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Plot: Returning from Navy service in World War II, Freddie Quell drifts through a series of PTSD-driven breakdowns. Finally he stumbles upon a cult which engages in exercises to clear emotions and he becomes deeply involved with them. Runtime: 144 mins Release Date: 01 Mar 2012
"I am a writer, a doctor, a nuclear physicist, a theoretical philosopher, but above all, I am a man, just like you" (by Benedict_Cumberbatch)
Paul Thomas Anderson has grown as perhaps the greatest American auteur of his generation. At 42, this is his 6th film following 1996's "Hard Eight", 1997's "Boogie Nights", 1999's "Magnolia" - my all-time favorite -, 2002's "Punch-Drunk Love", and 2007's "There Will Be Blood" . Like the late master Kubrick and the aging master Terrence Malick who, coincidentally, just debuted his 6th film, "To the Wonder", at the latest Venice Film Festival where PTA won the Silver Lion for Best Director , he isn't the most <more>
prolific of filmmakers; but his perfectionist creations, cerebral yet strikingly cinematic and emotional, always leave an indelible mark polarizing audiences but usually earning critical acclaim . "The Master" is no exception. Shot on 70mm film, it is not so much of an "outside" epic as you'd imagine - although every single image is stunning and perfectly composed courtesy of cinematographer Mihai Malaimare Jr., who replaced Robert Elswit, Anderson's usual collaborator . It closely resembles "There Will Be Blood" in tone and content, but it stands on its own Jonny Greenwood is once again responsible for the score .Freddie Quell Joaquin Phoenix is a troubled and troubling drifter who becomes the right-hand man of Lancaster Dodd actor extraordinaire Philip Seymour Hoffman , "the master" of a cult named The Cause in post-WWII America. Their strange, ambiguous relationship is the center of the film. "The Master" is a thought-provoking indictment of cult fanaticism and lies sold as religion, which has caused controversy and concern among Scientologists even before its release. By not mentioning real names, Anderson is capable of broadening the scope of his story and making it richer - and subtler - than a straightforward "Scientology flick" would have been. Like his previous films, there's more than meets the eye at a single viewing, and his attention to detail pays off there's also a visual homage to Jonathan Demme's "Melvin and Howard", another favorite of Anderson's, in a motorcycle racing scene . Hoffman is as good as ever, and Amy Adams is highly effective slowly depriving herself of cutesy mannerisms as his wife. David Lynch's golden girl Laura Dern has a small role as well. But this is Joaquin Phoenix's hour, all the way. River Phoenix's younger brother has become a fascinating actor himself since Gus Van Sant's dark comedy "To Die For" 1995 , and, after his much publicized "retirement from acting" and music career hoax in 2009, he managed to come back with a performance for the ages, which shall culminate in Oscar gold. As for Anderson, it is unsure whether the Academy will finally recognize him as he deserves. His films may still be too outlandish for the Academy's taste he's announced his next project will be an adaptation of Thomas Pynchon's crime novel "Inherent Vice", a seemingly less ambitious project he hopes to make in less than five years . Regardless of Oscar numbers, we can rest assured that in a world where PTA gets to make such personal and original work and find his audience, there is still hope, and room, for intelligent filmmaking.
I don't remember when was the last time I got so engrossed in a film that the ending felt like snapping out of a trance. Remarkable in every detail but the detail I appreciate the most is the acting, if one can call it that. Joaquin Phoenix introduced us to a character I had never seen before on the screen. I was compelled, mesmerized. A sensation I hadn't experience since Colin Firth gave us Adrian LeDuc in 1989's "Apartment Zero". A total original but solidly planted in a reality that is undeniable. Shattering. Love him or hate him, he's not asking for sympathy on <more>
the contrary. He is defiant. Philip Seymour Hoffman adds another spellbinding character to his already extraordinary collection. And you, Mr. Anderson, who are you? Long Live The Cinema!
Superb should be the opening word. And as it is usually the case, not everyone is bound to agree. The confidence of Paul Thomas Anderson is out of this world. In "Boogie Nights" he gave us an unrepeatable Mark Whalberg, here is Joaquin Phoenix's turn. Amazing performance that will go next to three other performances that revolutionized the art of acting and create characters that were unique in every way. James Mason in "Lolita", Anthony Perkins in "Psycho" and even Colin Firth in "Apartment Zero" Coincidentally or not none of those three landmarks <more>
were nominated for Oscars, let's hope Joaquin Phoenix this time breaks that tradition. Everything about this film will make your jaw drop and I don't want to tell you anything about the film itself because part of my delight consisted on the fact I didn't know anything about the story. Don't miss it. See it in the biggest screen you can find.
I was fortunate enough to see this film much earlier than most. To me it seems like Anderson is really hitting his stride with this one. It was odd to me that upon exiting the theater the thing that I wondered about most of all is what the hell is he going to do next! The Master is not an easy movie to sit through, and at times you don't even know what the movie wants. But then you realize that the movie doesn't want anything. All it asks is for you to observe. More so than his earlier films, "The Master" and "There Will Be Blood" really venture into the realm of <more>
the film as being a purely cinematic presentation of a life. Anderson doesn't pass judgment or any point of view, he merely stretches the canvas which allows his characters to speak for themselves. Yes, there is a beginning, middle and an end, but is there? Do we really have a sense of catharsis at the end of "There Will Be Blood"? or do we simply understand "man" a little better?Anderson insisted, as I'm sure he would say the same for this film, that "There Will Be Blood" wasn't a metaphor for anything. It was what it was. No hidden meaning, no sophisticated and often formulaic subtext. It's simply man. As Hoffman's character says in the trailer for "The Master" - "But above all, I am a man".The movie deals with an interesting idea of the leader vs. the soldier, master vs. slave. It breaks down the anatomy of a relationship so you may interpret it in any way you'd like.It's beautifully shot on 65/70mm film which is the way I saw it and the way I recommend for you to see it if you get a chance to. Feels almost as if Anderson is giving the finger to the digital revolution by shooting his film on a resolution so high that digital can only dream of getting there in about ten years or so.The acting and the dialog is superb as you'd expect. Phoenix and Hoffman are on a different level here, especially Phoenix in a role of a life time. There are definitely times in this film that he completely disappears into that role. There is also some great supporting work from Laura Dern and others.It would be difficult to place this film in his body of work. More than anything it feels like the natural continuation of what he started with "There Will Be Blood". Not to say that he will continue on this path but just that this is definitely a more narrowly focused film than some of his earlier ensemble work. I found it to be less engaging than some of his other work and yet there was never a dull moment. You're always on your toes, trying to understand what's going on and where the movie is leading you. It really is simply, just like man, a fascinating piece of work.
Phoenix is the performance of the year! Anderson excels once again (by ClaytonDavis)
The Master is absolutely magnetic, orchestrated brilliantly by writer/director Paul Thomas Anderson and helmed by the commanding turns of Joaquin Phoenix and Philip Seymour Hoffman.Anderson has never been a director that makes a film for everyone to enjoy. In the vein of auteur directors like Terrence Malick, David Lynch, and Michael Haneke, Anderson's films aren't necessarily the most accessible despite the seeming mainstream status. Films like Boogie Nights 1997 , Magnolia 1999 , and There Will Be Blood 2007 are reflective, tensional, studies of human behavior, all things that <more>
the average film-goer most of the time will not embrace. In The Master, Anderson constructs, absolutely magnificently I might add, two dynamic, real, and tangible men that the audience can both imagine knowing, loving, and loathe. It's the writing masterpiece of the year.Lancaster Dodd Hoffman gets the best character blueprints of any player to interpret. Hands down, the sharpest and best written character of the film is purely Lancaster. Anderson concentrates on his motivation and responses, giving him an arc that the audience can both easily and willingly travel with him. Hoffman's natural talents as an actor and finding himself in a character are showcased here with intensity and composure. His often seemingly blood-filled hot-headed dialogue encompasses some of the best moments of the film. It's evident Hoffman is not only enjoying himself but enjoying Lancaster. He's both repulsive but completely enamoring in structure, word, and persona. Anderson may have created the great oxymoron of cinema this century. Hoffman is damn-near perfect.The performance of the year... On the flip side, Joaquin Phoenix not only inhabits a character never seen by him or any actor before but assembles a man from scratch, beat by beat, trait by trait. It's not just the finest acting performance of the year, not only the finest acting performance this millennium, it could be the finest work of the past twenty years or so. I can only recollect a handful of actors that have the gumption to stand toe-to-toe with Phoenix's work here. His Freddie Quell is utterly unpredictable; strutting, glaring, and holding an explosive mentality that could detonate at any moment. Phoenix controls it, even though there are many instances where you feel like he's losing it. Quell is frightening, admitting his evil, unbalance, and instability. Phoenix externalizes this in his zealous and disturbing actions but more importantly internalizes it in body language and character beats that not many actors dedicated to the craft can achieve. Joaquin Phoenix is not just Oscar-worthy, he's Oscar-bound. It's the performance you can't deny, the performance of the year. Let's hope they don't.Where Phoenix and Hoffman are strident and vociferous, Amy Adams is internal and subtle, but always at the brim. Peggy Dodd is multifaceted and extremely complex. Adams understands her amazingly well, making intricate features that are surprising for "good-girl" Adams. She gets dirty and dominating in not only a prolific manner but in a sultry method. Adams is a revelation. Laura Dern is brief but memorable; a missed actress who should be doing more accessible work.Jonny Greenwood's score once again, it's absolutely brilliant, well- placed, astonishing and among the best composers this year. Mihai Malaimare, Jr., cinematographer extraordinaire, is just that, extraordinary. Malaimare is painting scenes on a film canvas and we are witnessing the artist work. It's as if we're watching Bob Ross teach us the art of capture. Expect Cinematography to be named among Oscar's lineup in 2013 along with Film Editing Leslie Jones, Peter McNulty and Production Design David Crank and Jack Fisk . It goes without saying, Picture, Director, and Screenplay should be there alongside them.The Scientology subject is there and there are connections that can be made but are they obvious or intended? Not necessarily. It's not evident or offensive. I only hope that Paul Thomas Anderson and the film doesn't suffer from anyone assuming that its a slight at the group or any particular one for that matter.Though the film takes time to warm up to, once the film soars, it's soars high. While The Master is not for everyone and there could be many detractors, there are three scenes in particular that are masterpieces in filmmaking. Anderson levels and executes a difficult subject with no fear or hesitation. He also knows his characters, what they are, who they are, and marrying the actors to them in a way not many directors can do. Anderson unites film with art again and The Master is their bond. It's good to see them together again.
Cements Paul Thomas Andreson as the most consistent director working today (by Monotreme02)
In a broad sense, The Master tells the story of a soulless drifter, Freddie Quell Joaquin Phoenix, constantly drunk and with no purpose in life, finding sanctuary in the company of The Cause, a cult-like group lead by a charismatic intellectual, Lancaster Dodd Philip Seymour Hoffman. This plot description does not do the film full justice, because with this film, Anderson fully releases himself from the constraints of traditional narrative storytelling. The film is told in a stream-of-consciousness style, loosely linking together vignettes and moments from the time these two men spend <more>
together, without any sense of "drive," "purpose" or "goal" in the traditional screen writing sense. It is a style perfectly befitting the emotional and spiritual state of the main character, Freddie, adrift in life with no anchor or sense of purpose of his own. Throughout the film, Anderson occasionally cuts back to a shot of the wake of a slow-moving ship, placing us, the audience, aimlessly drifting through the narrative, just as Freddie is. What results is a series of scenes, snapshots of events, some narratively linked and some not. The film is very subjective, and puts us squarely in Freddie Quell's mind; as a result, no easy answers are given, many questions remain mysteries, and we never get a firmly grounded sense of reality; many events remain ambiguous and keep us wondering as to their fidelity long after the film is over.The Master is Anderson's most cinematically humble film yet. Gone are the sweeping camera moves, rapid-fire editing and high style of his previous films; even the slow, meticulous, beautifully lit tracking shots of There Will Be Blood are gone. Instead, Anderson submits to a wholly utilitarian shooting style, only moving the camera when necessary to capture action in the shot, and using formal framing techniques and naturalistic but still very beautiful lighting to comment on the characters' internal states. That said, it would be impossible to talk about the film's visual style without commenting on Anderson and cinematographer Mihai Malaimare Jr.'s decision to shoot on 65mm film. This film stock, especially when projected in 70mm, provides the film with an unprecedented sense of clarity and sharpness. The 65mm lenses provide a very unique and distinctly shallow depth of field that adds to the dream-like quality of the film, and helps emphasize the isolation the characters feel. It would be a crime to watch the film on any other format.All this discussion about non-narrative elements, thematic overtones and film formats is not to minimize what is possibly the film's crowning and most long-lasting achievement: the performances. Philip Seymour Hoffman, one of the most consistent performers working today and an Anderson regular, delivers another powerful, charismatic performance in line with his turn in Doubt. It is, for the most part, an effectively subtle performance, maintaining a controlled dignity peppered with the occasional outburst. Amy Adams delivers a similarly dignified performance. Her character is mostly quiet, observing from the sidelines, but she has her moments to shine in the aforementioned private scenes between her and Lancaster, in which she completely dominates him. But the highlight of the film is without a doubt Joaquin Phoenix's tremendous performance as Freddie Quell. Over the years, Phoenix has, without much fanfare, slowly but surely cemented himself as one of the best actors working today, with powerful turns in many varied films, from his deliciously villains turn as emperor Commodus in Gladiator to his quiet, grave personification of Johnny Cash in Walk the Line. Now, after a four-year absence from narrative films, he returns with what is undoubtedly a career best performance, and one that, with any luck, will win him a much-deserved Oscar. His utter and complete immersion in the character of Freddie Quell has to be seen to be believed. His back hunched, swinging his arms like an ape, his frame thin, his face twisted and distorted, mumbling and slurring his speech out of the corner of his mouth like he is just learning how to behave in society for the first time, and failing. And Phoenix' physical commitment to the performance doesn't stop there, either: he flings himself into scenes of raw violence that look and feel completely real. It is a crowning achievement in the art of acting and "the method," rivaling that of Daniel Day-Lewis in Anderson's previous film, and it further cements the biggest difference between Anderson and Stanley Kubrick as directors: Where Kubrick is known for his actors' cold, removed performances, Anderson has become the most consistent source for high-caliber Acting with a capital A.It's hard to really explain what makes The Master work even though it lacks many traditional narrative elements that provide most other films with powerful drama, closure and immediate gratification. It's a very subjective experience, and I'm sure many viewers will have difficulty immersing themselves in the film without the typical sense of narrative progression and character goals. For this reason, The Master is probably Anderson's least accessible film. That said, I think it is a testament to Anderson's enormous intellect and directorial abilities that he managed to capture the attentions and fascination of so many viewers and critics. He certainly won me over; although I had more visceral and immediately satisfying reactions to Anderson's previous films, I find that The Master lingers on long after the lights went up in the theater. The film's intellectual ambitions, along with its very unique, eerie tone, will keep me mulling over the experience for days to come. Already I feel the urge to re-visit it and attempt to uncover more of the film's secrets. And that right there is a telltale sign of an instant classic film in the making.
I would like to say that I mean no disrespect to Paul Thomas Anderson. His contribution of "Magnolia" and "There Will Be Blood" to the world of cinema have been more than enough to forever place him permanently on the top 100 greatest filmmakers of all time list. These two masterpieces also forever forgive him for making his one great stinker, "Punch Drunk Love."Well, he made another stinker here with "The Master," make no mistake about it. Here's a few thoughts on this film which I'll say is worth seeing, unlike Punch Drunk Love .The acting is <more>
brilliant on all accounts. I think 90% of directing is casting, so PTA hit this one out of the park. All the other departments of the production were right on; but the most important department, the story portrayal, was just disregarded, almost offensively so. "The Master" is a great character piece. The actors did their homework. But the film is one giant character study- but with no coherent story. There's no spoilers in this review, because there's nothing to spoil. So I can't even go into the details if I wanted to. This movie is about a series of subplots that meander into nothing- juxtaposed with random, unmotivated nudity, and intense scenes where Joaquin Phoenix either beats someone's ass or you think he's going to beat someone's ass. Paul Anderson spends roughly 55% of the screen time developing the character of Lancaster Dodd P.S. Hoffman as this great writer, persuasive teacher and potential cult leader much like L.Ron Hubbard , and then... "ffffttt." The other 45% of the film is spent very deliberately developing the character Freddie Quell J. Phoenix as a tormented raging alcoholic and disillusioned Navy vet... which also leads nowhere. Dodd tries to mentor Quell who desperately needs help- and he doesn't really succeed. Phil Hoffman starts to get a cult like following, gets arrested for something unclear, and so does Phoenix for resisting Hoffman's arrest, then poof- they're both out of jail and nothing is explained. The two men separate briefly, and Hoffman winds up in Europe and asks Phoenix to join him there. Phoenix joins Hoffman. Hoffman warns Phoenix never to leave again. Then Phoenix leaves and winds up on the beach caressing a naked female sand castle mirroring the first scene in the film where Phoenix is molesting a naked female sand castle . The film ends here. This is why I say it's a film half finished. Sure there was complexity and duality in the twisted past of Phoenix and the intelligence of Hoffman's character; but none of it matters, because there's no payoff for any journey the characters go on. At the end of the day, it was just about Hoffman mentoring Phoenix off and on, and the two men loving and hating each other. That's it. The great Amy Adams was poorly used in the film- and doesn't deserve mention It's a familiar trend with Hollywood these days: The characters are fantastic but the story is unexplored and unmotivated. If PTA hadn't wrote and directed this, I would maybe give it a 4 or 5, as the casting was so strong. But a story-less movie can only be a maximum of 5 on my IMDb rating scale, even if Stanley Kubrick himself made it and sent it to us from the great beyond. This film had many great attempts at taking you on a journey, but always dropped the ball at every opportunity of beat, and started new, random, and unconnected threads that didn't mean anything. I don't buy the "it's an art film" b.s... or the idea that it's s a "subjective piece" that should be interpreted differently for everyone. That's horse crap- and the people who wrote the 9 and 10 star reviews know it. They are just under the spell of Hoffman's tremendous stage presence. Because let's face it, without Hoffman, this film doesn't work. We all know the ability Paul Anderson has to tell a profoundly original story while still being surreal, and using music to motivate plot turns. The "Lets be surreal just for the sake of being surreal" method doesn't work for him. Sorry Paul, you're not a Warhol, Lynch, or Von Trier- why even try? The subjective 2001 Space Odyssey films have been made already. We're bored of people imitating that. at least I am . "The Master" is supposed to be based on John Huston's "Let their be Light" and loosely influenced by L. Ron Hubbard and the rise of Scientology, much like "Citizen Kane" was supposed to be about William Randolph Hearst. But try as it did, this was just a train wreck from the start. At no point did you get the feeling of a Scientology-esc uprising... or any kind of an uprising whatsoever. At least have the courage to show the cult rise to power- or come out and say that Hubbard was a frickin nut case. At least that would be saying something. This film says nothing. It keeps you guessing, and it's a huge let down when you realize the film is going to do the pretentious art thing and not explain anything. I don't know guys. I would wait for Netflix or Redbox on this one. Unless you enjoy paying a lot of money to be bored in public, with a few hundred strangers, all pretending to be blown away by nothingness... constantly waiting for the genius character performance of Hoffman and Phoenix to be engaged in a story. Why tease yourself?
Here is a movie that the art-house cinema world has been anticipating for quite a while now. We've all been looking forward to seeing what Paul Thomas Anderson was capable of producing, especially after the monumental success of There Will Be Blood. The hype around his new film, The Master, was huge, what with all of the speculations about what the film was actually about and all of the supposed allusions to Scientology that Anderson has repeatedly denied. Now it's out and the rumors and speculation become discussion and interpretation.The Master tells the story about a troubled Naval <more>
veteran named Freddy Quell who returns home from war without a path to follow in his life. He spends some time going from place to place, trying to find himself, but not being able to overcome his violent tendencies and alcoholism. Things change drastically when Freddy meets Lancaster Dodd, a charismatically jolly man who has gathered a following of disciples to promote what he calls The Cause. Freddy quickly begins to embrace what Dodd has to offer him, and a relationship develops between Freddy and Dodd, and it is a relationship that will affect both of their lives forever.The Master marks Paul Thomas Anderson's return to the movie theater in five years, but it also marks the return of Joaquin Phoenix coming back from his shameless publicity stunt where he decided to abandon acting and pursue a career as a rapper. Despite all of the crazy that Phoenix went through, The Master is one hell of a return. Phoenix's performance, as well as all the others in this film, is astounding. The performances in this film are nothing short of jaw-dropping. Philip Seymour Hoffman, one of my favorite actors, is profoundly compelling as Lancaster Dodd, and the scenes between him and Phoenix display some of the finest acting known to man in this modern generation of filmmaking.The Master delivers in aspects that we would expect it to. The performances are some of the finest of these actors career's, and the look of the film is all Anderson style and nuance. Visually this film is an unreal spectacle full of some of the most compelling and beautiful cinematography that filmmaking can achieve. I was lucky enough to see it in 70mm print, which made the visual quality of the film unbelievably fantastic. It is what you would expect from Anderson, and the cinematography alone makes this film worth watching.I can assert very clear cut opinions on the acting and directing of this film. Where I'm not as sure in my belief is the story. The Master is astonishingly ambitious. There is a lot going on. Anderson's script has built an incredibly complex web of character relationships and story dynamics. The amount of things going on at one time in this film is, for lack of a better word, overwhelming. It is a powerful and moving experience to absorb all at once, but it is easy to miss some things.I'm not sure if The Master is trying to accomplish too much, or just enough. Regardless, I am incredibly excited about seeing this film again. It is a film with so much to offer and I feel there is so much profundity to take away from it. I will definitely be watching this film a multitude of times to understand it fully. For now, I'm just not entirely sure.
"The Master" is wonderful and Oscar-bound (by thefilmdiscussion)
A man must serve a master, or a higher calling, in order to have peace and purpose. That seems to be the message of Paul Thomas Anderson's latest film, anyways. And while the message doesn't seem clear until the very end, there is plenty of cinematic gold to keep your mind ticking through its more than two hours of running time. "The Master" tells not so much a plotted tale, rather it presents us with two men who are both struggling in one way or another with the concept of something more than themselves, something bigger than their own lives. Joaquin Phoenix plays Freddie <more>
Quell, a sailor who at the end of WWII is more lost than ever, and whose taste for alcohol, even in toxic forms, grows more every day. He stumbles into Lancaster Dodd, played by Philip Seymour Hoffman, a man whose life is devoted to The Cause, based on a book he wrote that purports to "awaken" humans unto their past and future lives, thus fully unlocking their potential. For some, like the volatile Freddie, it's a welcome avenue of purpose and belonging. For others, even Dodd's own son, it reeks of cult. What makes "The Master" so intriguing is the real world questions it raises about greater purpose and whether or not serving a higher power is a necessity. Dodd presents himself as being fully aware and realized, yet cracks begin to show as the years wear on him and his fame grows. We ask ourselves if he can keep it up. What's "it"? His followers start to wonder too. But who does Dodd serve? Who is his master? For Freddie Quell, his master is Dodd, and he serves him to the best of his ability, yet it's not enough for him. Freddie is a torn individual, desperate for belonging and purpose yet hell-bent on never being caged up like an animal. The mere presence of these characters is enough to fill hours of potential stories, whether the plot truly goes anywhere or not. With a film like "The Master", the journey is in the souls of the characters, and with us as well. It's a beautifully shot film, directed by a man who has yet to commit a cinematic foul, and acted by two men who disappear into their characters so fully we forget we're watching a movie. And isn't that the point? Here is a film that should surely earn Oscar noms for Directing, Cinematography, Art Direction, Best Actor Phoenix , Best Supporting Actor Hoffman , Best Supporting Actress Amy Adams, as Dodd's frigid wife , as well as Best Picture, which it will surely win until I am convinced otherwise Ben Affleck's "Argo", perhaps? . This film just "feels" like a winner. Not only that, but PTA might just have gotten away with presenting an sometimes harsh analogy to Scientology, as well as slyly suggesting that both of his lead characters are closeted gays. Talk about a loaded film.-Thomas Bond, TheFilmDiscussion