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Archive for November, 2012

Moby Dick

After six months and unnumbered days, I have completed Melville’s masterpiece. It is a behemoth of a novel in so many ways.

Perhaps the funniest great work of literature, it is also one of the most influential. Without Dick we would not have Catch-22 or Nabokov’s twentieth century playing with words. Nor perhaps even Joyce’s difficult Ulysses.

Is it the first and greatest modernist novel. Perhaps. Is it hard going. Definitely. Is it fun – without doubt.

Melville was a genius and would of almost certainly made a great dinner guest.

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After exposing a wider audience to his genius with 2007’s There will be Blood, Paul Thomas Anderson has raised the emotional stakes with his newest masterpiece, The Master.

The Master is a loose, fictionalised reconstruction of the early days of Scientology. However, by avoiding becoming a film about a cult, it ultimately is something great. It is centrally about a friendship between two unlikely individuals, one a charismatic leader of a new faith movement, the other an unstable, socially dysfunctional loser.

Anderson reaches and finds beautiful moments here in such a prolific way – this is a new level of artistry. Further, several scenes rise and expand like nothing else in recent years.

The first half hour, though masterful, follows  a seemingly ponderous path. Yet when the two main characters meet one unlikely night on a boat, the film finds its emotional and visual core, and sits on our two protoganists till their faces are tattooed on our mind.

I look forward to seeing this utter gem again soon. Here’s hoping for a Criterion release!

 

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