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Magnolia is a 1999 American drama film, written and directed by Paul Thomas Anderson, and starring John C. Reilly, Tom Cruise, Julianne Moore, Philip Seymour Hoffman, William H. Macy, and Jeremy Blackman. It interweaves nine separate yet connected storylines, about the interactions among several people during one day in the San Fernando Valleymarker, in Los Angelesmarker, Californiamarker. The film was distributed by New Line Cinema.

Magnolia was a critical success in 1999. Of the ensemble cast, Tom Cruise was nominated for Best Supporting Actor at the Academy Awards, and won the award in the same category at the Golden Globes of 2000.

Plot

In an introduction three events are described (by an uncredited Ricky Jay) showing coincidences. The events, which are well-known urban legends in the universe of the film, are as follows:
  1. Sir Edmund William Godfrey, a resident of Greenberry Hillmarker, Londonmarker, is murdered outside his pharmacy in an attempted robbery by three vagrants by the names Joseph Green, Stanley Berry, and Daniel Hill ("Green, Berry, Hill"). This was based on the murder of Edmund Berry Godfrey.
  2. A blackjack dealer, Delmer Darion, while scuba diving in a lake, is accidentally scooped up by a firefighting airplane as it fills its tank with water to drop on a forest fire, and he dies of a heart attack as a result of his plight. The pilot of the water-dropping plane, Craig Hansen, had encountered Darion a few days prior, at the latter's casino, and started a fight with him after losing a hand of blackjack. The guilt and the measure of coincidence provokes the pilot, Hansen, to commit suicide.
  3. A 17-year-old boy, Sydney Barringer, attempts suicide by jumping off the roof of his apartment building; this attempt became a "successful homicide" when he was accidentally shot by his mother (Miriam Margolyes) as he fell past his own apartment window. His parents regularly argued and threatened each other with a shotgun that was normally kept unloaded. Unbeknownst to them, Sydney had loaded the gun a few days earlier hoping they would make good on their threats to kill one another. As a result, he unwittingly became an accomplice in his own murder. The irony is that a newly installed protective netting for window washers on the building's exterior below their apartment would have saved his life if he had not been hit by the shotgun blast that he himself had loaded.


Police officer Jim Kurring (John C. Reilly) is called to investigate a disturbance at the home of a woman named Marcie (Cleo King). He finds a body in her closet, but when the other police officers arrive they pay little attention to his report on the situation. A young boy, Dixon (Emmanuel Johnson) offers to help Jim with the case by performing a self-penned rap. Dixon claims that in the words of the rap he told Jim who committed the murder, but, thinking the boy is just joking, Jim ignores him.

Former TV producer Earl Partridge (Jason Robards) is in the final stages of cancer, and is being cared for by a nurse, Phil Parma (Philip Seymour Hoffman), while his young trophy wife Linda (Julianne Moore) is out collecting prescriptions for a strong dose of liquid morphine that will end his pain. Earl mentions to Phil that he has an estranged son and asks him to find him, saying his name is Frank Mackey. Phil, aware that Mackey is the author of the "Seduce And Destroy" self-help system for men, orders in some pornographic magazines, hoping to find a phone number for his self-help system in there. Frank Mackey (Tom Cruise) is giving a seminar on manipulating women into sleeping with men. As his seminar breaks for lunch, a reporter named Gwenovier (April Grace) takes him aside to interview him. He tells Gwenovier that his father is dead.

Drug addict Claudia Wilson (Melora Walters) is visited by her father, gameshow host Jimmy Gator (Philip Baker Hall), who tells her that he is dying of cancer. However, Claudia is enraged at the sight of him and orders him to leave her apartment. One of the young contestants of Jimmy's gameshow, "What Do Kids Know?", Stanley Spector (Jeremy Blackman) arrives at the studio with his neglectful father Rick (Michael Bowen), who encourages him only because he wants the prize money. A former champion of the show in the 1960s, Donnie Smith (William H. Macy) is now working in a department store and is fired by his boss, Solomon Solomon (Alfred Molina) for not making enough sales. Donnie protests, saying he needs money for his "corrective oral surgery," though Solomon tells him he has no need for braces.

Jim is now called to Claudia's home, after her row with her father earlier has been reported as a disturbance. Jim is immediately attracted to her and tries to prolong the visit, although they are both too socially awkward to make genuine conversation. Eventually, Jim is called away on another task but before he goes he asks Claudia if she will go out with him; she agrees. Meanwhile, Linda collects the various drugs at a pharmacy, but the clerk makes joking remarks insinuating they are for recreational use. Infuriated, Linda berates him for judging her. She then goes to see Earl's lawyer, Alan Kligman (Michael Murphy), begging him to change Earl's will. She states that she originally married Earl for his money, but has grown to love him, and wants none of his money to avoid the guilt of what she's done. Alan says there's nothing he can do.

The game show finally gets underway, and Stanley's keen intelligence provides the kids with a good start on the adults. However, in a commercial break the producers refuse to let Stanley go to the bathroom. When the game continues he wets himself and stops answering questions out of embarrassment. Jimmy sickens as the show continues, until he collapses on stage. He orders his friend Burt Ramsey (Ricky Jay) to go on with the show, and in the break, Rick is furious with Stanley for not answering the questions. As the game goes on, Jimmy asks Stanley to come out for the final round, but Stanley refuses, and now asks Jimmy why he should be made to feel like a "doll" just because he is intelligent. Jimmy replies that he doesn't know and the show goes to the credits.

Meanwhile, Gwenovier becomes more curious about Frank's past. Her information shows that Frank's mother died in 1980 and that he had to care for her as she became ill because his father, Earl, wasn't around. Angered, Frank walks out of the interview. Phil, having called the help-line for Seduce and Destroy, has finally gotten through to Frank's personal assistant. She gives the message to Frank, who, after the interview, breaks down into weeping. However, Linda gets back and hangs up Phil's phone call, telling him not to get involved in family business. Meanwhile Donnie heads to a bar that he frequents, mainly so he can watch Brad the bartender (Craig Kvinsland), with whom he is infatuated. Brad has braces, and it is because of this that Donnie is trying to get some himself in hopes that it will somehow make Brad love him. Seeing Brad talking to a barfly, Thurston Howell (Henry Gibson), Donnie talks to Howell and asks him if he has love in his heart. Howell mocks the now inebriated Donnie, who becomes morose remembering how his parents took the money he won on the game show. Driven to desperation, Donnie confesses his love for Brad and storms out.

Jim investigates a jaywalker who seems suspicious. However, as he investigates, a mysterious assailant fires a gun at him, causing him to drop his. The gun is stolen by Dixon, leaving Jim in a panic. Meanwhile, Linda apologizes to Phil for shouting at him and tells him to apologize to Earl for her, then goes out to the car and takes all of the medication she got for Earl, attempting suicide. Lapsing back into consciousness, Earl tells Phil the story of his first wife, Lily, whom he loved but cheated on. He then confesses that he is haunted by regret.

Jim and Claudia go on their date, and early on they promise not to lie to each other. Jim confesses to having lost his gun and that he hasn't been on a date since he was divorced three years ago. Claudia asks him never to see her again, claiming that he will hate her when he finds out more about her. She claims she has problems, but Jim assures her that he doesn't care. They kiss, but then she runs off, leaving Jim bewildered.

Jimmy is taken home to his wife Rose (Melinda Dillon), who looks after him, but he then tries to talk to her seriously, saying he has cheated on her and he wanted to be honest. Rose asks him why Claudia doesn't talk to him, and Jimmy replies that she thinks he molested her, but he can't remember if he did or not. Appalled, Rose leaves the house and Jimmy decides to kill himself, taking a gun from the kitchen.

Donnie decides to get revenge on Solomon by using copies of his keys to break in and steal money from the safe. He is successful in this, but breaks his key in the lock as he heads back to the car. After driving away, he suddenly realizes the foolishness of what he is doing, he goes back to replace the money but finds he cannot get back in having broken the key. Instead, he begins to climb a utility pole to try to get in through the roof. Dixon, meanwhile, finds Linda near death in her car. After taking some money from her purse he calls an ambulance and again recites his rap as the paramedics take her away. Having thought over the phone call earlier, Frank arrives at Earl's house and is shown through to Earl by Phil. Watching Earl die, Frank is consumed by sadness and hatred, not knowing what to say to the man who ruined his life. Jim drives morosely back home after his failed date and sees Donnie climbing the utility pole and goes to stop him.

Just then, frogs suddenly start to rain from the sky. As Rose drives through the rain of frogs, she crashes her car outside Claudia's apartment and runs in fear to a reconciliation with her daughter. As Jimmy is about to kill himself, the frogs fall through his skylight and cause him instead to shoot the TV, meaning his house begins to catch fire; whether he survives is left ambiguous. The frogs cause Donnie to fall from the pole, smashing his teeth, causing him to, now, actually need braces. The rain of frogs abruptly ceases, and Jim's gun falls from the sky and lands right in front of him. Jim helps Donnie replace the money. Having been given the liquid morphine by Phil, Earl dies as Frank watches, the two of them finally reconciled. Frank then goes to the hospital to see Linda, who is making a gradual recovery. Stanley goes to his father and tells him that he needs to be nicer to him. Rick curtly responds by telling Stanley to go to bed. The film ends as, the next morning, Jim goes to visit Claudia. He talks to her, telling her that he wants to be honest with her as she told him to, and he wants to make things work out between them.

Characters

  • Officer Jim Kurring (John C. Reilly), a divorced, religious, and forthright police officer. While on patrol, Kurring often speaks to an imaginary camera, as if he were appearing on a reality TV series such as COPS.
  • Frank T.J. Mackey (Tom Cruise), author of Seduce and Destroy, a self-help system for men to "tame" women. Mackey's character might have been inspired by Ross Jeffries.
  • Linda Partridge (Julianne Moore), a woman dealing with her much older husband's terminal illness and feelings of guilt for her infidelity. She is Frank T.J. Mackey's stepmother.
  • "Quiz Kid" Donnie Smith (William H. Macy), who won a large sum of money on the television game show What Do Kids Know? in the 1960s, but whose adult life has gone downhill after appearing as a celebrity spokesperson.
  • Stanley Spector (Jeremy Blackman), a current contestant on What Do Kids Know?. His greedy father, an aspiring actor, capitalizes off of his son's success and constantly pressures him to win.
  • Phil Parma (Philip Seymour Hoffman), a kind, sympathetic and lonely nurse working for the terminally ill Earl Partridge.
  • Claudia Wilson Gator (Melora Walters), a young woman plagued by psychological problems and a cocaine addiction; daughter of Jimmy Gator.
  • Jimmy Gator (Philip Baker Hall), host of What Do Kids Know?, who is dying of cancer. He seeks reconciliation with his daughter, Claudia.
  • Earl Partridge (Jason Robards), a wealthy television producer with terminal lung cancer. He is the estranged father of Frank T.J. Mackey and husband to Linda Partridge.


The movie ends with the narrator urging the audience to think again about the coincidences mentioned in the intro, implying that the unlikely connections between the characters in the movie are similar.

Character relationships



Many of the characters have thematically similar stories:

|  
| Jim Kurring (John C. Reilly)
| Earl (Jason Robards)
| Jimmy (Philip Baker Hall)
| Claudia (Melora Walters)
| Stanley (Jeremy Blackman)
| Donnie (William H. Macy)
|-
| Linda (Julianne Moore)
|  
| Both have been unfaithful (Linda to Earl and Earl to his first wife) and feel remorse
| Both make admissions of infidelity, and both unsuccessfully attempt suicide.
| Both abuse drugs and suffer from psychological problems
|  
| Both suffer emotional outbursts
|-
| Donnie (William H. Macy)
| Both are lonely and desperately seeking love
|  
|  
| Both have a persecution complex
| Both are "quiz kids" who feel unappreciated by their parents
|  
|-
| Frank (Tom Cruise)
|  
| Both mistreat women
|  
| Both engage in self-destructive behaviors as a result of childhood trauma, as well as living under pseudonyms
|  
|  
|-
| Stanley (Jeremy Blackman)
| Both feel like outcasts, Stanley from his teammates and Jim from his co-workers
|  
| Both suffer breakdowns on Jimmy's show (Jimmy physically, Stanley emotionally)
| Both abused by their fathers, Stanley verbally and emotionally, Claudia sexually
|  
|  
|-
| Jimmy (Philip Baker Hall)
|  
| Both are (or have been) big names in TV, both are dying of cancer and both cheated on their wives and now regret it
|  
|  
|  
|  
|-
| Earl (Jason Robards)
| Both had a troubled first marriage
|  
|  
|  
|  
|  
|}


The plot reveals all these relationships over a number of interlocking events, including:
  • A crime that investigators think was committed by the Worm (played by Orlando Jones in scenes that were deleted).
  • The broadcasting of a live episode of What Do Kids Know?, a quiz show that pits children against adults.
  • A noise complaint that leads to an awkward conversation, and eventually a date between Jim and Claudia.
  • Donnie's barroom conversation with an eccentric barfly, and his misguided attempts to woo the braces-wearing bartender, Brad. His love for him results in an attempt to steal money from the employer who fired him to pay for braces that he does not need.
  • An interview in which a reporter attempts to penetrate the emotional wall that Frank hides behind.
  • The last hours of Earl's life, which complicate Linda's life with a number of vital decisions and in which a desperate Phil attempts to fulfill Earl's wish to see Frank, the son who despises him.


Raining frogs and Exodus 8:2

At the end of the movie, a rare but precedented event occurs: frogsrain from the sky. While the plague of frogsis unexpected, there have been real-life reports of frogs being sucked into waterspoutsand then raining to the ground miles inland. While there have been incidents of a moderate number of frogs falling from the sky along with other precipitation, there has never been a recorded incident of a dry, torrential frog downpour as is depicted in the film.

The movie has an underlying theme of unexplained events, taken from the 1920s and 1930s works of American intellectual Charles Fort. Forteanauthor Loren Colemanhas written a chapter about this motion picture, entitled "The Teleporting Animals and Magnolia," in one of his recent books. The film has many hidden Fortean themes. The fall of frogs is merely one of them. One of Charles Fort's books is visible on the table in the library and there is an end credit thanking Charles Fort.

Other repeated references to animal rain in the story include at least four different characters in different scenes using the cliché, "It's raining cats and dogs". The only character in the story who seems to be unsurprised by the unusual meteorological event is the child prodigy, Stanley. He calmly observes the falling frog silhouettes, saying "This happens". This has led to the speculation that Stanley is seen as a prophet, allegoricallyakin to Moses, and that the "slavery" the movie conveys alludes to the exploitation of children by adults. These "father issues" persist throughout the movie, as seen with the abuse and neglect of Claudia, Frank, Donnie, Stanley and Dixon. Another interpretation of Stanley's "These things happen" points the remark toward the acts of reconciliation and healing that take place in the midst of traumatic experiences, suggesting that in the real world people actually do recover from "these things."

Development

Paul Thomas Andersonstarted to get ideas for Magnoliaduring the long editing period of Boogie Nights(1997). As he got closer to finishing the film, he started writing down material for his new project After the critical and financial success of Boogie Nights, New Line Cinema, who backed that film, told Anderson that he could do whatever he wanted and the filmmaker realized that, "I was in a position I will never ever be in again". Michael De Luca, then Head of Production at New Line, made the deal for Magnolia, granting Anderson final cut without hearing an idea for the film. Originally, Anderson had wanted to make a film that was "intimate and small-scale", something that he could shoot in 30 days. He had the title of "Magnolia" in his head before he wrote the script. As he started writing, the script "kept blossoming" and he realized that there were many actors he wanted to write for and then decided to put "an epic spin on topics that don't necessarily get the epic treatment". He wanted to "make the epic, the all-time great San Fernando Valley movie". Anderson started with lists of images, words and ideas that "start resolving themselves into sequences and shots and dialogue", actors, and music. The first image he had for the film was the smiling face of actress Melora Walters. The next image that came to him was of Philip Baker Hallas her father. Anderson imagined Hall walking up the steps of Walters' apartment and having an intense confrontation with her. Anderson also did research on the magnolia tree and discovered a concept that eating the tree's bark helped cure cancer.

Screenplay

By the time he started writing the script he was listening to Aimee Mann's music. Anderson used her two solo albums and some demo tracks from a new album that Mann was working on as a basis and inspiration for the film. In particular, Mann's song "Deathly", on her album Bachelor No.2 or, the Last Remains of the Dodo, features the lyric "Now that I've met you/Would you object to/Never seeing each other again", which was used as line of dialogue in the film. In addition, "Deathly" also inspired the character of Claudia.

The character of Jim Kurring originated in the summer of 1998 when actor John C.Reillygrew a mustache out of interest and started putting together an unintelligent cop character. He and Anderson did a few parodies of COPSwith the director chasing Reilly around the streets with a video camera. Actress Jennifer Jason Leighmade an appearance in one of these videos. Some of Kurring's dialogue came from these sessions. This time around, Reilly wanted to do something different and told Anderson that he was "always cast as these heavies or these semi-retardedchild men. Can't you give me something I can relate to, like falling in love with a girl?" Anderson also wanted to make Reilly a romantic lead because it was something different that the actor had not done before.

For Philip Seymour Hoffman, Anderson wanted him to play a "really simple, uncomplicated, caring character". The actor described his character as someone who "really takes pride in the fact that every day he's dealing with life and death circumstances". With Julianne Moorein mind, the director wrote a role for her to play a crazed character using many pharmaceuticals. According to the actress, "Linda doesn't know who she is or what she's feeling and can only try to explain it in the most vulgar terms possible". For William H. Macy, Anderson felt that the actor was scared of big, emotional parts and wrote for him, "a big tearful, emotional part".

While convincing Philip Baker Hall to do the film by explaining the significance of the rain of frogs, the actor told him a story about when he was in the mountains of Italymarker and got caught in bad weather — a mix of rain, snow and tiny frogs.Hall had to pull off the road until the storm passed. According to an interview, Hall said that he based the character of Jimmy Gator on real-life TV personalities such as Bob Barker, Alistair Beck, and Arthur Godfrey. The rain of frogs was inspired by the works of Charles Fortand Anderson claims that he was unaware that it was also a reference in The Biblewhen he first wrote the sequence. At the time the filmmaker came across the notion of a rain of frogs, he was "going through a weird, personal time", and he started to understand "why people turn to religion in times of trouble, and maybe my form of finding religion was reading about rains of frogs and realizing that makes sense to me somehow".

Casting

Tom Cruise was a fan of Anderson's previous film, Boogie Nights, and contacted the filmmaker while he was working on Stanley Kubrick's Eyes Wide Shut(1999). Anderson met with Cruise on the set of Kubrick's film and the actor told him to keep him in mind for his next film. After Anderson finished the script, he sent Cruise a copy and the next day, the actor called him. Cruise was interested but nervous about the role. They met with Cruise along with De Luca who helped convince the actor to do the film. Frank T.J. Mackey, the character that Cruise would play in the film, was based in part on an audio-recording done in an engineering class taught by a friend that was given to Anderson. It consisted of two men, "talking all this trash" about women and quoting a man named Ross Jeffries, who was teaching a new version of the Eric Weber course, "How to Pick Up Women," but utilizing hypnotismand subliminallanguage techniques. Anderson transcribed the tape and did a reading with Reilly and Chris Penn. The director then incorporated this dialogue and his research on Jeffries and other self-help gurus into Mackey and his sex seminar. Anderson felt that Cruise was drawn to the role because he had just finished making Eyes Wide Shut, playing a repressed character, and was able to then play a character that was "outlandish and bigger-than-life".

Anderson wrote the role of Earl Partridge for Jason Robardsbut he was initially unable to do it because of a serious staph infection. Anderson approached George C.Scott, who turned him down. Eventually, Robards was able to do the film. Robards has said of his character, "It was sort of prophetic that I be asked to play a guy going out in life. It was just so right for me to do this and bring what I know to it". According to Hall, much of the material with Partridge was based on Anderson watching his father die of cancer.

Several of the cast from Boogie Nightsreturn in Magnolia. As well as the major characters played by Hall, Hoffmann, Macy, Moore, Walters and Reilly, there are cameo performances from Alfred Molinaas 'Quiz Kid' Donnie Smith's employer Solomon Solomon, Luis Guzmánas Luis, one of the adult contestants on "What Do Kids Know?", and Ricky Jayas the TV executive Burt Ramsey, who also doubles as narrator.

Production

Before Anderson became a filmmaker, one of the jobs he had was as an assistant for a television game show, Quiz Kid Challenge, an experience he incorporated into the script for Magnolia. He also claimed in interviews that the film is structured somewhat like "A Day in the Life" by The Beatles, and "it kind of builds up, note by note, then drops or recedes, then builds again". The production designers looked at films with close, tight color palettes, films that were warm and analyzed why they did that and then applied it to Magnolia. They also wanted to evoke the colors of the magnolia flower: greens, browns and off-whites. For the section of the prologue that is set in 1911, Anderson used a hand-cranked pathécamera that would have been used at the time. Some of the actors were nervous about singing the lyrics to Mann's "Wise Up" in the film's climactic scene and so Anderson had Moore do it first and she set the pace and everyone else followed.

Anderson and New Line reportedly had intense arguments about how to market Magnolia. He felt that the studio did not do a decent enough job on Boogie Nightsand did not like the studio's poster or trailer for Magnolia. Anderson ended up designing his own poster, cut together a trailer himself, wrote the liner notes for the soundtrack album, and pushed to avoid hyping Cruise's presence in the film in favor of the ensemble cast. Even though Anderson ultimately got his way, he realized that he had to "learn to fight without being a jerk. I was a bit of a baby. At the first moment of conflict, I behaved in a slightly adolescent knee-jerk way. I just screamed." In a Rolling Stonearticle, published around the time of Magnolia's release, Anderson said that he walked out of Fight Clubafter the first half hour and criticized its director, David Fincher, for making jokes about cancer, saying that he should get it as punishment. Afterwards, Anderson wrote Fincher a note apologizing and explained that he had lost his sense of humor about cancer.

Music and soundtracks

Anderson met Aimee Mann in 1996 when he asked her husband, Michael Penn, to write songs for his film, Hard Eight. Mann had songs on soundtracks before but never "utilized in such an integral way" she said in an interview. She gave Anderson rough mixes of songs and found that they both wrote about the same kinds of characters. He encouraged her to write songs for the film by sending her a copy of the script.

Two songs were written expressly for the film: "You Do," which was based on a character later cut from the film, and "Save Me," which closes the film; the latter was nominated in the 2000 Academy Awardsand Golden Globesand in the 2001 Grammys. Most of the remaining seven Mann songs were demos and works in progress; "Wise Up," which is at the center of a sequence in which all of the characters sing the song, was originally written for the 1996 film Jerry Maguire. At the time Mann's record label had refused to release her songs on an album. The song that plays at the opening of the film is "One" by Harry Nilsson. Mann's track "Momentum" is used as the loud playing music in Claudia's apartment scene when Officer Jim arrives and was also featured in the trailer for the film.

Anderson produced a music videofor "Save Me" that featured Mann in the background of what appeared to be scenes from the film, singing to characters. Unlike in many such music videos, there was no digital manipulation involved; the video was shot at the end of filming days with Mann and actors who were asked to stay in place. The video, which contains exactly seven cuts, won the Best Editing award at the 2000 MTV Video Music Awardsand was nominated for Best Music Video from a Film.

The soundtrack album, released in December 1999 on Reprise Records, features the Mann songs, as well as a section of Jon Brion'sscore and tracks by Supertrampand Gabriellethat were used in the film. Reprise released a full score albumin March 2000.

The film also features the famous Habanera from the opera Carmenand the opening from Richard Strauss's Also sprach Zarathustra, the latter of which plays over the deathbed of Earl Partridge and introduces his son Frank Mackie in a reference to the end of Stanley Kubrick's 2001: A Space Odyssey.

Reception

Magnoliainitially opened in a limited release on December 17, 1999 in seven theaters grossing USD$193,604. The film was given a wide release on January 7, 2000 in 1,034 theaters grossing $5.7 million on its opening weekend. It ended up making $22.4 million in North America and $25.9 million in the rest of the world with a worldwide tally of $48.4 million, above its budget of $37 million.

While Magnoliastruggled at the box office, it was well-received critically. It currently has an 85 percent rating (with an 82 percent "Cream of the Crop" designation) on Rotten Tomatoes. USA Todaygave the film three-and-a-half stars out of four and called it "the most imperfect of the year's best movies". In the Chicago Sun-Times, Roger Ebertpraised the film, saying: "Magnoliais the kind of film I instinctively respond to. Leave logic at the door. Do not expect subdued taste and restraint, but instead a kind of operaticecstasy". Entertainment Weeklygave the film a "B+" rating, praising Cruise's performance: "It's with Cruise as Frank T.J. Mackey, a slick televangelistof penispower, that the filmmaker scores his biggest success, as the actor exorcises the uptight fastidiousness of Eyes Wide Shut. . . Like John Travoltain Pulp Fiction, this cautiously packaged movie star is liberated by risky business". The Independentsaid that the film was "limitless. And yet some things do feel incomplete, brushed-upon, tangential. Magnoliadoes not have the last word on anything. But is superb".

In her review for The New York Times, Janet Maslinwrote, "But when that group sing-along arrives, Magnoliabegins to self-destruct spectacularly. It's astonishing to see a film begin this brilliantly only to torpedo itself in its final hour," but went on to say that the film "was saved from its worst, most reductive ideas by the intimacy of the performances and the deeply felt distress signals given off by the cast". Philip French, in his review for The Observer, wrote, "But is the joyless universe he (Anderson) presents any more convincing than the Pollyanna optimism of traditional sitcoms? These lives are somehow too stunted and pathetic to achieve the level of tragedy".

Roger Ebert wrote a Great Movies essay on the film which was published in November, 2008.

Awards

Magnoliawas nominated for two Golden Globe Awardsin 2000, Cruise for Best Supporting Actor in a Motion Pictureand Mann for Best Original Songfor "Save Me". Cruise won. The film was also nominated for three Academy Awards, including Cruise for Best Supporting Actor, Anderson for Best Original Screenplay, and Aimee Mann's "Save Me" for Best Original Song. Magnoliadid not win in any categories it was nominated for. Anderson's film won the Golden Bear at the 50th Berlin International Film Festival.

The Toronto Film Critics Association Awardsnamed Magnoliathe Best Film of 1999 and gave Anderson Best Director honors. His screenplay also tied with the ones for Being John Malkovichand American Beautyas the best of the year. Philip Seymour Hoffman and Julianne Moore won Supporting Actor and Actress awards from the National Board of Review of Motion Pictures.

2000 Broadcast Film Critics Association Awards
  • Nominated, Best Picture


2001 Grammy Awards
  • Nominated, Best Compilation Soundtrack Album for a Motion Picture, Television or Other Visual Media
  • Nominated, Best Score Soundtrack Album for a Motion Picture, Television or Other Visual Media
  • Nominated, Best Song Written for a Motion Picture, Television or Other Visual Media: Aimee Mann, for the song "Save Me"


2000 Screen Actors Guild Awards
  • Nominated, Outstanding Performance by a Cast in a Theatrical Motion Picture
  • Nominated, Outstanding Performance by a Female Actor in a Supporting Role: Julianne Moore
  • Nominated, Outstanding Performance by a Male Actor in a Supporting Role: Tom Cruise


Themes

Many essaysand other writings have been composed on the themein Magnolia. Some themes that are often associated with the film include regret, loneliness, the cost of failed relationships as a result of fathers that have failed their children, not all events and their results can be controlled, but an individual can control his or her own actions: to some degree, mistakes of the past cannot simply be erased (We might be through with the past, but the past ain't through with us), exploitation, and the limits of forgiveness. Some themes also include familial violence. The opening murder of the boy by his mother, and the implied sexual assault perpetrated on Claudia by Jimmy are among the most obvious.

DVD

The MagnoliaDVDincludes a lengthy behind-the-scenes documentary, That Moment. It uses a fly-on-the-wall approach to cover nearly every aspect of production, from production managementand scheduling to music direction to special effects. The behind-the-scenes documentary is an in-depth look into Anderson's motivation and directing style. Pre-production included a screening of the film Network, as well as Ordinary People. Several scenes showed Anderson at odds with the child actors and labor lawsthat restrict their work time. The character of Dixon has further scenes filmed but, from Anderson's reactions, appear not to be working. These scenes were cut completely and have never been shown on DVD.

References

  1. Coleman writes that falls of frogs are more commonplace than often realized. One of the reasons that the skeptical answer (saying all are scooped up in a watersprout) does not hold water is because the falls of frogs or fish are routinely all of one species, instead of a variety of species as would be expected if it was a random sucking up of the contents of a river or lake. Also, watersprouts are rare over the locations of freshwater frogs.
  2. http://www.rottentomatoes.com/m/magnolia/


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