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Magnolia: New Line Platinum Series

review by Zach B.

 

Rated R

Running Time: 180 Minutes

Starring Jeremy Blackman, Tom Cruise, Melinda Dillon, Philip Baker Hall, Philip Seymour Hoffman, Ricky Jay, William H. Macy, Alfred Molina, Julianne Moore, John C. Reily, Jason Robards,Melora Walters

Studio: New Line

Written and Directed by Paul Thomas Anderson

 

Retail Price: 29.99

Features: Theatrical Trailer, Teaser Trailer, "Save Me" Aimee Mann Music Video, Frankey T.J. Mackey Seminar, Mackey Infomercial, TV Spots, "Magnolia Diary" by Mark Rance

Specs: 2.40:1 Anamorphic Widescreen, Dolby Digital English 5.1, English Dolby Surround, English Captions, Chapter Search (12 Chapters)

There is simply no way to describe "Magnolia". Paul Thomas Anderson showed major promise as a filmmaker after the Indie "Hard Eight" (or "Sydney") and the porn epic "Boogie Nights". "Magnolia" further proves his talent and how great of a storyteller he is.

"Magnolia" follows the day in a life of assorted individuals with their own stories, and how they clash in some way or another. The main way in which things follow through and have connections are with Earl Partridge (Jason Robards), an dying elderly man who's last wish is to see his son. Partridge's second wife, Linda (Julianne Moore), is an icy and wrecked woman, who doesn't have any substance within her. There's the lonely police officer Jim Kurring (John C. Reily), who's looking for some love and attention. Frank T.J. Mackey (Tom Cruise), a sex guru who teaches seminars on how to seduce and destroy woman. Donnie Smith (William H. Macy) is a former child game show winner with a lot of love to give off, and is a bit upset about past events. Sort of a pre-Donnie Smith is Stanley Spector (Jeremy Blackman), basically, a child genius with a demanding father who puts pressure on him. Jeremy is currently on a game show winning big money, which is hosted by Jimmy Gator (Phillip Baker Hall), a screwed up, depressed man with a drug using daughter and a really caring wife. That rounds out most of the people.

I know a lot of people are going to be turned off by the three hour running time of "Magnolia", but when I sat down to watch it, it really only felt like it was an hour. I didn't want this movie to end. Paul Thomas Anderson masterfully tells his story and really pulls it off. Character development is incredibly rich, and it's all beautifully played.

Each and every performance here is simply brilliant, bringing each and every character to life. Though Tom Cruise was the only one rewarded for an Oscar® nod (and Golden Globe win), I really think every performance, no matter how big or small, should have been nominated (and "Magnolia" should have won the SAG award for Outstanding Performance by a Cast). Everyone plays their roles to the max here, making them incredibly lifelike. The performances are flawless and really intense.

My only real complaint in the movie is the last hour or so. Not that it's bad or anything, but it slows down a little. However, the last fifteen minutes are really unexpected, and the movie doesn't wrap things up with everyone, and when they do wrap things up you could have wished that it was a bit. The movie pretty much forces you to write your own ending.

Despite those thoughts, "Magnolia" is a masterpiece. The editing and camera work is really nice, and this film shows how much of a career Anderson has ahead of him, as well as establishing him as a great, worthy director.

Another excellent and superior New Line transfer. The flaws in it are only really, really tiny. I saw a minimum amount of dirt, a scratch flashed across the screen once and at about two points in the film for a brief time, there was some unsaturation in the colors. Also, I noticed the layer change (right around the start of Chapter 8). Still, these flaws are really small. Other than that, this transfer shines. Colors are deep and pretty much perfect, hues are great and blacks are really solid. This transfer accuratley shows off the film's detailed look. P.T. Anderson even co-supervised the transfer.

I was pretty surprised and happy how aggressive the 5.1 Dolby Digital English can be. Especially during the whole "raining" ending, it's packs a really good punch. Surrounds are good, and Aimee Mann's beautiful song are brought to full life here. Truly a superior audio track, another fine job done by New Line.

Now, a lot of people are going to be disappointed with the fact that P.T. Anderson didn't want to do a commentary track (I was really disappointed). Still, his descion is respectable, wanting the film "to stand for itself". You won't be disappointed though, this disc has some nice features sure to please fans of the film.

First off, there is the Frank T.J. Mackey Seminar. I heard these were actual deleted scenes from the film, and go deeper (plus show) a little into the "Seduce and Destroy" segment. This is a fun watch, and really nice.

Aimee Mann's Save Me music video is on the disc. The video is in widescreen, and it looks and sounds great. This Oscar® nominated song is a beautiful songs, and features some of the actors in the film on the video. Great song, great video.

The really interesting Theatrical Trailer and Teaser Trailer are included, plus the various TV spots, including one which never aired. Also, there is the Mackey Infomercial. This infomercial actually did air late at night in some cities around the movie's opening, and features Tom Cruise. Of course the product trying to be sold ("Sedudce and Destroy") isn't real, and it's just a marketing scam. Heh, I think "Extra" aired a segment about this being a fake...

To top it off is the wonderful, lengthy documentary "The Moment", a video diary by Mark Rance. This is the best feature on the disc, and gives behind the scenes footage, rehearsals, interviews. It's really nice, and has chapter stops. It doesn't make up for the lack of a commentary, but it is something and really interesting. Fans of the movie are sure going to enjoy it (I really did myself).

 

"Magnolia" is a masterpiece, and is an excellent portrait of life and love. This DVD packs a great transfer and wonderful audio, with some nice features. "Magnolia" is highly recomended.

(4.5/5, NOT included in final score)

(4.5/5)

(4/5)

(3/5)

(4/5, NOT an average)

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