Filmmaker Paul Thomas Anderson‘s controversial, unsettling yet enthralling religious cult study drama THE MASTER opened last weekend in New York and Los Angeles and promptly set house records.
The film expands its runs this weekend to include theaters in greater Kansas City.
But unlike previous P.T. Anderson films such as BOOGIE NIGHTS, PUNCH DRUNK LOVE and THERE WILL BE BLOOD, his latest effort is much more of a so-called art film.
In other words it doesn’t play so much to the masses.
Having said that, it has Oscar bait written all over it!
Here self-styled cultish leader Philip Seymour Hoffman meets his match in erratic psycho-sexual looney toon Joaquin Phoenix, a navy vet who is drawn to a post World War II sect calling itself ‘The Cause.’ A sect known for its practice of processing and intense personal so-called recording sessions of its followers.
Their motto: “Never Defend—Always Attack!”
The question being, is THE MASTER a veiled attempt at portraying L. Ron Hubbard and Scientology?
Some would suggest that the film could be perceived as mirroring certain aspects of said controversial practices.
Frankly, I don’t know enough about the subject to draw any conclusions, so YOU be the judge.
It’s disturbing, enthralling, compelling, monstrous and outlandish. It’s also a sure-bet for a Best Actor nomination in the upcoming Oscar races.
That’s not to say that Philip Seymour Hoffman delivers anything less in his role as the inspirational master of the flock. He’s smooth. He’s slick. He is the perfect charlatan and a deserving candidate for an Oscar nomination as well.
When Phoenix and Hoffman confront and emotionally battle each other, cinematic sparks fly like we haven’t seen in ages.
As for the master’s wife, she’s played in an unusually restrained fashion by Amy Adams. I don’t believe we’ve ever quite seen that side of her abilities before.
A story of disconnect and strange optimism.
THE MASTER opening in limited K.C. engagements to 4 out of 5 disturbing fingers.