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Are Two Cranky Guys “Master” Debaters?

October 7, 2012

Bruce Fretts: I invited my Two Cranky Guys colleague Bret Watson to join me today for a matinee of The Master, because I’d heard it was the year’s most irritating movie, and you’re never more entertaining than when you’re annoyed, Bret.

Bret Watson: Who says it’s the year’s most irritating movie?

Bruce: I’ve heard that from friends.

Bret: Really? Well, they’re right. They’re smart friends.

Bruce: I thought I might like it, because I loved There Will Be Blood and Boogie Nights and enjoyed some of writer-director Paul Thomas Anderson’s other films as well. But I hated this movie.

Bret: I’m with ya. You’re Cranky.

Bruce: We saw it at the Ziegfeld, because it was being shown there in 70 millimeter. I couldn’t tell the difference.

Bret: I prefer 68 millimeters, so it was 2 millimeters too much.

Bruce: I prefer 69, but that’s just me. Anyhow, Phillip Seymour Hoffman stars as this cult leader who may or may not be inspired by L. Ron Hubbard.

Bret: Think they went after Tom Cruise for that part?

Bruce: P.T. Anderson worked with him on Magnolia, so maybe this was inspired by that experience. We don’t know.

Bret: Nor do we care.

Bruce: Hoffman’s character recruits Joaquin Phoenix, whose fake documentary inspired our first-ever Two Cranky Guys blog

Bret: We busted him. We were very quick on the draw to come out and say this is a hoax before it was exposed.

Bruce: I’d pat myself on the back but I’m getting old and I’m not that flexible.

Bret: You can’t do a reach-around like you used to. Not that I would know.

Bruce: Speaking of which, Amy Adams gives Hoffman a reach-around as his wife.

Bret: I’m an Amy Adams fan.

Bruce: I liked Amy Adams as a Disney princess in Enchanted. As a plucky nun in Doubt ? Sure. As a food blogger in Julie & Julia? Absolutely. But she’s starting to stretch the limits of her talent.

Bret: She was good in The Fighter.

Bruce: No, she wasn’t. I can’t imagine there’s actually a Boston barmaid who looks like Amy Adams.

Bret: So you’re blaming her for her looks? Any attractive woman who happens to be born working-class immediately gets a ticket out?

Bruce: Yes, exactly. And in this, she’s supposed to be this Machiavellian wife of a cult leader, and she’s the power behind the throne, and I didn’t buy it for a minute. I just thought she seemed perky and adorable and not at all malevolent or threatening.

Bret: She did a good job portraying an iron-willed woman who keeps her man well in hand.

Bruce: She’s literally got him by the balls.

Bret: Behind every great man, there’s a woman with good reach. Btu he wasn’t a great man—he was a great huckster.

Bruce: Joaquin Phoenix plays a nutcase, so no typecasting there.

Bret: This is a movie about two insane people, and I am not a fan of movies about insane people. Their decisions are not interesting to me, because insane people can do anything at any time. I don’t find that dramatic.

Bruce: I admired Phoenix’s physical commitment to the performance. He transformed himself into this scarily skinny hunchbacked freak.

Bret: He looked like Johnny Galecki gone bad.

Bruce: And in one scene he destroys a prison cell and bangs his head against a wall, and that’s how I felt watching this movie.

Bret: That was my favorite scene in the movie.

Bruce: My favorite scene was when Hoffman was singing at a party, and suddenly all the women were full frontally nude.

Bret:  You’re so easy to please.

Bruce: I haven’t seen that many Bushes in one room since the GOP convention.

Bret: Ouch!

Bruce: Were they really naked, or did I just imagine that because I was so bored?

Bret: I think it was meant to be from Phoenix’s perspective.

Bruce: His character shows no growth through the film. He remains a vagina-obsessed freak. And Hoffman remains a huckster. There’s no story.

Bret: I missed the scene where they’re riding motorcycles in the desert, which seemed to be a turning point. But this movie is two-and-a-half hours long and I drank 20 liters of Diet Coke.

Bruce: I was amazed I made it through with only one bathroom break. I wanted to go twice, but I couldn’t tear myself away from how awful it was.

Bret: That explains the puddle that was forming at my feet.

Bruce: You missed nothing. I couldn’t understand half the dialogue because Phoenix talks out of the side of his mouth. And Hoffman talks out of both sides of his mouth.

Bret: When they were out in the desert and Hoffman said, “The name of this game is pick a point and just drive at it.” That’s when I said to you, “I’m picking the bathroom.” And I went.

Bruce: And when Amy Adams said of Phoenix’s character, “There’s no point. He doesn’t want to get better,” I said to you, “There’s no point to this movie, and it doesn’t want to get better.”

Bret: And it doesn’t. But I guess some people like it.

Bruce: Some people like it a lot. Idiots, I would call them.

Bret: Some critic was admiring it for the fact that the movie leaves out the explanation for why these two are drawn to each other. That’s the only compelling question in the movie: Why do they keep hanging out with each other?

Bruce: That’s what people keep asking about us, too.

Were you drawn in by The Master? Post a comment!

  1. My fave comments:

    – “He looked like Johnny Galecki gone bad.”
    – “I haven’t seen that many Bushes in one room since the GOP convention.”
    – “You can’t do a reach-around like you used to. Not that I would know.”

    I’m one of those idiots who liked it. The acting was top notch(though I somewhat agree w/ Bruce on Adams) and storyline was intriguing. Paul Thomas Anderson is a master director/writer and I thought he delivered. Phoenix is practically a lock for a Best Actor WIN. Hoffman will at least get a nom for Supporting Actor. Wouldn’t doubt the flick itself gets a Best Pic nom.

    Aside from that, I thought the two of them being drawn to each other was initially conveyed through their enjoyment of drinking poison and progressively; mutual confusion, therapy(and the challenges of), friendship needs, and Hoffman trying to recall how he knew Phoenix.

    Perhaps one of the biggest irritations some may have w/ it, and other great films alike, is that it doesn’t totally follow the traditional dramatic structure(especially the lack of climax & resolution). Also seemed to be the case in another great flick I recently saw, DETACHMENT…That may make the story/film seem flat, boring, confusing, depressing, or unpredictable, but I have come to really admire the approach.

    Not sure if my explanation grants it any merits, but I’m a bit surprised how much you guys disliked it. Better hope Argo, Lincoln, Les Mis, Django, or ZD30 come through- or you’ll be really annoyed when Master sweeps awards.

    • bruceafretts permalink

      I bet it’ll get lots of nominations but not a lot of wins. It doesn’t connect with viewers emotionally. But I appreciate your point of view. Just kidding about the idiots thing!

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