The magnolia is a perennial flower: its recurring bloom signals spring’s arrival and the bark of the tree it grows from can be used to treat anxiety and cancer. Magnolia Boulevard is a street that runs through Burbank, California—the media capital of the world, just miles from Hollywood and downtown Los Angeles. Neither of these things is explained outright in Magnolia, writer-director Paul Thomas Anderson’s 1999 opus, but even without awareness of them, the viewer begins to form an intuitive understanding of how the beauty, complexity, and fragility of a flower may relate to the tapestry of lives on display in the movie.
Magnolia is a young man’s movie. It’s a crinkled, wet valentine to the Valley (San Fernando, where Burbank is located and where the film is set). Anderson was still in his twenties when he made it, and juxtaposed with the mature back half of his filmography to date, it pulses like a drop-kicked dog without a leash. Sometimes it barks off into the unknown with elliptical subplots. Sometimes it chases its own tail, looping back on itself with crescendoing crosscuts. Though it all, hangs a persistent storm cloud of emotion, the kind that enslaves hurt people until they’re liberated by a rain of frogs.
After the success of Boogie Nights, Anderson’s exuberant porn-family film, New Line Cinema gave the young filmmaker carte blanche to make an achingly personal, 3-hour drama with an ensemble cast and the biggest budget of his career. Blame the audience, blame the Internet, blame risk-averse studio executives, but Hollywood’s gatekeepers don’t allow many movies like that to enter the multiplex anymore. In Collateral, Tom Cruise’s steely hitman pegged L.A. as a place that was “too sprawled out, disconnected.” In Magnolia, he plays Frank T.J. Mackey, a misogynistic seduction seminar leader whose story intertwines with that of other characters to form the obverse narrative, whereby everything is interconnected despite the ungainly sprawl.
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The Morning Watch is a recurring feature that highlights a handful of noteworthy videos from around the web. They could be video essays, fanmade productions, featurettes, short films, hilarious sketches, or just anything that has to do with our favorite movies and TV shows.
In this edition, an animated short runs through 80 years of Superman, started with his comic origins and soaring through his most recent big screen adaptation. Plus, a video essay takes a closer look at the toxic masculinity in the films of Paul Thomas Anderson, and a movie trailer parody imagines what it might be like if Matt Damon bought Jurassic Park. Read More »
(Welcome to Now Stream This, a column dedicated to the best movies streaming on Netflix, Amazon, Hulu, and every other streaming service out there.)
In dire need of something to stream, right now? Right this very minute? Then you’re in luck! As usual, I’ve scoured the best streaming services and brought back the best streaming options available for your viewing pleasure. Here you’ll find a saga from Paul Thomas Anderson; a dramadey about writer’s block; an underrated film from M. Night Shyamalan; a John Carpenter classic; a horror movie unlike any other; a star-studded alien invasion comedy; and more!
These are the best movies streaming right now. Let’s get streaming.
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Paul Thomas Anderson might have his next project lined-up, and it has a whopper of a screenplay. According to the Phantom Thread filmmaker, the script for this film runs a staggering 600 pages. Now Anderson has to find a way to cut it down to a more manageable length. More on Paul Thomas Anderson’s next film below.
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Folks, not only is Paul Thomas Anderson very good at making movies, he’s also very good at the internet. The acclaimed filmmaker is out there promoting his new masterpiece Phantom Thread, and in a series of recent Q&As, via Reddit and Twitter, he proceeded to charm the hell out of everyone and offer some good advice (to others, and to himself). See the results of the Paul Thomas Anderson Q&A below.
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Right now you can see Paul Thomas Anderson‘s latest film, The Phantom Thread, in limited theaters. This weekend it expands to theaters everywhere, but if you’re not rushing out to see it, maybe you’ll want to look back at one of the filmmaker’s earlier films with a new collectible vinyl release from Mondo.
The 1999 ensemble drama Magnolia is getting a vinyl soundtrack release that features all of the songs created by singer and songwriter Aimee Mann, as well as the complete score composed by Jon Brion. Read More »
How a film opens says a lot about its style and tone, and can turn people off or make them sit forward in their seats with curiosity. This week’s big new release, Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2, has a hard act to follow; its 2014 predecessor had a memorable opening in which hero Peter Quill/Star-Lord dances through an alien world, blasting “Come and Get Your Love” on his old Walkman. As we wait to see if Vol. 2 lives up to the original, let’s look at 15 of the best opening scenes in movies.
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Two movies. That’s all it took for every single Paul Thomas Anderson movie to become an event. His first film, Hard Eight, opened with relatively little fanfare. His second, Boogie Nights, announced to the world that Anderson would be a filmmaker to celebrate. One whose work we would anticipate, possibly revere. With each subsequent film, film fans everywhere have salivated to find out what Anderson has in store for us next.
The latest event, Inherent Vice, opens in limited release this weekend. It’s both a huge departure for the director in that it’s the first film of his directly based on someone else’s work (the inspiration for There Will Be Blood was very different from the final film), but somehow it also perfectly fits into his career. Like most of his movies, it’s a film set in and around California and tells a story about its history. Anderson loves California, and that interest shows in almost every one of his movies. And while exploring that running theme, each of his seven movies gets more confident and daring. There has yet to be a single misstep.
Still, there has to be some kind of hierarchy, right? Some kind of almost impossible deathmatch in which these seven glorious works are pitted against one another, to see which triumphs.
Below, read our ranking of the best Paul Thomas Anderson movies. Read More »
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If you’re like me, you’ve had the DVD for Paul Thomas Anderson‘s Magnolia for over a decade. The film was released 1999 and the DVD arrived a year later. And while it was kind of bare bones in terms of extras, one extra was simply stunning. It’s called That Moment, and is a 72 minute diary/documentary by Mark Rance about the making of the film.
On its own, that’s not really a huge deal. Making of documentaries on DVDs are a dime a dozen. But for a filmmaker like Paul Thomas Anderson, it’s a massive deal. This, and the director commentaries on the Boogie Nights DVD, are a film fan’s best resource into the brain of the shy filmmaker.
So why are we talking about this in 2014? While That Moment has obviously been available for almost 15 years on DVD, it wasn’t readily available online. That’s now changed. Below, watch the entire Magnolia documentary That Moment. Read More »
This month, Paul Thomas Anderson is set to start filming his seventh feature film, Inherent Vice. For fans of the generally shy director, that’s reason enough to celebrate. Now Mondo has sweetened the pot considerably, announcing a poster series for the films of Anderson curated by artist Aaron Horkey.
Hard Eight, Boogie Nights, Magnolia, Punch-Drunk Love and There Will Be Blood all are getting brand new posters this week, from a variety of artists, and you can check them out below. Read More »