Two Tape Glory of Magnolia

It took a week, but I have rewatched Magnolia (1999), one of my all-time favorite movies.

It wasn't because it was too long or over-dramatic (two of the critiques on wikipedia... and the director...) but my old DVD crapped out with less than an hour to go in the over three hour movie and I had to buy a new blu-ray. It's a movie I have seen several times since I was in college in the early 2000's but it must have been a couple of years since I last saw it. Because it's so long and there are so many characters there were several parts to the movie I had completely forgotten and was surprised to see where the story went in the final act.

There is one oversight that I've never felt was especially clear in the movie. It's a movie about coincidental connections, relationships between people being coincidental and a little semi-magical interference, but it isn't especially clear in the movie how everyone is connected. There are two groups of people. The people based around the quiz show host and the people around the dying man. There is only one connection mentioned between the two groups that I notice and it's that they mention the old man's name mostly when trying to hunt down his son, and at the end of the quiz show we see the credits and he is credited as the executive producer or creator of the show. It's very quick and you have to have picked up on the specific name of that character before that point to notice it. I think it could have been a little more heavy handed that he is the architect of the quiz show at the middle of the movie.

This was a movie that I didn't know existed when it came out. I was in high school and I think the only ads I saw for it showcased Tom Cruise who I was not a big fan of at the time. Later, I remember seeing at a friend's house that his parents or older sister had bought a two tape box of this movie I had never heard of before. I don't know why, but I borrowed it and watched it on my own, probably in my dorm room, and my mind was blown in the first few minutes of the strange stories that open the film.

It's a favorite movie and there's always something else to see on each viewing. It took a few viewings for me to focus on Philip Seymour Hoffman and how he carries off an amazing performance in what could seem like a smaller part. He's always there with the dying man, and is sometimes lingering in the background, but it's never chewing on scenery.

This might be my favorite Paul Thomas Anderson movie although I really like everything he's directed with the odd exception of The Master. I felt like I was going to like The Master but it seemed to drag along and for no good reason I had trouble looking at Juaquin Phoenix's face and it felt like there were too many close ups on the giant theater screen that I watched it. I felt like that was an unfair take on the movie at the time, but I still don't have a desire to sit through it again.

Letterboxd review.

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