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#600960 - 09/22/12 12:30 AM Re: pt anderson's "the master" [Re: granfalloon]
madget Offline
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Registered: 05/11/01
Posts: 4870
Well, I saw THE MASTER tonight, and for better or worse, depending on your expectations, it is definitively not about the beginnings of Scientology, any more than (indeed, decidedly less than) THERE WILL BE BLOOD was about the beginnings of the oil industry.

Not unlike THERE WILL BE BLOOD, it's a fairly cryptic movie about the relationship between an orphan and a surrogate father-figure (and all the easy allegories that come with that) -- just with a hell of an intriguing and uniquely American backdrop. And like TWBB it culminates in the two of them sitting across a desk from one another, the latter dismissing (or implying potential dismissal of, in TM) the former. And not unlike TWBB it features some compelling, memorable performances.

However, THE MASTER lacks any easily identifiable arc, momentum, or tangible narrative payoff, and will bore anyone expecting accessible drama to tears. I'm pretty sure there were at least a few walk-outs in my viewing. THE MASTER is loaded with sophisticated ideas and smart direction, but admittedly, I'm not sure what exactly it does with them, if anything: Anderson's aim here seems to be unadulterated meditative portraiture, a still photograph rather than an organic narrative. On this first viewing, it strikes me as Anderson's least likable film to date (which for the never-crowd-pleasing Anderson, is saying something). It is intriguing; challenging, but also sluggish and overly ponderous. Brilliant characters, situations, and dynamics are established quite expertly, but it is hard to feel a great deal of satisfaction in what is done with them. The potential tension feels strangely, stubbornly squandered, as if on purpose; but I'm not sure what it is squandered in service to, quite.

In short, I found the film interesting but difficult to enjoy, particularly after the halfway mark or so, by which time it has sort of set in that the film isn't building towards much of anything that you haven't already seen by that point. It's repetitive nature may be intentional; certainly it is intentional that almost nothing said by any of the characters at any time, makes particular sense. It's all sound and fury, and THE MASTER is as difficult in some ways as the book of the same name, but I suspect has less to really offer.

This said, I don't entirely trust my initial reaction to Anderson's movies. I do like the two lead characters a great deal, and I'll need to let my brain chew on the whole thing a bit more before my opinion of the whole endeavor fully touches down, or possibly see it again. But for those who find Anderson to be a tedious filmmaker, well: THE MASTER won't be winning over any new fans. It stubbornly -- maybe too stubbornly -- eschews the provision of any tangible narrative satisfactions, and makes THERE WILL BE BLOOD look like a genuine crowd-pleaser by comparison. Also, contrary to the kinder reviews and my own expectations based on PUNCH-DRUNK LOVE and THERE WILL BE BLOOD, I found the score to be a little lacking, here. I love that Anderson's (or Greenwood's, rather) scores tend to eschew typical emotional queues while still communicating something meaningful about the content onscreen; but in THE MASTER, the score felt kind of arbitrarily applied; like the movie itself, it felt unsure of what -- if anything -- it was trying to communicate. Maybe that's all part of the point, given the story's context, but it may be too shallow a point to justify the movie's sometimes interminable-seeming scenes.

I'm leafing through reviews now, and while I don't agree with it point for point, this review here does a pretty good job capturing the mixed feelings and vague frustrations that my initial viewing left me with:

http://www.slantmagazine.com/film/review/the-master/6501

Love to hear others' thoughts if anyone else sees it.

K

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#600970 - 09/22/12 01:00 PM Re: pt anderson's "the master" [Re: madget]
madget Offline
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Registered: 05/11/01
Posts: 4870
As a side-note, I notice that a lot of key moments from the trailers are not actually in the film. The confrontation in the jail cells is not the same as what's shown in the trailer, and Freddie's questioning by the army officer isn't the same as what's shown in the teaser.

K

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#600974 - 09/23/12 01:38 PM Re: pt anderson's "the master" [Re: madget]
Charles Reece Offline
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Registered: 08/18/99
Posts: 10013
Loc: us of fuckin' a
I'm short on time, but:

It's too bad most people won't see this in 70MM, wowee!! It would show everyone the difference between digitally aping film and the possibilities of the real thing. The colors are so beautiful in this film.

As for the story, it does borrow heavily from Scientology, but sort of takes all the most ludicrous stuff as first principles, which makes The Cause even sillier sounding in the film. Also, Dodd is portrayed as a bit too much of an obvious authoritarian cult leader in the film with his outbursts ("pigfuck"). I felt like the cult stuff was a little too forced. The Marley Maybelle whatever flick was much more subtle in depicting the reprogramming of an individual, but that film didn't look anywhere near as amazing as this one.

Much like There Will Be Blood, the world outside of the principle actor (maybe actors including Hoffman) was largely flat. There were a lot of dropped plot points (the daughter's pass at Freddie, for example). It was really choppy and didn't much go anywhere, largely random scenes from a much larger, untold story.

I can't imagine my wanting to revisit this one again and again on blu ray, but I'll certainly go to see it on the big screen once more just for one of the best examples of film's last stand.

Got to go ...
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The Gospel, wherein much Truth is written.

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#600977 - 09/23/12 04:31 PM Re: pt anderson's "the master" [Re: Charles Reece]
granfalloon Offline
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Registered: 10/27/03
Posts: 724
Loc: Toronto, Canada
I haven't seen it. The first three shows were sold out by the time I got to the theatre. But, I have also heard that it is not truly about Scientology. There are many parallels that point towards it, however.

By the way, Bowfinger IS about Scientology, and a million laughs.

When Philip Seymour Hoffman was cast, Scientology watchers said, "Great, he looks just like Hubbard," then they put a mustache on him, I suppose, to create plausible deniability.

Some of his dialogue is paraphrased closely from Hubbard's "sacred scripture". In the movie the wife is named Mary Sue, just like Hubbard's third wife was.

Cruise was really pissed at an advance showing.

There were rumours about Scientology formally protesting the movie; in fact I don't know what happened with the protests.

But, if the movie doesn't have enough Scientology in it, there is always this month's Vanity Fair which has a cover story on it (over which Scientology has already threatened lawsuit).

In the US, Scientology is actually a religion because of a decision made my a man named Fred Goldberg, in the tax office. In my country, it is called a parareligion, in France it is a sect, in Germany it is a shady business, in Britain it is not a religion, in Greece it is a philosophy, in Mexico it is a business and in Australia it is a religion which is causing the government to reevaluate it's charitable allowances to all religions. But in my mind it is a nut cult.

Watch Bowfinger for a funny look. They call the cult MINDHEAD.

And beware of equivocation. It is not like the other religions. In my country it is the only criminally convicted religious organization since the nation became Canada, in 1867. It also holds the national record for penalty paid in a liable suit. I could to on and on and will on request. But for a better explanation check out XENU.NET.

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#600979 - 09/24/12 12:47 AM Re: pt anderson's "the master" [Re: Charles Reece]
madget Offline
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Registered: 05/11/01
Posts: 4870
Originally Posted By: Charles Reece

It's too bad most people won't see this in 70MM, wowee!!


Indeed. I was searching and searching for a way to see this in 70MM, but alas, Michigan screwed me. You were smart, moving out to LA. I think THE MASTER'S visuals, all said and done, are half the pleasure. I feel wronged, sans the 70mm experience. Particularly given the sadly weak script. However, a re-viewing of Hard Eight & PDL cleansed the PT Anderson palette.

K

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#600980 - 09/24/12 02:59 AM Re: pt anderson's "the master" [Re: madget]
Charles Reece Offline
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Registered: 08/18/99
Posts: 10013
Loc: us of fuckin' a
Yeah, so awesome is the viewing experience that it might even cause Allen to retract all those ridiculous claims about Lucky McKee's superiority ... but probably not. You can always fly out for the weekend if you want.

I'm sort of thinking of the film as a battle between the American ideal of a self-made man versus the reality, but who knows if that'll lead much of anywhere.
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The Gospel, wherein much Truth is written.

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#600992 - 09/24/12 04:26 AM Re: pt anderson's "the master" [Re: Charles Reece]
Allen Montgomery Online   content
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Registered: 05/08/00
Posts: 7082
Remember that you invoked me.



I said nothing of McKee's "superiority," only that McKee (and several other directors) utilize their limited resources more inventively than Anderson (and several other directors) use their bloated Oscar-bait budgets. When a guy goes from being a grip to making multi-million dollar movies, by age 26, there's obviously some shenanigans going on.

I have no intention of spending money any time soon to see another P.T. Anderson snoozefest (as I probably already own all the DVDs of the movies he rips off), but all the previews I've seen as well as your orgasming over the film stock reinforce what I said previously about his reliance on expensive equipment. Anderson is probably the best example (although Steven Soderbergh also springs to mind) of this new crop of jerkoffs who know all about lenses but not the first thing about storytelling.



Viewing a picture bigger doesn't make it better.
_________________________
"The trouble with being a ghost writer or artist is that you must remain anonymous without credit.
If one wants the credit, one has to cease being a ghost and become a leader or innovator."
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#601001 - 09/24/12 12:27 PM Re: pt anderson's "the master" [Re: Allen Montgomery]
Charles Reece Offline
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Registered: 08/18/99
Posts: 10013
Loc: us of fuckin' a
Well, a bigger sized projection is possible, but it's more about the higher resolution. If you think the beauty of Vertigo or Lawrence of Arabia or 2001 is simply the film stock, I can't much help you there. All are worth seeing in 35mm, but you're really missing out if you haven't seen them in 70.
_________________________
The Gospel, wherein much Truth is written.

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#601002 - 09/24/12 12:47 PM Re: pt anderson's "the master" [Re: Charles Reece]
Allen Montgomery Online   content
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Registered: 05/08/00
Posts: 7082
I doubt it.
_________________________
"The trouble with being a ghost writer or artist is that you must remain anonymous without credit.
If one wants the credit, one has to cease being a ghost and become a leader or innovator."
Bob Kane

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#601009 - 09/24/12 04:09 PM Re: pt anderson's "the master" [Re: Charles Reece]
madget Offline
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Registered: 05/11/01
Posts: 4870
More I think about it the less I see this as another iteration of the orphan/surrogate-father motif and lean more towards my friend's assessment right after seeing it: that it's basically a buddy flick. Thinking back over it, there's really nothing remotely submissive about Freddie, or overtly dominant about Dodd; they just like each other. Freddie isn't particularly interested in The Cause itself; it's just this thing his buddy does. Freddie is protective of Dodd, and Dodd fascinated by Freddie's compulsive freedom. Dodd plays games and seems the more trapped of the two, really. He's more at home in a cage, civilized in his jail cell, while Freddie rages. The motorcycle scene, is a game to Dodd; go a point, return, enjoy the thrill of it; Freddie just rides off without fixed destination. They're an interesting pair and the relationship between them is interesting. But I'm still feeling strongly that whatever we might extract from it, it's a relationship that just wasn't sufficiently served by the script, and too cryptic for cryptic's sake. Is it you that said it was like a collection of random scenes from a story that we're never actually told? That seems about right to me. And I agree MMMM is a more thoughtful peek into similar subject matter, although MMMM is pretty cryptic and cagey too; either movie would disappoint someone purely interested in the mechanics of cultism itself. As piece of art The Master is more interesting to me than MMMM, but MMMM is probably more successful at meeting its own goals.

As for film stock, I'm a sucker for technical fidelity, and frequently disappointed by theaters these days, with their crappy digital projection. I'm sure the 70mm experience was vastly superior to what I saw.

As for Allen, yeah, like I say -- this isn't a movie to win over any new converts. It was an interesting movie, and it's conceivable that it might grow on me, but it's a difficult one to really recommend to anyone but hardcore Anderson fans. Still haven't seen any McKee.

K

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