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Personally, I think he joined the "big leagues" with Magnolia.

Magnolia was the film that changed the way I look at film. Several viewings and reviews, and one Review in particular made me go back and watch it again. I still think Anderson stumbled onto something profound in Magnolia. I have no doubt of his placement of all those 8:2 references, but sometimes people simply stumble upon grace. I still wonder about the director's intent in Magnolia.

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Filmsweep by Persona. 2013 Film Journal. IlPersona.

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Personally, I think he joined the "big leagues" with Magnolia. Punch-Drunk Love took him in a new direction and allowed him to create a showcase of technical mastery in There Will Be Blood, but I'm not sure it's much more than that.

I don't think you will find much argument with this anywhere. And even so, Hard Eight screened well at Cannes and other festivals way back in 1996.

Oddly enough, I wonder how many of us would say that Magnolia specifically played an important role in the development of this film discussion way back when. I remember new people coming on board all the time that came into the discussion having stumbled across our Magnolia fervor. I can also think of at least three now very well published critics from this board that were very inspired by Magnolia.

"...the vivid crossing of borders between film and theology may save the film from the banality of cinema and festival business, and it may also save the church from the deep sleep of the habitual and the always known."

(Hans Werner Dannowski)

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Personally, I think he joined the "big leagues" with Magnolia.

MAGNOLIA's great, but it's more of a triumph of performance than it is of writing or direction. BOOGIE NIGHTS is, in my mind, superior as a work of cinematic craft, even though I don't find it as meaningful or moving.

But every interview I read or heard with Anderson around the time of the film's release spoke of Day-Lewis and Paul Dano's characters engaged in metaphorical heavyweight prizefight.

While critics often ran with the metaphorical interpretation, I actually heard Anderson downplay such a reading of THERE WILL BE BLOOD. In his interview with the AV Club, he actually said he tried to avoid such ideas when writing THERE WILL BE BLOOD, and he suggested that such an interpretation didn't even really wash when one genuinely considers the characters ("It's so funny, because ideally, once you get underneath the skin of these men, that stuff falls away").

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Oddly enough, I wonder how many of us would say that Magnolia specifically played an important role in the development of this film discussion way back when. I remember new people coming on board all the time that came into the discussion having stumbled across our Magnolia fervor. I can also think of at least three now very well published critics from this board that were very inspired by Magnolia.

I was a part of that. This is what I was trying to get at. It's a great point that it wasn't just me who was touched by this, but yes, a good number of people carved out their understanding of what cinema can be to the Christian in discussion over this particular work.

In an interstellar burst, I am back to save the Universe.

Filmsweep by Persona. 2013 Film Journal. IlPersona.

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I was a part of that. This is what I was trying to get at. It's a great point that it wasn't just me who was touched by this, but yes, a good number of people carved out their understanding of what cinema can be to the Christian in discussion over this particular work.

That was a thrilling discussion to have. I wonder how many active Christian writers on film would say that Magnolia played a significant role in developing their critical vision. I would hazard a lot of them. Christians en masse had never really seen sin and despair so effectively in cinema, and then talked about it in great detail online until Magnolia. Anderson then seemed to allow us to articulate these vital spiritual concepts more clearly in other equally great films both classic and contemporary. Pretty nifty ripple effect involved with Magnolia.

Also, isn't it Magnolia that was kind of at the center of the latest round of Christian discussions about obscenity? Can we really imagine talking about tougher directors like Von Trier without having been previously schooled by Anderson?

Edited by MLeary

"...the vivid crossing of borders between film and theology may save the film from the banality of cinema and festival business, and it may also save the church from the deep sleep of the habitual and the always known."

(Hans Werner Dannowski)

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I was a von Trier fan long before I'd heard of Anderson, but I think you may be right in how those discussions launched a ripple into a quake. And I know for a fact that I'd have never taken in Ordet and Sunrise and Godard and Bresson were it not for the initial ripple that Anderson brought to many Christians. (I am still not at ease with the last word in that sentence)

The only thing that bothers me in reflecting on this is that, yes, understanding was brought to many critics within the faith. We found deeper ways to review and less searching for that contrived "Christ-figure." However, I am not certain the movie-giong masses have ever caught upn and honestly whether theyeven care -- "Christ-figure" or not. This is something we should still be praying for, because seeing stories and films and art seen in this light is larger than an understanding of the works themselves. It's an understanding of ourselves, how we function, where we're at in the faith, how things tick in the world around us, what it means to be separate from the world but dedicated to following Jesus. It's a tiny extension of so much more than we'd initally realized, but it is an open door to really shake the foundations of our God-in-the-box.

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Filmsweep by Persona. 2013 Film Journal. IlPersona.

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MAGNOLIA's great, but it's more of a triumph of performance than it is of writing or direction. BOOGIE NIGHTS is, in my mind, superior as a work of cinematic craft, even though I don't find it as meaningful or moving.

It is my belief that Magnolia, wearing its warts on its sleeves, and sunk into a despair that is humanity without God, is also a triumph of the Holy Spirit, however you want to define that. That miracles are possible and whether they manifest themselves or not, there are always signs that point the way to them.

In an interstellar burst, I am back to save the Universe.

Filmsweep by Persona. 2013 Film Journal. IlPersona.

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Persona wrote:

: The only thing that bothers me in reflecting on this is that, yes, understanding was brought to many critics within the faith. We found deeper ways to review and less searching for that contrived "Christ-figure."

Perhaps. But what I remember -- and I'm referring to discussions in general, not necessarily discussions here -- was a lot of obsessing over the basically superficial Exodus 8:2 references, and little consideration of the even deeper Charles Fort references. Who needs contrived Christ-figures when you've got Bible verses, y'know?

"Sympathy must precede belligerence. First I must understand the other, as it were, from the inside; then I can critique it from the outside. So many people skip right to the latter." -- Steven D. Greydanus
Now blogging at Patheos.com. I can also still be found at Facebook, Twitter and Flickr. See also my film journal.

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It is my belief that Magnolia, wearing its warts on its sleeves, and sunk into a despair that is humanity without God, is also a triumph of the Holy Spirit, however you want to define that. That miracles are possible and whether they manifest themselves or not, there are always signs that point the way to them.

It may be considered a "triumph of the Holy Spirit" in the way that all good and true and beautiful things are a manifestation of the Holy Spirit's sustaining hand in the world. But bestowing that title on MAGNOLIA can also be misleading, since it almost bestows upon it some kind of individual, privileged status. Just as MAGNOLIA is true and beautiful, so are many other films, and MAGNOLIA has no particular claim to the influence of the Holy Spirit than they do (or at least as far as we can tell, it doesn't). As far as I'm concerned, MAGNOLIA is no more of a "triumph of the Holy Spirit" than THERE WILL BE BLOOD.

Perhaps. But what I remember -- and I'm referring to discussions in general, not necessarily discussions here -- was a lot of obsessing over the basically superficial Exodus 8:2 references, and little consideration of the even deeper Charles Fort references. Who needs contrived Christ-figures when you've got Bible verses, y'know?

Heh.

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It is my belief that Magnolia, wearing its warts on its sleeves, and sunk into a despair that is humanity without God, is also a triumph of the Holy Spirit, however you want to define that. That miracles are possible and whether they manifest themselves or not, there are always signs that point the way to them.

It may be considered a "triumph of the Holy Spirit" in the way that all good and true and beautiful things are a manifestation of the Holy Spirit's sustaining hand in the world. But bestowing that title on MAGNOLIA can also be misleading, since it almost bestows upon it some kind of individual, privileged status. Just as MAGNOLIA is true and beautiful, so are many other films, and MAGNOLIA has no particular claim to the influence of the Holy Spirit than they do (or at least as far as we can tell, it doesn't). As far as I'm concerned, MAGNOLIA is no more of a "triumph of the Holy Spirit" than THERE WILL BE BLOOD.

We are going to get into terms that are over my head. Yes, I agree with you. You can see God in beauty and in the very fingerprints of creation. No doubt. And that when the created begin to craft their own works, from their own musings and perspectives on life, sure, it is a gift from above, whether understood as inherited or denied.

But certain works stand out, with, as you say, "some kind of individual, privileged status." Ordet. Babette's Feast. Sunrise. Magnolia.

You are right in that I cannot qualify a particular claim of the influence of the Holy Spirit on anything other than myself. "She moves in mysterious ways." Magnolia had that impact on me; it surprised me with revelation and hope. It made me reconsider all that had gone before. It was a spirit-filled filmic milestone in my journey.

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MattPage wrote:

: Could you expand on that?

It basically comes down to whether you think the rain of frogs falling from the sky means "shit happens" or "miracles happen".

That sequence was originally inspired by the writings of Charles Fort, who collected bizarre (and supposedly true) stories from around the world, ESPECIALLY stories about animals raining from the sky -- and he once posited that, if there IS some sort of universal mind (tantamount to what we might call God), there was no reason to assume that this mind would be sane. So, the original point of that sequence is basically that life is absurd -- much more absurd than we usually realize -- and there is no need to get hung up on guilt and shame and whatnot. The fact that the world has no meaning allows us to make our own.

However, one of the cast or crew members told P.T. Anderson that the frog-raining sequence reminded him of the plague of frogs in Exodus, so Anderson stuck a few references to Exodus in the film as well -- and the verse he cites says: "If you refuse to let them go, I will plague your whole country with frogs."

I may be wrong about this, but I take "them" to mean, in this context, not Israelites but the guilt and shame and whatnot that the characters have been hanging on to because they have not, in the words of Aimee Mann, "wised up" and thus "given up" those things that they are holding on to.

In any case, suffice it to say that many Christians steered away from the "shit happens" interpretation of that scene. Indeed, thanks to the Bible verses onscreen, they may not have even been aware that there were other -- and arguably better -- ways to interpret that scene apart from "miracles happen".

"Sympathy must precede belligerence. First I must understand the other, as it were, from the inside; then I can critique it from the outside. So many people skip right to the latter." -- Steven D. Greydanus
Now blogging at Patheos.com. I can also still be found at Facebook, Twitter and Flickr. See also my film journal.

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In any case, suffice it to say that many Christians steered away from the "shit happens" interpretation of that scene. Indeed, thanks to the Bible verses onscreen, they may not have even been aware that there were other -- and arguably better -- ways to interpret that scene apart from "miracles happen".

Interesting thoughts.

But when he put the 8:2 signs in into the story, the argument that there are better interpretations seems a bit trivial.

Fort's ideas were that of unexplained phenomena. Either Anderson chickened out or didn't care, but the case is pretty clear that a faith-filled reading is merited.

In an interstellar burst, I am back to save the Universe.

Filmsweep by Persona. 2013 Film Journal. IlPersona.

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But certain works stand out, with, as you say, "some kind of individual, privileged status." Ordet. Babette's Feast. Sunrise. Magnolia.

Well, yes, but I'm hesitant to start assigning some kind of God-given seal of approval on or particular inspiration in the authorship of those films, no matter how much to my own eyes they appear to reflect truth. It also somewhat limits critical discourse. If we're talking about the merits of one film versus MAGNOLIA, MAGNOLIA has a trump card in its kind of assigned title of "triumph of the Holy Spirit."

MAGNOLIA speaks truth. Sure. But so does THERE WILL BE BLOOD, which similarly led me to a kind of spiritual reflection. And I'm not about to pick between different kinds of true statements to figure out in which film's creation the Holy Spirit had a particular role, especially since it's uncertain that the Holy Spirit ever particularly and specially acted on either of them.

Magnolia had that impact on me; it surprised me with revelation and hope. It made me reconsider all that had gone before. It was a spirit-filled filmic milestone in my journey.

I'm not denying your personal experience with MAGNOLIA. It reflects my own, in fact. But we must be very careful in how we extrapolate from personal experience.

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Magnolia had that impact on me; it surprised me with revelation and hope. It made me reconsider all that had gone before. It was a spirit-filled filmic milestone in my journey.

I'm not denying your personal experience with MAGNOLIA. It reflects my own, in fact. But we must be very careful in how we extrapolate from personal experience.

I'm certain that I am very careful about this. In fact, I don't think you could find me claiming that ever before in the history of these discussions, which goes back many years.

The problem here is that many people had the same discoveries. It isn't simply my own personal reaction that I'm describing. What we're trying to say is that the film itself contains a phenomenon, sure, no doubt. Many films do. The difference being that, maybe it simply hit a bunch of folks at the right time, in the same way, I don't know, but for some reason these are personal reactions multiplied by other people. I only mention the Holy Spirit here when I'm trying to reflect on exactly what happened in this community, years ago. I'm honestly trying to steer clear of Chirstianese or hyperbole (the latter of which everyone here knows I don't mind tossing around). I really am trying to explain something that happened in Magnolia that is central to this film alone. It's hard to describe. All I can say is that it was very real, like an awakening.

I don't think it was just me. Even if it was, it is still my experience,I guess, so like you said, that's something for me to hang onto. I guess I have to just scrape at critical consensus from there.

Edited by Persona

In an interstellar burst, I am back to save the Universe.

Filmsweep by Persona. 2013 Film Journal. IlPersona.

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I'm loving the discussion here, but maybe we could have the mods move the posts strictly discussing Magnolia to that film's thread? I suppose it's inevitable this film will weigh into everyone's votes here in some form, but it is technically out of direct consideration for the purposes of this poll.

"It's a dangerous business going out your front door." -- J.R.R. Tolkien
"I want to believe in art-induced epiphanies." -- Josie
"I would never be dismissive of pop entertainment; it's much too serious a matter for that." -- NBooth

"If apologetics could prove God, I would lose all faith in Him." -- Josie

"What if--just what if--the very act of storytelling is itself redemptive? What if gathering up the scraps and fragments of a disordered life and binding them between the pages of a book in all of their fragmentary disorder is itself a gambit against that disorder?" -- NBooth

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Sorry, buddy. Totally forgot where we were.

In an interstellar burst, I am back to save the Universe.

Filmsweep by Persona. 2013 Film Journal. IlPersona.

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So to get this clear (now that the poll in the other thread has been closed), we are now operating on a 2-film minimum, with a total selection of 10 directors? Because the rules displayed in the first post of the thread don't reflect that change (there are contradictory statements about 5 vs. 10 directors, and it still suggests a 3-film minimum).

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So to get this clear (now that the poll in the other thread has been closed), we are now operating on a 2-film minimum, with a total selection of 10 directors?

Correct.

Because the rules displayed in the first post of the thread don't reflect that change (there are contradictory statements about 5 vs. 10 directors, and it still suggests a 3-film minimum).

I have re-edited the first post. Thanks!

"It's a dangerous business going out your front door." -- J.R.R. Tolkien
"I want to believe in art-induced epiphanies." -- Josie
"I would never be dismissive of pop entertainment; it's much too serious a matter for that." -- NBooth

"If apologetics could prove God, I would lose all faith in Him." -- Josie

"What if--just what if--the very act of storytelling is itself redemptive? What if gathering up the scraps and fragments of a disordered life and binding them between the pages of a book in all of their fragmentary disorder is itself a gambit against that disorder?" -- NBooth

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Tentatively:

Jean-Pierre and Luc Dardenne 25

Michael Haneke 20

Paul Thomas Anderson 15

Joel and Ethan Coen 10

Ki-Duk Kim 5

Lars von Trier 5

Michael Winterbottom 5

Lukas Moodysson 5

Michael Moore 5

Clint Eastwood 5

In an interstellar burst, I am back to save the Universe.

Filmsweep by Persona. 2013 Film Journal. IlPersona.

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  • Joel & Ethan Coen - 25
  • Wes Anderson - 25
  • Michel Gondry - 10
  • Lars von Trier - 5
  • Robert Altman - 5
  • Richard Linklater - 5
  • Christopher Nolan - 5
  • Quentin Taratino - 5
  • Hayao Miyazaki - 5
  • Paul Thomas Anderson - 10

For now...

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