Film Reviews and Discussion.
Dir: Paul Thomas Anderson
Dur: 144 mins
Hollywood heavyweights turn the spotlight on the lure of the cult. With snooze-inducing consequences. Warning: they may bore you into submission.
Following in footsteps of indie flick Martha Marcy May Marlene (2011), Paul Thomas Anderson has chosen to reflect on the mechanics of the cult, looking into the tug of unity, security and family that is offered by these uniquely independent factions.
First off, there is no real narrative to this tale. If you are looking for 144 minutes of gripping insight into the ticks and buzzes of the disenfranchised mind being courted by the unconventional teachings of a maverick thinker, you will be severely disappointed. The brush strokes painted here are broad and with a deliberate deviation away from detail. The manifesto of the cult to whom Joaquin Phoenix is enticed is not explained at any great length. There is a reliably excellent performance from the patriarch, Philip Seymour Hoffman, who exudes the necessary charisma to entice, excite and inspire. Indeed, all the acting performances are excellent to a point without fault. Similarly, the cinematography is sumptuously beautiful. This is a glossy and breath taking picture of America. As far as positives go, that is it.
In a nutshell, the film is a shambles. It goes nowhere. It offers no branch to the audience to engage. This is a steely and chilly film. If it were a household appliance, it would be a fridge freezer. The film length is an issue too. 144 minutes of nothing is a very long time. It is excruciating. In the end, you wonder whether you are being secretly filmed and this is a test of endurance. It is a stupefying and dull film that does not deserve recommendation and does not deserve acclamation. Make it stop. Please. It is a waste of talent of all involved and that is the biggest disappointment of all. This film may live on as a tool for extracting information as a torture device. It should not stand as a beacon for American cinema. If you want thoughtful films, go to world cinema. Or go to another director. Do not call upon Paul Thomas Anderson. He should be directing holiday advertisements.
If you like this, try this: You won’t like this. Not unless you have never seen any other film before, or you turn the sound down and enjoy the images without worrying about being mentally engaged.
Here’s the trailer (if you must) for the Master: