The Master

Joaquin Phoenix steps up as a strong contender for a Best Actor nomination with his portrayal of a damaged man with anger issues and sexual obsessions in “The Master.”

This is not a movie for everyone. Although it is being booked in multiplexes, as well as art houses, “The Master” will challenge many and leave others unsatisfied. Director and writer Paul Thomas Anderson, whose last film was “There Will Be Blood,” has assembled a film that is, above all, compelling. It’s one that has already generated much discussion with more to come.

“The Master” is more about its characters than its plot. The film is a series of episodes, some of which move slowly. In these episodes, we see how the film’s characters respond to the things life throws their way.

Philip Seymour Hoffman plays the title role. His character, Lancaster Dodd, is patterned after L. Ron Hubbard, the founder and leader of Scientology. Dodd, like many others in the movie, takes an immediate liking to Phoenix’s character, Freddie Quell.

Quell falls under Dodd’s spell and embraces The Cause, Dodd’s quasi-religious movement. Dodd is similar to numerous charismatic leaders we’ve encountered in history, some of whom can be seen on your TV every week. Dodd is, however, a generally likable guy, even though he serves up mumbo jumbo about “past lives.”

Quell becomes a member of Dodd’s entourage and Dodd begins to “work” with Freddie. Is it therapy or is Quell a guinea pig for Dodd’s techniques?

Eventually, Quell breaks away but in the end returns to Dodd, who is then in England. Dodd’s reaction to seeing Freddie again brings up questions about the true nature of their relationship.

Among the supporting cast is Amy Adams as Dodd’s wife Peggy. She wields her power from the sideline. She supports Dodd in his quest to grow support for The Cause but makes sure he has her input.

One more thing: most of the movie is set in the year 1950 and the clothes are terrific.

Should you see “The Master?” Yes, if only to witness Joaquin Phoenix’s mighty acting skill. Even if you don’t like “The Master” as a movie, this performance will astound you.








“The Muppets”—(TFGMOTY!)

This is the perfect fun movie for families. Gen-Xers who were kids when the Muppets weekly TV show was huge will love this movie. Boomers will dig it as well.

“The Muppets” has an old-timey feel. It is shot on back lots like you’ve seen in movies for decades. Some of the costuming looks like it came from a cartoon. The musical numbers are cleverly staged and are presented with lots of pizzazz. The music is a big part of “The Muppets” but does not dominate the film.

“The Muppets” tells the story of Gary and Mary (played by Jason Segel and Amy Adams) who live in Small Town, USA. Gary has a brother named Walter who looks very much like a Muppet. When Gary and Mary head to L.A. to visit the Muppet Studios, Walter is invited to tag along.

When they visit the rundown studios, they learn that an evil man named Tex Richman (played with panache by Chris Cooper) plans to destroy the Muppet Studios to get to the oil that lies below it. The only way they can save it is to reunite the Muppets and put on a telethon to raise $10 million.

Gary, Mary and Walter head first to Bel Air and the mansion of Kermit the Frog. They track down the rest of the Muppets who are all happy to join in the mission.  Except Miss Piggy, who is a holdout. No…wait…now she is going to join in the telethon!

You might guess the outcome of this crisis. You might be surprised at some of the cameo appearances. You might be amazed how much fun you will have at this movie.

A friend whose only child is now 21 bemoaned on Facebook the fact that she has no young kids to take to see “The Muppets.” No problem; go with another adult!

If you have been waiting for “the feel-good movie of the year,” look no further. This is it.