by Bryan

I just watched Magnolia for the first time in a decade, and not only was I not disapppointed, I have far too many good things to say to do it here, and now. But this is from Roger Ebert’s initial review of the film, and I love it:

The film’s opening sequence, narrated by an uncredited Ricky Jay, tells stories of incredible coincidences. One has become a legend of forensic lore; it’s about the man who leaps off a roof and is struck by a fatal shotgun blast as he falls past a window before landing in a net that would have saved his life. The gun was fired by his mother, aiming at his father and missing. She didn’t know the shotgun was loaded; the son had loaded it some weeks earlier, hoping that eventually one of his parents would shoot the other. All allegedly true.

This sequence suggests a Ricky Jay TV special, illustrating weird coincidences. But it is more than simply amusing. It sets up the theme of the film, which shows people earnestly and single-mindedly immersed in their lives, hopes and values, as if their best-laid plans were not vulnerable to the chaotic interruptions of the universe. It’s humbling to learn that existence doesn’t revolve around us; worse to learn it revolves around nothing.

Ebert did a re-analysis of the film of 2008 in which he praised it even further; I suggest you read it if you’re interested in hearing anything good I have to say.