Paul Thomas Anderson may never be able to lure Avengers-sized crowds into theaters, but to a certain population of moviegoers, the man is the cinematic equivalent to King Midas. Films like Boogie Nights, Magnolia, Punch-Drunk Love and There Will Be Blood have lifted the writer/director into the highest echelon of today’s filmmakers, earning a devoted following and immense critical acclaim.
So imagine the anticipation surrounding his latest passion project, simply titled The Master. We’ve already seen the film’s trailer, and now the above clip – intended to promote a 70mm screening of the film at New York’s Ziegfeld Theatre – has just hit the Internet.
While the footage isn’t particularly forthcoming about the film’s complex plot, it does offer a hint of the distinct style Anderson has employed. The long tracking shot, the methodical pacing and the score-free immediacy of the scene are sure to be familiar to longtime Anderson fans.
In the film, Joaquin Phoenix stars as Freddie Quell, a Navy veteran who returns home from war, only to get mixed up with the charismatic leader (Philip Seymour Hoffman) of a mysterious religion known as The Cause. The group Quell joins may or may not be an allusion for Scientology – though Anderson has recently downplayed a connection - but in either case, the controversy over whether or not this was the director’s intention has only fueled excitement from those eager to judge the finished product.
Simply put, if the early buzz is any indication, The Master will be one of the biggest awards contenders of the season. Stars Phoenix and Amy Adams have already scored Academy Award nominations for their previous work, and Hoffman is looking more and more likely to claim his second statuette when all is said and done.
Combine that talent with Anderson’s skill behind the lens and a topic that will surely elicit a strong response from moviegoers and critics alike, and The Master is one of many highlights for the upcoming movie season.
The Master hits theaters on September 21st.