• It’s an enormous masterwork—pure filmmaking ambition
  • Certainly, since it’s an ensemble piece set it in LA i think you have to think of Altman’s 1993 short cuts
  • Ebert calls is “operatic ecstasy”
  • It’s a 3 hour film that follows people with ties during one day in one city
  • I love the line from critic Kenneth Turan at the LA Times saying Anderson is “drunk and disorderly on the pure joy of making movies”
  • There is seemingly endless hidden meanings in the film— it’s sort of like the Beatles “White album” (which I think the grandeur and perhaps a little of unevenness makes sense as a comparison). But there’s nothing done unintentionally in the film- from the Exodus references on down
  • Anderson admits the purposeful placement of Charles Fort who wrote on odd phenomena and the entire prologue of the theme of unexplained events— Fort’s book is visible in the library and he’s thanked in the film end credits
  • There’s a clear interest in the Masonic as well (book in library, Ricky Jay’s line “part on the square” and he has a masonic ring… many more)
  • “The Onion” head writer Todd Hanson talks about how the flowers in the Magnolia are petals of the characters
  • The Frogs are clearly from the Book of Exodus 8:2 “And if thou refuse to let them go, behold, I will smite all thy borders with frogs.”– “Exodus 8:2” and “8:2” can be seen many times in the mise-en-scene throughout the film
  • Stanley, the boy, is a prophet- he’s the only character that isn’t surprised by the frogs raining from the sky (love the “cats and dogs” raining comment all the time and the raining itself, in LA, is ironic—anyways)– he says “This is something that happens”
  • The prologue pronounces the ambition—it’s clear up front. This is a meditation on chance, coincidence and fate and in the prologue we have tracking shots and freeze frames
  • Aimee Mann 3 times- at the beginning we have “one” introducing the robust ensemble, we have her “wise up” theme singalong and then the “save me” finale.
  • Anderson is moving in and out with the camera on nearly every shot not unlike say Scorsese’s 3 hour epic casino- it must take so much energy (and filmmaking talent) to keep up that level of “directing a film” for a long film like this
  • It could just be me but Maria Falconetti from Dreyer’s the passion of joan of arc looks a little like the profit kid (Jeremy Blackman) here Normally I wouldn’t think anything of it but knowing Magnolia and PT Anderson I wouldn’t put it past him
  • 25 minutes in we have the Cruise introduction to the 2001 music and his volcanic performance
  • It’s an angry film- so many of the characters are shouting— Cruise, Julianne Moore (who really walks that line of being over-the-top), Cleo King’s “Marcie” character, Melora Walters is shouting almost all of her time on screen as well
  • Meditation on death
  • Tough to break down the rap sequence which is repeated- I’m sure someone out there has and has found meaning but at least I could pick out the “the good lord bring the rain in” biblical old testament reference
  • At the game show studio (and backstage) it’s almost a continual tracking shot and I love the sequences where picks up following/tracking different characters
  • Cruise is charismatic and arrogant (playing into his main talent as an actor) and studied (even in bad movies like cocktail he’s dedicated to learning how to act like a bartender, or shoot pool)…. I thought of that here with his summersault while changing. It looks like he’d done it a million times.
  • There’s so much here that Anderson owes to Altman and Nashville– it’s a an ensemble, statement on a city, statement on a time era—we have the casting of Henry Gibson here (old man in bar with Macy) and Murphy as Moore’s lawyer
  • Whip pans galore between stories
  • Nearly every single action is so well set up formally. Reilly drops his night stick first…then the gun- his character thanks God one moment for introducing him to a woman and then he curses god or at least questions him for making him lose his gun
  • The characters are almost all hanging by a very thin thread
  • Gorgeous slow-motion bar shot of Macy with his braces set to rock/pop. Can’t do a slow-motion shot like that in a bar with that music and not think of Scorsese (mean streets, casino, goodfellas)
  • All the performances are superb and these are some of the best actors of their generation, PSH, Julianne Moore, Cruise— Jason Robards is equally brilliant- there is some great Ingmar Bergman-like staging of faces with him and Cruise in their scenes. The sequence where Cruise really tells him off and breaks down is devastatingly brilliant and should’ve given Cruise the Oscar for 1999 supporting
  • The “Wise Up” Sing-a-long is a transcendently brilliant form-breaking moment. It’s ballsy but I love it. It’s one of the best filmmaking sequences in the decade. Equally ballsy is the choice to do the frogs—absolutely love it
  • Masterpiece