**.5 GM
Starring: Jason Robards, John C. Reilly, Philip Baker Hally, Philip Seymour Hoffman, Julianne Moore, Tom Cruise, William H. Macy, Luis Guzman, Melora Walters, Henry Gibson


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I have no idea what to make of this film.

Is it three hours of neurotic self-absorbed LA people yelling and screaming at each other, with loud music gimmicks to create tension? Three hours of narcissistic horseshit about Writer/Director Paul Thomas Anderson's relationship with Fiona Apple, as my bitter New York friend says? Is it a revolutionary masterpiece that will forever change the thoughts and ideas that are poured into the art that is film, thus altering the course of human history and evolution that Entertainment Weekly seems to think it is?

To me, it seemed that it was just a bunch of stuff that happened... which might be the point. There seems to be heavy emphasis on the coincidences of life, random encounters that you wouldn't believe if you saw them in a movie. They can be mundane, confusing, intense or insane, and they happen all the time.

While some of the intertwining stories were somewhat interesting and entertaining, the emotional involvement in any of them is relatively minimal. When the movie is three hours long, that tends to become a bad thing. Combine that length with the excruciatingly drawn-out scene with the kid pissing his pants, and you start to get a restless audience.

John C. Reilly was interesting to watch, Tom Cruise had some pretty good moments, Jason Robards' big speech was really well done, Jeremy Blackman shows promise as an actor for the future, and William H. Macy is always a good guy to put into your movie. Henry Gibson's Thurston Howell was funny, and I was extremely thankful that I didn't have to watch Philip Seymour Hoffman spank again - there was some fear of that when he ordered the porn delivery.

However, aside from "The Big Lebowski," I don't think I've seen Julianne Moore in a film where she didn't bother me on some visceral level that I can't really explain. Melora Walters had a bit of that quality here, but most coked out characters tend to annoy me a bit - which generally means the actors are doing a good job.

Aside from a few really powerful moments and one gloriously insane twist toward the end, I found myself relatively unaffected by the film. It's kooky, different and unique, but that doesn't always translate into genius. Sometimes it translates into a really long movie where stuff happens and then people go home and wonder what the fuck was up with the frogs.

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