The trailer for The Master - the latest film from Boogie Nights and There Will Be Blood writer/director Paul Thomas Anderson - remains one of my favorite theatrical previews of 2012. The stripped-down preview featured star Joaquin Phoenix as WWII vet Freddie Sutton, a man who is teetering on the razor's edge of sanity. We got a brief montage of Sutton's life - a cycle of violence, intoxication and chaos, which presumably represents the figurative scar of warfare.
Apparently that initial teaser was but one in a forthcoming series, as the second teaser above is cut in the same style, with the same hauntingly disjointed musical score, while offering a new piece to the puzzle: the introduction of the enigmatic and charismatic "Master," played by Philip Seymour Hoffman.
For those who don't know: The Master has already courted some controversy, as it is, in fact, a fictional tale meant to mirror the real-life rise of the Scientology religion in 1950s America. Hoffman's character, Lancaster Dodd, serves as a fictional representation of L. Ron Hubbard, the sci-fi writer/philosopher who became the founder of Scientology.
Naturally, members of the Scientology organization have been less than pleased with Anderson's attempted take on their brand of faith; the film has had a hard time finding backing and funding. It was ultimately billionairess (and budding Hollywood power-player) Megan Ellison who saved the film from limbo (after having success with True Grit, another film she championed) and we will now see The Master hit theaters this fall.
While this second trailer introduces Hoffman's character - and audibly conveys how his views and mantras literally start to clog Freddie's fragile mind - we still only have broad strokes about what Amy Adams' character, Mary Sue Dodd, is all about. She's Lancaster's wife, yes, but her loyalties and motivations remain somewhat uncertain - as does her arc with Phoenix's character. Will a love triangle unravel this little cult that the Dodds are building? In a P.T. Anderson film, I wouldn't bet on it being quite that simple...
So far, The Master is doing an excellent job piquing the curiosities of film fans - and a slow rollout of more creative teasers like this one will probably build more buzz and anticipation than a lot of big, flashy, overly-revealing trailers ever manage to do.
The Master will begin a limited theatrical release in the U.S. on October 12, 2012.