The first Paul Thomas Anderson’s film I saw was his take on addiction and gambling called Hard Eight. It featured John C. rilley, Gwyneth Paltrow and the awesome Philip Baker Hall. It was filled with despicable characters who were selfish and hurt others to get what they wanted. I liked it very much and thought Anderson was definitely a filmmaker to watch.
His next piece of work was Boogie Nights, which further solidified his status as one of the best directors working today. Then, he released another seminal work of great distinction in Magnolia. This film, yet another pian to selfishness and the darker aspects of humanity, takes place in a single day in Los Angeles, focusing on a number of interconnected people whose lives are forever changed as they search for love and meaning in a chaotic world.
The film chronicles such diverse occurrences as a suicide turned homicide by a quirk of timing; a motivational speaker motivated by rage; and a quiz kid rendered stupid by a lightning strike and features Tom Cruise in what could arguably be called his best performance to date. Besides Cruise, look for more great acting from Philip Seymour Hoffman, William H. Macy, Jason Robards, Philip Baker Hall and Julianne Moore.
Now, thanks to the modern marvels of Blu-ray, we can experience this great film once again. As with other films that don’t really bring the spectacle of giant action set pieces and explosions, Magnolia is one of those films that I felt probably didn’t need the Blu-ray treatment. However, after watching the film again on Blu-ray for this review, I think it actually benefits greatly from it.
The higher resolution of the Blu-ray actually seems to help bring you closer to these people and their lives. Because you can get closer and the picture is sharp enough, it actually helps establish a more intimate experience for the viewer. In the past I had been somewhat skeptical that every film needs to be a Blu-ray release, but if they all are helped by the expreicne as Magnolia is, then perhaps its time to rethink my position.
As with other Warner Bros. releases, the transfer is excellent and the extra features are interesting and well done. Among those extra features are a Magnolia Video Diary Covers the Blossoming of a Modern-Day Masterwork, the Seduce and Destroy Infomercial. the Theatrical Trailers and the full Frank T.J. Mackey Seminar
But while the special features are interesting and provide further insight into the film, the film itself is the real star here. This new treatment of the film allows the viewer to once again be captured and enthralled by these characters as they struggle in life, which in many ways mirrors our own struggle. Sure, it often isn’t pretty, but then again neither is life itself. It just is.
As Cruise’s character Frank T.J. Mackey so effectively effuses during the film: “Respect the c**k.” For this release and for its place in history, it should definitely instead read ‘Respect Magnolia.”