Magnolia

Paul R. Potts

This is one of the few films that I’ve actually purchased on video, watched multiple times, and shown to friends. The reactions are mixed, but it always, at the very least, triggers a great discussion. My opinion of the film now is that it is very beautiful, very interesting, somewhat flawed, but with some great, great moments. Philip Seymour Hoffman, may he rest in peace, was fantastic in this movie.


My friend Alan and I went to see the film Magnolia yesterday.

It runs something like 3 hours and 15 minutes, making it one of the longest mainstream feature films I’ve ever seen.

It is, no doubt about it, a very interesting film. I am still not quite sure what I think about it. I think most people will have this reaction. However, the very fact that it lends itself to a lot of pondering makes it better than 99% of the films being churned out.

My biggest compliment towards the acting in this film is that for almost the entire movie, you are not reminded that there is actually any acting going on. It seems instead like you have been given the opportunity for a kind of voyeurism, watching a whole bunch of segments of very troubled people.

There is a framework and overarching theme, but it is a bit of a stretch, and a not-entirely-convincing fit to the content. This makes it more interesting rather than less, because it encourages you to think for yourself about whether you agree or disagree.

If you are interested in seeing it, I highly recommend that you not see it on video. Go see it on a big screen. The director makes real use of the widescreen format and surround sound. For example, there is a great scene where Tom Cruise and Jason Robards are together on the right half of the screen, and a male nurse character is watching them, out of focus, at a nervous distance, on the extreme left side of the screen. This would be completely screwed up without the original aspect ratio.


People are going to have very individual reactions to this film. To illustrate, here are some snippets from online reviewers:

Ann Arbor, Michigan
January 2000

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