Monday, February 4, 2013

Mini-Review: The Possession (Ole Bornedal, 2012) / The Master (Paul Thomas Anderson, 2012)

Roger Ebert, who I often side with, actually gave The Possession a rating of 3 1/2 out of 4 stars, while only giving The Master 2 1/2 stars. I really don't understand his reasoning behind this. I understand it's an opinion, but my what a shitty one.

The Possession

  If you've seen any of the horror films pertaining to possession that have come out in the last decades, then don't bother seeing The Possession. It's full of cliches. The youngest daughter of a divorced couple comes into possession of a strange box and her body in turn becomes the possession of the spirit that inhabits the box. Several horror trope stuff goes down, which leads to the divorced dad being suspected of abusing his daughter. He then realizes what is going on and seeks the help of Jewish religious figures to help rid his daughter of the spirit. An expected showdown culminates in an exorcism ritual and a very expected "it's not over yet" ending. Cliches upon cliches with this film. The usual "Take me instead" and bodily contortions. Overall, the film felt lazy. Perhaps, it wasn't attempting to be anything more than its defined genre, but even then it fails to provide the least bit of entertainment or shock factor. I kept waving my mouse to check the time. I seriously feel like I've already seen this film.

Ludovico Rating:

The Master (Re-Watch)
   After Silver Linings Playbook, this to me is the second best film of last year. Heck, I could even say it's a tie. . It's also only my second and a half Paul Thomas Anderson (after Boogie Nights and some of Magnolia). Freddie Quell is a World War II veteran who abandoned what is perhaps the love of his life for a job at sea. He is sex-obsessed and unable to retain a job, either due to his crazy antics or his mixing of various dangerous ingredients into alcoholic beverages. This all promises to change when he stumbles upon a yacht carrying a group of people who belong to a philosophical movement named The Cause. The leader of the movement, Lancaster Dodd, takes Freddie under his wings and attempts to reform him. This is pretty much the plot of the film, though a lot more happens. It's hard to explain. The film is impossibly complex whilst posing as a straightforward tale. Much like The Cause, the film pretends to be something that it is not. Much like Dodd's leadership, it is not known whether Anderson's direction possesses malicious intent. In any case, the film is a masterpiece. It could be argued that this film is about nothing given the ending or the plot, but it still carries meaning. It explores human nature, especially when faced with a cult mentality. The surface has to be scratched for the gem underneath to truly shine. Joaquin Phoenix's Freddie is already one of the film characters I most identify with or sympathize with. The cinematography is rich; there are many poignant scenes as well as some humorous ones; and the performances are mind-blowing. Given that I did not really like Boogie Nights and the mixed reviews The Master  has been receiving, I fully expected not to love this film all that much. But, I do. It's already one of my favorites. I felt so much throughout its entirety.

Ludovico Rating:

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