Thursday, January 24, 2013

The Cinema File #93: "The Master" Review

Oh dear God.

Fuck you Paul Thomas Anderson. Fuck you as hard as possible in any and every orifice on your body that might prove detrimental to you should it have a cock in it, up to and including the eyeballs. Okay, you know what, no, that's not right. Come to think of it, I don't blame Paul Thomas Anderson for this travesty, that's too easy. I blame you, America. This is what happens when you want to seem hip and sophisticated and pretend that shitty Paul Thomas Anderson movies are great. "Oh, but he made Boogie Nights!" Fuck you and your Boogie Nights. You're the reason this movie exists. You're the reason we'll one day have to utter the phrase, "Oscar winner - The Master". And you make me sick.

The Master is the story of, well, fucking nothing, that's what. I guess there's a guy who falls in with a cult led by another guy, and they talk about some stuff, and time passes (very slowly), but there's really nothing even remotely resembling a story here. This movie has been heralded mostly for its acting, with the two leads Joaquin Phoenix and Phillip Seymour Hoffman turning in supposedly tour de force performances, and while its true that both do disappear into their characters, it would still be nice if those characters actually, I don't know, did anything even a little fucking interesting at any point in the excruciatingly long 144 minutes I have to sit through this piece of shit.

This movie was an endurance test of Les Miserablian proportions, without the occasional catchy song to keep me just engaged enough not to want to give up every five minutes. Do you get that? This movie makes me miss the bygone days of Les Miserables! The praise this movie is receiving is quite frankly insane to me. Anyone who claims to like any dimension of this film simply does not know what the fuck they're talking about. If you enjoyed this thing, you do not know how to watch movies. Its that simple. I'm usually not that militant when it comes to something as subjective as film, but this is a line in the sand for me. This movie was so fucking awful, I'm running out of synonyms for awful and vulgarities to punctuate those synonyms.

I've never seen so many people work so damn hard to make something so bad. Everyone in this movie is so committed to this project and this direction of it and no one seems to ever realize just how off the mark and completely without any redeeming value this thing their making is. To think of how many great ways you could have made a movie with this premise, this budget, and these actors. Was not pissing off Scientology and not just making an L. Ron Hubbard movie really worth this? Even if you didn't want to go that route, the inner workings of organizations like this, cults and charlatans in the post war era, is rife with dramatic potential, and none of it is utilized in the slightest. Its still fresh, so I'm a little hesitant to outright declare it the worst film of last year, but I'm rapidly getting to that point, and that's in a year with The Motherfucking Odd Life of Motherfucking Timothy Green!.

The Master's narrative is as lost as its protagonist and as filled to the brim with made-up-as-it-goes bullshit as its antagonist. Of course, to use terms like protagonist and antagonist assumes there is some sort of story structure in place, and I don't want to confuse you into thinking that this movie has anything close to that. The entire film is just a bunch of stuff that happens with no meaning, rhyme, or reason and anybody who wants to tell me the deep metaphors or symbolism or thematic relevance of any of it can well and truly suck my dick. So what, the naked sand lady was his one true love, or what the fuck? By the end, I figured I must have just blacked out from boredom and missed the part that explained how all of this tied together and meant anything, but I dare not watch it again to figure out where that missing scene might be. The movie even has a Hyde Park On Hudson moment where Hoffman's character gets a random handjob in the middle of it that's never spoken of again, and I want to say its a strange diversion from the proceedings, but I can't yet define exactly what if anything it diverts us from.

And let me talk about that ending for a second. I'm not worried about spoilers here, because that would require a story where shit happens, but if you're concerned, stop reading here. Throughout the entire movie, these two guys are the best of friends, bonded as all great friendships are through their love of possibly poisonous moonshine, but then all of a sudden they go to England and they're enemies for some reason (which is to say no reason), or they will be in a future life, but only because they were best friends in a past life. The whole thing plays out like something out of a David Lynch movie without the style that makes him watchable even at his most esoteric, as Hoffman starts randomly singing as they have what I guess is a tense or sorrowful stand off. Or maybe not. Who the fuck knows?

The nearly unanimous positive critical consensus surrounding this movie is the clearest indication of why contemporary film criticism has no credibility with the average movie goer. Bitch about the unwashed masses shoving popcorn in their mouths and applauding Michael Bay all you want, but when so many preening intellectual douchenozzles have their heads so far up their asses that they can watch this movie and claim that it is anything other than complete garbage, something is rotten in Denmark. Every review I read for this movie sounds like it was written before it was even released, based solely on a desire to ride the band wagon of perceived Oscar clout. I honestly don't believe that any of the people claiming to hold this film in high regard actually do hold this opinion. Anyone so deluded or sychophantic is not fit to be in a position to determine the quality of cinema. No, that's not good enough. I'm just going to say it, anyone who genuinely likes this movie is worse than Hitler. Sorry, I don't make the rules, I just enforce them.

There are not enough dicks in the world to assemble the amount of dicks this movie can suck. I'm sorry for being so crass...okay, no I'm not, because this movie totally deserves it. I recently watched The Paperboy, the movie where Nicole Kidman pees on Zac Efron (the movie I might have declared my worst for last year if not for this one), and I felt that said peeing scene was a kind of metaphor for the terribleness of that film. I'd say that The Master employs a similar metaphor as to its quality, specifically that it does what it set out to do, which is to arbitrarily fart in my face, but I wouldn't want you watching the movie just to find the scene where that reference makes sense. I was inspired to watch The Paperboy and The Master back to back because I noticed that The A.V. Club noted them as their worst and best films of 2012 respectively, and after now seeing both of them, I am quite simply flabbergasted by the suggested disparity in opinion. Both of these movies can rot in the fiery pits of Hell, but for my money, The Master needs to burn a lot slower.

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