September 23, 2012
The Thrill of Mystery - The Master, Prometheus, & The Appeal Of The Difficult
The film is deliberately set up to be difficult. There is no strong narrative and the finale involves a bizarre song not some bowling alley beat down or frog monsoon. No, the film wants you to be perplexed, because it wants you to figure it out, sorry, this is no buckle up "ride" experience, this is cinema that taxes your brain and demands your to think! This concept that some entertainment demands to be dissected into little pieces is not a new one, but recently our entertainment is starting to really challenge us more and more.
Think about this summer's films. We had the much hyped alien thrill ride "Prometheus," which sparked lengthy discussion about our relationship with the heavens (both literally and figuratively) and where the original alien monster came from. Even "The Avengers" factored in a random villain at the end that needed some moderate level comic book nerd explanation. And let's not forget the "The Bourne Legacy" which almost drowned out it's motorcycle chases and hallway beat-downs with characters actively engaged in theorizing about shadow programs, chemical supplements, and the implications of an unseen character & the plotlines of three other movies. It's hip to be convoluted, the audience can figure it, hell, the audience wants to figure it out. One of the biggest groans of the whole summer, was in "The Dark Knight Rises,"when heroic cop John Blake (Joseph Gordon-Levitt) reveals his old name is "Robin" induced not yelps of joy, but rather groans of "Why you have to tell us that."
Why is this theorizing so popular these days? I think it's because we want to feel like we're figuring something out. It's so easy to figure out simple problems that onced vexed us. Google provides us to literally the answer to everyone of our questions from "what is the boiling point of water," to "what do Snake Eyes mean in Monopoly." Gone are the days of working it out for ourselves, so when a film or a TV openly challenges us to engage it, it's open season for everyone to come up with their own take. In a world of constantly given answers, sometimes the thrill is having someone actually make it difficult to unravel it all. "The Master" is the apex of this wild "just try to understand it" story-telling that' we've found ourselves in, so just be warned, you don't have to bring a pencil and paper into to take notes to get it, but prepare, as you've now been accustomed to, to have your brain/soul/past life challenged.