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Magnolia
BLU-RAY disk
02.01.2010 By: J.A. Hamilton
Magnolia order download
Director:
Paul Thomas Anderson

Actors:
Tom Cruise
William H. Macey
John C. Reilly

Rating:
Movie:
Extras:
Overall:

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WHAT'S IT ABOUT?
Several individual characters (some connected, others not) question themselves and their search for love, happiness and forgiveness as life (and the past) takes them down the road less traveled.
IS IT A GOOD MOVIE?
I’ve mentioned before how sometimes movies can have an impact on the way we see things or live our lives, and MAGNOLIA is one such film. There’s a lot going on here in a “if a tree falls in the middle of the woods” or “everything happens for a reason” sort of way. This isn’t one of those films you sit avidly through, mindlessly shoveling popcorn into your mouth, quite the opposite in fact. This is a thought provoking piece of modern brilliance that requires multiple sittings to take it all in. Personally, I’m all for films like this one and enjoyed myself quite a bit.

The story plays out as a “ménage a many” with interweaving tales featuring a spicy set of characters that unfold in a CRASH-like fashion. Now I used CRASH merely as a way to describe the style, but rest assured not all characters cross paths with one another or even end up with a happy ending. That’s where I dig this flick the most, as these characters are hauntingly accurate when it comes to portraying everyday people lost in the grind and I couldn’t help but sympathize with just about all of them. Some stories are better than others of course, but all in all they work well within this three hour window.

The cast are on fire here; William H. Macy, Julianne Moore, John C. Reilly, Phillip Seymour Hoffman and of course the man himself, Tom Cruise. The real treat is catching these fine actors and actresses in roles unlike their norm (Macy and Reilly especially). Tom Cruise was by far my favorite as the womanizing tamer of the…well, you know the rest. His passion here is intense and the character as brilliant as he is sympathetic. My favorite line of the film come from Cruise as he stares menacingly at the chick interviewing him and says, “I’m silently judging you.” Gold.

MAGNOLIA is a wonderfully crafted story and a total home run for Paul Thomas Anderson. Films like this one don’t come along so often anymore, though not to say people aren’t trying to clone them. I’m still not a hundred percent sold on the frogs, not that I’m a religious kind of guy, but If I saw frogs raining down from the sky I’d be thinking Armageddon was upon us. I appreciate a film like this so much more when the actors are giving their A game and trust me they are. This won’t be for everyone and may actually offend people when it comes to the concept of religion vs. freedom of choice. It’s hard to sell the idea that everything happens for a reason and there are no coincidences in life if you’re one those people (like me) who thinks we choose our own fates by way of the decisions we make.
THE EXTRAS
Behind the Story: We get a diary of all the key scenes with a few extra tidbits thrown in, a clip from the film of the T.J. Mackey seminar and of course Tom’s infomercial, all of which are taken from the movie. Sadly, there’s nothing really new here.

Music Video: Aimee Mann’s music video for the song “Save Me”. No, it’s not the theme song from SMALLVILLE.

Trailers and TV Spots: There’s a theatrical teaser and trailer for the film as well as a handful of TV spots. I had no idea there were so many different TV commercials for this flick. There’s also some online content if you can connect to the internet.
FINAL DIAGNOSIS
Three hours can be a long haul for anyone, especially when you’re hungry for action. If you have the patience to swap action for intrigue and drama you’ll have it made here as this is a hefty helping of both. I’m all for thinking movies and this one will have questioning a good many things.

Extra Tidbit: I would LOVE to attend a Frank T.J. Mackey conference; I think Tom missed his true calling in life.
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