ARCHIVE REVIEW: Magnolia

Magnolia
Directed by: Paul Thomas Anderson
Written by: Paul Thomas Anderson
Starring: Tom Cruise, Julianne Moore, William H. Macy, and Philip Seymour Hoffman

Capturing the entirety of the human experience is an ambitious goal, one that many filmmakers never really feel up to tackling.  Paul Thomas Anderson thinks its third feature material.  Let’s face it though, the movies are better when the focus is narrowed.

That’s not to say Magnolia is not a beautiful, often breathtaking piece of work.  It is, in fact, a blueprint of sorts of the new decade of filmmaking that was to follow in the year 2000.  The seemingly unrelated yet interwoven storylines of films like Traffic, Babel or Crash meet the bizarreness of network television polluting Requiem for a Dream.  Bookending the film is the snarky know-it-all narrator you may know from Woody Allen films.

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ARCHIVE REVIEW: The Girl Who Played with Fire

The Girl Who Played with Fire
Directed by: Daniel Alfredson
Written by: Jonas Frykberg (screenplay), Sieg Larsson (book)
Starring: Noomi Rapace, Michael Nyqvist, Georgi Staykov, and Lena Endre

Lisbeth Salander (Noomi Rapace) is one with her computer, an ideal that this Swedish adaptation of the Swedish bestseller makes all too clear by framing a close-up of her eyes and projecting the screen she sees over them.  It’s an indelible, near-iconic image, and the film’s sole upstaging of the book.

The weak link in the adaptation of Stieg Larsson’s first book in The Millennium Trilogy, The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo, was that it broke the suspense of the serial killer investigation by becoming almost as emotionally detached as its troubled heroine.  Salander is the undeniable strength of both the books and the movies.  Larsson has noticeably more invested in penning her part of the story, and both directors (Daniel Alfredson in this movie) have clearly had a ball unraveling her tale.

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