Friday, September 21, 2012
Mark your calendars; Oscar season has officially begun, and 'The Master' is the first no-brainer Academy Award nominee.
Philip Seymour Hoffman plays a Scientology-esque 'Master' (a la L. Ron Hubbard) and welcomes a troubled man, played by Joaquin Phoenix, into his commune to try and help him. Amy Adams co-stars as Hoffman's wife.
'The Master' was one of my most anticipated films of the year for several reasons. For one, writer/director Paul Thomas Anderson ('There Will be Blood', 'Punch Drunk Love', 'Magnolia', 'Boogie Nights', 'Hard Eight') is quite simply one of the greatest filmmakers of all time. He takes his time between films (five years since his last one and five since the one before that) and it really shows in the final product. They are true masterpieces. The writing is completely original, every detail of the storytelling is clearly deliberate, and each film is completely different from the last. Plus the casting is always perfect, with each lead giving the best and most memorable performances of their career. Daniel Day-Lewis delivered one of the best performances I've ever seen in 'There Will Be Blood', Tom Cruise is spellbinding in 'Magnolia', and my favorite actor, Philip Seymour Hoffman, is mesmerizing in 'The Master'. Of course, all of this gushing aside, I need to keep it real. Many people will find all of these films unbearably dull and depressing. They're quite long and slow paced, and after they're over you have this feeling like you've been hit by a truck. But that's because they're so powerful and challenging. Like last year's 'Tree of Life', 'Martha Marcy May Marlene', and 'Melancholia', I can't recommend Anderson's films to mainstream audiences. But, to me, they're honestly like a gift. I don't know how much of the last five years Anderson spent creating this film, but it wouldn't surprise me if it occupied the majority of his half-decade. And now we get to experience it for only around $10. It's a wonderful gift. Take advantage of it.