' ' Cinema Romantico: When Paul Thomas Anderson Went Musical

Thursday, September 27, 2012

When Paul Thomas Anderson Went Musical

I re-watched "Magnolia" in advance of seeing "The Master" (my review here) and then after seeing "The Master" I read Matt Zoller Seitz's epic takedown of an NYC audience going all "Mystery Science Theater 3000" during a theater showing of "From Russia With Love." It's a heck of a piece, even if you don't agree with all of it. You should read it.

One item that particularly struck me was his reciting a story from a college film class where the teacher showed "Singing In The Rain" and the majority of the class spent most of the time, well, going all "Mystery Science Theater 3000." One of the students, according to Zoller Seitz, said (italics his): “Well, it was just funny because they’d just, you know, be talking, and then they’d start singing, and you’d hear this orchestra suddenly start playing out of nowhere..."

You hear those sorts of complaints all the time with musicals from modern day moviegoers. This sudden eruption of singing for no apparent reason. This is there are so few musicals these days. People, it would seem, just don't dig 'em. They just don't want people to suddenly break into a song in the middle of a movie. Which makes me think that the ballsiest thing Paul Thomas Anderson has ever done is not having frogs fall from the sky or having Adam Sandler threaten to smash Emily Watson's face with a sledgehammer pre-coitus or making "The Master" or "There Will Be Blood."

No, I think it might be the "Wise Up" sequence in "Magnolia" because they're all just, you know, talking and then they start singing and you hear Aimee Mann suddenly start playing out of nowhere...




3 comments:

Vancetastic said...

I watched Magnolia again last Friday myself. I would say that this sequence is the one I still felt really strongly about. I found the rest a bit emotionally overwrought. I mean, almost all the actors in this movie have to repeatedly contort their faces into some of the most over-the-top anguish I've seen in a movie. (Except Philip Seymour Hoffman, who mostly acts by hanging his mouth open for extended periods of time.) I still like the movie, but I'm pretty critical of it I guess.

Eric WarningSign said...

I watched Magnolia for the first time a few weeks ago and really enjoyed it. When I was reading about it afterward, I noticed that more people were complaining about the "Wise Up" scene than the frogs, which I thought was surprising. I think you're onto something here, Nick...

Nick Prigge said...

Vance: It is most decidedly an overwrought film. One of the most overwrought I've seen. I actually quite like overwrought films but, you know, to a point. And a decade or so later it does almost become too much at certain points (although I also think maybe P.T. was going for that sensation). And that shot of Hoffman when the frogs start falling and he just stands there with, as you say, his mouth hanging open for, like, 15 seconds, that just kills me.

Eric: This generation just doesn't dig musicals. (Outside of "Once", maybe.) It's probably worthy of more exploration. There has to be something to it.