I watched Magnolia again last night. Well. Part of it; I had forgotten, unsurprisingly, how harrowing it can be and it was rather late, so the whole three hours was not in the cards.
I actually hadn’t seen it since the first time I saw it, in the theater. After that three hours, I said to myself, “It’s going to be a while before I can watch this again.” I still agree with myself. On the other hand, I’m also even more certain that I need to, and that I want to, and that I want to think about Magnolia much much more.
I hadn’t appreciated the pure dry irony of opening with a monologue about coincidental connections; I got the coincidence, of course, but on rewatching I realized that it was the connections between people that were important. Ricky Jay’s not saying that he doesn’t believe in coincidence; he’s saying that he can’t bear to believe that people aren’t connected.
And then Aimee Mann sings “One,” and isolation comes crashing back down like a weighted shroud, settling over our mouths and hiding others from our sight.
“What Do Kids Know”: stylized interaction without real humanity. “Respect the Cock”: yearning for intimacy, but only achieving the semblance of same. “Oh — do you have Playboy? How about Penthouse? Do you have that magazine?”
When Phil Parma gives Earl Partridge the liquid morphine, he’s cutting him off from all contact. It’s the final blow, from which nobody can return. You can see it in Jason Robards’ eyes; he knows he’s leaving the world of humanity behind. He also thinks he deserves it. See his preceding monologue.
So in the following sequence, the “Wise Up” sequence, they’re singing to him. They’re telling him he can have absolution, if only he asks for it. It’s too late, yes, and he’s gone forever (mere moments before his son arrives to see him for the first time in years). But perhaps it’s not too late for them, and perhaps they are singing to themselves as well.
I’ll have to watch the whole thing before I can say anything sensible about the frogs.
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