When I saw Magnolia the first time, the sum total of what I knew about the movie, going in to the theater, could fit on an index card: This was a movie by the guys who did Boogie Nights but it was about the 90s not the 70s. That’s it; that was what I knew. I rarely go into a film totally blind, but I’d loved Boogie Nights so Paul Thomas Anderson was enough of a recommendation for me.
To be honest, Magnolia emotionally knee-capped me. I cried, and not just in that oops got something in my eye; damn that guy with too much cologne kind of way. We’re talking full blown weeping complete with nose blowing. And so I am loathe to talk too much about the specifics of the movie in case there are some of you who have not seen it.
What I’ll say is this: the “magnolia” in the title is Magnolia Boulevard that runs most of the length of the east valley. The film follows the intersecting stories of a number of different Valley characters, all of whom are damaged and fundamentally isolated.
Twice in the movie, we hear the line, “And the book says, ‘We may be through with the past, but the past is not through with us.’” And so it seems for our characters who are all, in their way, wounded by their history. Much of the drama in the movie comes from the effort to outrun or deny the past, the personal equivalent of L.A.’s propensity to raze and rebuild, raze and rebuild. After all, California is where people go to reinvent themselves, no? Continue reading L.A. Plays Itself in the Movies: Magnolia