« on: November 19, 2012, 02:02:12 pm »
I went to see Paul Thomas Anderson's latest film "The Master" at the weekend. Ostensibly a thinly-veiled portrait of L. Ron Hubbard and Scientology, it's all about power, coercion, dominance... It's a tough watch, challenging, asks a lot of questions without providing all the answers, chooses not to wrap everything up in neat packages, and uses all the expressive capabilities of cinema to produce something remarkable. Amazing photography, editing, script, design, and, above all, some really rather astonishing acting. Philip Seymour Hoffmann can do no wrong in my eyes, but he's as good in this as he's ever been, balancing one of the most complex performances I've seen on screen in a long time - he's a towering combination of avuncular nicety, megalomaniac control freak, charismatic figurehead, and so many other things. And Joaquin Phoenix's method-performance makes some of Robert de Niro's 1970s work look rather ordinary (he's actually rather uncomfortable to watch, in an extraordinary way). The scene in which Hoffmann first "assesses" Phoenix is just phenomenal.
Should also mention Amy Adams - a nicely detailed performance, subtly suggesting that she might be the real driving force behind The Master and "the Cause".
Heartily recommended (though if you saw Anderson's previous film "There Will Be Blood" and didn't like it, I can't imagine you'd find anything to like in this one either).
I think Anderson might be the best director working today - I haven't seen his first film "Hard 8" (as it's called in the UK, can't recall its US title), but what a run of consecutive films he's had since then; "Boogie Nights", "Magnolia", "Punch Drunk Love", "There Will Be Blood" and now "The Master"... If he never makes another film, that's still a GREAT body of work, but he's still pretty young, so what riches might he yet come out with?