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: WALK THE LINE

 

CAST

Joaquin Phoenix (Gladiator)
Reese Witherspoon (Just Like heaven)
Ginnfer Goodwin (Take Me Home Tonight)
Robert Patrick (Terminator 2)
Larry Bagby (Buffy: The Vampire Slayer)
Lucas Til (X-Men: First Class)
J.D. Evermore (Cloak & Dagger)
Brit Shaw (Bones)

The film opens in 1968, as an audience of inmates at Folsom State Prison cheer for Johnny Cash’s band as he waits backstage near a table saw, reminding him of his early life. In 1944, Johnny, then known as J.R., grows up the son of a sharecropper on a cotton farm in Dyess, Arkansas. He is known for his singing of hymns, while his brother Jack is training himself to become a pastor. While Jack is sawing wood for a neighbor with a table saw, J.R. goes fishing until his brother finishes. But Jack has an accident with the saw and dies of his injuries. Cash’s strained relationship with his father Ray, becomes much more difficult after Jack’s death. In 1950, J.R. enlists in the United States Air Force as Johnny Cash, and is stationed in Germany. He purchases a guitar to play and in 1952, finds solace in writing songs, one of which he develops as “Folsom Prison Blues”. After his discharge, Cash returns to the United States and marries his girlfriend Vivian Liberto. The couple moves to Memphis, Tennessee, where Cash works as a door-to-door salesman to support his growing family. He walks past a recording studio, which inspires him to organize a band to play gospel music. Cash’s band auditions for Sam Phillips, the owner of Sun Records. After they play “Folsom Prison Blues”, the band receives a contract, and launch to stardom at the beginning of the rock and roll craze.

The band begins touring as Johnny Cash and the Tennessee Two. On tour he meets the singer June Carter, with whom he falls in love. Cash begins spending more time with June, who divorces her first husband Carl Smith. After his attempt to woo June fails, Cash starts abusing drugs and alcohol. After his behavior reaches a bottom during a performance with June, they separate. Later, over Vivian’s objections, Johnny persuades June to come out of semi-retirement and tour with him. The tour is a success, but backstage, Vivian becomes critical of June’s influence. After one performance in Las Vegas, Cash and June sleep together. The next morning, she notices Cash taking pills and doubts her choices. At that evening’s concert, Cash, upset by Carter’s apparent rejection, behaves erratically and eventually passes out on stage. June disposes of Cash’s drugs and begins to write “Ring of Fire”, describing her feelings for Cash and her pain at watching him descend into addiction.

Returning to California, Cash travels to Mexico to purchase more drugs and is arrested. Cash’s marriage to Vivian crumbles; the pair divorce and Cash moves to Nashville in 1966. Trying to reconcile with June, he buys a large house near a lake in Hendersonville. His parents and the extended Carter family arrive for Thanksgiving, at which time Ray dismisses his son’s achievements and behavior. After the meal, June’s mother encourages her daughter to help Cash. He goes into detox and wakes with June; she says they have been given a second chance. Though not married, the two begin spending most of their time with each other. Cash discovers that most of his fan mail is from prisoners, who are impressed with his outlaw image. He proposes to Columbia Records that he record an album live inside Folsom Prison. Despite Columbia’s doubts, Cash says that he will perform, and his label can use the tapes if they wish. At the Folsom Prison concert, Cash says that he has been sympathetic to prisoners, explaining that his arrest for drug possession helped him to relate to them. With this success, Cash embarks on a tour with June and his band. On the bus, he stops to talk with June and proposes to her, but she turns him down. At the next concert, June says she will only speak with him on stage. Cash later performs “Ring of Fire” on stage. After the song, Cash invites June to a duet and stops in the middle, saying he cannot sing “Jackson” any more unless June agrees to marry him. June accepts and they share a passionate embrace on stage.

Joaquin Phoenix and Reese Witherspoon give memorable performances in this story of Johnny Cash and his long-time love, June Carter. Phoenix’s Johnny is a tortured and self-destructive soul, and Witherspoon’s June is spunky and smart. They have great romantic chemistry on-screen and their close-ups are intense! The supporting cast is uniformly excellent, especially Robert Patrick as Johnny’s mean and unrepentant father. “Walk the Line” is an entertaining bio pic with infectious music and two very likeable stars.

 

 

REVIEW: SUPERBOY – SEASON ONE

 

CAST

John Newton (Tru Calling)
Stacy Haiduk (Heroes)
James Calvert (House)

RECURRING / NOTABLE GUEST STARS

Peter White (Armageddon)
Scott Wells (The Taking of Beverly Hills)
Michael Manno (B.L. Sryker)
Abe Vigoda (The Godfather)
Courtney Gains (Children of The Corn)
Leif Garrett (Wonder Woman TV)
Salome jens (Star Trek:DS9)
Stuart Whitman (The Comancheros)
Marc Macaulay (Swamp Thing: The Series)
George Chakiris (West Side Story)
Gary Lockwood (Star Trek)
Michael J. Pollard (Scrooged)
Liz Vassey (Two and a Half Men)
Cary-Hiroyuki Tagawa (Mortal Kombat Legacy)
John Matuszak (The Goonies)
Joaquin Phoenix (Gladiator)
Joseph Campanella (Guding Light)
Gail O’Grady (NYPD Blues)
Sybil Danning (Halloween)
Rance Howard (A Beautiful Mind)

I knew a couple of people who enjoyed the Superboy TV show (later re-named the Adventures of Superboy) when it was airing in the late 80’s and early 90’s. Running for four seasons in syndication, the program had a fair following. Iyla & Alexander Salkind who were behind the 80’s Superman films. This first season takes a good few episodes before it becomes the hidden gem it was destined to be.

A majority of the villains are your run-of-the-mill crooks too. Though there are some aliens who cause some trouble, but the majority of the foes are just ordinary people, and that doesn’t make for an exciting program.

The actor playing Lex is really bad, which is why from season two hje was replaced. The worst acting job award goes to Michael J. Pollard who played the 5th dimensional magical imp Mr. Mxyzptlk. This nemesis, taken straight from the comics and appearing in an episode written by comic legend Denny O’Neil would have been a lot better if Pollard had ever read one of the comics or even had a basic understanding of the character. He plays the mischievous menace without any of the humor or light-heartedness that makes his comic appearances so memorable. All of the imp’s lines are delivered in a flat monotone and the actor never gets in the spirit of the character. The show does improve over the course of the season, and was fun to watch. The Beast and Beauty where a someone dresses up as Superboy and robs stores was good, and the final episode in the season, Luthor Unleashed, was arguably the best. In this show a young Luthor steals a secret weapon and agrees to sell it to the person who can kill Superboy. They also adapt Luthor’s origin from the comics which worked very well. If the whole series was as good as this episode it would have been more  enjoyable