THE BLOG

Don't Believe the Hype

10/19/2012 07:45 am ET | Updated Dec 19, 2012

It's been a decidedly (and sometimes surprisingly) full fall already -- and the movies are stacked up for landing between now and the end of the year like planes over LaGuardia.

But the dividing lines have already been drawn -- and continue to be drawn -- about what should or shouldn't be among the year-end awards contenders.

And the biggest line, of course, has to do with The Master and the difference between certain critics' response to that film and to such upcoming blockbusters as Cloud Atlas and The Life of Pi.

I'm in the distinct minority about Paul Thomas Anderson's The Master, this year's "Emperor's New Clothes" of movies (in the same way The Tree of Life was last year's). It's a movie that's drawn an 85 percent positive rating on both Rotten Tomatoes and MetaCritic.

But I've said it before but I'll say it again: The Master, like so many films that are touted as "important works," is the kind of movie that makes people hate critics, or at least the critics who tout them. And when you've got an 85 percent approval rating, that seems to be most of them.

The Master is, however, the kind of movie that makes people come out thinking, "WTF was that critic talking about? This movie isn't ABOUT anything."

Indeed, if you read the reviews, they all say essentially the same thing: Great acting. A strong director's hand. And then they all mention the fact that it's, well, a bit obscure. At which point they also tend to say: "But it's still great film-making."

To which I guess I'd ask: If it's obscure -- to the point of being opaque, in my opinion -- then how can it be great film-making?

This commentary continues on my website.