The Master - SPOILERS!

Started by polkablues, August 18, 2012, 01:41:45 AM

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i saw it for a second time today, and i think its really great - it feels like there's lots of threads you can follow in trying to read the film, and it will be fun to read interpretations (the film's ambiguities beg for them) - but the one thing i really can't figure out is the scene where Freddie and Master go to the desert and dig up his life's work?


A bunch of people have had to see it by did you guys like it?! Would love to hear some reactions/reviews/analysis.

JG: I was wondering the same exact thing. How was your second viewing compared to the first?


For me the first viewing I wasn't quite sure what to make of it. But having been through that same experience with "There Will Be Blood" where it was SO different than what I expected I knew to wait for another viewing or to before I fully weighed in. Having seen it three times now, it really does get better with each viewing. Now I completely completely love it.
Christopher Nolan's directive was clear to everyone in the cast and crew: Use CGI only as a last resort.


That makes me so happy. I feel like I'm in the same boat. Impatiently waiting for the 21st to see it in Oakland 70mm over and over again until I really figure out how I feel about it. Since it's taking so long to see it again, my thoughts are just getting the best of me. The fact that you compare it to your TWBB multi-viewing experience is unbelievable. Yesssssss.  :yabbse-thumbup:


mod did you find that the last half hour or so (starting with the rather random motorcycles-in-desert scene) became more lucid with repeat viewings or did you go with it?  it's where the bulk of my issues with the film are and i can't decide if it's enigmatic with mysteries to glean or just thin and anticlimactic in the worst way.  also i agree with the others, the bit of them going out into the desert to retrieve the manuscript was bizarre as well.  i've read a defense of it as yet another one of dodd's showman tricks but there's nothing to support that in the film... i don't think, anyway.

i also have a rather strange idea about the film after freddie visits doris's house.  my memory of the exact details and sequence of images may not be great so this could be entirely ill-informed, but i'll give it a go anyway.  in the movie theater, i don't have a doubt in my mind at this point that the phone call is a figment of his imagination.  he even refers to it as a dream when he goes to see dodd.  that he even goes to see dodd is bizarre because, if the phone call is a dream, how can that information about england be reliable?  how the hell does he get out there?  you could fill in that hole as it being a well-known fact that dodd's set up shop in england since once he gets there it's revealed to be a rather affluent enterprise, but there is again nothing to support that in the film as far as i remember.  the last gathering of the cause showed his influence to be modest, and waning at that (dern calling him out on a change in language and his resulting freak out, the guy from new york saying the book was crap, rejections while handing out fliers)

i'm wondering then if everything post doris's house is supposed to be a reflection of freddie's headspace?  aside from the sheer oddity of how it all plays out in the film (including the usher with the telephone), it struck me as bizarre that dodd's son, now seeming to have fully embraced the cause, is the first to welcome him.  up until then he was reluctant and skeptical, and i believe the last thing we see him do is try to turn his father in to the police when they come by the house.  perhaps this is a signifier that the whole reunion is part of a dream?  thinking about it now though, lancaster and peggy aren't exactly thrilled or sure of the prodigal son's return, but i wonder if that has to do with freddie's self actualization (peggy storming off saying he doesn't want to be helped, a reflection of freddie's actual state of mind.  whether he's beyond help and insane, or the process is a fallacy, he no longer wants to be helped, at least by them), and that the scene essentially ends with the master absolving him gives closure to freddie's struggle against himself.  he's free to be the animal he is.  that the master's last gesture is to serenade him recalls the first processing scene where freddie's gateway into opening up is remembering doris singing to him.  i would totally buy that hearing about doris's life without him is a form of catharsis for him, and the first thing he does when he emancipates himself from the master is goes to a bar and finally gets laid.  it's a dubious triumph but it, for me, is like the end of raging bull.  he's come to terms with himself.

again, i'm fully aware of how strange this reading probably is, but as the film exists in my memory it's really the only way i can make sense of the last half hour.  it also makes the ending and the last shot more poignant to me, too.  i don't know.  all i can say is i'm dying to see it again, which i haven't been able to say about a movie in some time.

having said all of this, the movie's pretty infallible from the first frame up until that exhaustive processing sequence in the house and i sat there, wide eyed and mesmerized.  the shot of freddie jerking off into the ocean while everyone else is going about their business is one of the best in the entire movie, and absolutely hilarious.  the department store stuff i found to be especially pleasurable.  the image of the ocean churning behind the ship will haunt me forever.



pt is our greatest, we know this, we know we are of great fortune to have this foreign spirit, this great whimsical mind of his that clumsily unspools out into his works, complicatedly, with no second-guessing to instincts, such greatness from a primitive soul who happens to be an American moviemaker, the greatest of our fortunes being that he gets it done, gets these pictures made, and yes, restores an art-form long since forgotten from time's past, carries the kubrickfire so to speak.

we know this yet i speak it because with each of his fresh works i am reminded that we should only be counting our lucky stars to have ONE of these kind of dudes in this day in age.

not a bad imprisonment for viewing this beast; The Arclight Dome out in LaLa Land

with the master he has presented to us these brilliant puzzle pieces, pretty pieces he has, and i want that initial teaser poster more than ever for a label cannot better summarize this film and i need it in my home, in my office, as an image of inspiration to allow my own stuff to float out to sea, intoxicating and pimplefaced, this masterwork.

there is no falsehoods from those who have said about this film being an impossible one to see coming or digest accurately after one sitting, the synopsis, the teasers, they are no longer relevant. if you are a drinking man i highly recommend you get a bit sloshed afterwards to allow this thing to swim around in your boozing mind, toss about your wavering head, your incertain brain where these pieces will come collected, and though pieces they will remain, it isnt an unproductive way to think about them, one by one, these mad impressions.

psh is back in our favorite playground, and he's off the chain, the larger of the talk might be about joquin doing so, but the hoff really went streaking with this one, completely raw, balls deep performance. joaquin is as satisfying in a pta joint as ddl, he is off the map. physically alone, he has destroyed all male performances for years to come. freddie quell as classic a character as plainview and barry egan and with no offense to johnny b, jonny g pushes these characters forward with a sorcery that cannot be touched.

i'm clearly smoking a hyper bowl here, there's much more to say about this, about its mysterious behaviors, for now i'm just plain inspired by the thing, cant wait for the subsequents.


spoilers about last act of the film

I think the bulk of the film takes place over the course of 1950 - Dodd mentions the year when he is processing Freddie on the boat.  I'm pretty sure the final scene in Lynn, MA (where I grew up!) takes place in 1952 or 1953 - the first time we meet Doris is post-war, so we can assume its 1945 or later, right? She is 16 then. Her mother tells Freddie she is 23 when he visits.  Thus, I assume there is a large gap of time between when Freddie rides off in the desert and the final act of the film.  I would guess that by the time Freddie winds up in England, enough time has passed that The Cause has found its niche and is somewhat successful overseas?

I don't feel the need to connect the dots as to how Freddie wound up in England. Obviously, the film embraces a dream logic to a certain extent, and doesn't feel the need to explain it - the ambiguities between dreams/imagination vs. reality run through the film - especially in the movie theater - but I trust that Freddie, wanderer at heart, could somehow catch a boat to Europe and get to England.

So I read the final scene literally. Freddie wants some kind of closure, perhaps reconciliation (he offers to take photos and rejoin the group at first). It seems to me that he shows up hoping that Dodd will be able to shed light on how they once knew each other, as if this will explain everything for him - and perhaps the audience. Dodd, realizing in the moment that this is only way he can keep Freddie, makes a story up on the spot. Dodd's answer feels unsatisfying and anti-climactic, but in a way that feels heartbreaking and true.


i guess how he gets there isn't as much of a hang up, though over the course of the film it's an easier pill to swallow that we find him going from department store to cabbage patch, to wandering a dock alone.  from that point on he travels exclusively with the dodds.  seeing him go from moping about to england is quite the leap but i'll roll with it.  as for dream logic, i didn't get the sense that the film really had much of that going for it, at least not until an apparition literary shows up on screen.  i'd categorize it more as being elliptical... but the last thing i want to do is argue about semantics (again).  also i probably wasn't following the passage of time throughout the film as acutely.

as for the final meeting between freddie and master, the way the scene actually plays out in full does make it seem like it's a literal event and not part of some projection.  and it did strike me as a powerful exchange but i think it lost me to the confusing lack of detail to get him to that point.  what leads up to it is so bizarre, and upon first viewing not necessarily in a good way.  hopefully it won't derail my viewing the second time around, or i'll be able to articulate my thoughts on the matter with a better informed perspective. 


Quick note about the theatre scene: if you notice the editing the guy comes to bring him the phone and wakes him up, he takes the phone call and then it cuts to him asleep again. so IS IT A DREAM? funny that the same debate went on about the end of TWBB too.

Someone I saw the movie with last night was like "but why would he invite him out to England just to turn him away like that?? It doesn't make any SENSE." And I was kinda like, "you just watched THAT movie and THAT was your takeaway?" Like, of all the things to get hung up on, I'm not sure this is a movie where I'd be necessarily challenging the motivations of every scene. It makes emotional sense, I have no idea how much of it to take at face value.
Christopher Nolan's directive was clear to everyone in the cast and crew: Use CGI only as a last resort.


Isn't Freddie sleeping/watching a Casper the friendly ghost movie?  Could of sworn I heard Casper in the background which might explain the ghost theory that PTA referenced about PSH.  Where ever Freddie goes Dodd finds him.  Its not that hard to believe though.  Scientologists stalking people? hmmmm
"look hard at what pleases you and even harder at what doesn't" ~ carolyn forche


Christopher Nolan's directive was clear to everyone in the cast and crew: Use CGI only as a last resort.


i don't recall there being a cut in the background audio of casper when he has the supposed dream.  also when they do meet, freddie refers back to something that was said on the telephone by saying, "in my dream, you said..."

it's a huge movie sure but the climax is kind of a tough place to skate through to get to the pivotal moment.  it making emotional sense doesn't justify this jarring a lack of detail.  their final interaction is great but its poignancy was diminished for me by how jarring and confusing that theater scene was--it broke the trance the film so beautifully lulls you into.  if it simply didn't exist i certainly don't think it would be a lesser film.  if anything this is stuff i'll be paying more attention to when i see it again. 

no one's got any idea about the desert manuscript?  or even the motorcyle scene?

also mod i'm curious as to what it is you loved about it.


what about when he's so tiny on the bench

it looks like a fuckin pete-jack shot...

was that time travel? i cant do the math, how old is he supposed to be in that scene?

i could also very accept the fact that Joaquin is that good a fuckin actor to shrink himself... he already transforms into such a boney scoundrel
Doctor, Always Do the Right Thing.

Yowza Yowza Yowza


I felt like Amy Adams was jealous of  Laura Dern's character. That scene in the bathroom with her giving a hand job to PSH, was like a warning. Also when Laura is speaking at her home you can see this seething anger on Amys face there is a shot of it...

I felt like the girl in the sand was Doris but thats me


A strangely long and detailed article about the woman in the sex scene at the end. There's nothing important here, but hey, it's another article about THE MASTER and gives a little behind-the-scenes insight.