• Fri, Jan 25 - Sun, Feb 3

    THE MASTER

    Dir. Paul Thomas Anderson, USA, 2012, 144 min., R, 35mm
    Official Website

    Part of Oscar Picks, Jan 25 – Feb 23: a mix of this year's nominated films plus a batch of Best Pictures from years past.

    Academy Award® Nominations: Actor in a Leading Role (Joaquin Phoenix), Actor in a Supporting Role (Philip Seymour Hoffman), Actress in a Supporting Role (Amy Adams)

    In just five feature films, Paul Thomas Anderson has commanded a position at the very pinnacle of American cinema. His work is debated, studied and adored for its narrative innovation, its dynamism, and most of all for its sheer cinema. To watch the work of Paul Thomas Anderson is to watch movies at their most alive.

    For THE MASTER, he has chosen a provocative premise which he pursues with patience rather than sensationalism. In an arresting return to the big screen, Joaquin Phoenix plays a troubled soldier in post–World War II America. Stripped of every common civility, he rages through life like an animal, unable to keep a job, to attract a woman, to live in his own skin. By chance one night he jumps on board a docked ship and stows away as it sets sail. He soon discovers that the ship belongs to one Lancaster Dodd (Philip Seymour Hoffman), the charismatic founder of a new religion. With his wife (Amy Adams), Dodd probes the unconscious minds of his subjects, driving them to reveal hidden vulnerabilities. The cerebral Dodd and his feral stowaway appear to be complete opposites, but they strike up a surprising friendship. In scenes of sometimes shocking soul-baring, the two forge a primal bond—until the disciple begins to question his master.

    Like all of Anderson’s films to date, THE MASTER is a study of masculine power: the risks men take, the control they seek, the wars they wage with one another. The context of a 20th century man-made religion is a potent one, allowing Anderson to illuminate new aspects of his recurring themes. Hoffman, Phoenix and Adams give the film the depth only great actors can bring, and the spare score by Radiohead’s Jonny Greenwood (who also scored Anderson’s THERE WILL BE BLOOD) amplifies the film’s ability to unsettle. —Toronto International Film Festival