Friday, September 21, 2012

The Master Review - 3½ Stars

“The Master” combines great acting with breathtaking cinematography and a story that manages to intrigue even though it often feels like it goes nowhere. Alcoholic Navy veteran Joaquin Phoenix returns home from World War Two an emotional wreck.  The roots of his trouble and his search for peace “The Master” the kind of quest that the meaning of “Rosebud” gave to “Citizen Kane.”   Phoenix acts out in a series of jobs that include a stint as a department store photographer.  Watching him “snap” and lose control was both fascinating and frightening.  One night escaping a misadventure he jumps onto a boat and wakes up the next morning at sea.  He meets Phillip Seymour Hoffman, a charismatic spiritualist who somehow calms Phoenix.  Their adventure together includes a trip through the Panama Canal and a shipboard wedding, plus visits to society mavens in New York and Philadelphia.  Every frame of “The Master” looks fascinating.  “The Master” will show in a few theaters in 70mm and I highly recommend you find one.   The story is dense and confusing and will certainly leave some scratching their heads afterwards — “What the Hell was that?”   Director Paul Thomas Anderson has created some of the most interesting movies of our time—notably “Boogie Nights” and “There Will be Blood.”  “The Master” fits nicely with this group.  Does it deliver what it promises?  Epic story of a lost soul and the man he allows to lead him.  It is entertaining?  Stunning to watch but an odd story.  Is it worth the price of admission?  Oscar buzz-worthy.