There was an early screening of 'The Master' yesterday in Chicago, with reports that tickets were going on sale, being scalped, and almost sold for a $100 in the mad rush to see the movie. Indeed, a few lucky people (which included members of the press and film industry) were able to see 'The Master' before everyone else in the US, and it looks like we have an Academy award nomination shoo-in.
Of course, expectations were always going to be high, with Paul Thomas Anderson being one of the best working directors alive today, and his previous movie 'There Will Be Blood' considered by many to be one of the best movies of the past decade. To that, add a phenomenal cast consisting of Philip Seymour Hoffman, Amy Adams, and Joaquin Phoenix, and you have a movie that is primed to be a classic. And what are reviews saying? A classic, it is. The general consensus seems to be that all the acting is phenomenal, with standouts by Phoenix and Hoffman (no surprises there!), the superior technical aspects (especially in 70 mm format, the format that PT Anderson intends for everyone to see it in), and that the movie stays with you long after you've seen it.
The Playlist writer Charlie Schmidlin said, “If there was any doubt Anderson had about shooting in 70mm, the opening shot of crystal-clear, vibrant blue sea should dismiss those thoughts entirely,” Schmidlin writes. “There is an immediate and immersive quality to the image here, and combined with the film’s sustained atmosphere of dread, it is altogether an experience at which to marvel.”
Patrick McGavin at Movieline wrote, “Visually, the movie is a marvel of precise and lyrical imagery. One sustained single-take tracking shot follows a young woman as she models a fur jacket. In another vivid, sexually hallucinatory moment, Freddie imagines all the women surrounding Lancaster during a musical number naked,” he writes. “In the first of several tense encounters between the two men that functions as Lancaster’s inquisition of the tremulous Freddie, Anderson unflinchingly keeps the camera tight on their faces. The scene plays out in one long, unbroken take, and the effect is hypnotic.”
Thompson on Hollywood writer Beth Hanna wrote, “Hoffman goes big with this role. His Master is intensely focused, almost cartoonishly charismatic and seductive. But as he brings Freddie into the fold of his teachings, which include pre-birth recordings, past lives and strict emotional self-control, Master proves to be a simmering powder-keg,” she writes. “When he snaps, it jolts you out of your seat. (This nicely matches Johnny Greenwood’s percussive, anxiety-inducing score.) Freddie and Master have a symbiotic relationship, where Freddie can feel anchored by Master’s stranglehold, and Master can ward off his paranoia (outside groups are increasingly criticizing his methods) by focusing his efforts on such an inscrutable weakling.”
“The Master” hits theaters in limited release on September 14.