February 10, 2013

The Master (2012)

The Master is one of those films that I wanted to see ever since Joaquin Phoenix became sane again (although judging from his performance in The Master, I have my doubts). It is also Paul Thomas Anderson’s first movie since 2007’s There Will Be Blood, which I was hoping would have continued a streak of genius from Boogie Nights to Magnolia and even Punch Drunk Love (which I liked). Unfortunately (and contrary to the many positive reviews) it didn't capture me as much as it did others. I must admit that while the cinematography is amazing (maybe in part thanks to the use of 65mm negative throughout, normally only reserved for IMAX features) and is complemented by great performances well deserving of their Oscar nominations, the film as a whole didn’t do it for me. The whole link to Scientology wasn’t explored enough (and I think it could have made for some very compelling plot) and Philip Seymour Hoffman’s character (the L. Ron Hubbard analogue) wasn’t explored nearly enough as I would have liked. Overall it is disjoint and unfocused, and if it weren’t for the overbearing Scientology angle, this should have really been a movie about the unstable alcoholic WWII vet that we are presented with at the beginning. His whole encounter with ‘The Cause’ and their agenda just serves to redirect the focus to their antics instead of allowing us to fully explore Phoenix’s character, who either seems to barely hold it together or put up a really good show, considering his last stint in I’m Still Here. either way, only for hardcore PTA or Phoenix fans.