Videodrone New Release: 'The Master' and the acolyte
Joaquin Phoenix and Philip Seymour Hoffman star in one of the most challenging dramas of 2012
"The Master" (Anchor Bay) is "Quite possibly the movie of the year, or the decade," proclaims MSN film critic Glenn Kenny.
Written and directed by Paul Thomas Anderson and starring Joaquin Phoenix as a World War II veteran unable to assimilate in post-war society and Philip Seymour Hoffman as a self-possessed guru who develops a personal interest and an inexplicable (yet absolutely human) affection for this damaged man, "The Master" is as singular and challenging a human drama as you'll find from 2012.
In this age of digital filmmaking, Anderson shot the film on 70mm, once the high-definition film stock of Hollywood epics, and then uses this epic format for more intimate purposes, shooting a film of interpersonal relationships in close quarters, with the camera taking stock of faces and body language to register the most subtle details between the explosions of self-destruction.
Kenny explains what about the film impresses him so: "It's a period piece that recreates the late '40s and early '50s in almost microscopic detail while almost never offering a panoramic, ostensibly contextualizing perspective on those times.
"It's a visually bold movie, shot with a camera that exposes a film frame nearly twice as big as 35mm and captures an attendant increase of detail, but also a movie that values the intimate close-up far more than the conventionally impressive wide shot. It's a movie inspired in part by a real "master" and the religion he founded. Yes, Lancaster Dodd bears many similarities to Church of Scientology founder L. Ron Hubbard, and a number of incidents in the movie bear a direct relation to the creation of that ostensible church and the concoction of its urtext, "Dianetics." But it's also less about that specific set of beliefs than about how humans rely on belief systems in general to try and lift themselves out of an elemental rage, and to assert, yes, that man is not an animal."
The film earned Academy Award nominations for star Phoenix, Hoffman, and Amy Adams, who plays Hoffman's cunning wife, and it placed third in MSN's Top Ten Films of 2012 list.