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Sunday, September 16, 2012

The Master (2012)

After WWII, a self destructive ex-Navy man (Joaquin Phoenix) with anti-social and psychotic tendencies drifts aimlessly until he comes under the wing of a charismatic leader (Philip Seymour Hoffman) establishing a new philosophy/religion that is slowly gaining followers. But will he be able to suppress his animal behavior and submit to the will of the patriarchal guru? Is there a more audacious young director working today than Paul Thomas Anderson? THE MASTER defies expectations. If you're expecting an expose on Scientology or cults, you'll be disappointed. The film focuses on the intense bond between the two men, one trying to bend his will to the other while the other seems willing but unable to grasp the basic human tenets of living in a civilized society. Phoenix gives a career best performance here and if he slightly overshadows Hoffman, it's probably because it's a flashier role. But as much as I liked it (a lot), I wish I liked it more. Anderson distances us to the point that we feel left out, that the bond between Phoenix's and Hoffman's characters is so intense that it leaves everybody else out including the audience. The excellent dissonant score is by Jonny Greenwood. With Amy Adams, Laura Dern, Kevin J. O'Connor, Rami Malek and Patty McCormack (THE BAD SEED).

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