peteg's blog - noise - movies - 2012 12 22 TheMaster

The Master

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Instead of riding down to Cronulla for a snorkel, I decided to head to the dear old Verona to see this new flick by Paul Thomas Anderson at the oddly-timed 1:30pm session. The City of Sydney motorcycle parking map led me to believe I'd have no trouble finding something close by; as it was I squeezed into the spot on Napier St, near Rosebud Lane, which was already packed to capacity with three bikes, at least two of which had been there long enough for their throttles to be covered in spiders' webs. The CB250 just fitted into the skerrick of space left at the end, in the (useless to my eye) no standing area between the motorcycle parking and some kerbing protecting a tree.

Once there I figured I might as well rejoin the Palace Cinemas movie club, which was a vote in favour of being around for a while now, I guess. The Verona hasn't changed much since the big renovation, though the coffee was worse than I remembered. There were loads of oldies.

The Master is a difficult movie to get into, perhaps because it develops characters at the expense of storylines. I would say it is closer to There Will Be Blood than Magnolia if I could remember much of the former. Philip Seymour Hoffman's pseudo-Scientology is laid out in such a high-handed and sweeping way that it begs for instant dismissal. Joaquin Phoenix's curled lip recalled to me his time as a Caesar inflicting so much damage on bunny-lover Rusty Crowe. Amy Adams is prim and proper as the true-believing wife. For some reason the final exile-in-England act reminded me of Kubrick.

Stephanie Zacharek wonders whether it adds up to much. Dana Stevens talked it up twice (first, second). Anthony Lane worships it after summarising the salient bits.