Thursday, September 27, 2012

Wandering From the Proper Path

Great MASTER posts Adrienne, Brandon, and John.  Nice to see each of your unique takes on it.  I'm stoked that we all either love or respect it, but I'm not surprised.  It's too tantalizing and expertly crafted to outright dismiss, even if one isn't completely over the moon for it.  I had actually read the Zacharech piece Brandon posted on FB the other day.  Surprisingly, there wasn't any steam coming out of my ears, even if I vehemently disagreed with her.  I know I said, "Let the nay-sayers be damned" (and I basically feel this way), but I've made my peace with others not liking THE MASTER.  It's not for everyone, which I appreciate.  I'm kinda glad it's polarizing–something that weird and ambitious is bound to be.  I don't know how much I like her argument that we shouldn't feel compelled to take THE MASTER seriously, though.  We should take PTA seriously; we should take Malick seriously; we should take Kubrick seriously; and we should take Godard seriously.  If we care about film and the auteurs that have developed it and continue to move it forward, then we absolutely should.  It's okay to take PREMIUM RUSH seriously too.  Nothing wrong with that (even if that trailer made it look awful).  I'm not trying to be a snob, but if you are a lover of the medium, then it shouldn't be hard for you to take film and its auteurs seriously.  Zacharech knows this.

Anyway, on to my fellow film clubbers:

John, lovely and thoughtful post, as always.  You clearly read films in very personal way, so I love reading your thoughts on them because they are typically things I would have never thought of or know nothing about.  I like that you say that THE MASTER is "the filmic equivalent of a string of parables and proverbs, dark sayings of old."  For one, I think this captures the looseness of the film's structure quite well, and for another, it suggests much greater weight to each moment in the film, as if every odd gesture were ample and eternal.  I'm also really glad you brought up "the kingdom of water," in which both Freddie and Dodd feel the need to be adrift in.  This is an idea I was working on when planning my review but ended up scraping, mostly due to not knowing where it fit in.  But I'm fascinated by the motif of water in the film.  It opens and closes all that we've seen; it is where Freddie and Dodd first get lost in each other; it is where (during the war) Freddie dreams about Doris; and in the end, what physically separates Freddie and Dodd, one roving around aimlessly in America, the other moving in only one direction in England.  Water is a mobile metaphor here, but most significantly it serves as an expansive shelter to disappear into.  I like that idea.

Adrienne, lovely and thoughtful review, as well.  And very well written, as always.  Your reviews are always a pleasure to read.  Brandon beat me to mentioning how insightful your catch of Freddie mimicking Clark is.  I remember feeling like that was a sweet moment when I saw it, but it had been lost among so many other dominant scenes when I tried to reflect on the film afterwards.  I'm glad you brought it up because it really is just a great human moment.  You describe it beautifully.

As for Freddie, (to quote Seinfeld) he's definitely a loathsome, offensive brute...yet I couldn't look away.  Like you mentioned, as horrible as he is, you really don't want him to leave Dodd or to fail.  Not that you want him to be brainwashed, but you definitely want him to find whatever he's missing or just a sense of peace, albeit even in small.  He's basically a wild animal, but he's also repressing some serious emotional trauma.  As Brandon mentioned, that first processing scene should be enough to prove to anyone why Freddie is the way he is (and also give us a window into caring about him more).  I'm glad you were so shaken by the film.  I was too.  I think I still am.

Brandon, your post was lovely and thoughtful, too, even if you think it wasn't.  You always write with a passion for the medium, which makes everything you say invariably worth reading and appreciating.  I love how you described the processing scene–how it moves from an ingenious exercise in tension building towards this highly emotional overflow of memory.  It's such a stunning scene with serious depth to it.

I definitely never found the ending cynical.  I don't think the last line undercuts anything–I was just putting the idea out there.  I do love the way you described the ending here: "The final scene finds him enjoying the company of a woman; a vice he loves almost as much as glugging, but his aim is truer and kinder. After politely asking her to “put it back in” Anderson cuts to him on the beach, where we first got to know him, being truer and kinder to a sand goddess, her face perhaps resembling Doris."  Very nice.  I do agree with you and Adrienne that the ending for Freddie is a small step towards potential healing.  Some have read it as being a little sinister, but I found it tender.  I think after Freddie finds out that Doris has gotten older and married, something changes within him.  Maybe he was finally hit with a sense of time at that moment, and it was enough for him to desire a stronger sense of love and connection with someone.  Moving away from Dodd may have only made that desire stronger.  Anyway, I love the ending.

haha Thanks for the nice comments on the review, dude. I don't know if I have the patience to routinely write reviews like that.  I was lucky enough to have all day to work on that one, so I forced myself to finish it.  I don't know how you write so many legit reviews the way you do.  Usually after one sentence I've about had enough.

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