keating: P.T. Anderson's MAGNOLIA
Liked it much better than Robert Altman's SHORT CUTS. Although some people are bashing this film as imitation to SHORT CUTS. Full of metaphors and allegory, still mesmerize me up to now. All the characters are unforgettable, will stuck to your mind after watching this brilliant movie.
Magnolia is certainly flashier, but the most PTA is able to do is introduce his characters in a fairly engaging manner before they start freaking out. Enter--freak out; enter--freak out; repeat twenty times, and you got Magnolia. He does excellent first acts, and excellent climaxes, but without a second act to get to know these people, one's appreciation of them is largely shallow.
Altman's Short Cuts takes its characters from Raymond Carver's short stories; they develop and grow within the film, in the space of a few minutes, even in the space of a few images, a trick both Carver and Altman, masters of multi-charactered, multi-layered stories, are perfectly capable of performing. It's subtler, more nuanced, more full.
That's probably why my favorite PTA would be Punch Drunk Love, because he has the breathing room to concentrate on one character--one that doesn't really make sense, but that's a whole other series of posts.