The Master (2012)

Starring Joaquin Phoenix, Philip Seymour Hoffman, Amy Adams, Laura Dern, Ambyr Childers, Jesse Plemons, Rami Malek, Lena Endre, Madisen Beaty

Directed by Paul Thomas Anderson

Expectations: High. I’m a big PTA fan.


I don’t know… I don’t know… I don’t know… These were the words that I repeated as I left The Master and walked to my car. I continued through the car ride, and now I’m typing them. The feeling hasn’t gone away in the slightest. I don’t know if The Master was good, I don’t know what exactly The Master was saying, I don’t know if I liked The Master. It’s a tough one, this film, and coincidentally I felt somewhat similar after seeing There Will Be Blood in the theater in 2007. But where that film ended with a definite conclusion, and a scene that remains unforgettable and distinctly quotable, The Master does neither.

The Master is about two men. One is Joaquin Phoenix, playing a troubled ex-Navy man named Freddie. The other is Philip Seymour Hoffman, playing the master, the leader of The Cause, a cult/movement concerned with curing people’s problems by confronting their past traumas and digging up past lives. Through the movie, we’re glued to these two men, for better or worse, and through them we are supposed to uncover the story of the film. I don’t really mean that in a plot sense, as the film contains a narrative that makes sense and is easy to follow, I mean it like the true story of the film is in the subtext of their interactions and it’s for us to unravel what the character’s motivations are and any meaning we might derive from this.

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Mini-Review: The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet’s Nest (2010)

The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet’s Nest (2010)

Starring Michael Nyqvist, Noomi Rapace, Tehilla Blad, Lena Endre, Annika Hallin, Sofia Ledarp, Jacob Ericksson, Georgi Staykov, Aksel Morisse, Niklas Hjulström, Micke Spreitz, Anders Ahlbom, Hans Alfredson, Lennart Hjulström, Per Oscarsson, Michalis Koutsogiannakis, Mirja Turestedt, Johan Kylén

Directed by Daniel Alfredson

Expectations: Moderate. I enjoyed the last one pretty well.


Oh man, where’s my notebook? I seriously need a road map to navigate the ridiculously complex plots of these movies, and The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet’s Nest is probably the hardest to follow of the trilogy. It is also the most boring of the three as well. Y’know I was diametrically opposed to the US remakes of these movies, just on the simple fact that these films were just coming out and didn’t need a remake. After viewing them all, I can’t really argue with the desire to remake them. If they were tightened up and the dialogue was easier to digest, I think I could love these stories.

Noomi Rapace is once again fantastic as Lisbeth Salander. She spends a good portion of this film in the hospital recovering from the shitstorm that capped off the previous film, so she doesn’t have nearly enough time to kick ass. There’s also a lot of courtroom scenes that didn’t do anything for me either. I was hoping for a more thrilling film, like The Girl Who Played With Fire was, but instead I got an overly talky, exposition-heavy film to end an okay trilogy. Eh.

The Girl Who Played With Fire (2009)

The Girl Who Played With Fire [Flickan som lekte med elden] (2009)

Starring Michael Nyqvist, Noomi Rapace, Tehilla Blad, Lena Endre, Peter Andersson, Per Oscarsson, Sofia Ledarp, Yasmine Garbi, Georgi Staykov, Annika Hallin

Directed by Daniel Alfredson

Expectations: Low. I didn’t really like the first one that much, but just enough to give this a shot.


 

I wasn’t shy about my indifference to the first film in this series, The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, but despite that I had an urge to see the follow-up. The character of Lisbeth Salander is an intriguing one and I hoped that with a different story surrounding her, I might connect more with the film. This is essentially exactly what happened with The Girl Who Played With Fire and I’m glad I took the plunge.

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Mini-Review: The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo (2009)

The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo [Män som hatar kvinnor] (2009)

Starring Michael Nyqvist, Noomi Rapace, Lena Endre, Peter Haber, Sven-Bertil Taube, Henrik Vanger, Peter Andersson, Ingvar Hirdwall, Marika Lagercrantz, Björn Granath

Directed by Niels Arden Oplev

Expectations: High. I’d heard nothing but heaps of gushing praise.


Is this the most overrated movie of 2009? No, it’s not quite at Avatar level here, but it is pretty thick. I didn’t hate this movie, it’s just that I honestly didn’t see a lot to get particularly excited about. Despite its interesting story, the film is a painful two-and-a-half hour slog through rape, revenge and murder. It’s definitely well shot and well acted, but it just takes so damn long to get anywhere that any suspense or tension is gone long before it has any real chance at an impact. There’s a fairly graphic rape scene that serves next to no purpose other than to set up a vice versa revenge rape a few minutes later. So there’s about 30 minutes of runtime devoted solely to setting up the fact that our main character is a girl that doesn’t take any shit. I LOVE revenge movies, they are my total bread and butter, but these scenes were just glorified torture porn. Director Oplev could have learned a lot from Taken. Liam Neeson is set up as a complete and absolute badass in one scene, and if memory serves, its done and over in less than five minutes.

I realize this makes me sound like a dude with attention deficit disorder that’s just itching for something to explode, but that’s simply not the case. Great, slow-burn movies are some of the best the cinema has to offer. In order for them to work though, you have to be connected to the characters you are traveling with, and herein lies another flaw of the film. I don’t care about anyone in this movie. The title character is essentially just supporting Michael Nyqvist in her own film, and Nyqvist’s character has got to be a front-runner in the “Most Boring Lead Character of the 2000s” race. This is all quite frustrating, as there are some killer moments peppered throughout the film that just don’t get the chance to shine they deserve. I wouldn’t recommend watching this, but as almost every other review I’ve seen is overwhelmingly positive, I’d say that if you are greatly interested or a fan of the book, you might be better off judging for yourself or trusting someone else’s opinion on this one.

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