My cat & I are riding out this full moon/high tide/tropical hurricane/snowstorm/floodsurge/clusterfuck in my ground floor brooklyn apartment which is one block from the mandatory evacuation zone. It’s hard not to think of a film I re-watched this week. An old favorite that I hadn’t seen in years — Magnolia.
The reason I am thinking of Magnolia is because I have 2 skylights in my ceiling and in the 2 months I’ve lived here, there have been 2 local tornadoes and now this storm and each time, when the rain/hail & whatnot hit the skylights, it’s a different sound than rain. It’s the thump of the Magnolia frog storm.
Magnolia is a story about the ways & degrees in which we hurt, forgive and judge each other and it is executed with a robust cast whose lives intermingle not unlike Robert Altman’s Short Cuts which co-mingles Raymond Carver’s short stories– & culminates with not frogs but an earthquake that is experienced by the vast cast. (Also in common with these 2 films – Juliana Moore. Here she is in Short Cuts. Here she is in Magnolia.) That and Tom Cruise as Frank T. J. Makey are some of my favorite moments in the past couple decades of film.
The conscience of the film is John C. Reilly who plays good cop Jim Kurring — (also memorable filmmaking – this first date scene ) Reilly’s character is a good cop who is foolish in his job (he loses his gun) but good in that he earnestly tries to be a good person:
…alot of people think this is just a job that you go to…..take a lunch hour, the jobs over, something like that. But…it’s a 24 hour deal…no two ways about it….and what most people don’t see: Just How Hard It Is To Do The Right Thing. (beat) People think if I make a judgment call that it’s a judgment on them…but that’s not what I do and that’s not what should be done…I have to take everything and play it as it lays. Sometimes people need a little help. Sometimes people need to be forgiven and sometimes they need to go to jail. And that’s a very tricky thing on my part…making that call…the law is the law and heck if I’m gonna break it…but you can forgive someone….? Well, that’s the tough part….What Do We Forgive? Tough part of the job…..tough part of walking down the street…