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The Master [Blu-ray]
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Paul Thomas Anderson writes and directs this Academy Award-nominated drama about a US Navy veteran suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder who seeks salvation in the company of a charismatic cult leader. Joaquin Phoenix stars as Freddie Quell, a troubled drifter who arrives home to post-WWII America shaken, disillusioned and fearful of the future. A raging alcoholic, Quell cannot begin to make sense of his deeply-rooted inner torment, let alone surmount it. When he meets Lancaster Dodd (Philip Seymour Hoffman), the 'master' of a cult called The Cause, an intense and ambiguous relationship develops between the two men. But do Dodd's teachings hold the power to turn Quell's life around?
Paul Thomas Anderson's closely observed character study represents a reverse image of its predecessor, There Will Be Blood, in which a prospector (Oscar winner Daniel Day-Lewis) and his protégé (Paul Dano) engaged in an epic battle of wills.
In this more tonally consistent effort, the acolyte takes center stage. Gaunt, tightly wound, and eerily reminiscent of Montgomery Clift, Joaquin Phoenix plays Freddie Quell, an ex-naval officer suffering from posttraumatic stress disorder. Since World War II, he's had difficulty holding down a job due to his hot temper and affinity for paint thinner-spiked potions, but the charismatic Lancaster Dodd (Philip Seymour Hoffman in a more subtle, but equally skillful turn) finds him irresistible as a project, a surrogate son--maybe even the shadow self that he normally keeps hidden (Dodd shares Quell's propensity for the occasional splenetic outburst).
Lancaster welcomes him to join the Cause, a movement that recalls Scientology by way of Freud, since he focuses on the elimination of past trauma through a pseudo-psychoanalytic exercise called processing. If he provides Quell with a surrogate family, much like Burt Reynolds in Boogie Nights, his loyal wife (Amy Adams) and cynical son (Jesse Plemons) seem more skeptical.
While participating in their rituals, Quell sails with the group from San Francisco to Pennsylvania, but it's hard to tell whether he really believes or whether he's just going through the motions. The lack of clear-cut conclusions will leave some viewers cold, but you've never seen a performance--simultaneously riveting and repellent--like Phoenix's before. -- Kathleen C. Fennessy
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Top Customer Reviews
For me, The Master is an incredible film - far, far better all round than the director's previous work, There Will Be Blood. The cinematography is stunning from the first shot to the last and the acting performances are nothing short of extraordinary.
Plus, though the story doesn't necessarily have all the answers, there is no question that you'll be thinking about the meaning long after the final credits. A film that makes you think and debate - got to be a good thing.
That said, I think the overall meaning of The Master is fairly clear - and it's summed up in the final scene.
One thing is for sure - how The Master didn't end up sweeping the Oscars is an injustice. The two leads are nothing short of amazing and Joaquin Phoenix delivers a mesmerising performance. Never mind this year, it is acting worthy of an Oscar in any year in recent memory.
And that quality is (very nearly) matched by every other lead.
Sure, for some, The Master won't be to their taste, which is fine, but I found it worked brilliantly both as a film in its own right and as a work of art.
After a succession of down at heel jobs and increasingly erratic behaviour, he stowaways on board the boat of charismatic cult leader, Philip Seymour-Hoffman playing Lancaster Dodd or `The Master'. He has some loyal followers who believe in his theories of time travel regress therapy. It is not long before Quell falls under the thrall of The Master, but as things develop so do the real basis for the relationship and all, as ever, is not what it seems.
To say any more would indeed be a plot spoiler. This is essentially a character study of two people and the main leads both take their character studies to the enth degree making even Mr Day-Lewis seem a bit tardy by comparison when he wears his false beard. The central performances are quite rightly at the heart of this and it is their performances that make this so engrossing. It is also brilliantly framed in nigh on every shot, with use of interesting camera angles.
Writer and director Paul Thomas-Anderson (`There Will Be Blood' and `Boogie Nights') has made a thought provoking and stylish study of the human spirit. This was Academy nominated, but got a no show. I was bemused by it at first as Quell was a bit unlikable and yet I wanted to see what happened to him. This is also a film about, essentially these two men and so is far from a rollicking adventure.Read more ›
Both are addicted to their own cause. Seymour-Hoffman's is up-front bravado whilst Pheonix is the secretive underground chemical stimulator. They blend very well.
If this film has the subtext of Scientology then Scientology is nothing more than words to follow around a charismatic leader. Hollow words. Firm leadership.
I was especially pleased that the free agent wins the day. Using the Cause and then dropping it as he sees right through it and its empty leader. Give a free agent a motorbike and he will just keep going.
Sex. Ignorance. Compliance.
I have only seen this film once but I hope to see it again soon because this film has allot of layers which deserved to be peeled open.
Music - emotive and compelling.
Cinematography - bright, brilliant and beautiful
Dialogue - thoughtful but realistic.
Acting - flawless.
Characters - interesting and flawed.
Sets and costumes - pitch perfect.
Mood - serious and somber.
Story - original and non-linear
Target audience - those interested in psychology (what post traumatic can do to you), cults and what great acting is.
I have a huge respect for the film but I enjoyed it less than I though I would, due to it being darker (some of the treatment of the characters made me feel uncomfortable which took me out of the movie slightly) and serious than my expectations. However; I look forward to seeing it again and see if I can peel back the layers to this genius film.
All in all; I think everyone should see this movie because it is unique, provocative, beautiful and can start a conversation which is always a good thing.
Content warning; there is full female nudity, sex and foul language but no blood.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
The item was as described, arrived on time and very promptly. Thank you.Published 5 months ago by Laurence Gallagher
Really enjoyed this film, great acting and a powerful story. You should check this one out.Published 5 months ago by Greggy
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