Saturday, July 31, 2010
you struck me dumb like radium
I take back everything bad I've ever said about PT Anderson's "Magnolia". I hated it the first time around, but I've watched it twice in the past three nights. A lot has changed in the past 11 years. A third of my life essentially. Back then I couldn't really relate to the lives of quiet desperation and a deep yearning for Something Else that all the characters were living. And what a knock-out cast assembled to tell those intertwining vignettes. While I can't say I'm quite thrilled about the past 6 months or so, I'm grateful to have finally come around and be able to appreciate a stunning work of art that I completely missed out on the first time around. The final shot of the film, the slow zoom on Melora Walters' face while John C. Reilly's back is to the camera while Aimee Mann's "Save Me" is right up there along side the door shutting on Diane Keaton in the Godfather and the freeze frame on Jean-Pierre Léaud in Les Quatre-Cent Coups as my favorite final shots of all time. That weary, sad smile (the first time in the whole film you don't see her in a coked-up frenzy) is the perfect image to end on, especially timing it right at the peak of Aimee Mann's "Save Me". I think Anderson's ultimate triumph is that he is able to convey an all-consuming desire for love in all the characters without resorting to schmaltz and most importantly not ignoring the uglier, darker things that are part and parcel of such a complex emotion as love, which makes the catharsis/redemption that much more believable, especially the scene when Tom Cruise finally meets face to face with his dying father, masterfully played by Jason Robards. It's nice to be reminded that there might be a light at the end of the tunnel.