Paul Thomas Anderson's The Master stars Joaquin Phoenix as a psychologically damaged war veteran who finds himself working for Lancaster Dodd (Philip Seymour Hoffman), a charismatic figure building his own religion. As the alcoholic, self-destructive former soldier becomes more deeply involved with the leader of this cult-like organization, his natural instincts keep him from embracing his new position as strongly as others in the group would hope. The Master screened at the 2012 Toronto International Film Festival.~Perry Seibert
You're really not supposed to understand what the characters conversations actually mean or why they do what they do, the best way to enjoy this beautiful film is to just know that some very unhinged, not so normal characters interact with one another and see what happens next.
The Master is a complicated film. It's also quite polarizing, and many viewers will leave with more questions than answers. But I think Anderson wanted it this way, and I was fine with that. The film is philosophically-minded, so the ambiguities are purposeful and are meant to sink in long after you've finished the film.
P.T. Anderson once again proves that he is the best filmmaker working today, and maybe the best to ever live. This an absolute masterwork of cinema on every level. The performances, which have been rightly lauded, are stellar, particularly Joaquin Phoenix, who becomes so lost in the role that his entire physicality changes. The 65mm cinematography is beyond gorgeous, and really enhances the immaculately accurate period detail. And the film itself, as I said, is a masterwork; this an intense, emotional, darkly funny examination of the battle between man's id and ego (Phoenix's Quell being the former, Philip Seymour Hoffman's Dodd being the latter) that effortlessly careens from powerful, visceral exchanges of dialogue to inquisitive, carefully executed sequences of conflict and questioning to moments of almost outrageous humor - sometimes in the same scene.
The Blu-ray itself is magnificent as well. The picture quality is perhaps the best I've ever seen; nothing else really displays the full capability of the Blu-ray format like 65mm or 70mm photography. The color and clarity of the images really bowled me over. It's also beautifully packaged with reversible artwork and a postcard, and has some interesting features including deleted scenes and, perhaps most interestingly, the John Huston-directed WWII documentary "Let There Be Light," which PTA has cited as a major influence on this film.
Paul Thomas Anderson's, "The Master", is one of the best movies of the year. While it doesn't provide a clear cut answer at its conclusion, it leaves the viewer to answer moral questions of religion, self existence, and "what truly is real in our heads and what is make believe?" Joaquin Phoenix and Philip Seymour Hoffman give Oscar-worthy performances with their portrayal of this odd cult in the 1950's. While the movie does have mild religious undertones and similarities to Scientology ideology; the movie primarily focuses on the relationship between these two men, it does not divulge deeply into the implications of "The Cause".
The true beauty of the film is found in interpretation. It isn't the normal Hollywood blockbuster, but a film that should be viewed as an art form and Anderson showing an overview to his ideas. The relationship shared between Phoenix and Hoffman is astounding and both men and extremely talented actors.
Not to mention the 70mm conversion to blu-ray is absolutely stunning! There are multiple ocean scenes in the film and picture quality is unlike anything I've seen from the digital age. Why it wasn't nominated for Best Picture, yet had a nomination in all three major individual categories? Beyond me. Go see it!