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Movie Review: Magnolia

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Written and directed by Paul Thomas Anderson.
1999.

Magnolia gets heat for being long, but I don’t think so. For me, it’s more like spending three hours (or, if you go by the movie’s timeline, one rainy day) in the company of interesting and sometimes horrible people (in other words: people). For your consideration: Anderson’s adept handling of mise en scene, the camera’s movement, the lighting, the editing — all top notch. Also, the way the rain beads on Officer Jim’s uniform. The sequence in Claudia’s apartment — when Jim responds to a “disturbance” — remains one of the most endearing things I’ve seen on film.  As for those much-maligned frogs, well, there are foreshadowings throughout the movie, glimpses of signs bearing a tell-tale verse from Exodus (though they’re hardly visible on the small screen), and the entire movie builds toward a revelation of this sort: that there is a power at work in the minutiae of life, that yes, strange things do happen all the time, but not without design. So why frogs? I don’t know. And I’m not sure I’m meant to. I like that.

“The book says, ‘We might be through with the past, but the past ain’t through with us.'” — Jimmy Gator

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