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 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”
A 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. “
Yet 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.