Ms. Penny was my mom's cat for years. Then I was born. So Ms. Penny was my cat for years. Until I was 11. She was 18. Slow. Tired. Still purred like an industrial fan. Could still smile. But when standing up takes the resources of WW1 and walking is like some odd re-enactment of Vietnam, something has to happen. Memories of the good times flood the brain. The knowledge of loss invades your stomach. Arbitrage did this for me. I felt the movie, being paced as it was, lost a lot of its power. The family dynamic could have been more. The daughter could have been more. The mom could have been more. When I think back about the movie, I can't help but taste the loss (what I think was lost; maybe you would disagree). But there are moments of power, moments of high-tension, and the final scene is one of my favorite final scenes ever. So I guess I'm saying we can categorize movies by comparing them to the health of a thing. The best movies are like a pet or person or a relationship that is healthy from knowledge, experience and care. Some have potential but are flawed: just like the underdeveloped youth. And others are too unhealthy, they don't have the strength or resources to do what they maybe could have done. Some might argue that this being the director's first film, Arbitrage is like an underdeveloped youth. But given the subject matter and the execution, I think of a body dying. Miss you Miss. P.
Cinema Beans: The Master
I've only had one pet: my dog, a Jack Russell Terrier named Jackie (what up dawg?). She isn't dead, but I've often imagined what it'd be like when I find out. My dad used to be hesitant about getting a pet for our family, mainly because no pet could ever live up to his childhood dog Teddy. He loves Jackie, but she's not Teddy. She's lively, cheerful, and loves you to death, but she just isn't Teddy.
In a way, no film (or, er...pet) will be like Magnolia. I've been disciplined enough to recognize that Magnolia is not, in fact, the greatest movie ever made (which I wholeheartedly believed at one time). But, despite what the rest of the word has been telling me, I cannot fathom that Paul Thomas Anderson's new "mature" path has been for the best.
Critics have blown their collective loads over the fact that Anderson has stopped being so "showy" and settled down into a Kubrickian mode. But, in my opinion, the magic just isn't there anymore. As much as I admire The Master and all its rich thematic offerings, it's ultimately too broad of a film (much like There Will Be Blood) that's too sprawling for its own good. Both Magnolia and Boogie Nights are sprawling as well, but their narratives are aslo contained to character dynamics within the film.
Anderson has gone Citizen Kane on all of us, choosing a historical approach that dubs his films "American", but also sacrifices the simple humanity behind the concept. He broods and lingers with a mature eye, but it all seems at the expense of ambition. The Master is certainly *about something*, which marks the ambition Anderson always carries, but in my humble opinion, sincerity reigns supreme, and the constantly building relationships of Magnolia are infinitely more interesting and heartfelt than the bleakness presented in The Master. The Master reminds me of my first pet dying (Magnolia). It's not exactly an argument of quality (although I believe Magnolia is miles ahead of The Master), but more in relation to the fact that Anderson seems incapable of capturing the magic that once was.