“A three-hour movie is an uphill battle,” said director Paul Thomas Anderson, minutes after the audience staggered out of his new film, “Magnolia,” at its Los Angeles premiere last Wednesday night.
The cheers and whistles delighted Anderson, who said he knew his reputation was on the line after the success of his 1997 film “Boogie Nights.”
“I hire good actors, and I behave like a fan,” he said about the performances that have already won “Magnolia” a Best Ensemble Cast award from the National Board of Review, as well as Best Supporting awards for Philip Seymour Hoffman and Julianne Moore.
“He seems to push you into places you didn’t know,” said Tom Cruise, who plays the swaggering, foul-mouthed, muscle-bound leader of a cultish male supremacist group. “I just did it. But I did spend five months preparing.”
The cast, including Moore, Hoffman and William H. Macy, gathered at the after-party with Robert Altman (who said he’d seen the movie three times), Anderson alumns Heather Graham and Mark Wahlberg, Ed Burns, Jennifer Jason Leigh and Brooke Shields.
In the food line, Graham gently goosed Burns. “Shall we eat off the same plate?” he asked. They did.
Meanwhile, across town in Hollywood at the after-party for the premiere of “Girl, Interrupted,” a crowd circled around stars Winona Ryder (minus Matt Damon, who’s still shooting “The Legend of Bagger Vance” in Savannah) and Angelina Jolie (showing off a very flat tatooed belly).
Ryder was protesting the idea that her new film is a chick flick, a “Cuckoo’s Nest” for the ladies.
“It’s a human movie,” she corrected, “not a woman’s movie. The guys have gotten all the great rebels, like Holden Caulfield. Girls get Jane Austen. She writes great girls, but they don’t have a lot of edge.”

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