The Master (2012)

Directed By: Paul Thomas Anderson

Written By: Paul Thomas Anderson

Starring: Philip Seymour Hoffman, Joaquin Phoenix and Amy Adams

Synopsis:

If you wake up in a place you don’t recognize, get the shit out of there.

Musings:

P.T. Anderson is the Michael Jackson of the film industry, save for the weird kid stuff. He manages to release hit after hit while increasing the complexity of his work. Maybe this time it’ll be his Oscar?

I always talk about acting since it is the center of the art. This movie is chock-full of talent popping off the screen and burrowing a hole into your brain. Philip Seymour Hoffman is gripping. He is such an amazing actor but it’s hard to put your finger on what it is that makes him amazing. He’s not a Daniel Day-Lewis whose face almost morphs with the character. PSH almost always looks the same (except for Capote and Flawless), he just sells his commitment to the role. Joaquin Phoenix has redeemed himself with an amazing physical performance from his hunch to the way his lips hang. This is his gift to his audience after that debacle, I’m Still Here. Finally, hats off to Amy Adams who can convey so much anger and frustration through a single facial expression – she lets you read her mind.

Sure there are moments that drag you down, but they just give you a chance to explore the subtext. The Cinematography is beautiful; Mr. Mihai Malaimare Jr. who is a relative newcomer handled PT’s film quite well in the absence of Robert Elswitt.

This film left me feeling like I need to watch it again, which is a great sign. The many layers of the movie are incredible – every move in the movie seems to tell you something (e.g., like the way a character picks up a hat) – there is no way to fully wrap the brainsicle around it. The end result is a movie that makes you think.

Go see this piece of genius and prepare to be taken back to a Post WWII landscape. Finally, great music courtesy of Johnny Greenwood, shpanks!

Problem: Difficult story to wrap up

Mood for watching: Cray cray

What to eat and drink: Spotted dick and an Old Fashion

If I made it: I would have added a few more scenes

Why watch: Because you enjoy all things good

25th Hour (2002)

Directed By: Spike Lee

Written By: David Benioff (screenplay and novel)

Starring: Edward Norton, Barry Pepper and Philip Seymour Hoffman

Synopsis:

I always thought there were 24 hours in a day. I guess I was wrong.

Musings:

This film is a slice of the protagonist’s life before he spends 7 yeas in the clink.

Normally, I like Spike Lee movies better when he also writes them. Luckily, 25th Hour seemed to be a good compromise: it is still set in the New York City that he knows so well, he managed to sneak in a little diatribe about racial tension and used his floating character dolly shots.

Philip Seymour Hoffman, or as I know him,  PSH, is one of the most talented actors in the biz. His list of classic characters that he has played is immense (Big Lebowski, Twister and Capote). He has rarely disappointed me, even when he takes on a shitty movie like Pirate Radio. In 25th Hour, he manages to capture the subtlety of his inappropriate High School teacher character, while giving him some humanity. I will gush more about PSH in the next film I review that he is in (I think he might be in the next Hunger Games, boo hiss).

Also in this movie is Barry Pepper, who may be one of the most underrated actors. He puts together a heavy performance, with a tough exterior shell and tender interior, like a lobster or crab. I hope I get to work with him one day.

What makes this film great is the simplicity of the story and how it relies on mood alone to carry it. If I was being sent to jail for 7 years, I think it would suck as much as Edward Norton’s character makes you feel.

A great one to revisit if you’ve already seen it and if you haven’t then what are you waiting for?

Problem: Crucial element unexplained

Mood for watching: Gangsta

What to eat and drink: Street meat and champagne

If I made it: I would continue making movies with PSH in them

Why watch: It’s a Spike Lee Joint