Tuesday, October 9, 2012

3 Thoughts on The Master

1. My expectations were too high - I was hoping for There Will Be Blood type brilliance, but I would rate the movie slightly above other Paul Thomas Anderson films like Boogie Nights and Magnolia (both of which, are good films that I'm just not too crazy about).  The Master has very clear moments of genius, compelling characters and extraordinary camera work.  Specifically, the tracking shot of Freddie Quell (Joaquin Phoenix) with the boat in the background that keeps going in and out of focus is absolutely breathtaking.  The ambitious film raises some interesting questions about religion (said to be specific to Scientology, but I think it is commentating on all religions), but there are so many other themes and undertones that it all becomes a bit overwhelming.  I can't pinpoint any flaws, but when I ask myself certain questions about it - like "Do I want to watch it again?" and "Will I remember it years from now?" - My answer is a resounding "No". 

2. Joaquin Phoenix has never been better - I've never seen him in a bad performance, but I've never been stunned by any of his work either.  This is stunning.  I felt every moment of pain and confusion that Freddie felt. Considering that Freddie is not the type of character that I usually connect with, I would call that a huge success.  The rest of the cast is sufficiently fantastic, as well.  I wouldn't be surprised if Philip Seymour Hoffman and Amy Adams were nominated for an Academy Award.  But, I am predicting a win for Phoenix. 

3. Fucking end already - My only real "problem" with the film is the length.  Usually, when films are too long for my liking, I can pinpoint exactly which scenes could have been cut.  I can't do that with this film.  I can see the importance of every scene, every line of dialogue.  However, as an audience member, I get really annoyed when films seem like they are ending but instead keep going (on and on and on).  The Master felt a lot longer than it's 2 hour and 18 minute running time, because it kept giving us and "end".  It was teasing to the point of frustration.  It wasn't just me either; I could hear the loud sighs and seat shifting of the other audience members.  I can't help but think I would have been more satisfied with the film as a whole if it were 30 minutes shorter. 

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