Accolades are pouring in for “The Master”. It is called “a landmark American movie”, “phenomenal”, “enthralling and mesmerizing” by the likes of USA Today, The Daily Telegraph, and Entertainment Weekly. Rolling Stone said it’s “the best movie of the year, a mindbending cinematic landmark.” How do these folks leap over the barriers of guilt they must have for writing this dribble when they collect their paychecks? I’d ask why they feel a need to snooker the American viewing audience, but then, they are probably taking stock of the maneuvers of the Bronco Bama Regime. This movie is awful. None of you, dear readers, will be pleased if you plop down your hard earned entertainment dollar for this turkey.
“The Master” stars Joaquin Phoenix and Philip Seymour Hoffman. Both are amazing actors and put forth strong performances in this outing. In fact, it’s only the strength of their talents that enabled me to watch this to its conclusion. Any other actors and I may very well have walked out on this dud. Phoenix, a few years back, walked away from acting. Said he was leaving the profession to dedicate his life to music and rock ‘n’ roll. Have you heard his band? It was only a matter of time until he returned; however it’s very hard to believe this script had anything to do with his prodigal son routine.
The movie is very slow in development. It takes a good thirty minutes before any semblance of a tale surfaces. Akin to that foible, it is too long. Once again, as is becoming the penchant in Tinseltown, Editors Leslie Jones and Peter McNulty have a 90 minute tale they stretch into two hours and ten minutes. Several scenes are merely redundant or unnecessary. For example: the motorcycle scene; and the second thrashing at the Phoenix convention.
“The Master” is about a cult. Early in the film’s development, rumors went viral on the internet the film was a parallel to the Church of Scientology and its leader L. Ron Hubbard. This correlation is unfounded. The film has more in common with military programs designed to help shell-shocked vets. Amy Adams and Laura Dern appear in extended cameos.
KEY SCENES TO LOOK FOR:
- LISTENING TO THE TAPES
- THE RETURN TO DORIS’ HOUSE
Paul Thomas Anderson wrote and directed “The Master”. As a writer, he never gives a solid source for the cult. He does not provide the essential elements on which the belief is sired. The character of Frank evokes no empathy from the viewer. There is no reason for the actions surrounding the film’s climax. It’s a lame script. As a director, he does well in selecting actors who can pump life into this corpse, but he sabotages his own efforts by letting the movie play too long.
And then, after suffering through two hours of a baseless cult and inexplicable character actions, there is a scene where Hoffman sings “Slow Boat to China” to Phoenix. I almost hit the floor. Did Anderson wander me through two hours of nonsense, just to reveal a tale of unrequited homosexual love? It certainly would explain how all those entertainment rags could find high praise for “The Master”. To the average viewer, however, this is a cheap shot.
THE GRADE FOR “THE MASTER” IS AN F.
Fiore Mastracci is a 37 year film critic veteran, who does not appreciate films that place an agenda over entertainment value.