REVIEW: THE MASTER

Starring

Joaquin Phoenix (Joker)
Philip Seymour Hoffman (Mission: Impossible III)
Amy Adams (Man of Steel)
Laura Dern (Jurassic Park)
Ambyr Childers (2 Guns)
Rami Malek (Bohemian Rhapsody)
Jesse Plemons (Game Night)
Kevin J. O’Connor (Widows)
Christopher Evan (Lincoln)
Madisen Beaty (Other People)
Amy Ferguson (Split)
Patty McCormack (The Bad Seed)
Jillian Bell (Rough Night)
Fiona Dourif (Curse of Chucky)
W. Earl Brown (Bates Motel)

Philip Seymour Hoffman and Joaquin Phoenix in The Master (2012)Freddie Quell is a traumatized World War II veteran, struggling to adjust to post-war society and prone to erratic behavior. While working on a farm in California, an elderly colleague collapses after drinking a batch of Freddie’s homemade moonshine. Freddie flees after he is accused of poisoning him.Joaquin Phoenix in The Master (2012)One night, Freddie finds himself in San Francisco, and stows away on the yacht of a follower of Lancaster Dodd, the leader of a nascent philosophical movement known as “The Cause”. When he is discovered, Dodd describes Freddie as “aberrated”, and invites him to stay and attend the marriage of his daughter, Elizabeth, as long as he will make more moonshine, which Dodd has developed a taste for. Dodd begins an exercise with Freddie called “Processing”, a flurry of disturbing psychological questions. During the exercise, Freddie reveals details of his past, including his fathers’s death, his mother’s incarceration in a mental asylum, and his incestuous sexual encounters with his aunt. He also has a flashback to a past relationship with Doris, a young woman from his hometown who Freddie promised he would one day return to.Amy Adams in The Master (2012)Freddie travels with Dodd’s family as they spread the teachings of “The Cause” along the East Coast. At a dinner party in New York, a man questions Dodd’s methods and statements. Dodd loses his temper, calling the man “pig fuck”, and asks him to leave. Freddie pursues him to his apartment and assaults him that night.
Philip Seymour Hoffman in The Master (2012)Other members of “The Cause” begin to worry about Freddie’s behavior. Freddie criticizes Dodd’s son Val for disregarding his father’s teachings, but Val tells Freddie that Dodd is making things up as he goes along. Dodd is arrested for practicing medicine without proper qualifications after one of his former hostesses has a change of heart; Freddie is also arrested for assaulting the police officers. Freddie erupts in a tirade, questioning everything that Dodd has taught him, and accuses him of being a fake. Dodd calls Freddie lazy and worthless and claims nobody likes him except for Dodd. They reconcile upon their release, but members of “The Cause” have become more suspicious and fearful of Freddie, believing him to be deranged or an undercover agent.Joaquin Phoenix in The Master (2012)Freddie accompanies Dodd to Phoenix, for the release of Dodd’s latest book. When Dodd’s publisher criticizes the quality of the book and its teachings, Freddie assaults him. Helen Sullivan, a previously acquiescent acolyte, causes Dodd to lose his temper after she questions some details of the book. Dodd takes Freddie to a salt flat with his motorcycle, telling him to pick a point in the distance and drive towards it as fast as he can. Freddie drives off and disappears. Freddie returns home to Lynn, Massachusetts, to rekindle his relationship with Doris. Freddie learns from her mother that she has married and started a family since he last saw her. He tells her mother he is glad she is happy.Philip Seymour Hoffman in The Master (2012)While sleeping in a movie theater, Freddie believes he receives a phone call from Dodd, who is now residing in England and begging Freddie to visit. Upon arriving, Freddie finds “The Cause” to have grown ever larger, and to find Dodd seemingly bent to the will of his wife. Not expecting Freddie to stay with him, Dodd requests that if Freddie can find a way to live without a master, any master, to “let the rest of us know” because he’ll be the first person in history to do so. Still seeking closure, Freddie refers to the Dodd from his dream, who had claimed to finally remember where they’d met. Dodd then recounts that, in a past life, they had worked in Paris to send balloons across a blockade created by Prussian forces. Dodd gives him an ultimatum: stay with “The Cause” and devote himself to it for the rest of his life or leave and never return. As Freddie offers that they may meet again in the next life, Dodd claims that if they do, it will be as sworn enemies. Dodd begins singing Slow Boat to China as Freddie begins to cry. Freddie leaves and picks up a woman at a local pub, then repeats questions from his first processing session with Dodd as he is having sex with her. On a beach, Freddie curls up next to a crude sand sculpture of a woman he and his wartime comrades erected during the war.Philip Seymour Hoffman in The Master (2012)The Scientology subject is there and there are connections that can be made but are they obvious or intended? Not necessarily. It’s not evident or offensive. I only hope that Paul Thomas Anderson and the film doesn’t suffer from anyone assuming that its a slight at the group or any particular one for that matter. Though the film takes time to warm up to, once the film soars, it’s soars high. While The Master is not for everyone and there could be many detractors, there are three scenes in particular that are masterpieces in filmmaking. Anderson levels and executes a difficult subject with no fear or hesitation. He also knows his characters, what they are, who they are, and marrying the actors to them in a way not many directors can do. Anderson unites film with art again and The Master is their bond. It’s good to see them together again.

REVIEW: 22 JUMP STREET

 
CAST

Channing Tatum (G.I.Joe)
Jonah Hill (Cyrus)
Ice Cube (Ride Along)
Peter Stormare (Fargo)
Wyatt Russell (Cowboys & Aliens)
Amber Stevens West (Greek)
Jillian Bell (Goosebumps)
Dustin Nguyen (V.I.P.)

 Nick Offerman (Sing)
Marc Evan Jackson (The Good Place)
Johnny Pemberton (Son of Zorn)
Richard Grieco (Impact Event)
H. Jon Benjamin (Wet Hot American Summer)
Anna Faris (Mom)
Will Forte (The Lego Movie)
Dave Franco (Bad Neighbours)
Bill Hader (Power Rangers)
Patton Oswalt (Young Adult)
Queen Latifah (Bringing Down The House)
Rob Riggle (The Hangover)
Seth Rogen (Knocked Up)
Steven Williams (Jason Goes To Hell)

 

Two years following their success in the 21 Jump Street program, Schmidt (Jonah Hill) and Jenko (Channing Tatum) are back on the streets chasing narcotics. However, after failing in the pursuit of a group of drug dealers led by Ghost (Peter Stormare), Deputy Chief Hardy (Nick Offerman) puts the duo back on the program to work for Captain Dickson (Ice Cube) – now located across the street at 22 Jump Street. Their assignment is to go undercover as college students and locate the supplier of a drug known as “WHYPHY” (Work Hard, Yes, Play Hard, Yes) that killed a student photographed buying it on campus.
At college, Jenko quickly makes friends with a pair of jocks named Zook (Wyatt Russell) and Rooster (Jimmy Tatro), the latter being a prime suspect of the investigation. Jenko starts attending parties with the jocks who do not take as kindly to Schmidt. Meanwhile, Schmidt gets the attention of an art student, Maya (Amber Stevens), by feigning an interest in slam poetry. The two sleep together, to the disapproval of Maya’s roommate Mercedes (Jillian Bell), and it is revealed that Maya is the daughter of the vehemently disapproving Captain Dickson. Despite sleeping together, Maya tells Schmidt not to take it seriously, and he starts to feel left out as Jenko bonds more and more with Zook who encourages him to join the football team.
When Schmidt and Jenko feel as if they have no clue to who the dealer is because they have no leads, they decide to pay a visit to Mr. Walters (Rob Riggle) and Eric (Dave Franco) in jail for advice on how to look for the WHYPHY supplier. Walters tells the two to look more closely as he notices a unique tattoo on the arm of the dealer in the photograph. He insists that if they find the tattoo, they will have found their man. Whilst hanging out with Zook and Rooster, Jenko notices that Rooster does not have the tattoo but sees it on Zook’s arm. Schmidt and Jenko are invited to join the fraternity led by the jocks but Schmidt refuses, furthering the tension between the two as Jenko passes all the requirements. At a counselling session, they realise that maybe Zook isn’t the dealer but was buying the drugs rather than selling them, and soon afterwards they find Ghost and his men on campus. A chase ensues and Ghost again evades the pair. Jenko reveals to Schmidt that he’s been offered a football scholarship with Zook and is unsure whether he wants to continue to be a police officer. Schmidt decides for him by telling officers on the scene that Jenko had nothing to do with the melee caused by the chase. Immediately afterwards, Schmidt moves out of the dorm and Maya finds out who he really is.
Spring Break arrives and Schmidt prepares to go after Ghost alone. Jenko asks to help so that the two can have one final mission together, and the pair head to the beach where Ghost is likely to be dealing WHYPHY. Inside a bar, they find Mercedes, revealed to be Ghost’s daughter, giving instructions to other dealers. The pair, backed up by Dickson and the rest of Jump Street, ambush the meeting and give chase as they flee. Mercedes is able to handcuff Dickson and take him hostage, pursued by Schmidt. Meanwhile, Jenko goes after Ghost. After a fist fight with Mercedes, Schmidt is held at gunpoint by her but Maya sneaks up and knocks her out. Schmidt goes to help Jenko who is now on a hotel roof in pursuit of Ghost, and inadvertently shoots Jenko in the shoulder. Ghost attempts to escape in a helicopter and Jenko jumps across to it but struggles to hold on with his injured arm. Schmidt makes the same jump and the two fall into the sea, but not before Jenko is able to throw a grenade into the helicopter, supposedly killing Ghost.
Back on land, Jenko tells Schmidt that he still wants to be a police officer as he believes their differences help their partnership, and the two reconcile in front of a cheering crowd. Dickson approaches them claiming to have a new mission undercover at a med school. During the credits, Jenko and Schmidt go on to a variety of undercover missions to different school, which are portrayed as fictional sequels, an animated series, and a toy line. One mission features Detective Booker (Richard Grieco) while another sees the return of Ghost, who survived the helicopter explosion. In a post-credits scene, Walters reveals to Eric that he’s late.
22 Jump Street is a prime example of how to do a sequel right. Directors Phil Lord and Chris Miller took everything from the first and made it better with an intelligently creative script and a bigger budget. This is a comedy that never once was afraid to make fun of itself or the genre. You could also really tell that Hill and Tatum had a blast making this film, because it shows it in their performances. Who really steals the show is Ice Cube as he has a lot more screen time. If you are looking for a hilarious time at the movies this year, then 22 Jump Street is a must see movie.

REVIEW: BRIDESMAIDS

CAST

Kristen Wiig (Zoolander 2)
Maya Rudolph (Gattaca)
Rose Byrne (Spy)
Melissa McCarthy (Tammy)
Wendi McLendon-Covey (Bewitched)
Ellie Kemper (The Office)
Chris O’Dowd (St. Vincent)
Jill Cayburgh (The Rockford Files)
Terry Crews (White Chicks)
Matt Lucas (Alice Through The Looking Glass)
Ben Falcone (The Nines)
Jessica St. Clair (The Dictator)
Jon Hamm (The A-Team)
Paul Feig (Sabrina: TTW)
Rebel Wilson (Grimsby)
Jillian Bell (Rough Night)

Rose Byrne and Kristen Wiig in Bridesmaids (2011)

Though Wiig has popped up recently in Whip It and Adventureland, to fine successes, Bridesmaids marks her first leading performance, and she’s found the right one to start with in Annie. A broke, cynical chef who’s recently closed her Milwaukee bakery, losing her boyfriend in the process, she now works in a jewelry store, sleeps with a handsome but asinine man-child (Jon Hamm) looking for a no-strings sex-buddy, and avoids her odd British brother-sister roommates. Annie’s sad-sap state makes for a near-perfect character in which Wiig can flaunt her ill-at-ease style, uncomfortable in her unerring self-created awkwardness. She’s a sad character, almost aggressively so, which might rub some the wrong way because of how resolutely she keeps herself at arm’s length from contentment. Yet there’s something relatable about her self-deprecation, especially once her childhood friend Lillian (Maya Rudolph) asks her to be the maid-of-honor at her wedding — and to do the planning and organizing that comes with the territory.

Naturally, Annie meets an eclectic group of Lillian’s friends and soon-to-be family who will fill out the rest of the wedding court: a sex-minded mom (Wendi McLendon-Covey, Reno 911) with a ton of kids and a biting attitude; a virginal mouse of a newlywed (Ellie Kempler, The Office); bullish sparkplug Meghan (Melissa McCarthy, Mike and Molly), the government-employed sister to the groom; and Helen (Rose Byrne, Get Him to the Greek), a well-to-do housewife trying to strong-arm her way into Annie’s spot as maid-of-honor. Feig realizes that these are all types, and he lets them run loose with their quirky mannerisms, but he doesn’t go too outlandish to make them feel like far-removed caricatures.


Annie’s rattled by the duties and the feeling that her friend’s slipping away, not to mention her own monetary and relationship woes, which zigzags along the significant events in Bridesmaids that hallmark most pre-wedding lead-ups. Sure, if you want to boil it down to the least-common denominator, Feig’s picture can essentially be labeled a female iteration of The Hangover, where the ritual of strippers, alcohol, and wild partying in the groom’s rite of passage are replaced with luncheons, dress-fittings, and bridal showers. But this isn’t a frilly affair, nor is it simply a fantastical lampoon on idealized planning. Compliments of Wiig and Mumolo’s sharply-written script, Lillian’s path down the aisle turns into a stylized elevated-reality daze of misfortune, often due to her best-friend trying to cling onto what she finds familiar by her own means. But it’s got something else behind its gags: when it hits over-the-top notes that play to the dreamed-up fantasies of weddings and the gleeful pre-events, it also double-backs to Annie’s shambled life, lending genuineness to the missteps she makes.

Rose Byrne, Melissa McCarthy, Maya Rudolph, Wendi McLendon-Covey, Kristen Wiig, and Ellie Kemper in Bridesmaids (2011)
Maybe it’s because the humor’s supported by a heartfelt backbone that it’s both effective and affective, extending beyond its gags into this clever, modest portrait of a woman in a growing stage that just so happens to be hysterically funny. Annie’s shown at her most desperate — sleeping with a slimeball, losing her penniless and destitute battle with the rich-and-beautiful Helen, and slowly but unsuccessfully building a relationship with an affable cop, Rhodes (Chris O’Dowd), who’s got a thing for carrots — and her state informs the hoopla that Wiig and Mumolo have written, always with some underlying purpose that ties back to the lowly baker trying to maintain a stranglehold on her old life. Bridesmaids might be out to prove that the girls are capable of playing just as dirty as the guys.