12 November 2012

The Master, The Mind, The Movie, The Message, The Mix

"What if I'm God. I'm the only one who truly exists and you're just a creation of my imagination?"
"I've thought that too. Like my life keeps happening over and over again."
"Yeah because we all see things from our own mind, our own perspective and can't truly appreciate or even begin to understand how other people view the world."
"That's why its such a miracle when two people totally view a situation the same way, are on the same wave length."
"Yeah but its like its that one thing or maybe more, maybe a lot of things but then there's so many other things that those same two people view completely differently and could never agree on."
"Even if they're lovers or married or best friends or siblings."
"I sometimes think that the tiniest atom in the universe is also the biggest."
"I've thought that too."

So I tell people I saw The Master the new film from Paul Thomas Anderson and they ask something like: is it good? Or did you like it? And maybe they're asking to be polite and aren't really interested in seeing it. Maybe they respect my judgment and might see it or avoid it partially based on my comments. What do I say? How do you take nouns and adjectives and verbs and such and turn them into some sort of coherent reaction that comes out as thumbs up or thumbs down? Simple, concise. Nahhhhhhh.

I would not want to be in the thumbs up or down movie reviewing business. Respect to those  reviewers  and the ones who give a movie one to five stars. Wow man. Take what can be an experience and reduce it to a number or one of two possible signals. Ooooooo.

How would you rate that cloud? I mean its beautiful but a little dark and totally ambiguous. Do you understand the cloud? Would I want to see it? How many puffs do you give it on a scale of negative 39 to 463? What's the basis of your evaluation?

So I say that I "liked it" because I found the two plus hours of the film to be an enjoyable experience. (And that is putting it very simply. It gets complicated.) I also say that I don't think the movie is for everyone. This gets me off the hook. I'm saying here that if you see it and don't like to please remember what I said about it not being for everyone. This disclaimer also telegraphs the notion that this is an unusual kind of film. It's not one of those James Bond or Spiderman deals with a tried and true and tired and rue story arc. It goes and it goes and some people want it to like stop.

I go on to mention that Phillip Seymour Hoffman and Joaquin Phoenix were brilliant which they were. Transformative. These are superior performers given superior performances. Master classes in acting. Hoffman is the embodiment of the know everything life guide or the sophisticated charlatan who maybe believes his own stink. (And you'd like Amy Adams as his wife. There is a spookiness there). Phoenix is a hunched over raging alcoholic who is everyman in a twisted world where everyone is prone to be demented. He is so freaking stupid and so damn brilliant about his ignorance and you just got at marvel at the creation of such a character and the interpretation by a brilliant actor.

I also discuss the LOOK OF THE FILM. Oh my. Hard to explain in a short polite conversation. The Master is "the first motion picture in 16 years to be filmed entirely on 65mm format using Panavision's System 65 camera." I gotta be honest here and say I'm not all sure what that means but I could tell the movie looked different simply by checking out the screen.

It looked


And Anderson is meticulous about set design or he hires people who are. Costumes too. I was all up in the movie because of the look which just sucks you in and hey here we go. You at times, could feel enveloped by the picture. The colors bathe you and keep you not just awake but entranced. Thank you much.

So the story...ummm. See here's where some people object because they want it to go someplace more specific. A lot of people want specificity in their movie going experience because paying all that money to sit and have to think is like a bit much. Better have the story spelled out for you then to draw your own conclusions. Now with Andersons's previous film, There Will Be Blood there was this sprawling story with this amazing performance by Daniel Day-Lewis and it looked like something out of visionary's brain but that story left me cold and unsatisfied. There was a there there but I didn't like it. It was confined to this one man and his madness. But The Master has a whole lot of story going on and you can make lots or little of it as you please. There's a lot to be done with it. Geographically it travels hither and yon and spiritually and mentally and emotionally it goes even further. Intellectually its off the friggin' charts.

Here is where I would give a synopsis but I think IMDb does it just fine and my first mention of the film is linked to their site so check it out there if you must.

I think.

What The Master does best

is leave spaces where ideas can grow and these space are all filled with this stunning visual sense that adds to the complexity and the dimension of the questions you can ask and answer and ponder and fiddle with. Like fer instance: who's a crazy person? Who manipulates how and why and why do people look for leaders and great teachers and enlightenment and why do they fall for snake oil salesmen and religion and cults and alcohol? And who really knows anything anyway? How do we journey in life and where she stops nobody knows. But we go. Answers. There are people probing and poking and flailing away. There is Hoffman as THE MASTER with all the answers -- or not -- and then Phoenix as loose cannon like a cannon skidding on a waxed floor and liable to ejaculate all kinna explosions and does. Did. It's post WWII America and don't think that's not significant and don't think it is. Unless you want to because it's that kind of


So yeah I liked it. As I said. I give it four G*i&6g9ts and a p)/"3y. 

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