Isaiah's The World Today Just Nuts "No, I can't!" went up last night. Today Richard Schickel has a film review I wish had been published Friday. This is from his "Paul Thomas Anderson's Cult of Personality:"
Certain movies cannot be reviewed indifferently. The critics simply have too much invested in their directors to acknowledge that, past performances to the contrary nothwithstanding, their latest effort has to rank somewhere between a disappointment and a disaster. Such is the case with Paul Thomas Anderson’s “The Master.” His previous films, which include “Boogie Nights,” “Magnolia” and the terrific “There Will Be Blood,” gave reason to hope that Anderson, still in his early 40s, was the major young talent that American movies have been yearning for (seemingly for decades). There is no reason to abandon that hope now. But the fact remains that “The Master” is an inert film, and that the chief pleasure it affords is watching it make the reviewers squirm.
They say all the right, respectful things about it—at some level they are greeting it as a masterwork and there are plenty of pull quotes in their prose—but there is something dutiful in their work, too. Their hearts aren’t really in the job, and one sometimes gets the feeling that may be true of Anderson’s as well—that his perfectly all right, but not highly original, idea dies as he struggles with it.
Because of Magnolia, Boogie Nights and There Will Be Blood, I went to see The Master this weekend. What a disappointment. Maybe in ten years, I'll look at it again and see things I'm not seeing now but I felt nothing watching the film. I felt like he was going through the motions and roughly jerking me along.
I had so many hopes for that film. I got a group of friends together and we were going to have a fun night and instead it was just . . . really dull.
And we spent 3 hours after the movie trying to figure out what the f**k went wrong?
Paul Thomas Anderson's strong enough as a director that I will allow I could have missed the point. And, ten years from now, I may end up loving it if I see it again. But it did nothing for me tonight. Nothing at all.
Even Joaquin Phoenix didn't manage to put the film over. (Philip Seymour Hoffman was his usual pompous self.)
I liked the review because it didn't just express what I felt (though it did express that), I liked it because the reviewer wasn't afraid to take on the critics and the critical uplifting and praise that might be distorting the film now. Richard Schickel used to review films for Time, by the way.
Closing with C.I.'s "Iraq snapshot:"