Joaquin Phoenix returns to the big screen in The Master as former marine Freddie Quell. WWII is over, and he’s drifting, trying desperately to numb his mental pain in booze. But his life starts to regain purpose when he meets the charismatic leader of a group known as The Cause.
The Master is Lancaster Dodd, played by Philip Seymour Hoffman. His messiah complex is always on display, whether taking young, lost Freddie under his wing, or mesmerizing a devoted crowd of followers with talk of past lives which played out thousands of years ago. Those who do not fall under Dodd’s vision are cast away, sued, or even beaten. The secrets and methods are many, the money and favours flowing in, are vast. And as Dodd makes his journey to enlighten – whether in the big, cosmopolitan city, or out in the country’s heartland – his showmanship is a hit with the dedicated crowd, even though his son, part of traveling entourage which includes Amy Adams, tells Quell his father is making it up as he goes along.
Paul Thomas Anderson – the director behind Boogie Nights, Magnolia, and my favourite, There Will Be Blood – has delivered another powerful and at times frustrating, but beautifully crafted film with a solid foundation built on the Oscar-worthy performances of Phoenix and Hoffman. I should add that, though it is getting a lot of press because of its subject matter, if you’re looking for a Scientology tell-all, The Master is not that film. It is a film which will be in my year end Top Ten.
The Master gets a 8.5/10
In Looper, it’s 25 years from now, and Joseph Gordon-Levitt is a contract killer. The people he kills are being sent back from the future by an illegal method of time travel. All is fine until Bruce Willis shows up ready to be killed. Willis is Gordon-Levitt’s character from the future. And this is where the film starts to really move. Looper is an enjoyable, intelligent, sci-fi film which combines a unique, interesting story with solid action. And having Jeff Daniels and Emily Blunt in supporting does nothing but add to the appeal.
Lopper gets a 8/10
And briefly, a movie I found surprisingly enjoyable involves college kids competing in an a cappella competition. Going in, I couldn’t imagine anything less appealing. But Anna Kendrick and Brittany Snow – leading a wonderful cast – changed my mind with Pitch Perfect. It’s a movie which will have you tapping your toes, singing along under your breath, and laughing out loud at just right amount of silliness.
Pitch Perfect gets a 7/10.