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“The Master”, “Argo”, “Lincoln” and the spectre of disappointment

All of the big stuff is coming up with fall arriving, and winter on the way…and at least one of the luminaries is going to piss me off. My bet is on “Lincoln”, but I hope I’m wrong. Daniel Day-Lewis should nail it. But is Steven Spielberg past his prime? What was his last great film? “Munich”, maybe? I’ll listen to that argument, even though I had some issues with it. But “War Horse”, “The Adventures of Tintin” and, especially, “Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull” should certainly give one pause. Good stuff in all of them, but the trio are at least a step or two below his most inspired work. My bet is on “The Master” being knock-out-of-the-park awesome, if only because Paul Thomas Anderson seems unable to do any wrong. “Boogie Nights”, “Punch-Drunk Love”, “There Will Be Blood”…can he make a bad film? “Magnolia”, you say? Nah…I loved that too. Also, Ben Affleck is proving himself to be quite the director after helming “Gone Baby Gone” and “The Town”. Will “Argo” make it a hat-trick? Word out of Toronto(the TIFF)seems promising. I’m down on “The Hobbit” and Peter Jackson right now. The whole three separate film thing has me agitated and I don’t know if I can recover. Hey, the next time someone asks you what Jackson’s masterpiece is(because that happens to you all the time, right?), say “Heavenly Creatures”, and watch for their reaction. It’s priceless…and the evaluation just happens to be true. “Les Miserables”, the movie musical? I respect the hell out of Tom Hooper for giving it a shot, but I don’t know. From “The Damn United” to “The King’s Speech” to full-blown Broadway-style spectacle? I’m wary. Tarantino’s “Django Unchained”? I’m in. Ang Lee’s “Life of Pi”? Yeah, pretty sure. Upset to be hearing that Terrence Malick’s “To the Wonder” is his first major misstep(two films in 18 months from Malick…am I in an alternate universe?!). But I heard that about “The Tree of Life” in advance too. And “The New World” in 2005(my second favorite film of the last decade). On the foreign front, Michael Haneke’s Palme d’Or winner “Amour” is a no-brainer. And Jacques Audiard’s “Rust and Bone” is extremely promising, with not-only Oscar-winning knockout Marion Cotillard, but also Belgian powerhouse Matthias Schoenarts of “Bullhead” fame(see my SIP ’12 review of that one to read what I think of him). And James Bond returns in “Skyfall” with Daniel Craig and Academy Award-winning director Sam Mendes(!), while Tim Burton aims to erase the bad karma from his underperforming “Dark Shadows”, with his feature-length stop-motion “Frankenweenie” update. I’ve been around long enough to realize that all of these can’t possibly deliver, but I promise to remain optimistic. “The Master”, which opens today, is poised to be the first test of the season…expect a review of that at some point this September.

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2 comments on ““The Master”, “Argo”, “Lincoln” and the spectre of disappointment

  1. I was nervous about some of these films and this, unfortunately, did not make me feel better. Oh, they better not screw up Lincoln!!!

    • Reluctant to create even more anxiety, Brian, but did you not get a whiff of some Spielbergian syrupy melodrama in that “Lincoln” trailer? I sure did. Sometimes I swear HE’S Douglas Sirk, instead of Todd Haynes. But I pray(to the gods of cinema)that he ponies up. ML

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