Sunday, November 18, 2012

Real magnolias

A few years ago, my buddy Paul recommended the movie Magnolia to me. I filed away the suggestion in my gray matter and went about living my idiotic life.

Sometimes I'd look for the movie at the video store or library, but truth be told, I did not make a concerted effort to procure it. However as the readership knows, I recently opened a Netflix account, and some of the first entries in my queue were those long-neglected recommendations, including Magnolia. 

Before we go any further, behold this clip featuring Tom Cruise:

But this story is not about Tom Cruise's basket. This is the story of a girl and a movie.

Magnolia is three hours long. This probably does not strike you as a problem. It is not a problem. A three hour movie, who cares? Particularly when one is watching said movie at home and one has in their possession a remote control (aka clicker). But for whatever reason, the length of Magnolia was problematic for me.

People, watching any movie is not easy for me. First you have the obvious stuff, then you have all the other stuff. In the clip above, for instance, in addition to watching Cruise's dork bounce around I am worried about the wardrobe person who was tasked with making Cruise's nether region look just so. I mean COME ON ... talk about your delicate tasks ...

As the movie unfolded, I noticed no one was using cell phones and plenty of people were lighting up wherever they wanted. I checked the date of the movie.


What does it say about a person when it takes that person 13 years to realize a friend's movie suggestion? I do not know, but there you go. And people, the Magnolia trauma does not end there.

Magnolia is a complex movie with lots of characters. It's peppered with one jarring scene after another. I only got through about an hour and a half during my first bout with the movie, which I had to rewatch the next day. During that session, I bumbled through two hours. When I sat down to finally finish the thing, the clicker crapped out and that threw me into a tailspin (also, is it just me or are all DVD players defective on some level?). Fortunately the Goat and some new batteries got me back in business.

When I finally got to the end of Magnolia, I had a flimsy handle on the plot, characters, etc. All that went right out the window with a twist I will not spoil other than to say it is circuitously tethered to this post.

What does it say about a person when it takes that person four days to watch a movie that a friend recommended 13 years prior? Once again, I do not know, but I do know this: These strange things happen all the time.

Frankly, I'm exhausted.

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Harry Finch said...

Your 13 year girl and a movie story is a subplot in Magnolia.

Erin O'Brien said...


Anonymous said...

Geez E, movies are supposed to be FUN, not a marathon! If it's any consolation, I don't remember making this rec, but I saw Magnolia again a few years ago and still loved it, warts and all (love me some John C. Reilly). I've learned over the years that Anderson's movies are quite divisive; I've got a friend who still gives me shit because I told him to watch There Will Be Blood on an airplane and it ruined his flight.

Now let me know when you get through all 14 hours of Berlin Alexanderplatz.

Ken Houghton said...

I was sold that PTA and cast actually knew what they were doing when the Exodus signs were held up at the hockey game--but that also meant I spent the next 30-45 minutes waiting for the rain of frogs...

Erin O'Brien said...

My fave scene was the one where William Macy's character gets fired--although ALL the Tom Cruise infomercial/seminar stuff was well worth the price of admission.

Now please pardon me. I have to go google "magnolia/exodus."

Michael Lawless said...

I've become a fan of Paul Thomas Anderson...starting when I learned he was Ghoulardi's kid.

Anonymous said...

There is a lot of schlock out there and lets face it the best stuff since about 1990 has been on TV. I bet most people would have a hernia trying to remember who got best picture last year never mind each year for the last ten. But even for the 70s, the truly shittiest decade in cinegraphic history you'd make a stab at two or three. So don't beat yourself up if a film has legs for a decade then it may have use. Myself I'd watch a rerun of Shindler's List. And Filmography is not a word.

Erin O'Brien said...

Did anyone use "filmography" in this thread?

Anonymous said...

"Filmography is not a word."-roaring 40.

Actually it is. I've seen the first draft of God's Dictionary. It's in there. Right next to Salon Tan and Unnaturally White Teeth.


Anonymous said...

@'roaring'-Filmography is indeed a word, unless there's some other definition of 'word' than the commonly used one.

Now about films of the '70s:
What do the following films have in common?
'Pietra von Kant', 'Effi Briest', 'The Marriage of Maria Braun', 'Aguirre, the Wrath of God', 'Strozek', 'The Discreet Charm of the Bourgeoisie', 'That Obscure Object of Desire', 'Amarcord', 'Scenes from a Marriage' and 'Cries and Whispers'.

Hey, they were all made in the

That list tok me about ten minutes to put together, and they're from only FIVE different directors. Five FOREIGN DIRECTORS. I didn't even include any English language films.

Now, what is it you have against the '70s?

Kirk said...

I also have to take issue with 1970s being the shittiest decade in cinegraphic history. I WILL name English-language films: The Godfather, The Godfather Part II, Taxi Driver, Close Encounters of the Third Kind, Nashville, Five Easy Pieces, The French Connection, Chinatown, Jaws, Deliverance, MASH, New York, New York, American Grafitti, Summer of 42, Patton, The Sting, The Last Picture Show, Carnel Knowledge, Network, Hospital, The Candidate, Rocky Horror Picture Show, Bananas, Annie Hall, Apocalypse Now, Young Frankenstein, Monty Python and the Holy Grail, Breaking Away, Animal House, Ordinary People, All the President's Men, The Parallax View, Murder on the Orient Express, Star Wars, The Exorcist, and That's Entertainment, (OK, the last is cheating a bit, but it was nice to get all those musical numbers in a single movie)

philbilly said...

I just learned that Ghoulardi had a kid. "Whadijya do at work today, Dad?"

twinklysparkles said...

BLASPHEME! Some consider the '70s the golden age of American Cinema.

Thunderbolt and Lightfoot
Straight Time
A Woman Under the Influence
Days of Heaven

THE CONVERSATION for fuck's sake.

foreign, off the top of my head:

The Devils
Don't Look Now

Or are you just fucking with us, roaring40 because that list took me all of 10 minutes....

and don't even get me started on the indie shit that was going on then. DAMN!

Interesting post, Erin. I forgot about this movie--only saw it once in the theater. Tom Cruise's prosthetic penis is impressive. Oddly I forgot about that, but I did remember his gymnastics which seemed not done by a stunt double.

I love me some SPH and PTA.


Anonymous said...

@philbilly-Less known outside of the Cleveland area is that Ernie Anderson had a successful later career as an announcer for ABC. Remember "Coming up next, the luuuuuuuvvv boat"? Yep, Ghoulardi.

philbilly said...

For some reason, that I knew,he went to LA, no? How cool to have an Old Man that blew shit up with firecrackers, hosted bad horror movies and ranked on Dorothy for a living. My Old Man thought Dorothy Fuldheim was a class act, which she was. Us juvenile delinquents didn't get it, just a cranky redhead always pissed off about sumthinornother. Bishop Fulton Sheen was another boring media star round here back then, too.