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Magnolia

22 Jan

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Magnolia is Paul Thomas Anderson’s 1999 tale of nine peoples lives and how they intersect on one day in the San Fernando Valley. Similar to his pornographic epic Boogie Nights Magnolia is an expertly made group character study that follows a fantastic cast of unique and interesting characters. Allow me to run down the characters that this movie has.

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Frank T.J. Mackey: A sort-of motivational speaker that teaches men how to get women to sleep with them. Frank is played by Tom Cruise in what I would call his best performance. Cruise’s eccentricity that is shown through his character is fantastic and at some times hilarious. This role requires cruise to take on the full range of emotions from weeping over his past, to a still hostility when being questioned, to a rapidly energetic and charismatic speaker when on stage, and he manages to do all of this expertly.
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Quiz Kid Donny Smith: A successful kid who won 100,000 dollars on a quiz show in the sixties has amounted to a failing electronics salesman who was only hired for his celebrity. With a life that is going nowhere and a failed career Donnie Smith doesn’t know where to go. His section of the story consists of him being fired, him talking to an older man at a bar, and him trying to steal money from the people who fired him. William H. Macy is excellent in his portrayal of this just defeated, depressed and frustrated man.
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Earl Partridge: Earl Partridge played by Jason Robards is a wise old man with a regret-filled life. While dying of lung cancer Earl is taken care of by his nurse Phil and his trophy wife Linda. As an abandoning father and an unfaithful husband Earl has learned his share of lessons that are shown through this film. His movements and his overall demeanor are perfect for a dying man and Jason Robards plays the part perfectly.
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Linda Partridge: Julianne Moores performance as Linda Partridge may be described as over-the-top by some, but to me it was necessary to show the anguish her character was going through. As the trophy wife of a dying man Linda is a bad place which is made worse by her growing love for a man whom she originally married for the money. This progressive breakdown makes for some of the greatest scenes of the film.
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Stanley Spector: Kind of like the quiz kid in his prime Stanley is the smartest of three kids who are close to breaking a record on the game show “What Do Kids Know?”. The majority of this performance takes place on the set of the show where he answers the few questions immediately and correctly until he has to go to the bathroom. After the supposed stage manager refuses to let him go he is silent for the entirety of the show until an epic speech. This means his performance is mainly in his expressions. He is excellent in his role and creates a very memorable final exchange with his father.
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Phil Parma: Philip Seymour Hoffman is always excellent. In this role he plays a young nurse who desperately attempts to fulfill Earl’s dying wish. Philip’s performance is fantastic especially his emotion in the final few scenes that have him.
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I would just like to say that I am refraining from saying much about the story-line so I don’t give anything away.
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Jimmy Gator: Jimmy Gator is the host of “What Do Kids Know?” and he is dying of cancer. His physical degradation is witnessed as his time on screen progresses. Philip Baker Hall is spectacular as a man who has learned a lot through is life and is just trying to get everything to work before he dies.
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Claudia Gator: The daughter of Jimmy, Claudia hates her father and refuses to be a part of his life. Her life is pretty awful since most of her time you see her as an emotional wreck with a cocaine addiction. Melora Walters takes this insanity, you could say, and turns it into a fantastic character and an excellent performance.
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Officer Jim Kurring: Ah, remember when John C Reilly was still an actor? I sure do. Johns performance is fantastic as an awkward police officer who is the most straight shooting character in the movie. He hates bad language, he is a devout christian, and he is just like the most “good guy” good guy that there has ever been, if that makes any sense.
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There you go. All of the real main characters. Hopefully thats acts as I hoped and is a sort of summary and as an explanation of how fantastic the characters and the performances are, as well as showing just how interesting the whole thing is.
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The writing and the direction is supplied by a modern-day master, Paul Thomas Anderson who creates a flowing portrait of interesting lives and how not everything is just “a matter of chance”
10/10
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Posted by on January 22, 2012 in Reviews

 

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