and the added beauty of Magnolia is its length. Anderson sinks his teeth into us slowly, weaving us through the varied worlds of the west coast, carving out peepholes through we which we glimpse the faces of ourselves. A dying television mogul and his last request. A beat cop trying to make the world a better place. An ex quiz show kid searching for love. And I’m just scratching the surface. From the bizarre opening sequence documenting historical “coincidences” to the revelatory and surreal climax, Anderson draws you into a world as screwed up, and beautiful, as anything we could imagine, a world where things happen, whether we are ready for them or not. And when such a talented and superb cast allow everyone to steal the show equally, you really have a thing of beauty. John C Reilly gives hands down the ultimate performance of his career to date as police officer Kurring, as does Tom Cruise as Frank Mackie, self help-get-you-laid guru struggling with forgiveness. To list every actor and their stellar performance, and they are all stellar, would take too long, and it still wouldn’t do the film justice. Prepare yourself and rent it. You will be affected, just don’t expect Anderson to explain any of it (he never does commentaries, the bastard).

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