Monday, June 28, 2010

Magnolia (1999)

I'm a bit behind on the times with Magnolia, I know, but it's simply one of those films I never got around to. When I began watching at 12:45am on a Monday night, I had no idea that it was over three hours long. Happily, I didn't realize this until almost three hours had gone by, perhaps the strongest indicator that Magnolia was engaging start to finish. When I got to the infamous raining frogs scene, I thought "Oh, this is the movie where it rains frogs." Because it was P.T. Anderson, this little quirk didn't upset me in the slightest.

P.T. Anderson is a character man and for that I give him a great deal of credit. His commitment to constructing characters that are interesting and layered makes him a storyteller I can trust. While I've loved some of his films more than others (There Will Be Blood is one my absolute favorite films), I'm always interested to see what tales he's going to spin.

Again, I'm nowhere near the first to point this out, but Tom Cruise was fantastic. I was blown away - mostly because I had never seen him not be Tom Cruisey. That charming cocky man-child he does so well is ridiculously endearing and I've never minded it. Jerry Maguire and Top Gun stand on that persona. But it led me to believe he couldn't do anything else. Magnolia proved otherwise. His character was the best thing about the film. He was unlike any character I've seen before. He reminded me of no one and yet seemed completely real. I was truly amazed. It's difficult for actors of his sparkley celebrity status to disappear behind a role regardless of their skill level. Once they reach that superstardom peek, they're hired to be who they are - who we already love. Will Smith is always Will Smith and Angelina Jolie is always Angelina Jolie. Again, I'm not saying that's a bad thing. People go to movies to see them be them. But Tom Cruise was not Tom Cruise in Magnolia. He deserves an equal share of credit to P.T. Anderson for creating such a unique personage. I wish he'd get hired to be less Tom Cruisey more often (are you listening makers of Knight and Day?)

Philip Seymour Hoffman was brilliant (as usual) and John C. Reilly was brilliant (as usual) and William H. Macy was brilliant (as usual). Clearly casting had their thinking caps on and I'm willing to bet talent flocks to a P.T. Anderson film like fangirls to vampires. I was both pleased and unsurprised by the quality of the film.

I'm not really saying anything new here, so I'll stop. Suffice it to say this movie was a P.T. Anderson movie and that's about that.

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