Magnolia (1999)

MAGNOLIA presents a four-pack of believe-it-or-not tales, about a 
hanging, a forest fire, a suicide attempt, and a rainstorm.  The 
first three are covered in the film's first fifteen minutes; the 
fourth takes close to three hours to unfold and involves a double 
dozen Los Angelinos of varying ages, occupations, and interrela-
tions, and all of whom-- common thread alert!-- are either seeking 
forgiveness or are willing to grant it.  Let's see, there's a dying 
old man (Jason Robards), his frustrated (second) wife (Julianne 
Moore), his estranged son and speed-seduction (!) guru (Tom Cruise), 
the veteran game-show host that they see on TV (Philip Baker Hall, 
who played Don Hewitt in THE INSIDER), *his* estranged and coke-ad-
dicted daughter (Melora Waters), and the average, honest cop that's 
attracted to her (John C. Reilly).  And others.  *Plenty* of others.
Most of the roles are meaty as all get-out and writer/director Paul 
Thomas Anderson (the overrated BOOGIE NIGHTS) puts the characters 
through a non-stop (and often oppressively scored) series of drama-
tic acrobatics.  There are confessions and confrontations and staged 
tirades and long periods of loud silence.  The actors act their 
hearts out, most notably Mr. Cruise, who has the showiest role.  
And, for the most part, the camera work is equally as intense.  (You 
name the Scorsese-influenced shot and it's here!)  Too bad it's too 
long.  And packed too tightly with too many tertiary characters.  
Another major distraction is the music, both Jon Brion's sledgeham-
mer score and Aimee Mann's folksy tunes, one of which the director 
each character sing along with!  Huh?  Bottom line, for those wil-
ling to take the plunge:  sometimes its interesting.  Sometimes it's 
affecting.  And sometimes, well, if feels like a training film for 
actors.  "Respect the c***."  With William H. Macy, Philip Seymour 
Hoffman, Jeremy Blackman, and Melinda Dillon.  (Rated "R"/188 min.)

Grade: C+

Copyright 2000 Michael J. Legeros
Movie Hell is a trademark of Michael J. Legeros

Originally posted to triangle.movies as MOVIE HELL: Large, Showy White, Pink, Purple, or Yellow Flowers

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