Introducing ‘Weekly Watch’
Allie Tollaksen | Tuesday, August 26, 2014
So what do we students do while we are without cable or a car or the time to catch all the newest releases? We digital natives turn to Internet streaming to fulfill our entertainment needs as Netflix, HBO Go and Hulu have come replace cable boxes and DVD players.
Because of this, Scene will offer guidance amidst the endless abyss that is instant streaming. We’re here to find out what’s new on your favorite streaming sites and what great films to take advantage of while they’re available at the click of a button.
But since so many students turn to streaming sites, we don’t just want to give recommendations — we hope to start conversations as well. That’s why Scene is introducing “The Weekly Watch”: a way to critically examine films and television and, with your help, get readers in on the discussion.
“The Weekly Watch” will feature a Scene writer introducing a film or show available on an instant-streaming website at the beginning of each week. That writer and — we hope — Scene readers will watch that title by Monday of the next week, when Scene will run a critical, in-depth analysis of the film or show. Think of it like a book club, except for streaming movies and TV.
If you want to join in on the fun, we hope you’ll watch along and participate by tweeting along, commenting online or even writing in to Scene. Whether you get together with your friends or take a study-break and watch alone, we want you to follow along with us as we take a closer look at some of the best entertainment soon to be on your queue.
The first movie we will be examining is “The Master,” a title newly available to stream on Netflix. Written and directed by Paul Thomas Anderson (“Magnolia,” “There Will Be Blood”), the 2012 film stars Joaquin Phoenix and Philip Seymour Hoffman in two remarkable performances. Phoenix plays Freddie Quell, a World War II veteran who struggles to assimilate back into post-War America. After travelling around the country taking and losing several jobs, Quell meets Lancaster Dodd (Hoffman), the leader of a mysterious spiritual group called The Cause. As Dodd takes the troubled Quell under his wing, Quell is ushered into the group and begins to see the strange inner workings of The Cause.
Inspired (not-so-subtly) in part by Church of Scientology creator L. Ron Hubbard, the character Lancaster Dodd is simultaneously charismatic and unnerving, and Philip Seymour Hoffman acts it expertly. But it is Phoenix’s portrayal of Quell that somehow still steals the show. His performance is nearly flawless and didn’t go unnoticed: he was nominated for Best Actor in the 2013 Academy Awards for the role.
Anderson, one of the preeminent directors of the last 20 years, didn’t only draw from the life of L. Ron Hubbard — the director also has said in interviews that Quell’s life was inspired by stories “Magnolia” actor Jason Robards told him about the Navy, early drafts of “There Will Be Blood” and parts of author John Steinbeck’s life, making the film a complex and its interpretations controversial.
“The Master” is layered, challenging and often sad, but also features some of the best acting and most beautiful cinematography in recent years. The film is certainly deserves a watch and further analysis of its dark complexity.
Follow @ObserverScene for information about the Weekly Watch.