Tag: Short Cuts

30 Day Film Challenge: Day 17 – Your Favorite Drama Film

Day 17 – Your Favorite Drama Film

This movie often filp flops with There Will Be Blood as my favorite movie of all time. Where TWBB is a focused study of a man grabbing at whatever he can to get rich, Magnolia pulls back and looks at a dozen or so LA denizens and how their lives weave in and out of each other’s. It’s not the first movie to do such a thing and it owes a lot of debt to Robert Altman’s Short Cuts in both its form and function. But there’s a kind of craziness that underlies everything. This being PTA’s third film he is mostly allowed to go all out on the filmmaking front. There’s a couple of multi-minute-long shots, the characters take a break in the middle of the film to have a cosmic sing-along, and then there’s the ending. It’s a pretty audacious piece of work but what makes it my favorite drama film is the characters. Like I said earlier there are about a dozen characters and all of the directorial trickery works to make you care about each and every one of them. From Tom Cruise’s woman-hating public speaker to John C. Reilly’s well meaning police officer to Melora Walters’ junkie caught between love and addiction, each of the characters has a full life which we glimpse for only a day. It is one of the best combinations of script, direction, and acting I have ever seen and it never fails to get my tear ducts working. Sometimes it’s Cruise’s confession at his dying father’s bedside or the heartbreaking date between Reilly and Walters that ends with this line, “Now that I’ve met you, would you object to never seeing me again?” or the final, redemptive scene of the film; they knit together to create a dazzling and desperately human work of art.
Notes:

  • I have, for some reason, only seen this film twice. I feel like I should go out and buy it right now. I’ve talked myself into it.
  • As hard as it was for me to not turn this into a Borzage-fest, it will be just as hard to keep all of PTA’s films off the list. There may or may not be another one coming up soon.
  • There were roughly a billion other films I could have chosen for this spot including films like The Assassination of  Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford and most of Borzage’s movies and The Searchers and How Green Was My Valley and so on and so forth.
  • LOOK AT THE AWESOME!

30 Day Film Challenge: Day 14 – The Film That No One Expected You To Like

Day 14 – The Film That No One Expected You To Like
In 2006 I had never seen an Atlman film before. I’d never listened to the radio show this movie is based on. I didn’t really know who most of these actors were (this was towards the beginning of my movie education). On top of all of that it’s a movie about a faux-old-timey radio show getting shut down. There was nothing in this movie for me to like. But I loved it. There’s a kind of ease that permeates the film. Yes, these people are losing their jobs (and the end makes it seem more like they’re dying, which is practically the same thing) but they’re so comfortable with each other that they know everything is going to be fine. In later years I saw more Altman and more movies with these performers and I learned to appreciate that everything has the potential to be good. Even a quasi-musical staring Lindsay Lohan and Garrison Keillor.
Notes:
  • The performances in this movie are all great. They do the typical Altman overlapping dialogue which is fun but the more low-key aspect distinguishes it from some of his other stuff (Short Cuts, for example, is way more manic, I think).
  • It’s kind of fitting that this is Altman’s last movie. It feels like it. The end of a performance and the end of an era. That final diner scene is just fantastic. If there is a heaven I would like it to be like that.
  • This song is freaking hilarious. It’s not exactly indicative of the rest of the film but it is super great.