IT WAS ODD TO BE SITTING AT the wedding reception and seeing a different groom from what I expected. After dating a man for several years and having a tragic breakup, my friend met a man and decided to get married after a couple of months of dating. I never got the chance to meet him before the wedding. Having hung out with my friend and her previous boyfriend for the past years; suddenly now, I had to put all those memories and feelings aside to start out fresh with this new person who was a stranger to me. I had to hold up my end of the conversation while editing my thoughts, before they could be spoken out loud; so, I would not mention something from my friend’s past that included her old boyfriend. Without receiving any cues from her I did not know what was okay to say; I thought it would be best to be cautious and keep the talk light between us. I found myself from time to time over the course of the reception looking over at the newlyweds. Expect for being just as tall as her past boyfriend, I saw nothing else in common between the husband and ex-boyfriend. I knew there would be a learning curve until I would come to understand what made the husband tick. INTRODUCING A NEW PERSON INTO THE MIX is something that produces a bit of anxiousness in me. Whether I am the one or someone else is bringing in the new person, I immediately feel my guard going up as I survey the social landscape. If I am the one introducing someone to my friends and family, I spend a portion of my time wondering how people are reacting to the person I brought with me. Will they like him/her, will they get their sense of humor, will they tease them; these are things I think about as I make my introductions. This brings to mind the story I heard about the son who brought their girlfriend home to meet his family and the father, who was running late, came out of the bathroom wearing only a towel around his waist from showering, to say hello to the new girlfriend. I guess everyone reacts differently to being introduced to someone, especially when they know the new person may become part of their family. From all the stories I have heard and the times I have been involved in these “meet and greets,” I have never experienced what the people in this dramatic horror thriller went through when a new person became part of the mix. WITH RAW EMOTIONS PRESENT OVER THE breakdown of their parents’ marriage, the children were going to face the introduction of someone new into their family. This person was famous due to a tragic event. With Richard Armitage (The Hobbit franchise, Into the Storm) as Richard, Alicia Silverstone (Batman & Robin, Who Gets the Dog?) as Laura, Riley Keough (American Honey, Mad Max: Fury Road) as Grace, Jaeden Martell (It franchise, Knives Out) as Aidan and Lia McHugh (Along Came the Devil, American Women-TV) as Mia; there were elements to this picture that made me think the story would provide some scary thrills. First there was the filming of it; I liked the starkness to many of the shots and scenes. Next, Riley and Jaeden were the standouts for me with their acting. My issue with this film involved the script. Once again, decent elements but nothing tied up well with the script. I felt the story went nowhere and dragged at times. Plus, I am not a fan of open-ended stories; where the viewer doesn’t know if something is real or imaginary. Usually when I get introduced to someone, I learn something new. I left this film not sure what I had seen.
1 ¾ stars
The word “master” comes with several connotations. If I hear master crafter, I think of a skilled creator. When a person is referred to as the master of the house, I think of slavery. The title of this dramatic movie was a perfect choice. Freddie Quell, played by Joaquin Phoenix (Walk the Line, Hotel Rwanda), was a naval veteran who had a gift for making alcohol, out of a variety of substances. A majority of his life had been spent in a haze of drunkenness. When Freddie met the charismatic Lancaster Dodd, played by Philip Seymour Hoffman (Moneyball, Doubt), he hoped to find some clarity in his life. Lancaster saw something in Freddie that could be purged with his help. The two men began a tumultuous relationship; Freddie would become both a guinea pig and an example of Lancaster’s unorthodox methods. Staging assemblies around the country, Lancaster’s fervent beliefs began to attract followers. If for nothing else, the amazing acting from Joaquin has to be seen. Besides his explosive, emotional rants; his physical transformation was mind blowing. Pitting him with Philip should easily earn the two Oscar nominations, in my opinion. As for the story, I found it tedious and wordy. Scenes that were carefully detailed did not help with the drawn out passages that I found boring. There were parts that made no sense to me and Amy Adams (Trouble with the Curve, The Fighter) as Lancaster’s wife Peggy was underutilized. She was the wrong choice for the role. Without excuses or making judgements, this movie simply presented a man with his flock; others could interpret it as the master and his cult.
2 1/2 stars