Magnolia

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(1999) ★★★★

Sky Movies Select: Wednesday 16 September, 12.15am

As his estranged father lays dying of cancer, crusading TV sexologist Tom Cruise espouses neanderthal treatment of women. An audacious piece of film-making from Boogie Nights director Paul Thomas Anderson, here putting a miserable array of Los Angelinos through the emotional mangler in an operatic cross-generational soap. The multi-strand story is bound together by a bizarre chain of events, which turn out to be coincidences with simple explanations.

The 1997 short German film Chainsmoker dealt with similar material in a curt 10 minutes, but Anderson indulges his able cast with three hours of humiliating confessional material. There are extraordinary moments – Julianna Moore’s meltdown in a pharmacy – and terrific acting – the empathetic care-worker essayed by the fidgety Philip Seymour Hoffman, the do-gooding cop played with painful candour by John C. Reilly, and Philip Baker Hall as the ailing presenter of the long-running TV quiz show What Do Kids Know? There’s a religious fervour, too, to the music by Jon Brion and the carefully integrated songs by Aimee Mann.

Intriguing as sequences are in isolation, does it all add up to anything more than a bravura exhibitionist soap? What do critics know? Or even fellow film-makers, come to that. This was the reaction of Clerks and Dogma director Kevin Smith (no relation): “I’ll never watch it again, but I will keep it. I’ll keep it right on my desk, as a constant reminder that a bloated sense of self-importance is the most unattractive quality in a person or their work.”

Certificate: 18

Duration: 181min

IMDB – Magnolia

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Other Showings Time & Date
Sky Movies Greats Saturday, 19 September at 2:20AM
Sky Movies Select Thursday, 24 September at 12:50AM