Movie Reviews: “The Master” (2012)

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Written & Directed by Paul Thomas Anderson.
Starring Joaquin Phoenix & Philip Seymour Hoffman.

“The Master” follows Freddie Quell, a scoundrel, and the result of brutal military service in WW2. He is lost, alone, and while in a drunken fit, finds himself stumbling onto the boat of one Lancaster Dodd, The Master. Lancaster is an author, a leader and a visionary. He takes the broken Freddie under his wing, studies him, loves him, with hopes to reform him, and document it against the naysayers of his work. What results is a gripping, and emotionally dark film.

Writer/Director PTA, has made some of my favorite films including “There Will Be Blood”, “Magnolia”, “Boogie Nights”, & “Punch-Dunk Love.” He works with great actors and knows how to get the very best performances out of them. This film is a shining example of that statement. To watch “The Master” is to be hypnotized by the world it visits upon you. In small moments we can relate to the characters, but mostly they are bizarre strangers that we gaze upon as if attending a carnival. Its raw barbaric emotion can be uncomfortable, but always remains compelling.

I feel like “The Master” is an instant classic, and a clinic on filmmaking. It doesn’t insult the viewers intelligence by filling in all the gaps. It challenges you to understand its motivations and message.

4.0 out of 4.0 stars.

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Film Reviews: “The Nameless” (“Los sin Nombre”) (1999)

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Directed and written by Jaume Balagueró.

Claudia is receiving cryptic phone calls from someone claiming to be her daughter. The problem? Her daughter was found brutally murdered 5 years ago. Claudia enlists help from a parapsychologist, as well as the old detective from the murder case, now retired, to help her follow a trail of clues that suggest the daughter may still be alive and in trouble.

Balagueró also co-directed “Rec” & “Rec2.” This is more of a thriller than a horror film, but was still very good. It’s a chilling Polanski style puzzle solver, unraveling the mystery behind the daughter’s disappearance piece by macabre piece.

The difference between this and most films like it that come out nowadays? Emotionally deep characters, and an interesting conclusion, which equals good writing. The mother, the detective and others all have personal private motivations for solving this case. It’s more real on that level. I’m surprised “The Nameless” isn’t more well known. I recommend it.

3.0 out of 4.0 stars.

Film Reviews: “Heavy Metal” (1981)

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Produced by Ivan Reitman.
Featuring the voice work of: John Candy, Eugene Levy, Harold Ramis, and Joe Flaherty.

“Heavy Metal” is a 1980’s adult cartoon anthology. I wish more of these were made!

The segments are mature, but uniquely told in animation form. They’re dark and full of imagination. Stories range from deep space, to the past, on board a WW2 fighter jet, to the future. The best way to describe “Heavy Metal” is an American version of an adult Japanese Anime. If that sounds good to you, then give it a watch.

3.0 out of 4.0 stars.