The Movie: Magnolia (1999)
What Is It?: Paul Thomas Anderson populates his tale of bad families, bad TV, and bizarre phenomena with an Altman-esque collection of deeply troubled characters right on the cusp of tumbling into the abyss, including dying TV exec Jason Robards, his pill-popping trophy wife Julianne Moore, game show host Phillip Baker Hall, his coke-head daughter Melora Walters, and misogynistic, hyperactive dating-seminar dickhead Tom Cruise. The way Anderson ties all of his characters together is masterful, as is the way he is able to sustain an unbelievably taut tension that does not alleviate for the entire first hour. This is an incredibly daring film that takes great chances, and more often than not, succeeds. Whether or not you like Magnolia, there’s no way you’ll be able to anticipate its flights of madness. Those who are able to give in to it all will find this to be one of the most rewarding movies they’ll ever see.
Why Today?: On this day in 1931, Philip Baker Hall is born .