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Magnolia
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Reviews & Ratings for
Magnolia More at IMDbPro »

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3 out of 4 people found the following review useful:

This is how you make artsy, minimalist films

9/10
Author: thepsychocritic from India
23 October 2011

Magnolia is the kind of movie that appeals to me almost instinctively, for multiple reasons. Movies of this sort are not made very often. They are very abstract and have melancholiness pervading them. Also, these movie are very niche; a majority of the audience will not appreciate their aesthetic value. Despite these seeming demerits, Magnolia is one of the most beautiful and compelling movies I have seen.

Primarily a film about people, emotions and coincidences, Magnolia is a story that revolves around multiple characters. It jumps from person to person, trying its best to showcase how one small act of one person affects others at large. In the initial scenes, the narrator speaks of three peculiar coincidences that have now become urban legends, establishing the tone of the movie. Jimmy Gator (Philip Baker Hall) is the host of the television show 'What Do Kids Know?' and he is about to die. His daughter, Claudia (Melora Walters), is a drug-addict and hates her father. Donnie Smith (William Macy), a grown-up gay wimp who wants to get braces for the sole purpose of impressing a male bartender, is a former child-prodigy and participant of the aforementioned quiz show. Stanley (Jeremy Blackman), an immensely intelligent kid, is a current participant on the show who has an obsessive, cold and demanding man for a father. Phil (Philip Seymour Hoffman) is a male nurse attending to a bed-ridden old man dying of cancer named Earl Partridge (Jason Robards). Linda (Julianne Moore) is Earl's young, frustrated wife; his second, for the record. Earl also has a son, Frank T.J. Mackey (Tom Cruise), who has deserted him. Earl's dying wish is to meet his son. But Frank despises him. He is a cocky, megalomaniac almost misogynistic man who gives sex- seminars called Seduce and Destroy. Jim (John Reilly) is an earnest, hard-working police officer, living a single, lonely life. He is genuinely kind and wants to do good for the world. Jim ends up on Claudia's doorstep and falls in love with her, closing all characters into a, abstract yet magnificent loop.

But there is more to this than first impressions convey. Besides the ones mentioned, there are even more characters in the story that have been given a considerable amount of screen time who play their part in the film. While it may appear like the proverbial 'too many cooks spoil the broth,' the case is not so. Director Paul Thomas Anderson gives sufficient screen-time to all the actors. They all have a job to do in the movie. The lead actors too aren't not just characterless, undefined gooey blobs, but working, functioning human beings. They have emotions, histories and are no more contrived than in real life. Every one of them doesn't meet the other, yet unknowingly, they affect each others' lives.

All the performances are marvelous, which is a must in a movie that focuses on humans. Feelings are handled like infants; delicately and with care. The film works on emotions brilliantly. The characters are each a farrago of emotions - angst, sympathy, depression and even the occasional bout of happiness. You feel for each one of them as they tackle their personal demons. Each has a past or present that haunts him. Jimmy Gator is haunted by the things that occurred between him and his daughter. Donnie Smith by his extinct brilliance and his closet homosexuality. Stanley is depressed by the way his father treats him. Linda is resentful of cheating on Earl and loves him now that he is dying.

However, the most touching of them all is the past of Frank. It isn't long before you realize that his current behaviour is a merely facade created by something that happened long back and there is something deep within that is bothering him. Tom Cruise carries this role perfectly, and tops it off with a goose-bumps raising performance in the final moments of the film, which does leave you feeling that he deserved more than just a measly Academy Awards nomination.

In most artistic films I have seen, very close attention is paid to the subtleties and Magnolia follows this trend. The music, though soft in the background, blends effortlessly with the situation. It escalates tension, portrays desolateness and flows like a river over pebbles. Many of the scenes are shot in pale lights and tinged with shades of dark blue and black which is significant of the prevalent morbidity present in the characters and in their existence. It creeps into you, indulging you even more into the movie.

Magnolia can be termed more of a piece of art than an entertainer. The end is highly unusual, but that just reasserts how unusual things can happen in the world. Quite nonchalantly, the film shows how we're just dots in a massive grid and how everything we do causes changes beyond measure.

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3 out of 4 people found the following review useful:

Stunning, powerful, life affirming, deeply moving...and yes black humour abounds. Don't waste another day without this film in your life.!!!!!!

10/10
Author: mike-parry1966 from United Kingdom
22 November 2010

The intertwining and overlapping plots for these tragic and in parts comic characters are so brilliantly told and edited that you only feel a yearning to return to each one in succession to find out what the hell is happening to them. You are tortured with the drip feeding of the connections that bind them and then just when you are drained of all emotion the astounding events of the climax pummel your soul with an intensity of human feeling the like of which is ever so rarely experienced in life at large, let alone just the cinema. Grown men will weep and women will wail. Normally only Britain's Mike Leigh can take you on such an emotional roller-coaster journey of character led story telling. I urge you, no implore and beg you to seek out a copy of this movie and sit with the curtains closed and watch it without further delay. Somewhere inside this movie is a meaning for life for all people with a soul. I haven't watched this movie for five years but can't get it out of my head....and I don't care a bit. Relish every sweet or bitter moment of your existence and spread a little happiness on your way. This film will show you how. Love and free hugs to all from sunny-ish Westcliff-on-Sea, UK. from Mikey P

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4 out of 6 people found the following review useful:

magnolia

10/10
Author: guitarherojonnie from United Kingdom
21 December 2010

Possibly the best film ever to come out of American cinema . . . . . . of course not the best film ever because Britain is to be taken into account. i think it is well written and astonishingly portrayed, Paul Thomas Anderson must be a clever guy. its an all in all masterpiece, some people may say that Magnolia is too long, with it being 3 hours. but i thought it was so enjoyable that it should have lasted a bit longer. Tom Cruise is one of my least favourite actors but his performance in magnolia is terrific, the only film where i have actually seen him act, Magnolia was released on Christmas day. Phillip Seymour Hoffman and Julianne Moore deliver great performances too. we see a debut performance from Jeremy Blackman playing Stanley Spector and its possible the best acting I have ever seen from a boy that age, i can only assume that its a matter of chance. It makes Boogie Nights look only good.

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5 out of 8 people found the following review useful:

Loved It!

9/10
Author: pandora12 from United States
5 April 2008

I am making my way down the IMDb Top 250 list, starting with some of the latest movies made in the 1990's until current. I don't know why I never heard of this movie before, but it is awesome. The one thing I didn't like was the title of the film. I thought it was a chick flick. Even though, I am a woman I don't like so-called 'chick-flicks.' There were a couple of other things I didn't like near the end. I also noticed that many other reviews disliked those two things as well. The film was otherwise excellent and profound and it deserves its rating as a minimum. I will be adding this to my DVD collection. I rented three other movies the same time I saw Magnolia and this was the only one I wanted to watch twice before I returned it to the video store. It has that "Wow!" factor.

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5 out of 8 people found the following review useful:

a epic journey that you won't forget

10/10
Author: nickzbekool from United States
5 February 2008

Incredible achievement in film-making.Touching,raw,realistic,stunning,heart wrenching, and truly beautiful. A thousand words could describe this work of art.One of the best casts ever assembled from, Tom Cruise as a cocky and stuck up motivational who can never forgive his dying for abandoning him as a child, Julianne Moore as a sad and depressed wife to Tom Cruise's dying father,Melora Walters as a cocaine addict who hides sadness from her past by using coke,and John C. Riely as a happy but lonely cop who falls for Walters not knowing of her debasing addiction. All these people's problems intersect dramatically on a rainy day. The performances are what gives the film it's power and things from the bible: like, frogs falling from the sky and that wakes up each character to the fact that their life is a mess. Tom Cruise was amazing, and fully deserved the nomination. His best performance ever. It is a movie experience that you can never forget. Insightful, funny, sad, and poetic. A movie that reminds you of how great watching a movie can be.

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10 out of 18 people found the following review useful:

Too Long, No point

1/10
Author: Kevin from Boston
24 October 2001

I'm sorry, but as I write this, voters here have ranked this as the #103 film of all time. It's just not that good. In fact, I didn't even like it. A lot of great actors deliver some great performances, but the movie is so all over the map that it doesn't seem to know what it is trying to say. And, as an unbreakable rule(which bad directors keep breaking), if a movie is going to be more than 3 hours long, it had better be as good as Citizen Kane(which clocked in at just under 2 hours). At least a long movie like 'Heat' is an action thriller.

This is a message movie. And a message movie, without a clear message, is a bad movie.

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20 out of 38 people found the following review useful:

Pretentious, incongruous, and simply boring.

1/10
Author: Egg_MacGuffin from Pennsylvania, USA
27 July 2005

I saw Boogie Nights before Magnolia, so I was obviously excited about this film. Three hours later, I found that my excitement had turned to boredom.

This film's major flaw is the characters. None of them are 3-dimensional and we really have no reason to care for any of them. They simply exist to go through random occurrences for the sake of randomness. None of them are given anything exciting to do, and none of them are nearly as developed as they should be. In fact, some of the characters don't even serve a purpose in the film at all! Julianne Moore's character is the prime suspect of that crime. She's addicted to drugs, cries over her dying husband, and tries to kill herself. And somehow, we're supposed to feel sorry for her. Guess what? Doesn't work. We are given no REASON to feel sorry for her. We are never given any reason to feel sorry for ANOBODY in this movie. They are simply there. They do things and that is it. Seriously, why the hell am I supposed to give a damn if some know-it-all brat pisses his pants?

The beginning of this film showed promise. In an over-long opening sequence, three urban legends are examined for their mysterious coincidences. But sadly, there is nothing even remotely as bizarre or exciting in the actual movie. People meet other people and that's the extent of it.

Speaking of people, let's take a look at some of the characters:

There's some kid who pisses his pants, a dying old man and his overly emotional male nurse, the old man's wife who does nothing, a cop (the most interesting character, mostly because of John C. Reilly), a drug addict (not the old man's wife, a different drug addict), the guy played poorly by Tom Cruise (unsure of his official title), a gay man who wants to get braces to impress a bartender (what?!), and many more.

Instead of actually having any reason to care about these character's unhappy lives, we are TOLD to care. Doesn't work.

Cinematically speaking, this film is actually well-directed, edited, the cinematography is great, but the music is over-used. The film could also be shortened by about a half hour by simply not following around unimportant character from place to place before they vanish and are never to be seen or heard from again. What a total waste.

If you actually believe that this film is original at all, just watch Short Cuts and you'll see the truth. Magnolia is a rip-off. A bad one where everyone has to cry every 5 minutes and sing together at the end before something totally outrageous happens for no reason at all and with no explanation.

And speaking of Exodus 8:2, you will notice a lot of 8's and 2's in the film. Thing is, it's too overt. It's pretentious because Anderson is showing people how clever he is instead of actually being clever and letting people see it on their own. I'll even give an example of this whole "cleevrness with numbers" deal with THE SHINING:

Danny wears a jersey with number 42 Danny and his mom watch the movie Summer of 42 Half of 42 is 21 There are 21 pictures on the Gold Room wall The July 4th Ball was in 1921 The mirror image of 21 is 12 (mirrors play a key role in The Shining) The two times shown via screen titles are 8 PM and 4 PM (8+4=12) The radio call sign for the Overlook Hotel is KDK 12

Anderson has a lot to learn.

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20 out of 38 people found the following review useful:

Broken Promise

1/10
Author: aldaris (aldaris@estudent.univ.gda.pl) from Gdañsk, Poland
25 September 2004

How to make a movie you're sure your viewers will see through? Facile. You just need an extraordinary account of a coincidence, preferably three, vaguely foreshadowing the ingenious wonders of story that loom ahead. Then, make sure that none of the threads are resolved, characters are bland, preoccupied with laughable problems, and don't neglect to make sure that at least half of them have a terminal disease combined with extramarital affairs.

I've got to admit, though, that the concept of underlining the finale with the rain is innovative - but hardly does it compensate for the unfulfilled promise of a marvelous plot. The catch is, one does not know to let go until too much had been invested to quit.

I've been robbed of three hours worth of time!

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20 out of 38 people found the following review useful:

Dire

1/10
Author: Liam Tripp (kwinick) from Dublin, Ireland
13 September 2000

Those who enjoyed Mangolia have a habit of rubbishing the opinion of those who didn't, and dismissing them as ignorant, brain-dead and bereft of emotional appreciation.

I expected to enjoy Magnolia, as the trailer made it look like an interesting film. How wrong I was! For Magnolia is a ludicrously overlong, completely self-indulgent, mawkish mess of a film. Yes, there are separate stories and characters in it that intertwine, but this process is so tedious and the characters themselves so bland and uninteresting that you're just not interested when the 'Short Cuts' moments come about.

Mangolia is full of people crying over their many malfunctions. There is a game show host with cancer, a lonely cop, a sexually abused girl, a genius kid whose Dad won't show love for him, a glamorous misogynist with a secret past, a man smitten with love for a bartender, and many others. The manner in which their suffering is documented is unsubtle and often laughable. Several of Julianne Moore's scenes, in particular, are so unbelievably melodramatic that you wonder whether the critics were watching the same movie as you. At one point, the characters, all in different locations and situations, begin to sing along to a song from Aimee Mann's soundtrack. Intended to be a classic moment, this is so hilariously stupid you have to laugh out loud at it.

But you can't get too many laughs from Magnolia, as it takes itself so terribly seriously. The dying man's pointless ten-minute monologue emphasises just how lamentably bloated the whole thing is. Yes, there are messages, presented so blatantly they'd make Ollie Stone cringe: 'loneliness is bad' or, as the song goes, 'one is the loneliest number', 'love your kids', 'everybody hurts', etc, etc, etc. Magnolia is no classic. Rather, it is one of the worst films I have ever seen. Anderson's direction is colourful and occasionally innovative, but overall, the film is woeful. None of the actors do themselves any favours either.

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24 out of 46 people found the following review useful:

Excruciatingly Painful

1/10
Author: cactus_clunk from United Kingdom
15 May 2007

I have to admit, I was looking forward to seeing this film. My money situation was tight, so I pinched it from a friend's house, darted back home and felt as though I was in for a treat. I started watching it, and the introduction looked promising. I have no problem with long films; as long as I'm entertained I'm happy to watch a film for any amount of time. At this point, I didn't actually know it was 3 hours long, but it had only been playing for 10 minutes, and I was enjoying it. The cast looked excellent, and I enjoy films that are a bit peculiar, often dealing with a wide range of characters and how chance and fate interlaces them. So I continued watching...

Then it happened. I started losing interest. Boredom took over. Daydreaming kicked in. I couldn't believe how bad this film was. And it was only getting worse. After an hour and a half I started feeling pains in my back, my arms were in agony from the frustration, but I gritted my teeth. I always finish a film I start. I checked the running time, and discovered there was over an hour left. I couldn't take any more that night.

I came down the next morning, determined to finish it. And I did. And it was still excruciating. The plot was weak, the acting was average, and it was far too long. I didn't care about anyone in it. I didn't feel informed by it, I didn't enjoy it; It didn't make me think about my life from a different aspect. What it did do was make me angry. I'd wasted time. I was in physical pain from watching and suffering it. I would advise you to stay away from this at all costs. If you really have to watch it, keep a bottle of something strong nearby. A BIG bottle. Trust me, you'll need it.

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