There is no wrangling legendary actors Christopher Walken and Philip Seymour Hoffman when they're in a room together. Like old friends, their conversation can swing wide and cover just about anything -- from the employment rate of Screen Actors Guild members to "The Hunger Games."
Here's the thing: the more ravaged and tortured Walken looks, the more beautiful I find him. His face is the face of an artist; you can imagine the statue. And in every frame, you can see and you can love the depth of greatness -- of the character and the actor.
Maybe you're like me and know next to nothing about classical music, string quartets, and the men and women who perform it. But none of those things kept me from enjoying A Late Quartet, an impressive indie film.
While many want The Master to be an assault on what they see as a kooky and possibly dangerous cult, I'm not convinced that The Master is or has to be about more than its two main characters struggling and ultimately failing to make themselves whole.
The Master, while also ponderous, complex, intriguing and likely to win Oscars, stands out as a profound, artistic saga brought to seething life by performances so startling they stayed with me for days afterwards.
The director offers up some odd ensemble scene where Hoffman does a cutesy song and dance routine before a group of sycophants where most of the women are completely naked, making one wonder how they were motivated to strip while the men remain modestly clothed.
This is not a feel-good movie. But it is a master class in acting. It is a haunting fictional story that is all too true. As with great writing, it takes us into the labyrinth of human nature, rife with emotional hunger, desperation and rage.
A lot has been said about whether the Cause is code for Scientology. Anderson drew a lot of inspiration from L. Ron Hubbard and the origins of Scientology, but to say that The Master is about Scientology misses the point.