If the only films you pay any interest to are of the superhero variety (the 21st century version of living under a rock) then you may have missed the flurry of news concerning The Master, and people going apeshit over the previews on Facebook and Twitter. Okay, so that was mainly just me. I’ve been championing this film ever since I saw it in pre-production status on IMDb last year, immediately calling it the best film of 2012 and with good reason. Ten of them, in fact.
1. Paul Thomas Anderson is directing it. You know, the guy responsible for Magnolia, Punch Drunk Love, There Will Be Blood, Boogie Nights ...?
2. Paul Thomas Anderson wrote it. You know, the guy who wrote Magnolia, Punch Drunk Love ... you get the idea.
3. It’s about the beginnings of the Church of Scientology. Or loosely based on L. Ron Hubbard’s little upstart in the 1950s when he was just a fiction writer.
4. Phillip Seymour Hoffman plays Lancaster Dodd, the fictional leader looking for an assistant. Hoffman has never been less than stellar under Anderson’s direction so it’s a safe bet he’ll blow us all away once again.
5. Joaquin Phoenix is Freddie Sutton, the assistant in question. Ignore I’m Still Here – the guy can act his ass off. Just watch Walk The Line if you can’t remember.
6. Amy Adams is Mary Sue Dodd. It’s unclear just what kind of relationship she’ll have with Lancaster (good, bad) but she’s a great actress and we’ve known that ever since The Fighter; or Doubt.
7. There Will Be Blood heralded a new dawn in filmmaking. It’s arguably the best film of the previous decade and one of the best of all time. I challenge anyone out there to not be similarly wowed by it. And ...
8. Anderson made a good actor out of Adam Sandler. He’s currently on a path of self-destruction but before that, he impressed with a great dramatic turn in Punch Drunk Love. Who’d a thunk it?
9. He’s not afraid to create flawed characters. That in itself isn’t a big deal if you’re a good writer but to create real depth to these people is another thing altogether.
10. He knows how to use a camera. Think of the constantly moving camera moments that permeate all of the aforementioned films. The long takes. The Haneke-like scenes where all you want to do is study every tiny detail in long conversations, making for rewarding repeated viewings.
This is no slight to the other massive film coming out next month, the one that rhymes with 'Fatman'. Nolan’s a very accomplished filmmaker; no one can doubt that, but Anderson’s name in the lights promises something else entirely.
The official synopsis:
A charismatic intellectual (Hoffman’s Dodd) starts a faith-based organisation following WWII. A drifter (Phoenix’s Sutton) becomes his right-hand man but as the movement gains momentum, he begins to question his loyalty and the very man he follows.
On May 15, Anderson submitted a spool of 65mm film to Cigarettes and Red Vines, a blog concerning all things PTA. It was the first image made public of the film and the internet went nuts for it.
May 21 – the world is finally prized with the first official trailer ...
... and it redeems everything we’ve assumed it will be. And, if you’re of a certain stature, you would have been invited to a private session at Cannes that week to see four minutes of footage. Say it with me – jerks!
June 19 – a second trailer is bequeathed upon us.
Yes, I went insane after watching it too.
TheMasterFilm.com exists and so far has only these two trailers above (surely an exercise in minimalist extreme). It’s too early to tell how more much we’ll see leading up to its October premiere but hopefully he nor the producers will let the cat out of the bag too early, unlike most trailers these days that give you the entire film in two minutes. Oh hey there Not Suitable For Children, come take a seat ...
There’s a rumour going around that Tom Cruise is against this film due to negative assumptions regarding his most passionate subject of choice but at this point it is strictly rumours. The folks at Popcorn Taxi are suggesting this is under the umbrella of Marketing Stunt (given Cruise and Anderson are friends) but this film seems to transcend such nonsense.
Johnny Greenwood of Radiohead is back to do the score and if it’s anything like his work on There Will Be Blood then we’re all in for a treat.
Film of the Year. Doesn’t seem so unlikely now, does it?
The Master will be released worldwide on October 12.
Nicholas Brodie - follow Nick on Twitter here: @fodusempire