Name: Magnolia (1999)
IMDb: link to Suspicion page
Genres: Drama Country of origin: USA.
Tom Cruise as Frank TJ Mackey, Jason Robards as Earl Partridge, Julianne Moore as Linda Partridge, Philip Seymour Hoffman as Phil Parma, John C. Reilly as Jim Kurring, Henry Gibson as Thurston Howell, William H. Macy as Donnie Smith, Alfred Molina as Solomon Solomon, Philip Baker Hall as Jimmy Gator, Melora Walters as Claudia Wilson Gator, Melinda Dillon as Rose Gator, Jeremy Blackman as Stanley Spector, Michael Bowen as Rick Spector.
Directed by: Paul Thomas Anderson. Written by: Paul Thomas Anderson.
|Tom Cruise as Frank TJ Mackey|
The initial tableaux:
The film opens with voiceover describing three silent vignettes shot in sepia. Each vignette describes a situation that involves coincidences that one sees are not coincidences upon explanation.
We step forward to the actual motion picture, with no voiceover, full colour presentation, and modest camera work. There are a small number of groups of people living their lives in Los Angeles toward the end of the twentieth century.
Frank Mackey is a speaker for hire who specializes in charging lots of money to help men hone their skills at finding women willing to have sex with them. He has support staff for his presentations, and people who answer the phones for him.
Earl Partridge is busy dying. His young wife Linda is not handling it well. Male nurse Phil Parma tries his best to listen to what Earl wants as the end nears. The four dogs stay near Earl and Phil.
Jimmy Gator has a long running game show that pits three adults versus three children in a contest of depth of knowledge about anything under the sun. The star of the show is young Stanley Spector, whose depth in so many areas is marvelous. His father, however, is just demanding. Jimmy's daughter Claudia is a bit of a lost soul.
Donnie Smith was once a game show wunderkind. However, he was struck by lightning in early adulthood, and lost his mental coherence. To make things worse for Donnie, his parents absconded with his earnings and frittered the money away. He has difficulties retaining a job.
Delineation of conflicts:
Frank has a media interview which proves difficult, and which pushes him toward his past, including Earl, his biological father. Phil tries to get in touch with Frank to let him know that Earl is dying.
Jimmy tries to patch things up with Claudia and to come clean about a few issues with Rose. Jimmy also has health problems, which come out sideways on his game show. The unnatural pressure placed on Stanley causes a huge disruption in the game show, and gives Stanley some much needed courage.
Claudia goes on a drug binge after a loud screaming match with her father Jimmy. The noise she generates on her stereo prompts calls to the police by her neighbors. Jim Kurring catches the assignment from LAPD dispatch. Jim's civility and calm decency confront Claudia's seemingly limitless rage.
Donnie tries to connect with his unadvised romantic target, who is a handsome bartender at a local bar. He has no leverage, and looks incredibly stupid versus Thurston Howell, who is rich and has better success vis a vis the same target. Donnie's drunken failure sends him off to another even bigger act of desperation.
Linda's guilt from mistreating the much older Earl during their marriage sends her down the road of desperation as well. Can this be fixed?
Frank finally gets done with his interview and hears that his dying father wishes to see him. Does he make it in time?
Intervention, in the forms of the LAPD and a rain of frogs, stops and reverses some of the foolishness.
Resolution: The threads come together skillfully.
One line summary: Clever ensemble piece.
|Frogs falling from the sky|
Cinematography: 4/10 Bucket of shit. Why the hell do I have an HD monitor for this VHS crap?
Sound: 10/10 I could hear the dialog, and much of the background music was delicious.
Acting: 10/10 Fine acting by a at least ten of the fine cast coupled with skillful direction.
Screenplay: 10/10 Nicely done. The concluding actions appear a little weird at times, but not silly or preachy. The three hours and eight minutes did not drag.
Final Rating: 8/10