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Entries in Magnolia (9)

Wednesday
Dec132017

Soundtracking: "Magnolia"

With a new Paul Thomas Anderson film waiting in the wings, Chris looks at the music of Magnolia...

Rarely is a film and musician as inextricable from one another as Paul Thomas Anderson’s Magnolia and Aimee Mann. The singularity of her voice repeated throughout helps streamline Anderson’s massively expansive vision, like a tidy bow pulling together the film’s many untidy pieces. With the film’s religious themes and allegories, her omniscient voice makes Mann the film’s watchful angel, perhaps a messenger of God. She's as much as character as everyone else, if a far more enlightened one.

“One is the loneliest number...” and Anderson announces his ensemble as a collection of “ones”. The Harry Nilsson track is a smart choice, establishing that no matter their twisty associations to one another, each is essentially isolated. Having Mann cover the classic song marries the old and the new, sounding like something that’s lingered for an indeterminate time but still aches like a fresh bruise. A curse of the biblical variety destined to perpetuate and repeat itself...

Click to read more ...

Tuesday
Dec012015

Required Viewing: Julianne Moore Acts for Tips in Times Square

I was hoping to hear a little Boogie Nights! But this will more than do. Billy Eichner is a national treasure. Or at least a regional treasure. Does he go over well in the southwest?

P.S. Mark Harris made a funny about this video on twitter.

ALL Oscar campaigns are basically this brilliant @billyeichner segment w/ Julianne Moore acting for tips in Times Sq.

It's funny because it's truthy.

Tuesday
Jan202015

Top Ten Best Julianne Moore Performances

abstew here for a Tuesday Top Ten. Julianne Moore is known simply as 'God' at The Film Experience. That was Nathaniel's nickname for her even before the site was launched. It's winking hyperbole, sure, but if there's any other actress working today deserving of that moniker, it's this talented redhead who has given us countless transcendent performances for more than 20 years. This past Thursday, Moore earned her 5th career Oscar nomination for her beautiful performance in Still Alice and all signs indicate that this is the year that she will finally take home the gold. Since many are seeing this eventual win as honoring her impressive body of work, I could think of no better time than to look back over Julianne Moore's 10 Previous Best Performances. With such iconic creations as Amber Waves and Cathy Whitaker over the years, Moore's divinity has already been proven, but a golden statue still seems like a worthy offering. All hail, Julianne Moore!   

10. Maps to the Stars (2014)

Director: David Cronenberg
The Role: Havana Segrand, a self-centered, ageing Hollywood actress obsessed with playing her dead movie star mother in a film.
Awards: Cannes Film Festival Best Actress, Golden Globe Best Actress in a Musical or Comedy nomination

Why this Performance: I can't say that I'm a fan of the film as a whole (too many storylines and tonal shifts that seem unfocused and chaotic), but amid the chaos is Moore's livewire, crazy-committed performance. For an actress that has been working as long as Moore has, it can sometimes be difficult to surprise your audience with something they haven't seen before. But with Havana, Moore is able to suppress her natural intelligence and compassion as an actress by playing an actress so unlike her: needy, vapid, dim-witted, and something Moore could never relate to, untalented. In scene after scene we see Moore in unflattering positions (including one on the toilet that I'm sure most Oscar-nominated actors would balk at), but perhaps the most shocking thing about Moore in the film is that even after all these years, there's an excitement in knowing that she can still astonish us.   

9. Short Cuts (1993)

Click to read more ...

Tuesday
Nov182014

P.T. Pinups

 


I'm not a fan of Inherent Vice much but it will inspire lots of fun fan art and/or official stuff... like this banner poster starring Katherine Waterston as "Shasta Fay". (Her hair is filled with secrets characters.)

I wish P.T. still wrote memorable female characters (sigh) even the kind of vacant bimbos like Rollergirl used to be awesome. With There Will Be Blood he basically left them behind altogether. Inherent Vice has a dozen or so female roles and only two of them are halfway interesting (Yay, Jena Malone and Jeannie Berlin cameos).

Uh-oh... I feel a list attack coming on. It can't be stopped 

Female Characters in P.T. Anderson films from Most Fascinating to Least
(not comprehensive but the major ones) 

 

  1. Amber Waves (Boogie Nights)
  2. Linda Partridge (Magnolia)
  3. Rollergirl (Boogie Nights)
  4. Gwenovier (Magnolia)
  5. Lena Leonard (Punch-Drunk Love)
  6. Peggy Dodd (The Master)
  7. Clementine (Hard Eight)
  8. Jessie St Vincent (Boogie Nights)
  9. Becky Barnett (Boogie Nights)
  10. Elizabeth Egan (Punch-Drunk Love)
  11. Claudia Wilson Gator (Magnolia)
  12. Hope Harlingen (Inherent Vice -cameo)
  13. Aunt Reet (Inherent Vice - cameo)
  14. Rose Gator (Magnolia)
  15. Xandra (Inherent Vice)
  16. Helen Sullivan (The Master)
  17. Petunia Leeway (Inherent Vice)
  18. Penny (Inherent Vice)
  19. Japonica Fenway (Inherent Vice)
  20. Sortilege (Inherent Vice - great voice that Joanna Newsom has, though)
  21. Shasta Fay Hepworth (Inherent Vice)

 

Friday
Aug242012

VIDEO ESSAY: There Will Be Blood and Symmetry

Hey everybody! It’s Matt.

Five years have passed since we last heard from Paul Thomas Anderson, but he returns on September 14th with The Master, a movie that has been the object of considerable anticipation related to a few surprise screenings and its subject matter. Anderson’s phalanx of adoring fans has already started to speculate on The Master’s Oscar potential. While it is meaningless to start daydreaming about Anderson’s acceptance speech before we've seen the movie, there are several reasons to get excited about The Master.

Above all, it is crucial to recognize that Anderson has managed to improve with every project. He has progressed from the boisterous creative ecstasy of Boogie Nights, Hard Eight, and Magnolia to the tight formal elegance of Punch-Drunk Love and There Will Be Blood. There Will Be Blood, one of the many great films released in 2007, is especially notable for its visual and thematic maturity. Anderson used a careful system of symmetries and visual rhymes to hold together the sprawling, epic subject.

In this video essay, I demonstrate how Paul Thomas Anderson communicates his ideas. The video is graciously hosted by IndieWire’s Press Play. Be sure to head over and check out a brief introduction. Special thanks to Matt Zoller Seitz, someone I really look up to, for his assistance.

Monday
Jul162012

Burning Questions: The Best of Bonus Features

Hey everybody. Michael C here to rifle through your video collections like a guy at a garage sale.

All of us probably have enough material residing in the bonus features of our DVD collections to fill a respectable film studies course for a semester or two.

The first time I was introduced to a bonus feature was a double VHS box set of Scream with a second cassette featuring a Wes Craven commentary. Since then, like most cinephiles, I’ve spent countless hours wading through commentaries, behind the scenes featurettes, deleted scenes, and other supplemental material, much of it interesting, some of it entertaining, a good chunk of it filler.

Since so many of us have amassed movies collections over the years to rival the Library of Congress, it stands to reasons there should be some gems buried in there. So it is with genuine curiosity that I put this question to the floor: Which Bluray/DVD extra features do you treasure for their own sake, apart from the films to which they are attached?


The bonus feature I most often return to is Magnolia Diary: the documentary chronicling the creation of PT Anderson’s ’99 opus of dysfunctional parents, children and frogs.

Behind the scenes cinematic chronicles are a sub-genre of documentaries that have produced masterpieces such as Heart of Darkness: A Filmmaker’s Apocalypse and Burden of Dreams. Magnolia Diary doesn’t quite belong in that distinguished company but I would easily rank it the equal of Lost in La Mancha, the doc recording the painful death of Terry Gilliam’s long-in-the-works Don Quixote movie.

What sets it apart from the thousands of other making of docs is the stunning amount of access, going so far as to wander through the orchestra during the recording of the score. There are numerous moments where we eavesdrop on the most sensitive moments in the process, as when Anderson runs lines with Melinda Dillon and Philip Baker Hall for their dramatic confrontation.

It plays like a documentary companion to Making Movies, Sidney Lumet’s essential book on the filmmaking process. It's packed with goodies like Julianne Moore explaining how she pitched her performance to the operatic tone of the script, or the director and Philip Seymour Hoffman having a friendly argument about just how much actorly "business" he adds to the simplest of actions. There is much ado about transforming the climactic plague of frogs from a screenwriter's flight of fancy to a filmable reality.

So that is my favorite bonus feature. What’s yours? Is there a commentary you return to often? Let's hear about it in the comments.

You can follow Michael C. on Twitter at @SeriousFilm or read his blog Serious Film.