May 3, 2011 Wiley

There are certain films and shows that resonate with audiences everywhere―they generate discussion and debate about everything from gender, class, citizenship and race to consumerism and social identity. This new “teachable canon” of film and television introduces students to alternative classics that range from silent film to CSI.

What other film can claim that it ends with frogs falling from the sky as the rain pours and the male leads cry? The final catharsis offered in Paul Anderson’s Magnolia drips with affect that would rival any “weepie” film.

From the over-the-top performances by male and female leads to the “ripped from the pages of the Old Testament” conclusion, Magnolia it is a cult favorite in American cinema that students know and love.

Magnolia is a powerful pedagogical vehicle allowing for an exploration of a range of topics including the role of the auteur, what constitutes cinema and media literacy in the digital age, and the politics of postmodernism – in order to challenge students to ask themselves why they are so riveted by this controversial and unusual film.