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The Master

The Master (2012)
The Master poster Rating: 7.1/10 (100,728 votes)
Director: Paul Thomas Anderson
Writer: Paul Thomas Anderson
Stars: Joaquin Phoenix, Price Carson, Mike Howard, Sarah Shoshana David
Runtime: 144 min
Rated: R
Genre: Drama
Released: 21 Sep 2012
Plot: A Naval veteran arrives home from war unsettled and uncertain of his future - until he is tantalized by The Cause and its charismatic leader.
P.T. Anderson has been making masterworks consistently since his effective, mordant debut, Hard Eight, but amongst his career, not even Boogie Nights orInherent Vice, films that hemorrhage ideas, can quite stand up to the majesty of The Master. A take-off of sorts on the life of Scientology founder L. Ron Hubbard, the film works less as a biopic than a study of the dichotomy of masculine nature. The late, great Philip Seymour Hoffman’s Lancaster Dodd comes to represent man’s desire to be more than an animal and Joaquin Phoenix’s Freddie Quell representing man as an unrepentant, pleasure-seeking beast, and Anderson plays their relationship as spiritual duel, fraught friendship, and kind of quixotic romance. More importantly, the director works with the great Romanian DP Mihai Malaimare Jr. to make their altercations and exchanges at once epic and intimate in scope, with detailed, consuming close-ups, hypnotic long takes, and some absolutely thrilling tracking shots and push-ins. If the film were only technically impressive, however, the film wouldn’t be the classic that it is. It’s in Dodd’s tremendous speeches, given fire-breathing life by Hoffman, and Phoenix’s truly astounding physical performance that the film comes to full, earth-shaking life, and Anderson’s own mastery becomes undeniable in just such moments. — Chris Cabin

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