A teacher lives a lonely life, all the while struggling over his son's custody. His life slowly gets better as he finds love and receives good news from his son, but his new luck is about to be brutally shattered by an innocent little lie.
Thomas Bo Larsen,
24 hours in L.A.; it's raining cats and dogs. Two parallel and intercut stories dramatize men about to die: both are estranged from a grown child, both want to make contact, and neither child wants anything to do with dad. Earl Partridge's son is a charismatic misogynist; Jimmy Gator's daughter is a cokehead and waif. A mild and caring nurse intercedes for Earl, reaching the son; a prayerful and upright beat cop meets the daughter, is attracted to her, and leads her toward a new calm. Meanwhile, guilt consumes Earl's young wife, while two whiz kids, one grown and a loser and the other young and pressured, face their situations. The weather, too, is quirky. Written by
Paul Thomas Anderson:
Anderson is seen immediately after the start of the show "What Do Kids Know?" confiscating from a member of the audience an "Exodus 8:2" sign. See more »
The movie takes place when it is cold outside (we can see this from the clothes that the characters wear and from the visible exhaust from cars), yet the Partridge's pool is uncovered when the frogs fall. Assuming the pool is heated, this wastes energy, but is not impossible in a climate where the temperature does not approach freezing. See more »
In the New York Herald, November 26, year 1911, there is an account of the hanging of three men. They died for the murder of Sir Edmund William Godfrey; Husband, Father, Pharmacist and all around gentle-man resident of: Greenberry Hill, London. He was murdered by three vagrants whose motive was simple robbery. They were identified as: Joseph Green, Stanley Berry, and Daniel Hill. Green, Berry, Hill. And I Would Like To Think This was Only A Matter Of Chance. As reported in the Reno...
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As the credit for Robert Downey Sr. scrolls up the screen, the words "(a prince)" appear next to his name. See more »
A dazzling epic of coincidence and fate during one day in the San Fernando Valley. This opens with a short story about some "true-life" examples of coincidence designed to show us that these things can't "just happen" and that there must be more to it than that. It then flies into the lives of a handful of different characters in a exhilarating introduction to a game show host, a sex guru, a police officer, a dying father, a male nurse, a drug addict to name a few. After this the speed slows down slightly and the characters are given time to develop and the stories begin to interlink.
Paul Thomas Anderson continues to get better and better with Hard Eight, Boogie Nights and now this. Here he gives a human touch to the director where someone like Altman would have been colder and more clinical. He seems to care about these characters and encourages us to do likewise. The direction is astonishing - it moves at a fast pace when it needs to, it is still and watching when appropriate and, at times, it is downright beautiful in a visionary way. Anderson's tries some audacious tricks and manages to pull them off - a scan round all the main characters singing an Aimee Mann track while they contemplate what's become of their lives is not only daring but works as one of the most moving moments in the film.
The acting is flawless - Cruise deserved the Oscar for this performance, but he is only one of an amazing range of actors including Julianne Moore, William H. Macy, Phillip Seymour Hoffman, John C. Reilly, Jason Robards, Philip Baker Hall etc. They are all excellent in their roles and make you care for all their characters - no matter how terrible they seem or how bad their crimes.
Direction is faultless, performances border on the brilliant, the script is totally convincing and moving. The only weak link is the biblical ending which may annoy some but I think fits in well with the tone of the film, after all, like the film says, "but it did happen".
If only all films could meet the standards achieved by this beautiful piece of work.
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