Reviewed By Erik Childress
Posted 02/15/00 09:47:38

"What are people missing?"
5 stars (Awesome)

Magnolia (****) Ė Respect the (blank) and tame the (blank). If you want that filled in, youíre going to have to go see Magnolia. After you see Magnolia, you might have to go see it again, just as a pinching mechanism so you can believe what you just saw. And this is another in a long line of either love-it-or-hate-it movies, so donít shoot the messenger as I try to explain why I loved it.

The director of the film, Paul Thomas Anderson, made what I believe to be one of the best films of the 90s in Boogie Nights, a movie, which has taken on a form of cult status outside of the critical acclaim. In what was only his second film, Anderson displayed the promise of a great new director, an excitement rarer than people believe. Iím tired this year of hearing the ďgreat new directorsĒ like Spike Jonze (Being John Malkovich) and the Blair Witch boys. Anderson is the real deal who can tell more with just the camera than many directors with the best words at their disposal. And he makes his new film come alive, moving it along with the speed of light. This is a three hour-plus movie that feels much shorter than The Hurricane. Aided along with an insistent music score that seems to play endlessly and some beautiful songs by Aimee Mann, Magnolia has the feel of an opera without the fat lady. Every single actor in the film gets at least one great scene to play and oneís feelings about the film will more likely rest with how interested they are in these characters, especially when some of them arenít very pleasant to be around. The vast majority of the Boogie Nights cast is back, all doing fine work, especially Melora Walters (who played Buck Swopeís pregnant wife in B.N.) in a true breakout role. All of the cast additions, including Jason Robards, are terrific, but the publicity is going, and well-deserved, to Tom Cruise who is going to not just be nominated, but win for Best Supporting Actor this year for the character that will be at the top of your discussion as you leave the theater. Just as Happiness pushed on further than Short Cuts, Magnolia races past Happiness, telling just as many stories with just as many characters that are connected not just by blood, but by similar life experiences. All set up with a brilliant opening monologue about coincindences and urban legends and culminating in the most unexpected development (which is the funniest and most original moment Iíve seen on screen all year) that can be viewed out of left field, but fits with the overall theme of the film. Magnolia is about the sins that parents can inflict on their children, whether it be physical or emotional, and the need to be loved and the want to give love to those who need it.

Magnolia is easily the bravest film of 1999. Itís mesmerizing, complex, heartbreaking, and often hilarious. Itís also one of the yearís best and if you enjoyed Boogie Nights, youíre likely to find something in Magnolia too. You might not agree with everything Iíve said. You might not agree with anything Iíve said. But you canít deny that after seeing Magnolia, you donít, at least, respect it.

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