Every film made by Paul Thomas Anderson to date (Boogie Nights, Magnolia, Punch-Drunk Love and There Will Be Blood) has felt like a labor of love. That's literally the case with his latest project, The Master.
Anderson's Master was put on indefinite hold back in early fall 2010, reportedly due to both artistic concerns on the filmmaker's part and, of course, financing issues. Some 4-5 months later, Anderson secured the funding necessary for the project to move forward. Production eventually got underway another 4-5 months after that - and moviegoers will get to see the results during the 2012 Awards season, when The Master at last makes it way to theaters.
A teaser trailer for The Master has been released online. However, it does not focus on the film's namesake: a charismatic intellectual (Oscar-winner Philip Seymour Hoffman) whose faith-based organization earns a devoted cult following during the early 1950s, in response to the horrors of WW II. That's probably no accident either, as the similarities between that character and Scientology found L. Ron Hubbard are bound to stir up controversy (among certain Hollywood types).
Instead, this promo focuses solely on Freddie Sutton (Joaquin Phoenix), a drifter - and, judging by early footage, a psychologically-scarred WW II vet, whose certifiable behavior appears to have landed him in hot water yet again (or so it is implied).
Even when you watch this early Master footage on a small computer screen, it's immediately apparent that Anderson's decision to shoot the picture in old-fashioned 65 mm was a wise one. Similarly, the excerpt from Jonny Greenwood's score for the film is enough to produce a feeling and sense of dread - even as you watch Phoenix's character perform mundane tasks, like lounging about on the beach. You can anticipate a troubling viewing experience on par with There Will Be Blood, for that reason.
As for Phoenix: the Oscar-nominee has been out of commission, ever since his Borat-style fake documentary I'm Still Here failed to draw in the masses. He looks to be back in top form in The Master, portraying a man whose internal turmoil threatens to boil over at any moment. Freddie Sutton may not be so powerful a force of nature as Daniel Plainview (Daniel Day-Lewis) from There Will Be Blood - but he could end up being just as fascinating a case study.
The Master begins a limited theatrical release in the U.S. on October 12th, 2012.