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Saturday, September 22, 2012


No one would be able to accurately determine what my blog today is all about from the title.  Second, I'll review two films I just saw, Arbitrage and The Master, but first:

This is Saturday, so let me start with parrots on my roof.  These are green-cheeked Amazons (Amazona viridigenalis).  The only reason they are here is because when Hurricane Iwa struck us in 1982, several pairs of this bird escaped from an Aiea home.  Now, they are almost a nuisance, as they do screech a lot, and I suspect, pick on my tomatoes and basil.  However, they are protected as an endangered species.

Both Arbitrage (Rotten Tomatoes audience acceptance of 76%) and The Master (RTAA 78%) are about extraordinary men with huge egos.  Richard Gere is a billionaire hedge fund magnate Robert Miller in the former, and a heel, but he is Richard Gere, and hard not to like.  Giving away the ending, which is somewhat of a surprise, is giving away the movie, so I won't.  However, my hints might be too revealing.  Gere is now 62, and is topped in white, even in real life.  He made his debut in 1977 (can you believe 37 years ago?) opposite Diane Keaton in Looking for Mr. Goodbar.    Take this character, follow him through a successful adulthood, and you have him in the movie.  

While clearly unprincipled, you almost can't help but cheer for Miller because of extenuating circumstances.  I kept thinking, who is acting as his daughter Brooke (left), and by the end I figured out she is Brit Marling, that odd star of two alien movies, Another Earth and The Sound of My Voice.  The second one presents a strong case for external beings on Earth, for the logic is compelling, at least for this movie.  I have done work in the Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence.

Susan Sarandon (right), as wife Ellen, does an excellent job as a weak wife who prevails at the end using Robert's primary modus operandus, bluffing with high confidence.  She looked good for someone who is 65.

Oh, one more thing, we might have found the next Columbo, or some latest version of one in Tim Roth as the inquiring detective.  This could become a TV series where crime investigations take the wrong turn and fail.  You need to see the movie to understand what I'm trying to say.

The whole point about this movie is that everyone, everyone, is in some way, dishonest and/or immoral, and almost always both.  Some more than others.  How to cope with this prevailing character failure is how to succeed in life, many times regretfully.

The Master is all of 137 minutes long, and takes you from the mid-40's through much of the 50's.  This could well have been the story of L. Ron Hubbard and Scientology (but for reasons of a suit, not), fabulously played by Phillip Seymour Hoffman as The Master.  However, the focus was more on a pathological drifter suffering from post traumatic stress syndrome, played by Joaquin Phoenix, who is now back to quasi-normality after his semi-professional prank about being nuts.  The director, Paul Thomas Anderson (not the quirky Wes) I think lost control of the script.  He is said to be a genius and has five Academy Award nominations, but....  According to Rotten Tomatoes, 87% of reviewers liked this film.  I did not, as did not the San Francisco Examiner.  The transitions were discordant and purpose empty, but performances good to excellent.  Frankly, I did not get it, very similar to my reaction to The Tree of Life, which I called "The Most Boring Movie I've Ever Seen."  The Master was pretty close, and I actually fell asleep a couple of times.

Well, aside from all that, what might there be to like?  The film score was spotty, but showed promise.  If only they had played more original songs of that period, maybe that would have been enough for me.  Phillip Seymour Hoffman, as usual, was scintillating, is actually beginning to resemble Orson Wells and sort of looks like L. Ron Hubbard (right).  Joaquin Phoenix was intense, but only okay.  If you like to gaze at naked women, then this is the film for you.  Why are they unclad?  Not sure.

By the time you read this, Jelawat will be a typhoon.  Looks like this storm will now mostly miss Taiwan, squeeze through south of Naha, and, maybe head for the Shanghai area, which almost never gets threatened.  So, maybe South Korea again.


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