Magnolia is a three hour long movie set over a period of twenty-four hours. It tells the interconnected stories of Frank T.J. Mackey (Tom Cruise), a man who gives talks about how to get any woman you want, Jimmy Gator (Phillip Baker Hall), a dying quiz show host, Claudia Wilson Gator (Melora Walters), a drug addict, Stanley (Jeremy Blackman), a kid genius, Donnie Smith (William H. Macy), a man in need of money, Jim Kurring (John C. Reilly), a police officer, and lastly, Linda (Julianne Moore) and her dying husband, Earl (Jason Robards).
Magnolia is a one of a kind movie experience. I have never experienced a film like this before in my life and I doubt that I ever will again. It's a unique and wondrous movie that's really, truly unlike any other movie out there. It weaves several different individual stories flawlessly together, managing to give each of them a certain layer of depth, humour and emotion, and sometimes, all three of those at once. While the stories work well on their own, when cut together, they manage to work even better.
It's almost a standard for Paul Thomas Anderson films to be well acted. In fact, it is a standard. Anderson always manages to amaze, getting the best out of his actors. With Magnolia, these actors may just give their best performances to date. Yep, all of them. Magnolia is really just that kind of movie, and saying that makes me happy. But taking the spotlight is Julianne Moore, who, although needed much more screen time than she got, is utterly fantastic and so unlike her usual self. She's not crazy, but she's not in control either, and it's a performance that just shoots off of the screen.
Magnolia is a film that's all over the place, yet it never manages to become a mess. There's so many different stories being told, and although that resulted in a rather lengthy runtime, it's a film that's ultimately worthwhile. Part character case-study, part tale of coincidence, Magnolia just keeps on giving for it's entire runtime. It's a fascinating movie with equally fascinating themes, and of course, it ends on the most fascinating note possible.
This ending, and I won't spoil it, is arguably the greatest thing about the film. It's ambitious, unexpected and utterly amazing. While at first it comes across as ridiculous, as it keeps on going, it keeps on giving, and the more thought given to it, the better it gets. It's seemingly unrealistic, yet it's something that's actually happened before, and on more than one occasion too. It's a perfect ending to an almost extraordinary film.
While I would argue that Magnolia is one of Paul Thomas Anderson's weaker films, rather than his best film as many have called it, it is still quite an extraordinary film. If this is to be one of his weakest films, or at least in my opinion, then that really says something about Anderson as a filmmaker. Maybe it will improve over multiple viewings, just like The Master did. Who knows? I guess I'll have to come back, watch it again and let you all know, but for now, it is what it is and what it is is very good.
To sum up, Magnolia may be a little too long and needed a bit more of Julianne Moore, but it's a one of a kind movie experience with some career defining performances and an ending that's utterly perfect.
I honestly can't tell you how long I've been waiting to do a review of this. Maybe I can, actually. Yeah, let's try explain how long I've been waiting. Initially, when this was coming back to cinemas for a limited run in 2013, I was going to give it a review. I didn't, thankfully, and so I later decided that I will wait until closer to the release of Jurassic World, just to give that film a bit of hype. Well, Jurassic World is still a few months away, but I got impatient. So here it is at last, my review of Jurassic Park! But before I can delve into my thoughts, I must describe the plot, just in case you're the only person on this planet that hasn't seen the movie. Well, let's see. Dr. Alan Grant (Sam Neil) and his partner in crime, Dr. Ellie Sattler (Laura Dern) are invited on a preview tour of an upcoming amusement park known as Jurassic Park. Then, well, bad things happen, dinosaurs are on the loose and cinematic history is made. I really don't see the point in going in depth with that plot.
Jurassic Park is undeniably one of the greatest achievements of cinema known to man (and woman. Because once the dinosaurs eat man, women take over the earth), and I don't say that lightly. This film is truly something, as I am sure nearly all of you are aware of. Back in 1993, nothing like this had ever been seen before, although when I think about it, nothing like this was ever made again. It's not only a film that's rather personal to me, taking me back to my many rewatches as a child, but it's a film that now, many years later, I can always find something new to enjoy after my dozens upon dozens of rewatches.
There's just so much to enjoy about this film, both terrifying and otherwise. Slow isn't really the word I'd use to describe this film. It's not slow. I wouldn't, however, describe it as rather fast either, if that makes any sense whatsoever. It's a two hour long film with the first hour dedicated to showing the wonder and amazement this park has to offer, although not without discussing its problems either. Sure, the characters are stunned upon getting their first glimpse of the dinosaurs, but after letting it soak in and hearing snippets of what's to come, the scientist in them arises and hesitance shows, providing us with one of the greatest lines ever put on film. "Life will find a way."
And life does find a way once we go further into the park. A storm hits, shutting down all the electric fences. It's at this point that the film effortlessly transcends from wonder to terror, resulting in a heck of a lot more dinosaurs, screaming, quotes and a t-rex. Yep, they have a t-rex. This second half is where the film changes gears and my goosebumps begin to appear. Having seen this film more times than I can count, it always stuns me how frightening it is. To this day, Jurassic Park still scares me, and that's something I am not ashamed to admit.
Deciding to focus in on multiple leads, rather than just one, works as a stroke of genius, allowing every character to develop and allowing more screen time for the Goldblum, because who doesn't love a good Goldblum every now and again? There isn't a main character in this film that I didn't care for. Or at least, a character we're supposed to root for. Sure, there's Wayne Knight's Deccis Nedry, but we're not suppose to care for him. I'm talking about the leads here. The Goldblums, the Derns, the Grants, etc. The ones we're with from the start and the ones we want to be there with for the end.
The screenplay, co-written by David Koepp and Michael Crichton, is all sorts of perfect. It's a screenplay with plenty of heart, humour and thrills, even if it does deviate from the source material. Translated onto film, this screenplay manages to work on so many more levels than it could've unfortunately been, special thanks given to the score and that little known filmmaker, Steven Spielberg, who truly understands how to make a film that'll be remembered fifty years down the track.
But of course, the main reason everybody comes back to this film time and time again is because of those things called dinosaurs. You know, the prehistoric creatures with a taste for flesh. Well, as I'm sure you can imagine, the dinosaurs showcased in this film managed to kickstart the careers of many palaeontologists. They are absolutely spectacular, creating a sense of awe and wonder. Made almost entirely with practical effects, the dinosaurs are treated with a sense of realism, adding to the various emotions felt during each scene. Jurassic Park is, dare I say, a truly perfect film.
To sum up, Jurassic Park is one of the greatest cinematic achievements of all time, full of suspense, wonder, awe and amazement, all sprinkled with Spielberg's classic direction and a score that's all sorts of amazing. It truly is a film of no flaws.