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FROGS FALLING FROM THE SKY!!


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#1 Dan Goldberg

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Posted 03 April 2007 - 10:20 AM

Hey all,

I was jsut wondering what you all felt about that very itneresting climatic scene in Magnolia. It definitely took em off guard. Quite the scene yes, but does it take away from the rest of the movie? Or do you find it's symbolism intriguing and smart? What do YOU think?

Thanks!
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#2 Robert Lachenay

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Posted 03 April 2007 - 10:54 AM

Hey all,

I was jsut wondering what you all felt about that very itneresting climatic scene in Magnolia. It definitely took em off guard. Quite the scene yes, but does it take away from the rest of the movie? Or do you find it's symbolism intriguing and smart? What do YOU think?

Thanks!

Most people have no idea what its symbolism actually is, which is understandable, as it was derived from a somewhat, publicly unfamiliar source. They associate the event with Exodus, but that is not the frogs' representation...it was derived from Charles Hoy Fort, a writer who specialized in the study of anamalous phenomenology and its philosophical reflection on social trends. The Exodus references (ie the various hidden verses in scenes) were added later, but he concedes that it was Charles Fort whom he gained inspiration from, and if you were to read Fort, it makes much ore sense and takes the climax to a whole other level and makes it much more satisfying than associating it with Exodus.

And no....personally, I do not think it takes away from the film. In fact, I think it is one of the boldest moves by a director in history of cinema (one of many, but one nonetheless), given the budget and star power, and it transcends the film to a whole other level. It made me excited...very excited for film. Anderson, IMO, is one of the 10 greatest currently working directors...he is incredibly intelligent and talented and the brilliant, subtle, nuances composed into every one of his scenes heighten even the most mundane moments.

Edited by Robert Lachenay, 03 April 2007 - 10:55 AM.

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#3 Dan Goldberg

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Posted 03 April 2007 - 11:34 AM

I think it is one of the boldest moves by a director in history of cinema


I would ahve to agree. A move like this was VERY risky, however, I think he pulled it off.

Perhaps the symbolism is that anything can happen, which is one of the themes throughout the film (eg. the small text "but it did happen" on the picture in the cocaine addict's room and the suicidal son who is shot as he's falling by his own mother < that is just harsh... :o ). But I'm not sure.

What could it truly mean?
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#4 Robert Lachenay

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Posted 03 April 2007 - 12:37 PM

I would ahve to agree. A move like this was VERY risky, however, I think he pulled it off.

Perhaps the symbolism is that anything can happen, which is one of the themes throughout the film (eg. the small text "but it did happen" on the picture in the cocaine addict's room and the suicidal son who is shot as he's falling by his own mother < that is just harsh... :o ). But I'm not sure.

What could it truly mean?

Look for youtube interviews of PTA and you will find all the answers you're looking for.
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#5 Andy_Alderslade

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Posted 03 April 2007 - 01:25 PM

I would probably have to say I think Paul Thomas Anderson is probably the most overated writer/directors in recent memory.

I think his films are often very polished, quirky, acompanied by great music, and excellently acted.

However his insistence to deal with so many 'issues' per film makes his films candy for the pretentious middle or high-brow, while really they don't deal appropriatly with their chosen (and often sensitive) subject matter.

Take Magnolia,

You have a number of extremly dramatic plots, too many even to deal with sufficently, and unlike a Robert Altman ensemble film where lots of subtle story lines are connected around a larger dramatic story, they are all equally dramatic and fairly sensationilist.

For example the girl who is a cocain addict, we don't ever really find out any other aspects about her except that she's a wounded soul who expresses her hurt in the form of her drug addiction. Now that would almost be okay if the film then didn't do something so many pretentious films students do: provide an easy answer to a difficult question - the cause of her problems was her father sexually abused her. The film clearly has paid no real research into sexual abuse nor drug addiction, and subsequently avoids any detail. The girl's mother after hearing this, not feeling a pinch of guilt or confusion after 30 years of not seeing it, then runs to her damaged daughter, in a falsely dramatic way in a bid to fix her daughters wings.

Such a simplistic and naive take is both offensive to those who have suffered sexual abuse and drug addiction. And to simply lump them in one unit is criminal, how dare Anderson deal with such sensitive issues without, (a) proper and comprehensive research ( b ) giving it proper screen time for the sensitivity such issues require.

The same applies for many of the other storylines, particularly the boy genuis with an abusive father. Never does the film deal with the actual complexities of such a father-son relationship but rather serves it up as emotional form of pornography. Its 'dramatic,' and it deals with 'issues' so thats why people think its intellectual and moving when really its hollow. If you look at The 400 Blows that film was so genuine and close to home, that it got the director in trouble with his parents.

Now one could defend Anderson and his form of ensemble dramatic storytelling as a chance to deal with things or characters that rarely get dealt with. The problem is its essentialy almost a commericial sell out of dealing with those things. Take William H. Macy's character: a gay man living in the shadow of his childhood memory, haphazard and baffoonish. Shouldn't a character like him be given a whole movie, maybe 90 minutes to tell his story rather than 20 minutes or so?

Telling so many stories, essentially dilutes the integrity of them all.

You could say what about Altman he gets away with it? Well Altman isn't always telling lots of stories, he's often telling one story from lots of different angels, covering lots details if you like - particularly Gosforth Park.

In many ways I find Boogie Nights more appealing because the central idea/characters are instantly more fun and perhaps that makes them ironic. However just before seeing Boogie Nights I saw a Channel 4 documentry on Ron Jeremy which delt far better the loss of inocence the Porn industry experienced as it shifted from film to video (also pointing out AIDS as well) and actually showed the real tragedy of the man's loss of ideals.

Plus with Boogie Nights I was constantly being told by the characters how they are like a family (Sight and Sound loved that,) well this is cinema I don't want to be 'told' how they are like a family I want to 'see' how they are like a family.

Also in Boggie Nights you see lead characters doing some pretty auful criminal things - like stealing or kicking a guy into a pulp and those characters are never punished.

Now some good directors will often leave such characters unpunished (like a Tom Ripley figure), but they do that specificly for a reason. But Anderson never offers a reason.

Edited by Andy_Alderslade, 03 April 2007 - 01:28 PM.

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#6 Robert Lachenay

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Posted 03 April 2007 - 02:18 PM

I'm sorry, but you are wrong. He, like Altman, is able to articulate the form of a character through very subtle nuances and he is brilliant and the overarticulated crap you long for is precisely what has ruined so many films of the past 15 years.

Edited by Robert Lachenay, 03 April 2007 - 02:20 PM.

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#7 Andy_Alderslade

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Posted 03 April 2007 - 02:38 PM

I'm sorry, but you are wrong. He, like Altman, is able to articulate the form of a character through very subtle nuances and he is brilliant and the overarticulated crap you long for is precisely what has ruined so many films of the past 15 years.


:lol:

'Overaticulated' crap is what you call it, requesting the director doesn't keep telling us how 'profound' he is what I would refer to it as.

Besides even if it was genuinly good, isn't it somewhat insensitive to simply atribute a girls drug addiction to experiences of sexual abuse?

Giving simple answers to dangerous questions is a dangerous route to go.

Edited by Andy_Alderslade, 03 April 2007 - 02:39 PM.

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#8 Walter Graff

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Posted 03 April 2007 - 03:40 PM

One of my favorite films of all time!
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#9 Nicholas Jenkins

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Posted 04 April 2007 - 11:45 PM

I love the moment. The film has taken us on such an emotional ride by that point, that it almost feels like a much needed release. Like many films, I don't care if it makes "LOGICAL" sense, as long as it makes "EMOTIONAL" sense.
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#10 James Steven Beverly

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Posted 05 April 2007 - 11:18 PM

I actually found it somewhat pretentious, boring and overall forgetable. I can't remember one single scene in that movie that struck me as all that interesting, except the rain of frogs scene which I remember because I found it a little annoying. If Anderson expected people to associate the symbolism with ANYTHING besides the seven plagues visited on Egypt then he's an idiot. OF COURSE when you put a freakin' rain of frogs in your movie, pretty much everyone, except for maybe Robert, is going to assume it's a biblical refference, and if you can't figure that out you're a moron, so if you were going for some other type of symbolism, all you've managed to do is confuse your audience (which is always a admirable trait for a director to have) after all what are you gonna do put in a sub-title in that reads " This scene has nothing to do with Moses it's all about Charles Hoy Fort!". However, because the biblical refferences were put into the script later, eather Anderson changed his mind, was lying about Charles Hoy Fort's influence or didn't know exactly what he was trying to symbolize in the first place which is also a really great trait for a director to have.

Edited by James Steven Beverly, 05 April 2007 - 11:19 PM.

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#11 Walter Graff

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Posted 05 April 2007 - 11:35 PM

Nominated for 87 awards, 87% of American critics who reviewed it gave it an average rating of 7 out of ten, and it played in only 1086 theaters in its American release making 48 million worldwide. Not a bad take for a independent type film. Guess you can't please everyone.
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#12 James Steven Beverly

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Posted 06 April 2007 - 02:47 AM

Nominated for 87 awards, 87% of American critics who reviewed it gave it an average rating of 7 out of ten, and it played in only 1086 theaters in its American release making 48 million worldwide. Not a bad take for a independent type film. Guess you can't please everyone.


Of which it won 18. The Blair Witch Project made over a 120 million that same year made, won 11 awards, played in more theaters got it's share of good reviews and did ALL this with absolutely NO STARS IN IT WHATSOEVER, what's your point?
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#13 Max Jacoby

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Posted 06 April 2007 - 03:53 AM

If Anderson expected people to associate the symbolism with ANYTHING besides the seven plagues visited on Egypt then he's an idiot.

That is a pretty christianity-centred point of view about a symbolism that the majority of the population of this planet does not share or even know about. Personally I didn't think of the bible at all, but then again a) I am not familiar with it because I am an atheist and b ) I think too many times people look for 'interpretations' because they think that everything has to 'mean' something, instead of just experiencing it.
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#14 James Steven Beverly

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Posted 06 April 2007 - 04:53 AM

That is a pretty christianity-centred point of view about a symbolism that the majority of the population of this planet does not share or even know about. Personally I didn't think of the bible at all, but then again a) I am not familiar with it because I am an atheist and b ) I think too many times people look for 'interpretations' because they think that everything has to 'mean' something, instead of just experiencing it.


Well then your pretty much the only one Max, because unless you live on Pluto, you've probably hear that story somewhere alone the line or at least seen The Ten Commandments once in your life. Can you HONESTLY tell me the population of the world is more likely to have heard of freakin' Charles Hoy Fort? It has NOTHING to do with having a christianity-centred point of view, it has to do with most people's common knowlege base and most likely associations to the knowlege base, The Biblical account of the Plagues visited on Egypt is a MUCH more well known story that the relitively obsure work of Charles Hoy Fort. Now if Jello Pudding had fallen from the sky, we would assume he was making a reference to Bill Cosby rather than some researcher advocating snack food nutrition. You don't have to be Christian to have heard of Moses and that whole story, BTW Moses is Old testement which means the story is also in the Qur'an (Koran) and the Torah, so strictly speaking it's not really a "Christian" thing anyway. If you put something as famous as a rain of frogs in a movie and NOT expect it to be taken as mediphoric, I re-iterate, you're an idiot. If you just want to "expirence" it why not make it a rain of fish or a rain of squirrels or a rain of salemanders? It is pattenly abserd to NOT assume a rain of frogs will be taken as a Biblical refference and if you can't see that, then I really don't know what to tell you.

Edited by James Steven Beverly, 06 April 2007 - 04:54 AM.

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#15 Walter Graff

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Posted 06 April 2007 - 05:40 AM

Of which it won 18. The Blair Witch Project made over a 120 million that same year made, won 11 awards, played in more theaters got it's share of good reviews and did ALL this with absolutely NO STARS IN IT WHATSOEVER, what's your point?



Very simply that it's all about subjective taste, and to have such anger in a post is less about the film and more about the poster. I don't like kethup on eggs, but don't condemn the world and those that do, rather I just know I don't like it, and accpet that others have differnt tastes. I thought Little Miss SUnshine was about as plain as plain could be, but understand that it moved some people. I don't call the director names and spit fire just because it was a poorly cast movie with little imagination to my tastes.
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#16 Max Jacoby

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Posted 06 April 2007 - 06:27 AM

Well then your pretty much the only one Max, because unless you live on Pluto, you've probably hear that story somewhere alone the line or at least seen The Ten Commandments once in your life. Can you HONESTLY tell me the population of the world is more likely to have heard of freakin' Charles Hoy Fort?

I don't expect people to think of Charles Hoy Fort either. My main point is that people always tend to look for explanations/interpretations for everything, as if there were only one truth and one would have to find it if only one looked hard enough. I felt the same thing in school where you'd read a poem and then it would be taken apart, over-analyzed to death so that in the end you knew what it was all supposed to 'mean', but you had forgotten how it 'felt' like when you first read it.

In one of the interviews with Howard Hawks he said that he always thought it very funny when critics, especially the French, found themes and came up with interpretations in his films that he himself had never even thought of.

So no, although I might have heard of the frogs story, I didn't think of it for even one second when I saw 'Magnolia'. To be honest when I first saw it, I was a bit confused, because I expected an ending along the lines of three stories of the prologue (a huge concidence, which seemd to me to be the setup of the whole film), but now I have seen the films several times and I just enjoy the frogs for what they are and do not go looking for deep interpretations or explanations of what the filmmakers 'meant'. Anyway, I find interpretations and experiences to be something deeply personal and it depends as much of the people watching the film as the person making the film, so there is never 'one' explanation, but many. Just like in real life there is no absolute truth either.
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#17 Dan Goldberg

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Posted 06 April 2007 - 06:23 PM

I felt the same thing in school where you'd read a poem and then it would be taken apart, over-analyzed to death so that in the end you knew what it was all supposed to 'mean', but you had forgotten how it 'felt' like when you first read it.

In one of the interviews with Howard Hawks he said that he always thought it very funny when critics, especially the French, found themes and came up with interpretations in his films that he himself had never even thought of.


Personally, the fact that a film could be taken in many ways is the beauty of filmmaking. Sure, films are to portay ideas and concepts, but they should also provoke ideas and feelings that connect with people on a personal level. In Magnolia's case, of course the falling frogs historical story might come to mind to one that is educated enough to know about it, yet to those who don't could see it in a completely different way. Films should be nterpreted on different personal levels depending on the type of viewer rather than just one completely agreed upon theme. Provocation is the key to any film.

But aren't the frogs more of a phenomena rather than coincidence? Or is that what PTA was going for? I just assumed with the repeated line of "But it DID happen" and the two coincidential scenes at the beginning of the film that all the stories would be blended together through coincidence.
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#18 david romberg

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Posted 07 April 2007 - 01:10 AM

overrated director... overrated film in too many ways I don't feel like explaining right now.
His films make people feel smart and sensitive. Pretty simplistic and too slick in a bad way. I would say
he's a pretty good American director and thats it. All this in MY OWN OPINION of course..
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#19 James Steven Beverly

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Posted 07 April 2007 - 01:39 AM

Very simply that it's all about subjective taste, and to have such anger in a post is less about the film and more about the poster. I don't like kethup on eggs, but don't condemn the world and those that do, rather I just know I don't like it, and accpet that others have differnt tastes. I thought Little Miss SUnshine was about as plain as plain could be, but understand that it moved some people. I don't call the director names and spit fire just because it was a poorly cast movie with little imagination to my tastes.


You found THAT angry and and spitting fire, Dude you really gotta read some of my other posts were I'm actually annoyed. This post was about the intentions a director has when he creates images in his films and I think that very much has something to do with filmmaking. Robert stated Anderson's intention was NOT to make a biblical reference, which if that were true makes Anderson eather very arrogant that his symbolizm would transend common preceptions or that Anderson was dumb enough to include an image without realising it might be interprited as something he did not intend it to be because of the common context of that image, neather of which is very flattering to Anderson. I personally think he knew exactly what the association would be, but when it didn't work as he intended, he tried to change the story to give it a more intellectual edge. It could also have a dual meaning or as Max said, no meaning at all, however if this was his intention, then picking frogs was also a dumb move, because people are naturally going to look for a medaphor with such a well known image and it defeats the purpose of it just being a freak event, unless THAT was his intention, that people read things into unusual events that aren't really there, however if this was so, there should have been more of a setup for the event in the script to let the audence figure that out, or epologue to help them understand what's ging on otherwise this imagry is waisted, but this it the problem I had with the film in general, it wasn't that well written and had all these themes that never quite came together to move the audiance. That's why I hated the movie and qioting box office returns, the number of theaters it played in and the percentage of faverable reviews isn't going to fix those problems, as I was trying to show MANY movies had better numbers at the time with less BO incentives, so given the number of stars in it and the hype, it should hsve at least done those numbers and that doesn't make it magical.

Edited by James Steven Beverly, 07 April 2007 - 01:44 AM.

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#20 James Steven Beverly

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Posted 07 April 2007 - 02:36 AM

I don't expect people to think of Charles Hoy Fort either. My main point is that people always tend to look for explanations/interpretations for everything, as if there were only one truth and one would have to find it if only one looked hard enough. I felt the same thing in school where you'd read a poem and then it would be taken apart, over-analyzed to death so that in the end you knew what it was all supposed to 'mean', but you had forgotten how it 'felt' like when you first read it.

In one of the interviews with Howard Hawks he said that he always thought it very funny when critics, especially the French, found themes and came up with interpretations in his films that he himself had never even thought of.

So no, although I might have heard of the frogs story, I didn't think of it for even one second when I saw 'Magnolia'. To be honest when I first saw it, I was a bit confused, because I expected an ending along the lines of three stories of the prologue (a huge concidence, which seemd to me to be the setup of the whole film), but now I have seen the films several times and I just enjoy the frogs for what they are and do not go looking for deep interpretations or explanations of what the filmmakers 'meant'. Anyway, I find interpretations and experiences to be something deeply personal and it depends as much of the people watching the film as the person making the film, so there is never 'one' explanation, but many. Just like in real life there is no absolute truth either.


Well as I said Max, I think you're the exception here, which doesn't invalidate your personal feelings about the film but also dosen't make those feelings valid for anyone else but you. This may have been Anderson's intention all along, that people read things into events that actually have no meaning OR that this is just something in the film to surprise the audiance with an unsual event, but then why use frogs, why use an image so associated with the Bible that it's bound to spark a search for medaphoric interpretations of the scene? You, yourself said it confused you the first time you saw it and is that good direction, to confuse your audiance so that they don't understand your use of the image? If you're just f*cking with the audiance then this image in nothing more than intellectual masterbation where you as the director are the only person to derive pleasure from putting the image in the film at the expense of the audiance's enjoyment of the picture. If there is a reason to include the image, then that reason, though it need not be blatant, should at least be clear after a bit of thought otherwise again it's a waisted effort.

As for Hawks, a lot of times great artists don't realise on a concious level how deep the mediphoric elements of their sub-concious permeates their work . I remember an interview or it may have been on Inside the Actor's Studio where Lipton asked Spielberg if the scene in Close Encounters where the base and the alien ship try to learn to communicate with musical notes and lights, was an omage to his concert pianist mother and his engineer father and Spielberg thought for a moment then said "you know I never thought of that till you said it just now but yeah, it might be." Most great artists, if you asked them how they do what they do, they can't answer, but if they are truly great, there's more going on there than what lyes on the surface.

Edited by James Steven Beverly, 07 April 2007 - 02:38 AM.

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