An image recurs throughout The Master: a ship’s wake, white and blue water churning as the camera — really the mind’s eye of the dissolute Freddie Quell — stares not exactly into the past, but into the creation of the past. He fixates at the roil and the churn, staring at nothing rather than directly examine the choices and impulses that created him.

Freddie is an animal; or a sensualist, to be more generous. He does what he feels like doing, and what he feels is visible in every line of his face, and every glint of his wary, shaded eyes. He likes to drink, and he likes to fuck, and he likes to pretend that none of it really matters, and that his impulses have never cost him anything. As Freddie, Joaquin Phoenix channels every bit of his own individual oddness and intensity to create a character that is whole, and unique. Phoenix is an incandescent screen presence.

The Master, Paul Thomas Anderson‘s sixth feature film, is a portrait of Freddie as one half of a whole. It is not a conventional narrative. Such as it is, the plot is barely more than an outline. Designed with sublime attention to detail by regular David Lynch and Terrence Malick collaborator Jack Fisk; scored with nervy yet sweeping themes by Jonny Greenwood; and photographed with exquisite tenderness by Mihai Malaimare Jr., The Master is the rare modern film that feels like the product of old studio craftsmanship.

In moments, Anderson’s new work can be maddening, dull, even vacuous. But subsequent moments can be quietly provocative as the film tries to understand friendships, and relationships that trade in power, and even the nature of faith. The tentative plot is a boon. Free of responsibilities to any standard story structure, Anderson’s characters can circle and dance around one another without concerns about resolving dangling threads. The Master is mesmerizing, and beautiful. Read More »

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The Alamo Drafthouse Ritz location in downtown Austin, TX — the same house that is showing a series of films in 70mm all this month — is hosting a benefit screening of Paul Thomas Anderson‘s new film The Master in 70mm. The show is this coming Monday, September 10, at 7:30. To promote the screening, PTA released a clip to the Drafthouse featuring a new, strangely comic scene from the movie.

This clip is just as good as the other materials we’ve seen from the movie, and a bit more vulgar. It shows Joaquin Phoenix‘s character, Freddie Quell, taking a Navy psych evaluation during which he has to evaluate a series of inkblots. He sees pretty much the same thing in every one, which tells us a bit about Freddie’s worldview. Read More »

Confirmed details on Spike Jonze‘s upcoming romance have been pretty sparse, though we’ve known for a while that the cast, at least, would be stellar. Joaquin Phoenix plays the lead, while Samantha Morton, Amy Adams, Rooney Mara, and Olivia Wilde also star. Early word was that Phoenix would play a man who falls in love with a Siri-esque computer voice, but the official synopsis describes something a little bit different. In addition, the film has a new title — Her. Read on after the jump.

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After what feels like years of speculation and waiting, it is exciting that Paul Thomas Anderson‘s latest film, The Master, opens in only a few weeks. The film stars Joaquin Phoenix in a widely praised performance as an ex-Navy man who falls under the spell of the “master” of the title, played by Phillip Seymour Hoffman.

Here’s the last trailer for The Master before that imminent opening, and it features a good amount of new footage. If nothing else, this will give you a great idea of the visual splendor on display — and the film has been on the receiving end of great notes for its look, especially when seen in 70mm — and also of the force of the performances within. Read More »

Paul Thomas Anderson did another early screening of his new film The Master in 70mm last night at Chicago’s Music Box Theater, to follow on the Santa Monica showing that took place a couple weeks ago. Just about the only people who seem to be unhappy about that are officials at film festivals, as praise for various aspects of the film is pouring in via Twitter and a few reviews. (The Venice film gave The Master a slot in competition, but the showing will now hardly count as a world premiere.)

It would be wrong to suggest that the praise for Anderson’s latest film is uniform. The film follows a drifter (Joaquin Phoenix) as he comes into the orbit of the magnetic title character Lancaster Dodd (Philip Seymour Hoffman) and Dodd’s wife (Amy Adams), who have organzied a coterie of followers around Dodd’s philosophical approach to life. The film’s performers are universally acclaimed so far, as is the visual presentation, specifically as seen in 70mm. Some seem to be seeking a new film to lead the charge in the battle between film and digital, and have found it in The Master. But the movie is also called a bit aimless (which isn’t necessarily a point of complaint) and referred to as one that takes a lot of processing time.

See some of the reactions below. Read More »

We got our first teaser clip from Paul Thomas Anderson‘s The Master in May, followed by a second in June, and then the full-length trailer in July. In other words, we’ve been getting video about once a month all summer. Which means, yes, it’s time for one more now that we’ve hit mid-August.

If you’ve been following the marketing so far, you’ll have some idea of what to expect from the new clip. Jonny Greenwood‘s score once again pops up to set the uneasy tone, and stars Joaquin Phoenix, Philip Seymour Hoffman, and Amy Adams continue to convince us that they’ll be nominated for some little gold statues before this is all over.

But just because it’s not terribly surprising doesn’t mean it’s not breathtaking. Hit the jump to watch the video — which, by the way, promotes a 70mm screening scheduled for tonight in Chicago. Details on that after the jump, too.

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The best news this weekend was that Paul Thomas Anderson did a sneak screening of his new film The Master on Friday night after a showing of The Shining in Santa Monica, and that attendees were very impressed by the director’s work. Philip Seymour Hoffman plays the title character, a self-made religious/cult leader in the vein of Scientology’s L. Ron Hubbard; Amy Adams plays his wife, who has power behind the scenes; and Joaquin Phoenix is the alcoholic ex-Navy drifter who comes into their orbit.

The actors all received excessive praise for their work from those who saw the film this weekend, and we’re looking forward to hearing more about it at the Venice and Toronto festivals, before the film begins to hit US theaters on September 14.

Before any of that takes place, however, you can look forward to the film by decyphering the film’s new one-sheet. The image has the look of a mild kaleidoscope, or perhaps and insectoid eye. Check it out in full below. Read More »

Here’s why you should go out to the movies on a Friday evening: last night at the Aero, in Santa Monica, audiences who turned up to see The Shining were told that Kubrick’s movie would be followed by a surprise double-feature. That second film was Paul Thomas Anderson‘s The Master, and it was projected in 70mm.

What a cool move on Anderson’s part — not a test screening, but just a low-key surprise for people who were in the right place at the right time. (This is a bit like his choice to premiere There Will Be Blood at Fantastic Fest, when that festival was a lot smaller.) Opinions are starting to filter out about the movie, and while they’re largely from people we don’t know — so we don’t know their taste in film in general — there are some comments that you’ll probably want to read. Read More »

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