In the bracing cinema of — perhaps the best year ever for intelligent American studio films — screens were filled with strangeness.
A plastic bag flitted in the wind with great artistry in American Beautyand a self-involved middle-aged man showed tenderness to the half-naked teenager trying to seduce him. Three Kings stirred moral awakening into a mix of war and treasure-hunt motifs with subtle grace and great humor.
The bravura Fight Club took incendiary if juvenile politics and a masterfully set-up twist and turned them into a nightmarish, funny screed against consumerism, cults, cleanliness, self-help movements, and terrorism. It is afraid of neither elaborate tracking shots nor a good, fairly won cry.
Film critics were torn about Magnoliagenerally awed by its audacity and its technical and narrative sophistication but hesitant to fully endorse it. For many, the movie seemed hamstrung by some irreconcilable contradictions: Number two is troubling for several reasons. Second, distilling a complex work to one sentence is glib and unfair. The third nearly universal comment on Magnolia is even more puzzling. The film Oleanna David Mamet Essays from its first frame to its last, with every major story reaching a logical conclusion and Oleanna David Mamet Essays one questionable stray thread — visit web page a young rapper this web page a man who shoots at a cop.
If the train-wreck metaphor is appropriate, it is grandly misused: Magnolia is about a train Oleanna David Mamet Essays, not one itself. Beyond these questionable pronouncements from critics, few arbiters wrote anything interesting about Magnolia. Their final judgments seemed functions of what they paid attention to in their reviews — the three ironic stories of the prologue, a sing-along, a rain of frogs, the number of characters and their obvious connections to each other.
What critics and perhaps audiences missed was that Magnolia fulfills its ambitions as a resonant, narratively dense, and thematically rich work of cinema planned and executed with grace, style, and economy.
Its meanings will be different for different viewers, but this movie needs to be rescued from ill-considered critical muggings, even if some pundits were gushing. The stories are intercut and unfold linearly. A number of characters are already in the midst of crises as the film begins, afflicted with terminal illnesses or on the brink of emotional breakdowns. Other characters over the course of the movie will be forced to struggle with their own challenges and adversaries, present and past, present and absent.
And a pair of sweet, decent people — a cop and a nurse — will struggle but ultimately guide others, helping them to better places. It will be an eventful day. One man will die. His wife will overdose. A boy will embarrass himself on a popular game show. His wife will leave him to comfort their daughter. The daughter will try to sabotage a potential romance with the cop, who will be full of shame on their date for having lost his gun. And a former boy genius will try to burgle the office of his former employer, only to be steered right by the cop.
Several major storylines converge, and all the strands come together at two crucial points late in the movie, in a quiet moment of reflection and song, and as a fury of frogs is unleashed from the sky. In scope and form, Magnolia is trodding no virgin territory.
The most basic descriptions of Magnolia — its length, its Oleanna David Mamet Essays cast of characters, the barest outline of its many plots, even its apocalyptic climax — suggest similarities to the work of Robert Altman, particularly Short Cuts. Altman is often accused of being misanthropic, but a better term would be clinical.
Magnolia avoids this trap first by putting its characters in full-bore breakdown mode. They still speak around their meanings, but they are so desperate and in such pain that they are naked and unable to cover Oleanna David Mamet Essays.
Perhaps even more importantly, Anderson seems to be working from the inside, and from a place of affection. It would be easy to make fun of the cop and hate the game-show host in a different movie, but Anderson seems to invest his love into them; he has not only seen these characters, but he understands them in a way Altman did not in Short Cuts. A larger difference between Short Cuts and Magnolia is the structural texture. Yet Short Cuts is actually much more arbitrary in its structure, and frequently ambles link as aimlessly as its characters.
The illusion of chaos is never broken, even when you come to understand how deeply controlled and thought-out the film is. Magnolia is packed with commentary and references to filmmaking, storytelling, popular culture, and the movie itself.
The sharp words in muted conversations that filled Hard Eight prove Anderson capable of smart, tight, clipped, and elliptical writing. Magnolia is written and filmed in a style that could Oleanna David Mamet Essays called hyper-realism: Their existences are distilled to this pitched level of pain and suffering and agony.
There is nothing but crisis and movement. Most well-regarded, intelligent films are filled with epiphanic dialogue — literate, poetic, and eloquent.
But this type of conversation — taken to an extreme, the kind that David Mamet writes — pushes the audience away from the characters, rendering them specimens.
The realism grounds the audience in the characters as the movie hurtles go here. But its application results in works that operate in a constructed literary sphere divorced from reality and the way people really Oleanna David Mamet Essays.
The language of film — and it is a beautiful language — is subtle, textured, and rich. Yet it is also a grand contrivance. Filmed scripts bring words to life and put sounds in the mouths of characters, but those words have been labored over, pared down, and loaded with meaning.
Magnolia is a skillful blend of both melodrama chance things inflicted upon the characters without an origin in their behavior — such as cancer and frogs and drama situations that arise because of what the characters have done. A cousin to magical realism, hyper-realism Oleanna David Mamet Essays reality while flouting it.
All these characters are real, yet they live in a world not much like our own. The real magic, though, is the alchemy of mixing these two sides of Paul Thomas Anderson, and the amazing growth he showed between his first two pictures and the third. Hard Eight was wokshopped at the Sundance Institute, and it shows. The dialogue is pared down, mannered, and oblique to the point that meaning is frequently lost.
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Anderson, clearly in the thrall of Mamet, in that way renders his four major characters ciphers, inscrutable — or perhaps simply presented in ways that make scrutiny fruitless. Everything about the movie is dense, compact, and closed, from its visual style to the clipped acting. The movie cuts away from the story just as it was getting to the most important part. Boogie Nights is almost the polar opposite of Hard Eighta sprawling, scattered, self-satisfied, and masturbatory exercise.
It is in many ways Oleanna David Mamet Essays perfect antidote to the overbearing gravity of Hard Eightand it was engaging, diverting, and often funny. The sight of the wonderful John C. Macy, Don Cheadle, Burt Reynoldsand plot-moving people and events. Boogie Nights is all about the director — Look what I can do! The writing, however flawed, is king in Hard Eightthe direction servile.
The first film helped Anderson master smart, snappy dialogue, while the sophomore effort gave the filmmaker experience working within a panorama and juggling its many elements. A movie should not be judged by its trailer, for sure. But there are rare occasions when thousands of feet of film visit web page to a minute or a few of them should be considered carefully.
More importantly, they perfectly mimic the narrative building blocks on which the movie succeeds or fails, depending on your point of view. The second teaser borrows its structure from the movie: Those who loved this one minute of film probably loved the whole movie, and those scratching their heads were wise to avoid it. In spite of its shortness, this trailer contains a large amount of information.
Earl Partridge is quite Oleanna David Mamet Essays ill, Claudia Wilson Gator is clearly damaged, and Stanley Spector glares, to cite three examples.
The audience knows more about the characters from these seconds-long glimpses than they do about the major players in most movies when the closing credits roll.
The statement is freeing, too, giving cynical viewers the license to give themselves over to the narrative. The longer trailer does many of the same things as the shorter version — it even contains one continuous, blurred swish pan featuring the character introductions of the teaser — but expands on them. Reilly underscores this in his voice-over: Sometimes people need to be forgiven.
This trailer arguably has three storytellers: Paul Thomas Anderson the writer and directorJay who plays a Oleanna David Mamet Essays in the movie but whose narrator is not that person, and whose narrator is distinct from Andersonand Kurring a character. The movie itself adds to these elements characters who tell stories, some clearly fabrications and others most likely but unprovably true. And, in the end, Magnolia hinges on the narratives people weave. Each of these characters has a story to tell.
Posted by Culture Snob on Monday, September 8, The Drunken Click here Track. The Cult of Wesley. Bookmark and share this entry. Thank you thank you, for giving voice to why I cannot understand how any one could not feel this movie is an amazing success, I look forward to when finished. Magnolia is easily one of my favorite movies so naturally enjoying this essay quite a lot so far.
I visit web page that your comments here are right on the mark. First of all, as you wrote; summarizing a movie to a single sentence is indeed unfair.
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Any movie that he himself has praised could recieve the here treatment and would look just as banal. Denby is trying to reduce the film to one sentence. I feel that his point is actually quite weak.
Magnolia is about so much more than what Denby wants to summarize in a sentence. Not only that but Magnolia, I feel, also works as a statement about how we live our lives attempting to hide our deepest pains.
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It is about those moments when we lose our defenses and are forced to deal with our problems. And there is nothing truly banal about that.