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Director borrows from the Robert Altman stylebook to create his Magnolia "masterpiece"

Anderson is at his best in his decidedly un-Altmanesque moments of inspired surrealism. In addition to the climactic act of God, the game show that Hall's character hosts is impossibly pompous: Initial categories are Authors, Chaos vs. Superstring and Rub-a-dub. Later features of the game include Hall reading a line from an opera, then challenging the competitors to give it back to him in the language it was written, with bonus points if they sing it in tune. Meanwhile, Moore conducts a masterfully defensive, let's-cut-through-the-B.S. nervous breakdown scene simply by using different intonations of the phrase "Shut the fuck up!"

In further reference to the aforementioned Exodus 8:2, the numbers eight and two have been carefully planted throughout the film, a strategy that may impress many but has been done before by Peter Greenaway in Drowning by Numbers. But why hassle Anderson over his knowledge of film history? Doesn't everyone borrow from what came before? Isn't his choice of influences generally good? Well, yeah. Enjoy his movies all you want. But let's not allow ourselves to be deluded into thinking they're groundbreaking or original.

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