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Magnolia” is one of those rare films that works in two entirely different ways. In one sense, it tells absorbing stories, filled with detail, told with precision and not a little humor. On another sense, it is a parable. The message of the parable, as with all good parables, is expressed not in words but in emotions. After we have felt the pain of these people, and felt the love of the policeman and the nurse, we have been taught something intangible, but necessary to know. That Paul Thomas Anderson thinks and creates in this way is proven again in his latest film, “There Will Be Blood” (2007). It is another film with an enigmatic ending, one that “Magnolia” teaches me I will have to think more carefully about.

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[The following questions were culled from various movie surveys that I’ve come across. I’ve been filling it out for the last month]

  • Earliest Movie Watching Memory: My first movie was Empire Strikes Back. My Dad and older brother went. I remember the Hoth sequence. There were some boys in the front row goofing that dad barked at to keep ’em quiet.
  • Last DVD purchased: I’m not sure. I don’t buy too many DVDs. Possibly Gus Van Sant’s Elephant ($2)
  • If you were a guest programmer for TCM what three movies would you choose to best represent your tastes: Were talking classics, like, from the 80s right? Since I watched Ferris Bueller’s Day Off on TCM a couple of months ago I’m counting anything from the 80s and before. Casablanca (because it still holds up today as a compelling drama), Indiana Jones: Raiders of the Lost Ark (not just for nostalgic reasons), and The Jerk (for some nostalgic reasons, but also because it’s hilarious).

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Daniel Plainview is a new messiah, bringing bread, education, and wealth. Daniel Plainview is a Satan, an accuser, a murderer, a liar, and a drinker of blood. Both Christ and Antichrist, Daniel Plainview, embodies America, our industrialism and our greed, our benevolence and our violence. One part Flannery O’Connor, one part Rene’ Girard, passing Upton Sinclair through St. John’s gospel, Paul Thomas Anderson orchestrates a film that captures the American zeitgeist, that recapitulates our founding, this time in Little Boston, and the tea party replayed with Texas tea.

[There Will Be Spoilers]

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I watched “There Will Be Blood” for the second time last night and I’m starting a review. To sate your desire for thoughts on Paul Thomas Anderson I pass on this link.

I have very little use for the Oscars, but one of my fondest memories is when Magnolia was up for Best Original Screenplay, but lost to the tepid swill known as American Beauty. P. T. Anderson did not smile weakly, he did not clap politely. He said the eff-word and enunciated it nicely for the camera.

Best Picture
“Michael Clayton”
“No Country for Old Men”
“There Will Be Blood”

I’ve only seen No Country and There Will Be Blood. Juno looks fun, but at its heart I can’t help think that this is a heartless movie. Also, it cannot possibly be as good as Junebug. Michael Clayton is what? Fracture? Relentlessly plotty movies only go so far in my book. Atonement is a wild card, drawing on that wartime nostalgia and weird patriotism. Why is patriotism always wound up with our wars? There Will Be Blood should win this 97 times out of 100 with No Country for Old Men winning it the last three times, but I’m afraid the Little Miss Sunshine/Knocked Up combo will win it. Read the rest of this entry »

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