The Master

You almost wish this movie version of the Pynchon novel were a book whose pages you could flip back and forth in at will.
Inherent Vice squanders a strong start in an orgy of wheel-spinning. Perhaps Anderson is indulging himself with one of those lengthy jokes in which the punchline is that there's no punchline.
I first noticed Philip Seymour Hoffman's work in a serious way at Sundance in 1998, when he showed up in significant roles in two different films: Next Stop Wonderland and Montana.
Theodore has no luck with the ladies -- even when they're practically drawing him illustrations of the human reproductive act. He's bereft after a break-up, convinced he's doomed to a life of solitude. Then he installs Samantha and she not only organizes his life -- she gets him, in a way that no one ever has gotten him.
You know what an audience-friendly film is. It tells a story that engages you about characters you can like and root for. Yet those films -- movies that seek to tell a story that uplifts or inspires -- often get short shrift from critics for that reason alone.
One of the best films of the year, it's almost a shame to see The Master in your home rather than in gorgeous 70mm in a movie theater.