A psychologically troubled novelty supplier is nudged towards a romance with an English woman, all the while being extorted by a phone-sex line run by a crooked mattress salesman, and purchasing stunning amounts of pudding.
Paul Thomas Anderson
Philip Seymour Hoffman
John has lost all his money. He sits outside a diner in the desert when Sydney happens along, buys him coffee, then takes him to Reno and shows him how to get a free room without losing ... See full summary »
Paul Thomas Anderson
Philip Baker Hall,
John C. Reilly,
In 1959, Truman Capote learns of the murder of a Kansas family and decides to write a book about the case. While researching for his novel In Cold Blood, Capote forms a relationship with one of the killers, Perry Smith, who is on death row.
Philip Seymour Hoffman,
Clifton Collins Jr.,
A chronicle of country music legend Johnny Cash's life, from his early days on an Arkansas cotton farm to his rise to fame with Sun Records in Memphis, where he recorded alongside Elvis Presley, Jerry Lee Lewis and Carl Perkins.
Returning from Navy service in World War II, Freddie Quell drifts through a series of breakdowns. Finally he stumbles upon a cult which engages in exercises to clear emotions and he becomes deeply involved with them. Written by
Alan Young, edit Hal Issen
The very first line in the film, where Freddie is talking on the beach, was entirely improvised. See more »
In the "pacing" scene, as Quell goes from wooden paneled wall to window and back, the second time he goes to he wooden paneling, he breaks out a panel when he pounds it with rage. In the numerous successive shots, the wood panel is restored. See more »
What do you do?
I am a writer, a doctor, a nuclear physicist and a theoretical philosopher. But above all, I am a man, a hopelessly inquisitive man, just like you.
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Well, I really wanted to like this one. On paper it's perfect. Director/writer Paul Thomas Anderson, cast headed by Joaquin Phoenix, Phillip Seymour Hoffman, and Amy Adams. What could go wrong? The script. If a movie doesn't start with a good script, it can't turn out well. And this doesn't. There is no crest to this story. And there is no denouement. It lays flat for over two hours. The actors give great performances and the scenes are constructed well. Joaquin Phoenix has moments that are tragic. And then the movie just continues to plod along. I am fine with a film that develops slowly. I'm not fine with a film that never develops, and this one doesn't. Is it about an alcoholic? No. Is it about a cult leader? No. It's random moments, between an alcoholic and a cult leader, strung together, with no direction, and no point. You could extract any scene from this film, and on it's own it would stand up well. Pieced together, however, they don't add up to a story.
A story has to be about something. It has to start somewhere and it has to go somewhere. This story starts, and then goes nowhere. It is fine if the resolution of a story is simply it's endlessness. This film, however, never establishes where it's going. And, therefore, can't simply, go on forever. It never went anywhere to begin with. The actors are left to spluge all over the audience for no discernible reason. I'm over Phillip Seymour Hoffman, and have been for a while. In this role, as a sort of L. Ron Hubbard figure, he overacts to the point of caricature. For my money, the best Seymour Hoffman is "Boogie Nights", "Happiness", or "The Talented Mr. Ripley". Joaquin Phoenix is probably the most talented American actor working today, but his physically contorted, repetitive, mentally tortured, alcoholic, Freddie Quell, was never given the opportunity to become real or sympathetic, or even vile. He just, like the rest of the movie, went on. This actor, Joaquin Phoenix, has the chops to do anything. Check him out in "Reservation Road", "Gladiator", "Walk The Line", and his BEST, "Two Lovers". In "Two Lovers" Phoenix draws the portrait of an emotionally crippled man whose life crumbles beyond all hope (in his eyes), but through an accident of fate finds a path through which to go on living. He is riveting. There isn't anything he can't do given the opportunity. But he doesn't get the opportunity here.
Clearly this film was trying to comment on cultism. We know too much, however (Jonestown, Waco, Warren Jeffs), about cults to accept this fraction of a story. Clearly the main character was an alcoholic. Yet the film never explored his turmoil, or addiction, the way even a dumb show like "Celebrity Rehab" would. We were almost brought close enough to his story to care during his first session with Phillip Seymour Hoffman, but that was not developed and ultimately went nowhere. Just like the rest of the film.
There are some shocking scenes in this film. But there is no story that justifies them. It is like watching a big screen version of "Americas Most Shocking Videos", - for over two hours. They are independently compelling, but ultimately unrelated. And they never amount to a story about anything I could wrap my arms around. For me the ultimate failure of this film is that there was no point to it. It is not an art film. It is a pointless film. And it's not that I don't get "it". There's nothing to get. Better to spend your time watching car crashes, on TV, shot from dash cams. At least you won't expect much going in.
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