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Declare independence! Don't let them do that to you!!

Saturday, September 09, 2006

The Transition To Our Time Frame 

The Transition To Our Time Frame
These strange things happen all the time.

I saw Paul Thomas Anderson's Magnolia again last night. It's probably only been a year since I've seen it last, but it hit me as hard sitting on Rachael's couch with a glass of wine in me as it did sitting next to my mother in a theater in Union Square, NYC seven years earlier. Some experiences mark you and the time theyre in. You look back to the experience and suddenly those same emotions are running through you, as if a river of thought and being were engulfing you. Connecting every moment in your life as if it were all part of the same ocean. Music is like that. Movies are like that too. Last night, Magnolia took me to a troubled junior year of high school, a harrowing, wondrous, monstrous 1999. And as it did oh so long ago, by the end of the film, I felt as if every atom in my body heaved a deep cathartic sigh. It's a truly moving film. And so goddamn well shot! I look at it now, and I see just how much it's influenced me as an appreciator of film and a photographer. Siiigh...

Don't think however that everyone love's P.T. Anderson's three hour opus. This is what filmmaker Kevn Smith had to say to a forum poster on his View Askew website, responding to how the poster had seen it three times thus far: "You poor, poor man. They sent me an Academy screener DVD this week. 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." Sometimes Kevin, the bravado and pomp is just what the doctor ordered. Sometimes the parade floats really do need to be that big, go that high.

In any case, the end of the film ends with this brilliant (Oh no, the 'B' word!) slow zoom in. Claudia, is sitting on her bed, she's been crying for what seems like hours, having just been reunited with her mother only an hour after she went out and subsequently ran out of her first date with Jim, the LAPD officer she met earlier that day. She ran out because she was terrified that once the newness wore off he would hate her. That he would learn details of her life and recoil in horror. Anyway, Claudia is sitting there as Jim walks in, it's the morning after she left him at the restaurant, some hushed piano notes roll over the scene starting Aimee Mann's 'Save Me'. The song is soft, but Jim's speech is even softer. We are not really supposed to make out the entirety of his deliverance, but his tone and the few words we hear, here and there are enough to give us an indication of what he's saying. We can't see his face, heck we barely see him at all, the camera is completely on Claudia, and yet we know that he's gushing. Laying it all down, pouring out the love that every character in the film so desperately needs. And we can't even hear it! Well, I found the text of what he said last night, and a wave of goose bumps rolled up my back as I read it, it's just so damned bril- beautiful. Okay, without further ado, the final lines of Magnolia....

Jim Kurring: [to Claudia] I can't let this go. I can't let you go. Now, you... you listen to me now. You're a good person. You're a good and beautiful person and I won't let you walk out on me. And I won't let you say those things - those things about how stupid you are and this and that. I won't stand for that. You want to be with me... then you be with me. You see?
[Claudia smiles]

Magnolia, Directed by Paul Thomas Anderson, 1999: 5 Stars
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