Head to Head – Magnolia

Welcome to the latest edition of Head to Head, in which our Quickflix critic takes on our readers in a rip-snorting battle to the death! You pick the film, and we pick the fight!

This week, Richard Kershaw revealed that he is done with Paul Thomas Anderson‘s Magnolia (but Magnolia isn’t done with him). For his troubles, he received Luc Besson‘s The Big Blue Special Edition out now on DVD. You can send your mini-reviews to us here at Quickflix too!

Richard Kershawwill argue AGAINST the film while Quickflix critic Simon Miraudo will argue FOR it. Let us know in the comments section below who you agree with. Spare no vitriol! Choose your side! There can only be one winner!

Richard Kershaw – 3.5/5

I love the work of Paul Thomas Anderson. Boogie Nights, Punch Drunk Love and the awesome There Will Be Blood are three of my personal favourite films from him. And then we have Magnolia. The film opens interestingly enough with those cool scenes of bizarre coincidences. When I saw those great scenes I thought I was about to see something special. And then I heard the words ‘One Is The Loneliest Number’ sung by Aimee Mann, over and over and over and over and over again. That horrible song (and another late in the film) frustratingly plays over scenes with dialogue. Might sound like a rubbish excuse to hate on a film, but that song really frustrated me. I’m trying to focus on the characters and that song was not helping at all. Anyway, on to the film itself. Well, I just found it boring. The cast were good, the stories were kind of interesting and it was beautifully shot. But I just could not get into the movie. I just did not find it interesting like PTA’s other films. And I don’t want to spoil but was with the Big Lipped Alligator Moment towards the end of the film? It was just too bizarre even for this film and I could not take the film seriously after that. It would be like say ending a serious drama filled movie with a dance sequence. Oh and did I mention the soundtrack sucked?

Heresy! Paul Thomas Anderson is easily one of the most important filmmakers of the past fifteen years, and Magnolia is perhaps his most impressive film (yes, even more so than fellow masterpieces Boogie Nights, There Will Be Blood, Punch Drunk Love, and the less-amazing-but-still-great Hard 8).How can you possibly award it a measly THREE AND ONE HALF STARS? A film so masterfully crafted and expertly executed it may as well be a miracle sent down from the heavens above, like so many hurricane-lifted frogs! A movie brimming with Oscar worthy performances from John C. Reilly, Tom Cruise, Philip Seymour Hoffman, Jason Robards, William H. Macy, Melora Walters, Julianne Moore and the rest. A motion picture that somehow balances profoundly touching character moments with explosive melodrama. A cinematic achievement that raises interesting questions about fate and chaos, and then ends with the ultimate deus ex machina. A MASTERPIECE that builds to an almost-unbearable crescendo over the course of its three-hour running time and peaks at the perfect moment. It’s the kind of film that inspires people to re-evaluate their lives; to leave their lovers, to change their jobs, to finally pop the question (whatever that question may be). Magnolia is one of the best, if not the best film of the 1990s. Oh, and Jon Brion/Amy Mann’s soundtrack is phenomenal. How do you sleep at night Richard?

Now it’s over to you! What are your thoughts on Magnolia? Let us know in the comments section below. If you would like to be featured in the next Head to Head and possibly win some free movie tickets, send your mini-reviews to us here at Quickflix!

3 Responses to “Head to Head – Magnolia”

  1. Nope I seriously didn't see the attraction to this movie at all! It was a bit too obscure for me. Plus I didn't get emotionally invested with the characters which made it all the harder to really care what happened to them. Raining them with frogs was about the only interesting part as I thought that was cleverly done!

  2. I have a strange relationship with Magnolia. Every time I sit down to watch it I think I'm not going to like it…it always strikes me as being a LITTLE pretentious.But whenever I do watch it, I can't help but be blown away by the amazing film-making and the fantastic performances from literally every single cast member. I've got to go with Simon on this one.

  3. I absolutely ADORE Paul Thomas Anderson. His cinematic genius is such that I often joke that he's probably the only guy I'd ever go gay for. I keep a film blog (in Spanish; I'm a film student from Venezuela) and I named his masterful and stunning "There Will Be Blood" the single best film of the decade 2000-2009.I just can't get over it. I jump at every chance I get to name-drop it, so much so that I think my classmates are probably considering to stage an intervention.I also think "Punch-Drunk Love" was THE best romantic comedy of the past decade and "Boogie Nights" is definitely in the Top 5 Films of the preceding one.BUT, when it comes to "Magnolia", which is probably the one of his films that most people admire and/or love the most, I just can't see it. Yes, it's gorgeous to look at, it's acted to perfection and, of course, beautifully directed (that long take at the TV studio was amazing), but somehow it just feels… empty. Ironic, considering it's an ensamble piece with characters aplenty, but it's like there's buildup to an almost unbearable point and then no payoff at all.It almost hurts to do it, but I rate it 2.5/5.

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