Episode 106: Magnolia (1999)

Ahhh, magnolias. The flower that signifies spring; a symbol of hope, beauty and hundreds of frogs showering down from the heavens. Wait, what? Oh yes. Frogs. Lots and lots of frogs. Because how else would you tie together such divergent stories of; lives gone wrong, kid tv stars who never really grow up, toxic masculinity gurus and cops who lose their guns at crime scenes? No better way, we say! And we say a lot. This week in the continuing saga of “Ancient History: The 90s,” we delve deep into Paul Thomas Anderson’s film of fractured lives. Haven’t heard of it? We’re not surprised but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t check it out. The ensemble cast alone is worth a look: William H. Macy, Tom Cruise, Phillip Seymour Hoffman, Julianne Moore, Jason Robards and even a short stint by Patton Oswalt. It’s one of those big, ensemble cast kind of movies and we warn you: it is long. Three hours long. But does it feel like it? Does the movie drag, does it work, does it take out the trash once a week without you having to nag it over and over and over again? That last one, I admit, it does not. But it’s going to if it knows what’s good for it. Regardless of what we think, there is one thing that makes this movie worth watching: proof that, when he really puts his mind to it, when he actually -tries-, Tom Cruise can be a good actor. No, really. This is not Bumpy the Wonder Pony typing this, making things up in hopes of getting a nice, juicy carrot. Oh no, it is the truth. Probably. So, tune in, won’t we and find out about this film with the frogs.

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2 thoughts on “Episode 106: Magnolia (1999)”

  1. I have a soft spot for this movie, mostly because of Tom Cruise’s amazing performance and Amy Mann’s music. It was a huge hit at the video store and rented constantly for years after it’s release in the places I worked so I wonder if it’s poor box office was offset by the video market later on. I have to agree with Max that it’s got some pretentiousness in there. Boogie night did as well for me but both films have such great ensemble casts and ideas in them it’s easy to overlook a little pretension.

    1. Thanks, Vince. I am a fan of both movies. I need to check out more of Anderson’s films. “Magnolia is far from perfect, but in these days of nearly utterly unchallenging films, it’s nice to see one that is once in awhile.

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