8:2 comes up probably a hundred times in the film. the introduction of the film lists several dates that add up to 8 or 2, the ropes next to sidney before he jumps off the roof, the number on one of the guys in the murder at the beginning, the number on the plane that picks up the scuba diver, 82% chance of rain, the sign on magnolia blvd towards the end…
it’s been 11 years since i last saw this one. last year i started going over my top 25 again to see how well some of the films held up. of course i have a memory of them, but that always differs from reality and as you rewatch a film you see new things or things that struck you as bold or earth-shattering before aren’t so much anymore. i’d say that 11 years ago this film was probably a 99/100. the day before i watched it it had diminished somewhat to a 98 or 97. after watching it again i’d say it’s probably a 96 or 97. this feels like a bad thing to me because everytime i had seen it before it made me cry. this time around i got teary eyed at the end, but no more than that. still a great film after all these years, but no longer a better film than boogie nights.
i actually understood the film better this time around. the stuff about the worm, the role of the black kid, the kids vs. the parents stuff, the moses/exodus stuff…i picked up on more and filled in some of the blanks on the internet. in this way it took some of the mystery out of the story for me. in a way it was better being caught up in the story and the characters and the shear force of the film. thinking too much has somewhat of a diminishing effect on all that. it’s like going to church and knowing that the guy on stage probably collapsed because of low blood sugar and the hot spotlights they use on stage instead of it being the hand of god.
all that said, i still love the film. in watching it this time around i saw how avant-garde it was for a mainstream picture. it’s probably the most avant-garde film i’ll ever love, which probably says more about me than the film. it’s not a real experimental film, but the frogs, the fourth wall breaking, the music video in the middle, the style, the story structure…it’s all definitely unconventional. p.t. anderson deserves the tarantino award for use of music in film. with this and boogie nights the music moves the film forward so effortlessly. it takes probably 30 minutes off the runtime of the film. the entire middle of the film has music playing and it has the effect of constantly pulling the narrative forward. you feel like something momentous is happening.
the malora walters/john c. reilly storyline continues to be my favorite. i love his character and i love that there love is unreasonable and powerful and unconditional. their love answers so many of the problems that the film brings up in the other characters. it’s what makes anderson an uplifting director. it’s like the ending of rashoman. hopeful.