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Life Arts

Movie Review: The Master-- a disappointment

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View Ratings | Rate It Headlined to H4 9/29/12

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First, the positives-- the acting in this film is extraordinary. Joaquin Phoenix and Philip Seymour Hoffman both deliver wonderful, Oscar Nomination deserving performances. 

The premise for the characters and the concept for the movie is fascinating-- a WWII veteran suffering PTSD and alchoholism, and maybe schizoid personality and a cult of followers, led by Philip Seymour Hoffman-- a story that is evocative of some of the aspects of Scientology. 

The cinematography is beautiful and crystal clear. The costumes and sets for the 1950 era film are superb. 
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Film critics are going gaga over this film. But I walked out disappointed. Paul Thomas Anderson is the writer and director. The film critics also love him. When I checked him out on IMDB and discovered he'd also written and directed Magnolia, I breathed a sigh of relief. I didn't like that movie either. 

The film failed to evoke a sympathy or empathy within me for either of the two main characters. And there was no strong plot that pulled me through the two and a half hours the film runs. That's tragic, considering the strength of the character development and the great acting. When I saw Magnolia, people literally walked out on the movie, droves of them. I couldn't tell you if that happened on this one-- I was dozing off by the last half hour. Give me credit. I stayed up until then-- and I was viewing a showing that started at 5:15 PM. 

To summarize, the actors in this film did a brilliant job. The characters were well developed and written, but they did not connect for me. And the story was not satisfying. One reviewer suggested that writer Anderson made the story intentionally opaque. Okay. Fair enough. But he lost me. 

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If I had  known what I now know about the film, I would not have gone to see it. 

This may be a movie that you will love, especially if you are a cinephile who loves all the  aspects of the art.  But if you go to movies for a great story and to enter the story trance and live the story through the characters, I don't recommend it. 

Another reviewer related this movie to Tree of Life. I really didn't like that film either. If you liked that one, definitely don't base your decision to view The Master on my review.


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Rob Kall has spent his adult life as an awakener and empowerer-- first in the field of biofeedback, inventing products, developing software and a music recording label, MuPsych, within the company he founded in 1978-- Futurehealth, and founding, organizing and running 3 conferences: Winter Brain, on Neurofeedback and consciousness, Optimal Functioning and Positive Psychology (a pioneer in the field of Positive Psychology, first presenting workshops on it in 1985) and Storycon Summit Meeting on the Art Science and Application of Story-- each the first of their kind. Then, when he found the process of raising people's consciousness and empowering them to take more control of their lives one person at a time was too slow, he founded which has been the top search result on Google for the terms liberal news and progressive opinion for several years. Rob began his Bottom-up Radio show, broadcast on WNJC 1360 AM to Metro Philly, also available on iTunes, covering the transition of our culture, business and world from predominantly Top-down (hierarchical, centralized, authoritarian, patriarchal, big) to bottom-up (egalitarian, local, interdependent, grassroots, archetypal feminine and small.) Recent long-term projects include a book, Bottom-up-- The Connection Revolution, debillionairizing the planet and the Psychopathy Defense and Optimization Project.

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