First Reactions from Secret Premiere Screening of Paul Thomas Anderson’s THE MASTER

     August 4, 2012


It’s been five long years since writer/director Paul Thomas Anderson’s last feature (2007’s There Will Be Blood) and the one-of-a-kind filmmaker finally returns this year with the drama The Master.  The film is reportedly influenced by L. Ron Hubbard’s creation of Scientology, as Philip Seymour Hoffman stars as World War II veteran Lancaster Dodd, a man who’s haunted by his experiences and decides to form his own religion.  Joaquin Phoenix plays a drifter who becomes Dodd’s right hand man, and the film’s trailers promise some explosive performances from the two actors.

Fans have understandably been eager to get a look at the film, and we got some great news recently as it was announced that the film’s release date had been moved up a full month to September 14th.  Though that’s not too far away, Anderson surprised some lucky bastards last night by premiering the full film in a secret screening in Santa Monica, directly after a screening of The Shining.  Hit the jump to check out some of the first reactions to The Master.  Spoiler alert: they’re extremely positive.

the-master-posterThe first public screening of the film was projected in 70mm, which is how the pic was shot.  Anderson and his wife Maya Rudolph were in attendance, and the film apparently runs about 2 hours and 10 minutes long.  Here’s a round-up of some Twitter reactions via Cigarettes & Red Vines and The Playlist:

@michaelwhittle  “Possibly the best film watching experience I’ve ever had. #THEMASTER70MM”

@TotallySketch (Michael Gallagher) ”Just saw ‘The Master’. A movie has never made me feel quite like this one did. I can’t describe it or even rate it. I am speechless.”

@aaldere1 (Andrew P Alderete, “The Social Network” producer Dana Brunetti‘s assistant) ”The Master was amazing. Oscars all over this one.”

@LoganDoe  ”@prfessorbigsock Hoffman is one of the finest actors alive. The Master is (more) proof. #themaster”

@pillowfightin ”@cigsandredvines Saw The Master in 70mm at the Aero Santa Monica. Surprise screening after The Shining. Its like nothing yvever seen before.”

@jessecrall The Master: B+ hazy, meandering story with beautiful staging and headed by Phoenix’s brilliant, year’s-best performance. @kristapley”

@Super_Matts ”THE MASTER is…interesting…I’ll be thinking about it for days #THEMASTER70MM J Phoenix and P S Hoffman are out of this world”

@DubstepElitist ”duuuuuude, the master was goooooooooood”

the-master-philip-seymour-hoffmanA more extensive reaction comes from one Victor Escobar:

“Don’t want to say more than a few words about it but it is an all around excellent film. I’ve yet to see one bad PSH performance but this one may be his best. 2hrs 10 min. Will get nods for Picture. Good chance of winning original screenplay and acting awards. If it were me, I’d put them both in the Best Actor category but if one them is getting the supporting nod, its Hoffman. It will have its fair share of detractors and its not a “safe” choice. If you guys can, see The Master in 70 mm. Looked gorgeous and its the way P.T Anderson wants you to see it. “

joaquin-phoenix-the-masterYet another more thorough reaction was given to Jeff Wells over at Hollywood Elsewhere:

“I’m still digesting everything I saw, but it was pretty amazing. It was like a strange fever dream. [But] not audience friendly AT ALL. An ambiguous ending and not one likable character. And without any ‘milkshake’ lines, it probably won’t have the breakthrough that There Will Be Blood had… There are three or four scenes between Phoenix and Hoffman that are barn burners. It also containts the best work Amy Adams has ever done… Phoenix WILL win Best Actor unless Daniel Day Lewis blows us away with [his] Lincoln performance. This is Raging Bull territory for him. Believe it or not, his performance is stranger than that fake doc he made. The only way I can describe him is ‘animalistic.’ (I think the Master title refers to more of a dog and his master. At least that was the vibe I got).. The style feels like Terrence Malick by way of There Will Be Blood.”

So yeah, the gist seems to be that the movie is great, if not exactly commercial.  This was to be expected given Anderson’s past work, but I’m definitely intrigued by the Terrence Malick comparisons.  Obviously The Master will likely net more than a few Oscar noms, but I’m just thrilled to see that the first reactions are positive.

Before hitting theaters, the pic will play in competition at the Venice Film Festival (which runs from August 31 – September 3rd) and has also been rumored to be playing at the Toronto International Film Festival (running September 6th – 16th).  As such, we’ll likely be getting more reactions in the coming weeks.  For now, rest easy knowing we’ll all finally be seeing The Master on the big screen in a little over a month, and it probably doesn’t suck.

  • junierizzle

    Great, I hate ambiguous endings. *dies*

  • Brett

    PTA seems to be less interested in the flights of fancy of his earlier work. I know he refers to himself foremost as a ‘writer’ now, the way QT, in contrast, refers to himself enthusiastically as a ‘director….. if I were a writer, I’d be a novelist.’ And that’s exactly what, I think, PTA is trying to achieve with these last two: to write these Great American Novels of the 20th Century that never were. Even more so with THE MASTER.

    Thematically, it fits with the rest: outsiders sympathetically creating a space for themselves on the fringes. Outcasts creating fake families. Scientology, in this respect, is no different than a porn set or an oil field. And it’s complicated, very much not the embarrassing curtain-reveal you might expect. (Hilariously, and I think intentionally, much of Dodd’s ‘Processing’ could be torn from the pages MEISNER ON ACTING.) It’s more about these people who didn’t fit the post-war narrative.

    PTA gives this one almost whole cloth to Phoenix as Freddie Quayle, a jaw-dropping physical presence with an animalistic unpredictability onscreen very close to Daniel Plainview. Acts circles around PSH. So, bold and risk-taking, for sure, but more in ideas than, say, mise en scene. I will say the 65mm is jaw-dropping. One of the coolest nights I’ve ever experienced in a theater, the way Grant of the Aero came out and announced this thing as people were standing up after their digitally projected screening of THE SHINING. You’d think Christ himself was making an appearance. And perhaps he did!

    • amac

      Good comments. I think PTA was at a crucial point in his career after PDL. He did say he wrote specific parts for actors in his earlier works, but TWBB was more about just writing the character. I do think that you will find thematic similarities in his work, but that’s just what happens when you make your own material.

      PTA is still making films. As much as Tarantino is a ‘director,’ I don’t think QT has the writing ability that PTA does, nor the filmmaking ability. PTA really took off with TWBB, making something far better than everyone else was making at the time. He’s doing things at a whole never level now. I haven’t seen The Master yet, but I think PTA is really tuning his skills now. That’s what it appears like with the trailers, and early press.

      • Iadge

        What twaddle. Pulp Fiction is far and away better written than anything PTA will likely ever create, and something like Kill Bill Vol. 1 is as stylistically daring as any PTA film to date. Liberally apply a veneer of ponderousness and spurious thematic gravitas to an underdeveloped narrative concept and your end result is a There Will Be Blood (which even so, has many undeniable merits). PTA can be amazingly vibrant and exuberant (Boogie Nights) and surprisingly original (Punch-Drunk Love), but he has neither the highs nor the consistency of Quentin Tarantino, a clearly superior writer and director.

      • Andy Robinson

        Iadge, you don’t know nothin.

      • amac

        Iadge first of all, I think you mixed up consistency with unoriginality. Love Tarantino, but only for one reason, he makes the same material time and time again. Tarantino can write scenes and set up crazy climaxes, but he can never write a character, nor direct a performance like Daniel Plainview or Barry from PDL or apparently like Hoffman and Pheonix in The Master.

        They’re two different directors, people need to stop comparing the two’s work.

      • Iadge

        Sorry, but Shoshanna, Jules, Vincent, and Jackie Brown are as well-written and interesting as any characters PTA has conceived. One can fairly argue that Tarantino hasn’t yet made a film that is as purely an attempt at a character study as TWBB, not that his ability to write characters loses anything to PTA’s. And by consistency, I mean just that – Tarantino doesn’t make films as sprawling, frustratingly incoherent, and messy as a Magnolia. He intuitively understands dramatic structure, how to craft a narrative, how to shape a film in the editing room, how to present a forcibly engaging and absorbing experience with minimal bloat, dead spots, and unfocused segments moreso than PTA, who seemingly cannot marshal this critical sense for even two films in a row. I largely blame his erratic screenwriting, as his directorial talents are extraordinary.

      • Andy Robinson

        Iadge, you wouldn’t know good writing if it came up and bit you on the butt. It’s cos you a big dummy.

      • Jim

        It’s almost as if “good” was a relative term and a matter of opinion. Almost.

  • Bryan

    Is 70mm in IMAX where would you go to see it 70mm? Can you release locations that run 70 mm film all over the country? That would be awesome, I’m stoked about seeing this movie!!

    • MGS

      This is “standard” 70mm-Projection where each frame is 5 perforations (sprocket holes) high and the film runs vertically through the projector. IMAX is also 70mm-film but runs horizontally through the projector and each frame is 15 perfs wide – so IMAX has 3x the resolution and has an aspect ratio of 1.44:1 whereas standard 70mm is 2.20:1 widescreen.
      Since the early 90s most cinemas got rid of 70mm-projectors, because studios stopped creating 70mm-prints because of cost, which is a shame.

    • MGS

      BTW This is the first feature-length movie to be shot entirely in 65mm (camera negative is 65mm – release prints add 2,5mm on each side to hold the soundtrack) since Kenneth Brannagh’s “Hamlet” (1996).

      The format was developed in the late 50s and variants of it were used on classic films like “Lawrence of Arabia”, “Ben Hur”, “Sound of Music”, “West Side Story” and “2001: A Space Odyssey” among others.

      Parts of Terrence Malick’s “The New World” (2005) as well as Christopher Nolan’s “Inception” (2010) used it for select sequences (wide shots and aerial shots, etc.).

  • Anthony

    wow, way to copy an entire article from The Playlist and not give a single bit of credit to them. My final view on collider has just come.

    • Adam Chitwood

      We credit both The Playlist and Cigarettes and Red Vines directly in the article.

    • Mikey

      Way to sound like a dipshit, Anthony. Somewhere, your mom is developing breast cancer because you’re such a disappointment.

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  • Ari

    Great. Yet another movie I’m DYING to see.

  • shooter

    Joaquin Phoenix is back.

  • aaron

    Okay, but now the most important question:

    Does seeing the film make the poster make sense?

  • David Rosen

    Lucky bastards :-)

  • Strong Enough

    @DubstepElitist “duuuuuude, the master was goooooooooood”

    ^ that pretty much sums it up lmao

  • atspodcast

    Absolutely can not wait to see this film

  • thesaurusrs

    Yay! September!!!

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  • sherry

    All you “critics” can just bite me! This movie totally sucks. It committed the #1 sin to m, it was BORING. Joaquin needs to get the award for the most OVER-acted performance on film Where the hell was the plot or anything else that made me care about any of them…I want my $ back!