365 films in 2016: film 21 (Magnolia 1999)

1928_12_screenshotThe 90’s were a good time for directors who wanted to break from the standard hollywood formula, Paul Thomas Anderson managed to do that a few times most notably here with Magnolia. Magnolia is a film that should be talked about more, it’s one of those weird cases in movies where people look for some hidden secret message when there just really isn’t one, if i had to sum up Magnolia in a sentence i would say random things can happen, and they will happen, some of the characters come out of the film better off than when they started and some come out worse off but they’re all interconnected in a weird way which we learn in the film.

a lot of people fall into the trap of thinking Magnolia’s ending is a happy one, or a sad one when in reality it’s just an ending. The film doesn’t end in a bang or with a really satisfying conclusion it ends kind of pear shaped, i think what Anderson wanted to do with Magnolia is show that films can betray you, there are a lot of references to common scenarios or tropes in films and what Anderson does is put them in a realistic context, a lot of the characters have mirroring personalities and they almost play out like they are the same person just in a parallel universe (e.g. cloud atlas) and because of this he lets you connect the dots by yourself without holding your hand too much. Magnolia is a very misunderstood film, partially because i think people want it to give them something it doesn’t have or they are used to digging deeper into films like this but i think it’s important to take Magnolia at face value, it’s a film about people and how they’re interconnected, and despite the exodus 8:2 imagery thought literally the entire film the message of redemption or solidarity isn’t a big role in the movie.

I think what trips most people up about the film is the length, it’s a long movie, and this does not play out in Magnolia’s favour, the film feels slow at times and it’s easy to get bored or bogged down by the character development, in fact Paul Thomas Anderson himself said he thinks the film is too long, but that should not take away from the fact that magnolia is a really interesting movie with some great rule breaking by Anderson, this is the type of film that will live in your head until you figure out an explanation you’re comfortable with. Magnolia is a 7/10.


In 2016 i will be watching 365 films (yes, i know there are 366 days this year) and writing about how I felt about them, I decided to do this just because over the last year or so i’ve Sort of pulled away from film and I wanna start to enjoy watching movies again. This will normally be just notes I made or thoughts I have about the film.


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