This Week at the Avon: The Master

Have you ever thought to yourself, “Gee, I wish there were something else for me to do at 6:30 on a Friday night besides talk to my friends and get prematurely drunk?” Yeah, none of my friends have either, which is why I saw The Master alone Friday night. But before you get too upset and start rushing out to the Bookstore to get me a sympathy card, don’t worry: it was awesome. If you’re looking to procrastinate in a more productive way than by teaching yourself yo-yo tricks and watching live baseball streams (maybe those are just me, actually), then head down to the Avon this week and catch The Master. You won’t be disappointed (unless you are, in which case don’t hold me accountable, you ungrateful bastard).

So, what is The Master about? It’s about a lot of things: how weird Scientology (or actually “The Cause,” but we all know what’s really going on here) is; how it might be a fun idea to test how many close-ups of Joaquim Phoenix’s face can be shown in one feature-length film without alienating the entire audience; how director Paul Thomas Anderson really wants an Oscar; how you, the audience member, are clearly not intelligent enough to fully understand the remarkable, important messages at play here. Mostly that last one, actually–this is clearly a film where you realize that there is a life-changing, maybe universe-altering revelation hidden somewhere deep inside, but your puny little brain just isn’t cultured enough to see it.

Basically, Sammy (Phoenix), a serially drunk–like, this dude mixes up prescription pills, paint thinner, and hard alcohol and chugs it from his flask like it’s Dr. Pepper–and psychologically unstable war veteran somehow comes to be the right-hand man of Lancaster Dodd (your boy Philip Seymour Hoffman), whose character bears an uncanny resemblance to L. Ron Hubbard. (This, of course, can be chalked up to the fact that he is L. Ron Hubbard, but The Weinstein Company isn’t trying to get sued out its ass by Tom Cruise for mocking his completely rational belief system.) Together, Dodd and Sammy roam around the country proselytizing, building their weirdly close relationship (romantic undertones?) to a climax, until, somehow, Dodd’s ridiculous cult-like “processing” techniques don’t cure his seriously deranged friend Sammy. Go figure.

The Master has something for everyone: laughter, tears, drama, romance, orgasmically well thought-out shots for MCM film theory concentrators, a weird dissonant soundtrack that may be of interest to Music concentrators (we have a Music concentration, right?). Sure, you may not understand all of the film’s symbolic value, but neither did I, and I am BlogDailyHerald’s completely unqualified reviewer. Guaranteed, you’ll get something out of the experience–like, say, the news flash that a new “religion” trying to establish its credibility might not want to bring a guy whose résumé reads, “world’s worst alcoholic/sexual deviant who humps sandcastle women/dude in desperate need of some serious anger management” with them everywhere they go. But you’ll probably have a deeper takeaway than that. If so, let me know, because I’m not sure I did. But that didn’t stop me from enjoying it through and through.

The Master is playing at The Avon at 1:30 p.m., 3:45 p.m., and 6:30 p.m. An additional show plays at 9:15 p.m. on Friday and Saturday.

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