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Magnolia is 1999 film about dramatic and humorous events in the lives of many people, intertwined in a 24-hour span of coincidence and chance in Los Angeles, California, on a day of extremely variable weather.
Written and directed by Paul Thomas Anderson
- For quotes on the flower itself, see: Magnolia
- It is in the humble opinion of this narrator that this is not just "something that happened." This cannot be "one of those things"... This, please, cannot be that. And for what I would like to say, I can't. This was not just a matter of chance. … These strange things happen all the time.
- We may be through with the past, but the past is never through with us.
Claudia Wilson Gator
- I'll tell you everything, and you tell me everything, and maybe we can get through all the piss and shit and lies that kill other people.
- Let me tell you something, this is not an easy job. I get a call on the radio, dispatch, it's bad news. And it stinks. But this is my job and I love it. Because I want to do well. In this life and in this world, I want to do well. And I want to help people. And I might get twenty bad calls a day. But one time I can help someone and make a save, correct a wrong or right a situation, then I'm a happy cop. And as we move through this life we should try and do good. Do good... And if we can do that, and not hurt anyone else, well... then...
- I lost my gun today when I left you and I'm the laughingstock of a lot of people. I wanted to tell you. I wanted you to know and it's on my mind. And it makes me look like a fool. And I feel like a fool. And you asked that we should say things, that we should say what we're thinking and not lie about things. Well, I can tell you that, this, that I lost my gun today, and I am not a good cop. And I'm looked down at. And I know that. And I'm scared that once you find that out you may not like me.
- A lot of people think this is just a job that you go to... take a lunch hour, the job's over, something like that. But it's a 24-hour deal... no two ways about it... and what most people don't see is just how hard it is to do the right thing. People think if I make a judgment call, that it's a judgment on them. But that's not what I do, and that's not what should be done. I have to take everything and play it as it lays. Sometimes people need a little help. Sometimes people need to be forgiven. And sometimes they need to go to jail. And that's a very tricky thing on my part... making that call. The law is the law, and heck if I'm gonna break it. But if you can forgive someone... well, that's the tough part. What can we forgive? Tough part of the job. Tough part of walking down the street.
- I can't let this go. I can't let you go. Now, you... you listen to me now. You're a good person. You're a good and beautiful person and I won't let you walk out on me. And I won't let you say those things, those things about how stupid you are and this and that. I won't stand for that. You want to be with me... then you be with me. You see?
- I loved her so. She knew what I did, she knew all the fucking stupid things I’d done. But the love was stronger of anything you can think of. The goddamn regret. THE GODDAMN REGRET! And I’ll die, now I’ll die and I’ll tell you what. The biggest regret of my life, I let my love go. What did I do? I’m sixty-five years old, and I’m ashamed. Million years ago, the fucking regret and guilt, these things... don’t ever let anyone ever say to you, you shouldn’t regret anything. Don’t do that, don't! You regret what you fucking want, use that, use that, use that regret for anything, any way you want, you can use it, OK? Oh, God. This is a long way to go with no punch. A little moral, story I say: Love...Love...Love. This fucking life, it’s so fucking hard. So long, Life ain’t short it’s long, it’s long. God damn it! God damn, what did I do? What did I do? What did I do?
Frank T.J. Mackey
- In this big game that we play, life, it's not what you hope for, it's not what you deserve, it's what you take. I'm Frank T.J. Mackey, a master of the muffin and author of the Seduce and Destroy system now available to you on video and audio cassette. Seduce and Destroy will teach you the techniques to have any hardbody blonde just dripping to wet your dock. Bottom line? Language. The magical key to unlocking the female analytical mindset. Tap directly into her hopes, her wants, her fears, her desires, and her sweet little panties. Learn how to make that lady "friend" your sex-starved servant. I don't care how you look. I don't care what car you drive. I don't care what your last bank statement says. Seduce and Destroy produces an instant money-back guarantee trance-like state that will get you this ´— naughty sauce you want fast. Hey — how many more times do you need to hear the all-too-famous line of "I just don't feel that way about you?"
- Respect the cock! And tame the cunt! Tame it! Take it on headfirst with the skills that I will teach you at work and say no! You will not control me! No! You will not take my soul! No! You will not win this game! Because it's a game, guys. You want to think it's not, huh? You want to think it's not? Go back to the schoolyard and you have that crush on big-titted Mary Jane. Respect the cock. You are embedding this thought. I am the one who's in charge. I am the one who says yes! No! Now! Here! Because it's universal, man. It is evolutional. It is anthropological. It is biological. It is animal. We... are... men! [simulating sexual thrusting]
- Men are shit. What? Men... are... shit. What, isn't that what they say? Because we do bad things, don't we? We do horrible, heinous, heinous, terrible things. Things that no woman would ever do. No, women, they don't lie. No, women don't cheat. Women don't manipulate us. But you see what I'm getting at. You see what society does? Little boys, it's, "Wow, womaaaan!" We are taught to apologize. I am sorry. I am so sorry, baby. I am so sorry. What is it that we need? Is it their pussies? Their love? Mommy wouldn't let me play soccer... and Daddy, he hit me, so that's who I am, that's why I do what I do? Fucking bullshit. I will not apologize for who I am. I will not apologize for what I need. I will not apologize for what I want!
- Young Pharmacy Kid: Strong, strong stuff here. What exactly you have wrong, you need all this stuff?
- Linda Partridge: Motherfucker.
- Young Pharmacy Kid: What are you talking about?
- Linda Partridge: Who the fuck are you? Who the fuck do you think you are? I come in here. You don't know me. You don't know who I am, what my life is. You have the balls, the indecency to ask me a question about my life?
- Old Pharmacist: Please, lady, why don't you calm down?
- Linda Partridge: Fuck you, too. Don't call me "lady". I come in here, I give these things to you. You check, you make your phone calls, look suspicious, ask questions. I'm sick. I have sickness all around me and you fucking ask me about my life? "What's wrong?" Have you seen death in your bed? In your house? Where's your fucking decency? And then I'm asked fucking questions. What's... wrong? You suck my dick. That's what's wrong. And you, you fucking call me "lady"? Shame on you. Shame on you. Shame on both of you.
- Phil Parma: When was the last time you talked to your son?
- Earl Partridge: ...I don't know. Ten, maybe... five... [moans]... that's another thing that goes...
- Phil Parma: Your memory?
- Earl Partridge: Time lines, you know? I remember things, but not... right there, you know?
- Phil Parma: Yeah.
- Earl Partridge: "Yeah". The fuck do you know?
- Phil Parma: I've seen it before.
- Earl Partridge: Yeah, other assholes like me.
- Phil Parma: Oh, there's no asshole like you.
- Earl Partridge: Cocksucker.
- Phil Parma: How come every other word you use is either "cocksucker", "shitballs" or "fuck"?
- Earl Partridge: Do me a personal favor.
- Phil Parma: Go fuck myself?
- Earl Partridge: Yeah, you got it.
- Gwenovier: Come on, Frank. What are you doing?
- Frank T.J. Mackey: What am I doing? I'm quietly judging you.
- Rose Gator: Why doesn't Claudia... talk to you, Jimmy?
- Jimmy Gator: Why? Because we've... We both don't know. What do you mean?
- Rose Gator: No, I think you know.
- Jimmy Gator: Maybe... I don't.
- Rose Gator: Say it, Jimmy.
- Jimmy Gator: I think she thinks... that I may have... molested her. She thinks terrible things that somehow got into her head... that I may have done. She said that to me last time, when it was... ten years ago, she walked out the door. "You touched me wrong. I know that." Some crazy thought in her head.
- Rose Gator: Did you ever touch her?
- Jimmy Gator: I don't know.
- Rose Gator: [covers her mouth in disgust] ... Jimmy!...
- Jimmy Gator: I don't know. I really don't.
- Rose Gator: But you can't say!
- Jimmy Gator: I don't know what I've done.
- Rose Gator: [angry] Yes, you do. You do! But you won't say!
- Jimmy Gator: I don't know. What? Please? Please.
- Rose Gator: You deserve to die alone for what you've done!
- Jimmy Gator: I don't know what I've done!
- Rose Gator: [beginning to cry] Yes, you do!
- Jimmy Gator: Rose, if I said that I knew, would you stay?
- Rose Gator: No!
- Jimmy Gator: But I don't know what I've done.
- Rose Gator: You should know better!
- Quiz Kid Donnie Smith: You look like you have money in your pocket.
- Thurston Howell: Maybe I'm just happy to see my friend Brad there.
- Quiz Kid Donnie Smith: Just throw some money around. Money, money, money.
- Thurston Howell: This sounds threatening.
- Quiz Kid Donnie Smith: Do you have love in your heart?
- Thurston Howell: I have love all over. I even have love for you, friend.
- Quiz Kid Donnie Smith: Is it real love? The kind of love that makes you feel... that intangible joy... pit of your stomach... like a bucket of acid and nerves running around... making you hurt and happy and all over... You're head over heels?
- Thurston Howell: You lost me with the last couple of cocktail words spoken my boy... but I believe it's that sort of love. Sounds nice to me.
- Quiz Kid Donnie Smith: I have love.
- Thurston Howell: A very chatty kind, indeed you do.
- Quiz Kid Donnie Smith: No, I mean I'm telling you - I have love.
- Thurston Howell: Yes, and I'm listening avidly, fella.
- Quiz Kid Donnie Smith: My name is Donnie Smith, and I have lots of love to give.
- Quiz Kid Donnie Smith: I used to be smart, but now I'm just stupid.
- Thurston Howell: Brad, dear, who was it that said..."A man of genius has seldom been ruined but by himself"?
- Quiz Kid Donnie Smith: [quietly; to himself] ... Samuel Johnson...
- Thurston Howell: It was the lovely Samuel Johnson! Who also spoke of a fellow "who was not only dull... but a cause of dullness in others."
- Quiz Kid Donnie Smith: "The cause of dullness in others."
- Thurston Howell: Picky picky!
- Quiz Kid Donnie Smith: Let me tell you this; Samuel Johnson never had his life shit on... and taken from him, and his money stolen! Who took his life and his money? His parents? His mommy, and daddy? Make him live this life like this... A man of genius who gets shit on as a child!... and that scars! That hurts! Have you ever been hit by lightning? It hurts. It doesn't happen to everyone. It's an electrical charge. It finds its way across the universe... and it lands in your body, and your head! And as for ruined, but by himself... not if his parents took his freaking life... and his money, and tell you to do this... and to do that, and if you don't...!
- Smiling Peanut Patron #1: Your parents took your money you won on that game show?
- Quiz Kid Donnie Smith: Yes! They did. [to Thurston] What does that mean, a spoke in the wheel?
- Thurston Howell: Things go round and round, don't they?
- Quiz Kid Donnie Smith: Yes, they do... They do. But I'll make my dreams come true.
- Thurston Howell: Sounds sad as a weeping willow.
- Quiz Kid Donnie Smith: I used to be smart. But now I'm just stupid.
- Thurston Howell: [raising his glass] Shall we drink to that?
- Quiz Kid Donnie Smith: I'm sick... I'm sick here now. I confuse melancholy with depression sometimes. You see?
- Thurston Howell: Why don't you run along now, friend? Your dessert is getting cold.
- Quiz Kid Donnie Smith: I'm sick.
- Thurston Howell: Stay that way.
- Quiz Kid Donnie Smith: I'm sick, and I'm in love.
- Thurston Howell: You seem the sort of person who confuses the two.
- Quiz Kid Donnie Smith: That's right! That's the first time you've been right. I confuse the two, and I don't care! [to Brad] I love you. I love you, and I'm sick. I'll talk to you - I'll talk to you tomorrow. I'm getting corrective oral surgery tomorrow... for my teeth. I love you, Brad. Brad the bartender. You want to love me back? I'll be good to you. I'll be goddamn good for you. I won't be mad if you don't know who said what. I won't punish you if you get the answer wrong. I can teach you, and tell you...
- Thurston Howell: Brad, you have a special secret crush over there, I think. Don't treat him too lovely. He might get hurt...
- Quiz Kid Donnie Smith: You, shut up! Mind your own business!
- Thurston Howell: Gently, son!
- Quiz Kid Donnie Smith: Brad, I know you don't love me now.
- Thurston Howell: It's a dangerous thing to confuse children with angels.
- Quiz Kid Donnie Smith: Brad, I know you don't love me now...You wanna know the common element for the entire group like he asked? I'll tell you the answer: I'll tell you 'cause I had that one. [pointing to the TV] I had that question. Carbon. Carbon. In pencil lead, it's in the form of graphite. In coal, it's mixed up with other impurities and in the diamond, it's in hard form. [in the voice of Jimmy Gator, the TV quiz show announcer] 'Well, all we really wanted to know was the common element, Donnie, but thank you for all that unnecessary knowledge. Ha, ha, kids! Head's so full of useless knowledge. Thank you. Thank you.' And the book says: 'We may be through with the past, but the past is not through with us!' [To Howell] And no, it is not dangerous to confuse children with angels!
- Linda Partridge: [to her lawyer] I have to tell you something, I have something to tell you. I want to change his will. Can I change his will? I need to....No, no, no, you see, uhm, I never loved him. I never loved him. Earl. When I met him, when I started, I met him, I fucked him, and I married him because I wanted his money. Do you understand? I'm telling you this. I've never told anyone, I didn't love him, but now, you know, I know I'm in that will. I mean, we're all there together. We made that fucking thing and all the money I'll get. And I don't want it, because I love him so much now. I've fallen in love with him now for real as he's dying. And, uhm, I look at him, and he's about to go, Alan. He's moments. I took care of him through this, Alan. What now, then? I don't want him to die. I didn't love him when we met, and I did so many bad things to him that he doesn't know. Things that I want to confess to him, but now I do. I love him....This isn't any fucking medication talking! This isn't -- I don't know, I don't know. Can you give me nothing? You, you have power of attorney! Can you go, can you go in the final fucking moments and change the will? I-I don't want any money. I couldn't live with myself with this thing that I've done. I've done so many bad things. I fucked around. I fucking cheated on him. I fucking cheated on him, Alan! There. There. You're his lawyer, our lawyer. I am his wife. We are married. I broke the contract of marriage. I fucked around on him many times. I sucked other men's cocks...
- Alan Kligman: Linda, stop. Now you take a moment, you breathe, and one thing at a time.
- Linda Partridge: Shut the fuck up.
- Alan Kligman: You know what would help you, Linda?
- Linda Partridge: Shut the fuck up. Shut the fuck up.
- Alan Kligman: You need to sober up.
- Linda Partridge: Now, you must really shut the fuck up now, please - shut the fuck up.
- Alan Kligman: Linda.
- Linda Partridge: I have to go.
- Alan Kligman: Let me call you a car, Linda.
- Linda Partridge: Shut the fuck up.
- Available on Magnolia: Music from the Motion Picture (1999); some of these songs are integrated very prominently into the stories of the film.
- One is the loneliest number that you'll ever do
Two can be as bad as one
It's the loneliest number since the number one
No is the saddest experience you'll ever know
Yes, it's the saddest experience you'll ever know.
- Oh, for the sake of momentum
I've allowed my fears to get larger than life.
And it's brought me to my current agendum
Whereupon I deny fulfillment has yet to arrive.
And I know life is getting shorter,
I can't bring myself to set the scene.
Even when it's approaching torture,
I've got my routine.
- "Momentum", by Aimee Mann
- Now that I've met you,
Would you object to
Never seeing each other again?
'Cause I can't afford to
Climb aboard you.
No one's got that much ego to spend.
So don't work your stuff,
Because I've got troubles enough.
No, don't pick on me
When one act of kindness could be
- "Deathly", by Aimee Mann
- The sex you're trading up for
What you hope is love
Is just another thing that
He'll be careless of.
But though there are caveats galore,
You've only got to love him more —
And you do;
You really do.
Even when it's all too clear.
- "You Do", by Aimee Mann
- You're sure
There's a cure.
And you have finally found it.
Will shrink you 'til you're underground
And living down.
But it's not going to stop.
It's not going to stop.
It's not going to stop
'Til you wise up.
- Like Peter Pan, or Superman,
You have come... to save me.
Come on and save me...
Why don't you save me?
If you could save me,
From the ranks of the freaks,
Who suspect they could never love anyone,
Except the freaks,
Who suspect they could never love anyone,
Except the freaks,
Who could never love anyone.
Quotes about Magnolia
- Sorted alphabetically by author or source
- I have a feeling, one of those gut feelings, that I'll make pretty good movies the rest of my life. And maybe I'll make some clunkers, maybe I'll make some winners, but I guess the way that I really feel is that Magnolia is, for better or worse, the best movie I'll ever make.
- Magnolia is operatic in its ambition, a great, joyous leap into melodrama and coincidence, with ragged emotions, crimes and punishments, deathbed scenes, romantic dreams, generational turmoil and celestial intervention, all scored to insistent music. It is not a timid film. … The movie is an interlocking series of episodes that take place during one day in Los Angeles, sometimes even at the same moment. Its characters are linked by blood, coincidence and by the way their lives seem parallel. Themes emerge: the deaths of fathers, the resentments of children, the failure of early promise, the way all plans and ambitions can be undermined by sudden and astonishing events. … All of these threads converge, in one way or another, upon an event there is no way for the audience to anticipate. This event is not "cheating," as some critics have argued, because the prologue fully prepares the way for it, as do some subtle references to Exodus. It works like the hand of God, reminding us of the absurdity of daring to plan. And yet plan we must, because we are human, and because sometimes our plans work out.
Magnolia is the kind of film I instinctively respond to. Leave logic at the door. Do not expect subdued taste and restraint, but instead a kind of operatic ecstasy. At three hours it is even operatic in length, as its themes unfold, its characters strive against the dying of the light, and the great wheel of chance rolls on toward them.
- Magnolia is a film of sadness and loss, of lifelong bitterness, of children harmed and adults destroying themselves. As the narrator tells us near the end, "We may be through with the past, but the past is never through with us." In this wreckage of lifetimes, there are two figures, a policeman and a nurse, who do what they can to offer help, hope and love. … The central theme is cruelty to children, and its lasting effect. This is closely linked to a loathing or fear of behaving as we are told, or think, that we should. … As an act of filmmaking, it draws us in and doesn't let go. It begins deceptively, with a little documentary about amazing coincidences (including the scuba diver scooped by a fire-fighting plane and dumped on a forest fire) … coincidences and strange events do happen, and they are as real as everything else. If you could stand back far enough, in fact, everything would be revealed as a coincidence. What we call "coincidences" are limited to the ones we happen to notice.
- In one beautiful sequence, Anderson cuts between most of the major characters all simultaneously singing Aimee Mann's "It's Not Going to Stop." A directorial flourish? You know what? I think it's a coincidence. Unlike many other "hypertext movies" with interlinking plots, Magnolia seems to be using the device in a deeper, more philosophical way. Anderson sees these people joined at a level below any possible knowledge, down where fate and destiny lie. They have been joined by their actions and their choices.
And all leads to the remarkable, famous, sequence near the film's end when it rains frogs. Yes. Countless frogs, still alive, all over Los Angeles, falling from the sky. That this device has sometimes been joked about puzzles me. I find it a way to elevate the whole story into a larger realm of inexplicable but real behavior. We need something beyond the human to add another dimension. Frogs have rained from the sky eight times this century, but never mind the facts. Attend instead to Exodus 8:2, which is cited on a placard in the film: "And if thou refuse to let them go, behold, I will smite your whole territory with frogs." Let who go? In this case, I believe, it refers not to people, but to fears, shames, sins.
Magnolia is one of those rare films that works in two entirely different ways. In one sense, it tells absorbing stories, filled with detail, told with precision and not a little humor. On another sense, it is a parable. The message of the parable, as with all good parables, is expressed not in words but in emotions. After we have felt the pain of these people, and felt the love of the policeman and the nurse, we have been taught something intangible, but necessary to know.
- Roger Ebert, in his review for Great Movies (27 November 2008)
- There is no film... EVER... that has made me think and made me feel and made me question like Magnolia. It made me laugh and cry and squirm and giggle with nervous laughter. Yet, I can't deny that five years later my life is changed because I've seen Magnolia. I sit here at my computer getting goosebumps at the tenderness of Philip Seymour Hoffman.
- Richard Propes, as quoted in Community Health Nursing: Caring for the Public's Health (2009) by Karen Saucier Lundy and Sharyn Janes, p. 957
- Easily one of the best films in recent memory, the severely underrated Magnolia won top prizes at the Berlin Film Festival and the Toronto Film Critics Association Awards but was virtually ignored by the Academy (it scored three nominations without a win among them).
Detractors missed its simple but affecting beauty. Writer/director P.T. Anderson assembles a riveting melodrama, or rather several riveting melodramas that can barely contain their energy and outpouring emotions. The individual vignettes, each brought to vivid life by a veteran cast at their best, are tied together by a theme as basic and yet crucial as forgiveness — a point driven home by Anderson’s use of biblical references (a certain amphibian in particular).
There’s nothing subtle about either Anderson’s ideas or his tendency to pay homage to Altman and Scorsese. And there’s no denying how lively and entertaining the whole experience is.
- Radheyan Simonpillai, in Review at Askmen.com (22 January 2010)
- Anderson's meandering multi-story megasoap with a message is over-ambitious, self-conscious, self-indulgent, self-important and clumsy into the bargain. But it's also one of the most enthralling and exhilarating American movies in ages. … Insofar as the film is about "story", little happens save that Anderson initially conceals information, and then slowly scatters snippets so that we can piece the jigsaw together. For all the humour, it's a dark portrait of loss, lovelessness and fear of failure in contemporary America, and not a film that trades in understatement.
- Things fall down. People look up. And when it rains, it pours.
- Tom Cruise - Frank T.J. Mackey
- Pat Healy - Sir Edmund William Godfrey/Young Pharmacy Kid
- Julianne Moore - Linda Partridge
- Genevieve Zweig - Mrs. Godfrey
- Mark Flannagan - Joseph Green
- William H. Macy - Quiz Kid Donnie Smith
- Jeremy Blackman - Stanley Spector
- Philip Seymour Hoffman - Phil Parma
- John C. Reilly - Jim Kurring
- Ricky Jay - Burt Ramsey/Narrator
- Philip Baker Hall - Jimmy Gator
- Melora Walters - Claudia Gator