The Master

I awoke late and not feeling like going to work.  I went out to the coffee shop.  I forgot to take along my Kinks CD.  I did go to work and found someone’s Clipper card on the sidewalk.  I didn’t really get much work done.  I stood around wishing that I had more time to read books.  I took the bus into Emeryville.  At Target, I saw that they were out of the CD sets of “Upstairs, Downstairs,” so I went over to Best Buy and bought the first season of “All in the Family” on DVD for $10.  I took the walk over to the Emery Bay to see “The Master.”  There weren’t too many people going to the theatre in the late afternoon on a Friday.  I was there with four other people in the theatre.  Joaquin Phoenix was Freddie Quell, a sailor in World War II who has taken to drink.  He’s on a self-destructive path to hell, but then Lancaster Dodd comes into the picture.  He’s played by Philip Seymour Hoffman, and he is a so-called Master of a movement called the Cause.  He sounds like the kind of person who might have impressed Oprah Winfrey if she had been doing television in 1950.  Amy Adams is the wife.  I usually enjoy watching Amy Adams, although this time her character supports some wacky concepts.  There is some hypnosis involved, along with some notions of past lives that could have come out of Shirley MacLaine’s mouth.  Dodd won’t ever get the support of scientists, since he says that the universe is a trillion years old, and he can cure some forms of leukemia.  I couldn’t help remembering that Hoffman and Adams were both in “Doubt.”  Meanwhile, Joaquin Phoenix looked much different than in “Two Lovers” just a short time ago.  He had a skin and bones look, so he looked older than he did when he was on Letterman acting very strangely.  He was good at acting angry and out of control, but I didn’t think he gave me anything meaningful.  The most impressive thing he did was break a toilet by kicking it.  I assumed that it wasn’t a regular toilet bowl.  There was one scene where Freddie imagines all the women in the room naked, while the men were still clothed.  The old women were nude, and we saw some saggy, wrinkled flesh, but we didn’t see Amy Adams’ breasts.  I didn’t have to see her naked, but the shot did make me think that she was not being treated equally.  Laura Dern was in the movie, and the last time I really remember seeing her in something was “Jurassic Park.”  I thought I saw some of that odd quality that her father showed in the 1970s.  One of the most memorable scenes had someone interrupting one of Dodd’s discussions with a lot of skepticism.  The word proof comes up.  You can’t get through to some who talks about belief with logic.  Dodd does do some weird things, like burying a manuscript.  He can’t control what people think.  With his new book, he tries to expand his nutty philosophy, but then not all his followers simply go along.  One interesting scene near the end showed Lancaster and then Freddie riding a motorcycle through the desert.  Freddie naturally pushed the motorcycle to go as fast as possible.  Watching him, I was afraid the guy was going to ride right into a hole and flip over and kill himself.  The movie has a strange, disconnected feeling, with one episode following another, and the locations changing without much of a look at these places.  What did I see of Philadelphia?  I saw a comment from one writer who raved about the brilliant acting in this movie.  In my view, there is no such thing as brilliant acting.  If you want to do something brilliant, do something real.  Save another person’s life or make a new scientific discovery.  Acting out some words in a script that someone else has written is not brilliant.  When actors change the words in the script, they’re rationalizing that they’re actually creative people.  Hey, I’m not totally bankrupt.  I liked the way the movie was photographed, getting away from the dark and artificial look that you see everywhere with CGI and other special effects.  The images were mostly clear, and it was a nice change of pace that I actually see things in the frame.  I was impressed with the shot of Lancaster and Fred digging up that box with the manuscript, and close-ups of Amy Adams’ face showed great detail, perhaps a tad more than I wanted.  When I saw “Psycho” on Thursday night, a mole on Janet Leigh’s back really distracted me.  I couldn’t help it.  I can see why actors want to get rid of every wrinkle, blemish, and imperfection.  I was really struck by the shape of Joaquin Phoenix’s nose.  It wasn’t quite like Bob Hope, but I thought it was close.  This movie is pretty good, but I don’t think that there’s ever been a great movie about religion or cults or self-help.  Also, I can’t really sit through an entire movie with Joaquin Phoenix and think it’s fantastic.  “Walk the Line” definitely needed Reese Witherspoon.  It was about 6:20 when I left the theatre.  I walked over to Trader Joe’s to buy a chicken salad wrap and some sushi.  The sushi didn’t taste too good.  I rode the bus back home and thought about returning to Target to buy a record player.  I listened to the Velvet Underground album that had “Candy Says” and “Pale Blue Eyes” on it.  When I got home, I read the first chapter of “Sutton” and watched the Mary Tyler Moore show.  Lou went through surgery to have some shrapnel from the war removed.  I didn’t quite have the energy to write lecture notes for my next class.  I heard the news about the big storm about to hit the East Coast.  Lonnie Quinn said that four crazy things were happening at the same time to cause this.  Three people who died on October 25 were Rex Stout (1975), James M. Cain (1977), and Jacques Demy (1990).  According to the Brandon Brooks Rewind segment for October 27, Ben E. King recorded his first songs after leaving the Drifters, “Spanish Harlem” and “Stand By Me.”  In 1964, the Supremes released their single “Come See About Me.”  In 1975, Bruce Springsteen appeared on the covers of Time and Newsweek magazines.

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