8:00 PM, 7th March, 2013
Paul Thomas Anderson.
Those who know him will need to read no further, as I’ve already convinced you to come and see this movie. For everyone else, here are some movie titles you may be familiar with: Punch Drunk Love, Magnolia, There Will Be Blood, Boogie Nights. He’s generally regarded as one of the best working auteurs around (up there with David Fincher and Darren Aronofsky).
His latest, The Master, may be better known to you as ‘That Movie About Scientology’. It’s not really, although the allusions are quite apparent. A young man returning from the war, Freddie Quell (Phoenix) is drifting around in alcoholism and violence until one day, by chance, he gets involved with ‘The Cause’, run by the charismatic and enigmatic Lancaster Dodd (Hoffman). Dodd offers redemption and change for Quell, but is also attracted to his savage simplicity.
As is to be expected from PTA, this is a dense, rich, character-focused drama where all the pieces work. The cinematography offers a visual beauty that will draw you in. Radiohead’s Jonny Greenwood offers another haunting electro score (after the success of There Will Be Blood). The acting is superb – if Joaquin Phoenix ends up in March without an Oscar for this role, mark it down as another crime of the Academy. Philip Seymour Hoffman is suitably charming, funny and sinister as Dodd, and Amy Adams and Laura Dern give good support as the female workers for the group.
Sum up? This is pretty much unmissable.