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.
The Lincoln Lawyer Directed by: Brad Furman Written by: John Romano (screenplay), Michael Connelly (book) Starring: Matthew McConaughey, Marisa Tomei, Ryan Phillippe, and William H. Macy
Matthew McConaughey is one of the most knocked around actors working in the modern Hollywood studio system. He’s so derided by critics that people forget that he can actually act. So here he is in The Lincoln Lawyer, putting on a shirt and a serious face and earning back some street cred.
Directed by Brad Furman with a keen sense of what thrills and what doesn’t, The Lincoln Lawyer is a court procedural that stresses politics outside the courtroom as much as in them. It’s a movie with a story to tell (one originated by Michael Connelly), one that isn’t watered down to the basics or drowned out by explosions.