Monday, October 15, 2012

The Bastard

If Joaquin Phoenix had only fallen through the net and drowned. He could have saved us all two and half hours of cinematic waterboarding.

I'm about to do what I've never done here at roundseventeen, a movie review. I don't do movie reviews because my wife and I have stopped going to the theater.

It's expensive. It's not as convenient as popping in a DVD. And then there's the real problem of going to see a movie with a room full of strangers -- a room full of strangers.

Many of whom like to play on their iPhones, eat with their mouths open and yak. Yak. Yak. Yak.One time an older Hungarian couple sat behind us, the woman did an entire play-by-play call for her hard-of-hearing husband. He might have been blind too, because at the end she literally started reading him the credits.

We used to joke that the last movie we went to see at a multiplex was Jerry Macquire. Which is only partially true, because we have seen a few. And now there's one we wish we hadn't.

(Sarcastic Spoiler Alert: If you don't want to read about the details of The Master, please stop reading. I will be discussing vital plot points and reveal the ending of this movie. Just kidding, there are no vital plot points. And as far as I can tell, there was no ending as well.)

By this point you know how I feel about this movie. Others, who are clearly smarter and have more refined taste than I, have said the movie is notable just for the outstanding acting demonstrated by Joaquin Phoenix and Philip Seymour Hoffman.

I take issue with that. I couldn't understand half of what Phoenix was saying. And I didn't know that speaking in a seductive, whispering tone followed by a violent outburst of temperament was an example of fine acting. To me, that's Act-ing.

Oh, but they were so committed to the roles. Well, Goebbels was committed to the Nazi cause, that doesn't make what he did good by any means.

Did I just break out the Nazi reference? I did. That's how god-awful and sucky and shitty and worthless this movie is.

There's a scene in the film where Hoffman's Master character has to break the will and spirit of Phoenix's drunkard. He makes him walk back and forth between a wall and a window.

I got it. I got the first time. And the second time. And the third time. He was torturing Phoenix and breaking him down. But the director chose to replay the sequence, in all its glorious variations, a total of NINE times. When it was over, he had broke down the audience as well.

People were fidgeting. Checking their watches. And laughing at scenes that were not meant to be funny. Mind you, I saw this film at the Landmark theater in West Los Angeles. With a crowd of blue-state filmgoers who could hardly be described as Luddites. These are the same kind of people who could watch a 3 &1/2 hour Terence Malick movie and claim the man is a genius.

I wish I had recorded all the grumbling remarks as we exited the theater. They were more authentic, visceral and entertaining than the film itself. And almost worth the price of admission. Almost.

Next weekend, I think we'll stay home and watch Paul Blart, Mall Cop.

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