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“Magnolia” - {Blu-ray}
Wayne Klein (incorporating Rachel Hughes' original review)
Studio: New Line
Release Date:
Special Features:

Documentary, deleted scenes, trailers


After watching this movie for the first time you want to run out and tell all your friends that they must go see this movie. They will invariably ask you what it is about. That question completely floors you. You suddenly realize that you have no idea how to convey the plot of this movie. You just end up staring at them blankly and saying things like there are all these people who don't seem connected, but they really are in the end, kind of, maybe, trust me, just go see it. I know this is true because it happened to me over and over again. And now I have the daunting task to convince you that you must see this movie Just be thankful that you don't have to see me stare blankly at you. Magnolia is the second writing and directorial effort of P. T. Anderson, with his first movie being "Boogie Nights." The time span of the film is one day, morning to morning. As the film moves on you are introduced to character after character. You see how all their lives seemingly so different are all effected by one anothers actions. The thing that makes this film so grand is that all the characters are real. They all are so human. You can identify with their emotions. There is guilt, remorse, anger, joy, helplessness the full range of human emotion. However Anderson does not over do it. You never feel like you are in a melodrama where the emotion is over acted. These are real people living real lives not so different from our own. If I had to pick a theme of magnolia, as opposed to a plot, it would be that things like this happen everyday. Not only is the writing and directing brilliant, but I challenge anyone to assemble such a fine ensemble cast. Tom Cruise, who earned a Golden Globe Award, and an Oscar nomination, is particularly outstanding. In a way it is because he plays a character that we are not used to seeing him play. He is a bit slimey, not the most likable guy. Philip Seymour Hoffman is the quintessential supporting actor. He brings so much to every film he is in, and this is no exception. If I went on to mention everyone this would run forever. Suffice it to say that no one in the cast can easily be forgotten. ***

It’s been ten years since “Magnolia” was first released and the film played with Tom Cruise’s image with his character turning him from hero to a darker hued, damaged individual. Although Cruise has since tarnished his own image with his increasingly bizarre and absurd behavior dulling the luster of his own persona (and I’ve felt for years that the character that Cruise plays in the movie is closer to the REAL Tom Cruise minus his charm and the deep level of cynicism of the character he plays here), his performance here is stellar and truly did deserve an Academy Award nomination. As much as I dislike Cruise personally, he took a risk and jumped off the pier of safe roles into an ocean of richer roles allowing Cruise to tackle morally ambiguous characters since then. Don’t get me wrong—I don’t like Tom Cruise the PERSON or actor any more (and honestly my wife can no longer stand him either nor my daughter based on his idiotic behavior and attempts to push his bogus “religion” of Scientology—but he is brilliant here). --

Image & Sound:

We get a top notch BD transfer for “Magnolia. Colors pop, detail is extremely sharp throughout. Black levels are consistent and strong throughout the presentation. Detail is tight and sharp throughout. There are some minor issues with the presentation but they aren’t a big deal and only affect one scene in the film. Skin tones aren’t quite on target but they are consistent as well. ***

Audio sounds good with a busy soundtrack courtesy of the influence of Robert Altman. The dialogue manages to be clear for most of the movie but some of the scenes where it isn’t is intentional with a complex, multi-layered sound design that nicely integrates Jon Brion’s marvelous and Aimee Mann’s (and Supertramp’s) songs. ---

Special Features:

We don’t get any new bonus features for the Blu-ray but we do get the special features from the original DVD ported over. We don’t get an audio commentary (director Paul Thomas Anderson doesn’t like to do them anymore after some issues cropped up in the wake of his commentary track for “Boogie Nights” which is a pity—he’s a marvelous, insightful speaker) but we do get “Magnolia Video Diary” that runs over an hour which covers everything from the beginning to the completion of shooting. ***

“Frank TJ Mackey Seminar” is a marvelous four minute deleted scene plus the “Seduce and Destroy Infomercial” and the “Save Me” music video all directed by Anderson. We also get the teaser and theatrical trailers as well as TV spots which provide a textbook example of the BEST type of trailers out there. ---

Final Words:

A brilliant, complex, multi-layered and tiered film “Magnolia” looks exceptional on BD with the exception of scene. The audio captures the complexity of the original theatrical presentation of the film as well. ***


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