master

If you haven’t seen Paul Thomas Anderson’s The Master yet, you should definitely see it, but first try and figure out a way to own a home with a personal theater and have a 70mm print delivered directly to you, or watch it on your phone. (Just kidding, don’t watch it on your phone! I was kidding! Don’t watch anything on your phone. Throw your phone away!) What I’m saying is that this is the type of movie that draws a very particular kind of crowd, and you might want to avoid that crowd. To give you an example, while waiting in line for tickets a man behind me shouted “It is true, I am the master, now clear the way for me!” and then turned to his friend and said in that fatigued voice one assumes when a joke has not gone your way but you feel the need to commit to it through the very end, “Well, that didn’t work. I really thought maybe that would work.” His friend said, “I don’t know either,” and then they proceeded to have a discussion of whether or not you should hire someone to stand in line for you at the movie, “if time truly is our precious resource,” without ever discussing who it is that would be applying for or accepting a job like that. But inside it was even worse, because the movie started playing, and that is when people laughed or gasped and it was like what are you laughing at? Did that require a gasp? Are YOU ok? “Oh that is rich, I see what this movie is saying in this scene, ahem ahem ahem.” It can all be a bit much, this human zoo. OH, BUT, SO THE MOVIE WAS PRETTY GOOD!

The Master is about a young sailor who loves to drink batteries who makes friends with an aging showboat. Together they have a bunch of adventures, two instances with farts, a jailhouse confession, motorcycle rides, and they wrestle in the grass. There are also some waves in the ocean, and a sand castle with boobs, and some explosions of petulant, petty violence. The young sailor goes home to visit his girlfriend, but she moved in with Jim Day of all people so he goes to the movies to watch a cartoon. Finally, in England, everyone calls it quits in the giant room because Amy Adams is so mad in her side chair. The End.

Supposedly, this is Paul Thomas Anderson’s “Scientology movie,” which, sure, but if that’s the case, Paul Thomas Anderson doesn’t have very much to say about Scientology. This is really a movie, like all of his movies, about a young man’s enthralled and potentially dangerous mentorship by a powerful older man. It’s becoming kind of a thing for this director! You have Mark Wahlberg’s relationship with Burt Reynolds in Boogie Nights. You have Tom Cruise’s relationship with Jason Robards in Magnolia. You have Paul Dano’s relationship with Daniel Day Lewis in There Will Be Blood. And now you have this. The conflict is always pretty much the same, too: you basically have the young man struggling so hard to get the love/affection/support that he needs, thinking for awhile that he’s maybe found it, but at the end of the day you either have to break out of that relationship and try to make a go of being a man on your own, or else that relationship will literally club you to death with a bowling pin. (I. DRINK. YOUR. PAINT THINNER! Get it?) Sounds like somebody has some daddy issues! (Haha, as if everybody doesn’t have daddy issues.)

There are two things in particular that The Master really has going for it, and that is very pretty cinematography, like, just so pretty, and also actors who are good at acting. Philip Seymour Hoffman! Holy moly! I mean, you can say “Philip Seymour Hoffman! Holy moly!” about pretty much any Philip Seymour Hoffman movie and it holds up because that guy is great, but he’s super great in this one. HOO-AH! So charismatic but also filled with (not so) secret rage. And then of course there is Joaquin Phoenix, who should have brought some of this same intensity and coiled violence to the other movie in which he plays a lunatic, I’m Still Here, because maybe it would have been more convincing and enjoyable to watch. But what a lunatic he is in this. In a good way. He’s supposed to be! Just so intense and unpredictable and mush mouthed and crazy eyed and slope backed. (Other actors in this movie include: Amy Adams and Jesse Plemons.)

Personally, I was never a Paul Thomas Anderson fan until There Will Be Blood came out. I didn’t think Boogie Nights was as great as everyone else seemed to think it was (and I rewatched it a couple of months ago to see if maybe I was just wrong the first time, and while I do think it’s better than I originally gave it credit for, I still don’t love it, so in reality it probably falls somewhere between my tepid early opinion and everyone else’s canonic love) and I very much disliked (and still disliked, no movement on the needle here) Magnolia. Yuck. All of this is to say that when There WIll Be Blood was released I went into it with a great deal of skepticism and anticipated being underwhelmed or even disliking the movie as I had with PTA’s previous efforts, but I in fact loved it just like everyone loved it, because it is so great. And all of THAT is to say that I still went into The Master with this same mixed relationship to Paul Thomas Anderson. But I like this new thread he’s following. If we have to size everything up and make all the world into a contest, which we sure seem to have to do considering how much we are all always doing it, then I did like There Will Be Blood better than I liked The Master, but they are both very good movies and I read a book about depression one time that said it was very important to just be open and present and accept life on its own terms as it comes, so let’s try that.

Incidentally, I also saw End of Watch this weekend, which has some real problems mostly in the ending which I am not going to spoil for you but whoops that ending but before the ending actually does have one of the most entertaining, believable, and emotionally earned buddy relationships I have seen in a long time. But does everything have to be found footage? Did you know that about that movie? Supposedly Jake Gyllenhaal is a cop who is taking a film class (right) on the side, which is why he videotapes everything, but they obviously dump that conceit within the first 10 minutes, it’s just to explain away the abundance of home movie footage of routine street busts. But then also they are at war with a violent gang of street thugs who are ALSO videotaping their every move? I guess for the same film class? It’s a very annoying aspect of what is a pretty decent movie except for the ending which is also a very annoying aspect. Oh well, what are you going to do? Besides wait for End of Watch to come out on DVD and fall asleep watching it at three in the morning after you get home drunk from some bar?

But we aren’t here to talk about End of Watch. We are here to talk about The Master. So? Talk!

Comments (64)
  1. I haven’t seen it! I haven’t seen Perks of Being a Wallflower! I haven’t seen anything!

    • SEE THIS movie, and DON’T SEE PERKS.

      THERE. DONE!

      I am so glad GABE MENTIONED the laughing because people did that SHIT AT MY screening, and it made ME WANT TO kill someone. YOU’RE WATCHING the disillusionment AND CONFUSION of a man AS HE FALLS prey to man’s innate DESIRE FOR THE infinite and MEANING. HOW THE fuck is that FUNNY YOU little pieces OF SHIT?!

      • The movie was filled with moments where the audience I was with didn’t know whether they should laugh or not (they usually did). The same slightly deranged humor that everyone loved in the “I drink your milkshake” scene comes through, just in a more awkward/troubling context (a mentally damaged Freddy’s sexual obsessions). Is PTA intentionally finding humor in something so sad? The presentation of scenes like the rorschach test or the department store portrait lighting fight indicate he does.

        Relatedly, it was a little cryptic what the ongoing strand about laughter and humor was getting at. Dodd continually references it as being important, but when he reveals that it is the true key to his entire belief system while introducing Book #2, it seems to disenchant Freddy completely.

    • I saw it at the Arclight in Hollywood on opening night and – to the audience’s credit – this movie gave them MANY opportunities to unpolitely guffaw (all the homo-erotic singing! all the staring! all the nearly crying!) but you could never hear more than an uncomfortable cough. Good job struggling actors!

  2. I am sorry, but it was way OK to laugh each time Hoffman took a hit of that paint thinner elixir. Anyone have access to some torpedo fuel?

  3. I think I solved the riddle of how to make waiting in a huge line for a movie like this bearable: get drunk first. I went to the special surprise screening they did in Chicago a few weeks ago and had to wait in line for like an hour, but thanks to booze, the wait flew by and I had sobered up by the time the movie started.

    • Also: I enjoyed the movie, but there wasn’t enough Landry.

      • I was okay with not enough Landry because if there was more I would have been expecting the movie to end with him smashing Joaquin Phoenix’s head in then say, “I’m finished” and that would have been distracting.

      • I didn’t make the connection from the trailers, but while watching the movie it was clear he totally could pass for Hoffman’s son in real life. A little disappointed, though, that Landry didn’t use the opportunity of appearing in a PTA film to up his body count, maybe make a few Cause skeptics disappear.

  4. I watched it in Vegas, because I go to school in Vegas, and the crowd (10 people, 50% elderly) was horrible. This couple behind me would make jokes about things that happened in the movie and giggle. Also, I made the mistake to go after I studied late the previous night, took a test in the morning, and ate a big plate of spaghetti. So, I was fighting my sleepy feelings and fell asleep for about 10-15 minutes. I don’t know if it was the movie, the comfort, or the silence, but I WAS enjoying the movie. It was beautiful, and I wanted to see the master’s antics. When he yells… whoa. I just wanted to go see it too soon and should have waited. :’( I should also admit I fell asleep a little during There Will Be Blood, under the same conditions. I am a horrible person. Sometimes though, there are movies I should just watch a home. I think this was one of them. But, I am very excited about Looper!!!

  5. “The Master is about a young sailor who loves to drink batteries who makes friends with an aging showboat.”

    Oh how I hope this is a literal description of this movie!!

  6. I saw it this weekend too and I loved it. Although, unlike you Gabe, I LOVED Boogie Nights and Magnolia and even forgave PTA for doing a movie with Adam Sandler and kind of like Punch Drunk Love (kind of).

    So yes, this is the “scientology” movie but, really it’s not. I mean, the cult takes a back seat and is not so interesting as the relationship between the two men (PSH and JP). Apparently he had to pre-screen it for Tom Cruise but I don’t want to believe that because I’ll get really mad.

    Here’s what I think PTA does best: wrap your head around crazy men. He did an amazing job with this in The Master and watching JP contort his already contorted body into that strange pose showed not only a metaphorically broken man but a literal one as well. He was literally broken the entire movie.

    My friend said it wasn’t as good as TWBB, but I don’t know. The relationship was less histrionic and no one can (over)A>/b>ct like DDL anyway. I think it was more like a ts elliot poem and went out with a whimper not a bang. Which was refreshing for a PTA movie.

    • Punch Drunk Love rules all.

      • No, but I liked it.

        • That is what i meant.

          • Punch-Drunk Love is his best film. It really is as much as I liked this one and There Will Be Blood. It’s a great love story and a more interesting portrait of a deranged loner than the Master. I just love it and I don’t think it gets the respect it deserves because of Mr. Sandler and the fact that it feels lighter on the surface, but I tell you it’s every bit as serious as the PTA movies that came after it. It’s also the first real film Anderson made. Boogie Nights and Magnolia are both film-school films that mostly crib Scorcese and Altman, but Punch-Drunk is his own movie, with a unique style and tone. There Will Be Blood and The Master also have their flaws, but I can’t think of a way to make Punch-Drunk Love more perfect than it already is.

    • The movie was about Scientology like 2001 is about rocket ships. PTA certainly benefits from public interest in the faith, but the movie is all about the meaning the two men build for themselves and the ways in which self control is a mirage. (PSH built a faith, JP built a woman of sand; both were impermanent contrivances.)

      Seeing PSH talking about how man is not an animal and can control his emotions while the whole time staring hungrily at JP was one of the darkest arguments against praying the gay away that I’ve seen.

      Meanwhile, the emergence of book 2 took a nice peek at the upheaval that comes when religions evolve — sort of a New Testament moment.

      I agree that it was nice to see a PTA movie close with a subtle image rather than something punchy. But I think fans of his more linear work will be put off by the impressionistic structure. (Not me.)

      • Maybe I’m just a boor who wasn’t paying enough attention, but I didn’t pick up any homoerotic tension between Freddie and Dodd AT ALL, (hugging on the grass notwithstanding). But it seems like a lot of people are talking about it, so I guess it’s just me.

      • This is a really awesome review and I hadn’t thought about the self control/mirage thing – v cool. Yes, I see that and I agree, it was subtle imagery, which I like, but I can see how some PTA fans were looking for another TWBB and may be a little disappointed.

  7. The Master was beautiful in 70mm and the performances were great. Although, giving the best performance was neither Joaquin Phoenix nor Philip Seymour Hoffman, but rather the freaky scapula of Joaquin Phoenix. Actually I would give the best performance award to the whole ensemble of body parts that made up his freaky torso and face. Good work, weird body!

    • I honestly found his posture and the weird mouth thing he did to be pretty distracting. Like, “Hi guys. I’m Joaquin Phoenix. I am so good at acting that I’m going to act while contorting my body and face into what look like very uncomfortable shapes. Have fun staring at this for 2+ hours!”

    • I like to think about what I can learn from watching this or that movie. What statement did it try to get across? It’s been two days since I watched The Master and I still can’t figure out if I really learned anything from it besides the Importance of Posture. We need to stop slouching, guys!

  8. I watched this movie last night. I enjoyed it. Will actually see it again probably. Rad movie. [This comment has been brought to you by the Videogum commentator corporation.]

  9. Also want to comment on how strange it is that I agree with the author of this blog post, Magnolia was garbage and Boogie Nights was over rated and not good, although Heather Graham is always fun to stare at. Strange that we agree for once. True what they say you live long enough everything happens.

  10. Also one final comment before I leave this website for the day, I had sincerely hoped that the movie was building toward a climactic closing credit sequence that would feature the song “Master of Puppets” by Metallica and I was quite disappointed when [SPOILER ALERT] this did not turn out to be the case. How rad would that have been to end the movie on such a high note. Well, goodbye for now, talk to yall tomorrow.

  11. I liked this movie but did not love it as I walked home. I thought, “Well, that was some cinematography they will be talking about in 100 years, and probably Hoffman and Phoenix both get six Oscars apiece for it, and maybe even Amy Adams, who I will probably marry, but… it was just a bunch of stuff that happened? I’m not sure it was a real movie with, like, a story? Or ideas?”

    I almost went to the bar on my corner to have one drink and think about it because the movie had put me in a weird state that was both high energy and low key. But I felt convinced I would be sitting there in a weird pose making a crazy face like Joaquin Phoenix, so I just went home and finished the wine that I had to finish anyway, lest it go bad and that would be $5 down the drain. So I guess that’s a testament to the power of this movie; it made me see myself as a hunchbacked lunatic and drink alone? Still, that is a mixed review.

    BUT THEN THIS MORNING, I woke up with all kinds of ideas about the movie, and suddenly it was amazing and I loved it. I think actually it had a lot to say about Scientology — or actually about Christianity, maybe all religion. And the characters are amazing and compelling partly because of how they tie into these ideas. And was everything after the motorcycle bit all just a dream? Was that all “imagine yourself” kind of stuff, or did it really happen? Not that it matters?

    So, great movie. Not going to be one where I call my parents and tell them they better Netflix it, but awesome.

    • this was exactly exactly what happened to me hours after the film i realized i loved it and wanted to speak about it forever

      • Yes! Forever. I had to stop myself from typing more here.

        But since you replied… I will say that it really fascinated me that Hoffman founds the religion to “rise above” our animal nature, but then in his Book 2 he says “laughter is the key.” Laughter is kind of an animal response! And the wrestling, and the speeding bike — Hoffman is happiest in his most animal moments. So it seems like the movie is thinking one of the main ideas of all religion is that we’re supposed to rise above animal nature, but our reward for doing that will be… animal happiness. Like laughing or speeding or boning. And so I was wondering if [SPOILERS GALORE] Phoenix was kind of “killed” while riding the motorcycle (maybe not literally killed; I felt like there was a weird narrative break when he rides out of view) and the rest of the movie is him in Heaven, or the best Heaven he can imagine, anyway — the thing he “put in the future” for himself — he gets some closure about Doris, and with Hoffman, and he has sex in a new country.

        • What I loved about that scene on the bike was that when it was Freddie’s turn to ride, he just kept going. And it didn’t cut with him riding riding riding away. The scene ended with that shot of Lancaster walking— his daughter in tow and his son-in-law following in the car— determinedly toward the point on the horizon Freddie drove too because Lancaster was in supreme denial that Freddie had just left him. You could see Lancaster’s heart breaking with each step taken in that desert.

          That is why the next and final time they meet in England after Freddie’s weird usher/telephone/Lancaster convo dream, Lancaster is so cold at first, accepting the ‘Kools’ (they looked like Marlboros to me, but maybe Kools just became a generic term for menthols back in the ’50s), and giving Freddie a hug, but then sitting back and letting Amy Adams tear into him for abandoning her husband and The Cause (I’m sure she had to deal with the immediate fall-out of Freddie’s abandonment).

          That dream in the theater was so cool though, because that nagging thought Freddie had of “Lancaster said we met before,” propelled him toward seeking him out again to gain that closure (which they both needed), and Lancaster’s whiz-bang make-it-up-on-the-spot attempt was so faux-poignant (or he actually thought about it hard after Freddie left and that was the best he could come up with, he and Freddie fighting the Prussians). “Only two balloons were lost… Two.”

          Uh huh. DO go on.

          • *determinedly toward the point on the horizon Freddie drove TO

          • Wow, I did not see the heartbreak over being left while Lancaster was walking. I thought maybe he’d even been hoping for an accident, was hoping Freddie was killed (though sad that it worked), because he wanted to be rid of Freddie and the whole relationship to be over but felt helpless to end it himself.

            And yeah, then Amy Adams has to go Lady Macbeth to get rid of him — that is literally the best/only resolution any of them can imagine, her solving it for them. Maybe women hold all the background power in this movie? Like would Lancaster have bothered to form a cult or Freddie have joined it if they’d been able to get women to do/be what they wanted? Dunno. But for pete’s sake, the movie opens with the army worshipfully building an oversized icon of a woman in sand…

            I need to watch it again. There is so much happening.

          • Whoops! Actually, I meant that you actually don’t see the heartbreak in Lancaster’s steps. That’s the subtext. He’s actually walking in COMPLETE denial that he has been left by Freddie. So with each step, that denial is crumbling bit by bit as the truth comes out.

            I don’t think Dodd ever wanted to be rid of Freddie. Freddie was his guinea pig & protege, right up until Freddie left, because all of their work together produced Dual Sabers, and it was not received well by the acolytes, and Freddie had to get out.

            GOOD CALL on the women themes!

          • Minor correction: I think it was called Split Saber?

            I thought maybe Lancaster wanted to get rid of Freddie because the difficulty in processing Freddie maybe made Lancaster look like a fraud. I want to watch the wall/window scene again to see how panicked Lancaster looks that Freddie is not getting it, in front of all the acolytes. He doesn’t want to be doubted, and if Freddie’s behavior makes people doubt him…

            But your take makes a lot of sense. Hmmmm.

    • hotspur, I hope I have this revelation soon. Your description of your feelings when first walking home were precisely mine (get out of my HEAD). I also saw it last night. I don’t have anything to add except to say I was mostly bored out of my skull.

    • I READ a review that CALLED this movie as “book on film” WHICH NORMALLY SOUNDS like a trite and lazy CLICHE, BUT holy shit is it RIGHT ON. You HAVE TO let it percolate (SANS FISH) and wrestle with LOTS OF subtext. FUCK, it was great.

      • ALSO, I’M SORRY I’m replying to MYSELF, but I think the main takeaway was AT THE end of the film when Dodds said “If you find out how to live without a master, come tell us because you’ll be the first man to do so” OR WHATEVER. That shit OPENED IT up, and the more I thought about that STATEMENT the more I though “FUCK” and then needed to WRITE TO homeboy Judge Vilhelm to TALK about choosing the SELF IN its infinity.

  12. I saw this last night with a pretty small crowd who still sort of laughed at parts i didnt really think appropriate but anyway

    i really liked it. im not entirely sure of its message as a whole but the relationship between the main characters was deeply fascinating in that it took on the role of mentor/student, worshipper/priest, and then lovers. idk a part of me agrees with it being overly long but i came into it expecting that and i thought that the relationship was explored so thoroughly that it warranted the time.it goes without saying that the time was also filled with just gorgeous shots, i didnt get a chance to see it in 70mm so id be interested to know if the difference were major or barely noticable. also kudos to amy adams for playing an absolutely ruthless character so well. really a great movie

  13. I loved the movie, though I’m not sure I can explain why.
    I went to see it with one of those friends who is super critical of everything and makes rash decisions about hating or loving things within the first ten minutes of watching them, and after the first nine minutes of watching The Master, he leaned over and whispered, “I hate this” into my ear, which was very annoying because I could feel his negative energy spoiling my experience for the next 2-point-some-odd hours, and he kept yawning, and he put his arms inside of his t-shirt and hugged himself like an eight-year-old kept saying, “geeze, brrrrrr!” and then after the movie he kept pressuring me to explain why I liked the movie, and I couldn’t explain any better than saying, “It made me feel ways about things,” and when I asked him why he didn’t like it, he said, “It seemed self-indulgent,” and I’m not really even sure what that criticism means in the context of films anyway—does anyone else have a friend like this?
    So yes, I liked it.

    • Also, during the trailer for Les Miserables, this friend said, “I FUCKING LOVE LES MIZZZZZZ” completely unironically, which is fine, but I mean, really?

    • I needed 2 viewings to really crystallize my thoughts on this movie. But I think I’ve cracked it. Let me tell you why this movie would make a great double feature with the movie “Project Nim”.

      To my mind, “The Master” is about the struggle between man’s most primal, animalistic instincts and our need to be civil, proper members of society. Soldiers at war are made to behave like animals and when they come home they are told to put that aside and assimilate themselves back into the civil world. But once you’ve seen the things they’ve seen and done the things they’ve done, how do you tame the animal? A common way for many soldiers has been belief systems; religions, cults, etc. In many ways the teachings of most belief systems are exercises in domestication. Especially in the case of cults such as Scientology, the goal is to bend the subject to the will of the teacher, and assert dominance in order to get the desired result.

      Our main character Freddie is shown as a complete savage in the beginning of the film, a man who only lives to indulge each base, primal urge that pops in his brain. Someone who humps everything that moves and ingests anything he can put in his mouth. Like a dog. Lancaster Dodd is constantly saying that man is not animal. That we live above that. But what he truly believes is that the people around him are pets he can control with the right conditions. Freddie appears to him as his ultimate challenge; the wildest animal he’s tamed yet. Yet he also finds something alluring about the man. Perhaps because there’s a bit of wild animal in him as well. We only get brief indications that confirm this when he blows up on a few dissenters throughout the film. We also see how even The Master has a master, when we come to discover the domination techniques his wife uses on him. Perhaps he also identifies with Freddie as a fellow pet.

      The climactic sequence in the jail cell couldn’t possibly be more explicit about this theme. On the left side of the screen, we have Freddie wailing and biting and thrashing. On the right side is Dodd, posing calmly in his suit, perfectly composed. And they’re both locked in cages.

    • Firstly, I really do not like those decide-if they-like-the-movie-or-not-ten-minutes-in people, but I will say I was that guy when I went to see White Out with my dad. I immediately regretted buying tickets to that load of shit (this was before I started reading criticism of movies, in case you’re wondering).

      Secondly, HOLY COW! Applescruff, you brought up things I hadn’t noticed. I’m slowly reading everyone’s takes on the movie, which I’m sort of doing myself but like crunchberries, can’t articulate it quite yet.

      I LOVE THIS SITE!

  14. Oh, I know that crowd. When I went to see Eraserhead for the first time at the IFC center a few months ago there were a lot of giggles and “Hmm….”s and it was like “I get it, you ‘get’ Lynch” but I also sort of thought that they were laughing cause the movie was hinting at something that would happen later and little did I know the only thing that would happen later is nightmares.

    • THAT SOUNDS fucking awful. Lynch definitely HAS A great sense of HUMOR, but Eraserhead isn’t EXACTLY one of his films that’s full OF IT. I’d say the HUMOR DIDN’T really come out until HIS TWIN PEAKS days. I MEAN, it’s still sort of there, but it’s definitely NOT “HAHA!” as much as it is LATER on.

  15. Great cinematography, actors, Phillip Seymore “Skinner” Hoffman dancing to ABBA ect. I heard some people talking about how it represents the Id ego and superego or something like that which is cool and seems reasonable. I kind of wish the movie was a little less ambiguous though, like it had more of a story with a rising climax type of thing which i kind of feel ashamed to say like i’m saying “STOP BEING SO PRETENTIOUS AND MAKE MOVIES THAT ARE MORE FUN” but that’s how i felt. Also the telephone call in the theater a dream? I donnu. Kind of makes sense but what’s the point of all that. I’ll probably see it again though. Also the guy sitting in front of me had a spiked hairdo and i couldn’t see the left third of the screen and i asked my girlfriend if we could move and she said i could move if i wanted to but she would stay so i stayed and was kind of annoyed by it all and by the end of the movie my butt was sore.

    • I feel like it had all the pieces of a great movie (crazy good acting, soundtrack, cinematography, themes/symbolism/pretentiousness blah blah) but I felt strangely unsatisfied when it was over.

      I think it stems from the fact that I never really bought into the father-son relationship between Dodd and Freddie, whereas I loved the father-son dynamics in PTA’s other films. For all their intense scenes together, I felt like neither one actually had much of an influence on the other. At the end of the day, Dodd continues with his religion and Freddie continues on his path of drunken wackiness. If they had never met at all, I feel like nothing would have really changed.

      Also, the Cause was WAY too vague for me. I got the feeling we are instinctively supposed to be happy that Freddie does not join Dodd in England, but if he did, so what? The Cause seems to require basically nothing from its members. No mention of money or tithes is made, and sex and alcohol and all that other good stuff seem pretty much allowed. So if Freddie is happy there, hey, knock yourself out I guess? I don’t know.

      I think I’ll end up chalking this one up as one of those “I admire it more than I love it” movies.

      • Why are people downvoting discospider? Because he didn’t like the movie? That doesn’t seem right. He provided a thoughtful analysis and in the end concluded that hey, it wasn’t my thing. And he gets downvotes? For christ’s sake GABE said he didn’t like Magnolia or Boogie Nights, and I don’t see a lot of shit for that down in these comments. I guess my point is, I thought downvotes were reserved for people acting like assholes? Surely discospider is entitled to cogently express his opinion, no?

        • It’s not even that I didn’t like it, I just didn’t LOVE it. And I enjoy PT Anderson as a rule, so I went in with really high expectations. I’d probably give it a 7/10.

      • The Cause seems to require basically nothing from its members.
        Except you have to love and worship its Master. Which I don’t think the movie is saying is awful. It’s just saying “Okay, now you’re in this relationship, and it’s not so simple and liberating. It’s tangled. It serves a lot of purposes, some of which contradict its stated purpose of elevating everyone above animal nature.”

        • Not to stray too far from this specific movie, but isn’t worship pretty much part of every major religion? Jesus, Allah, Buddah, etc? Seems like it comes with the territory of religion building to me. But that might be part of PT Anderson’s point.

          I would also point out there is a big difference between the words “love” and “worship.” I’m not sure there are any scenes in the movie where the members indicate they are meant to worship Hoffman, although they definitely seem to love him.

          Oh well. It’s a pretty good movie! I don’t mean to sound like it’s not. I just didn’t fall head over heels for it. Also a bunch of my friends quoted that line “if you ever find a way to live without a master, let me know” as a great line, but I thought it was SO on-the nose. Booo that line.

      • I was not upset with this comment. In fact, it brought up a topic I wanted to expand upon: Jonny Greenwood’s soundtrack.

        At first the soundtrack reminded me of TWBB, but later it sort blended in with the wackiness of JP and then calmed down slightly during PSH scenes. I really hope this soundtrack gets a lot of love because his soundtrack for TWBB was removed from the Grammys and Oscars for being previously used in another movie. Yikes!

  16. To tha windoooooow! To tha wall!

    Two phrases PTA must have in his permanent clipboard while screenwriting:
    Dialogue: “Say it again.”
    Action: [Male character] slaps [male character] a lot.

    Great movie. That prison freakout was a really good prison freakout.

  17. “Philip Seymour Hoffman! Holy moly!”?

    Pretty sure you mean “Philip Seymour Hoffman, holla.”

  18. I thought Dredd was pretty fun, too.

  19. The people in my audience were really annoying with all the chuckling, and hmm-ing . It’s like they were trying to let me know that I’m stupid and don’t appreciate cinema as much as them. Also there was a lady behind me who went, “hm” every time a scene ended. She was driving me crazy. And before the movie, whenever a trailer ended she would say, “no” and then the trailer for Lincoln played and at the end she thoughtfully said, “maybe”. Blehhhh.

    • That sounds awful! Why do people treat theaters like MST3K? LEAVE YOUR COMMENTS AT THE DOOR, OR GO HOME!

      This movie called for tons of commentary from my fellow theatergoers. After each “significant” scene, three different groups chatted for a good whole minute about the scene and what it meant. I just gave them the evil eye. Sometimes I wanna just snap my fingers and sing a tune until they stop talking. But then I’m no better than them, except it’s commentary on empathy in the theater.

  20. I LOL’d many times during this movie. Does this make me a horrible person? No, me being a jerk makes me a horrible person. I think that PTA is much more into comedy than he gets credit for. I’d say dramedy, but I hate that word. This is a serious movie with serious themes and serious acting that happens to also have some very funny moments. Just accept that.

    On another note – after reading a bunch of reviews and such, am I the only person who thought that the “America after WWII” theme was secondary to themes of gender roles, relationships and power? Clearly the real masters are women, right? I think that’s what PTA was trying to say? Look at the decisions that the men make (JP beating up the dissenter after hearing Amy Adams say they need to be ‘proactive’, PSH after the sink-handy, her eyes are black, PSH giving JP an ultimatum only after Amy Adams quietly dictates it), and the symbolism of the sand boobs, naked dance party, etc. I think PTA was actually sick of the man on man action of TWBB and subversively made this movie about how men like to act like they’re in control, and like to try to control each other, but are actually just slaves to the whims of their sexual fancies. Hence WOMEN.

  21. There is so much to talk about with this film. I absolutely love it. That being said, I’m going to cop out and just post what I posted last week, else where:

    The Master does not have a narrative arc in the traditional sense. It does not build to a overarching climax with the subsequent resolution. This leads some people to say “nothing happened.” Nothing could be further from the truth. It is a rich film and highly substantive in my humble opinion. Perhaps due to my initial euphoric feeling upon first viewing, I would argue it is one of the best character studies and subsequently one of the best examinations of a certain corner of Americana that I have seen in a quite a while. PT Anderson’s shot choices emphasize this focus, frequently alternating between extreme close-ups reminiscent of Carl Dreyer’s “The Passion of Joan of Arc” and long takes that recall the apartment scenes in Godard’s “Contempt”. The press has focused on the supposed similarities between Lancaster Dodd (Philip Seymour Hoffman) and L. Ron Hubbard. Frankly, I’m not sure how strong these similarities are but ultimately I find it inconsequential. This is not a film about Scientology. Near the beginning of the film Lancaster says to Freddie (Joaquin Phoenix), “You seem very familiar.” One reason for this familiarity is Lancaster is staring at himself. Their situations and the way they compose themselves may be different but they are each empty husks. They are each a shell of a human being and they see in each other the potential to be whole. Freddie inspires a creative resurgence in Lancaster and he proceeds to write his second book. Perhaps it is coincidence, but to me the title of the book, “Split Saber,” refers as much to Freddie and Lancaster as it does to any religious philosophy found within.

  22. This film was not as good as I wanted it to be!

  23. way late to this party, but FUCK what a good movie.

    I too had weird laughers and old people behind me who kept asking what a character said. i laughed when the 80 year old woman had to whisper-shout, “he said pig fuck” like 5 times to her husband.

    people have already highlighted quite a lot of what I liked about it. but no ones saying much about my favorite moment, which I think was the most crucial. right before singing his love song to Freddy, Dodd expresses what he loved about him and why he liked him and hated him and was oh so jealous of him in asking him basically what his secret was to “living life without a master”

    to me, it makes their relationship so much like Tyler Durden and “Jack” from Fight Club. Freddy is every emotion, impulse, and desire Dodd – and importantly his wife – is trying to quell in himself. Dodd is of the “gotta serve somebody” order and Freddy is proof that you don’t.

  24. Freddy’s Popeye versus Dodd’s Wimpey. “I yam what I yam” versus “I will gladly pay you Tuesday”. Self-knowledge versus speculation.

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