September 30, 2012
Worth seeing for the interesting personality at its center
The central character is apparently modeled on L Ron Hubbard of Scientology fame and is played magnetically by Philip Seymour Hoffman. The appeal of his personality is clear, thanks to Hoffman. The appeal of his ideas is not so clear...they seem to be a hodgepodge of paranormal beliefs, outre sci-fi ideas, and mysticism. But, then again, it is perhaps impossible to understand the appeal of these ideas at an intellectual level if one is not drawn to them in the first place. In the film, the first encounters with the Hoffman character fascinate but later developments, while intriguing, never get us to the "a ha" moment. The Master's foil (doppelganger?), a waster played by Joaquin Phoenix, is supposed to help us get to there but the character remains on the fringe of the movie, dramatically speaking. The movie is intriguing enough that you should see it for yourself but it left me somewhat blah in the end.
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