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Showing 1-10 of 537 reviews(Verified Purchases). See all 812 reviews
on November 26, 2014
The film has an allegorical structure, very much functioning as a dream functions in which each detail, for example from the cast of the sky to a relative, friend, insect, a path, road, vehicle etc. every little detail of the dream's landscape as one of the true aspects of the dreamer. Dreams are more perfect in structure than any film can be architecturally except for the possibility that the film is itself one aspect of the film maker's life eternal dream. From this perspective, every major and supporting character are each different but truthful reflections of a single personality and, in general, of the internal struggle common to human nature. that is, to each of us. The film in fact could be seen as a challenge to belief in the existence of a Master, or, to be blunt, of God. Rather, every aspect of the human personality is each in its own way struggling for perfection, or to be the Master, in its own way, all the aspects failing to find a way to a balanced cohesioon that leads to perfection.
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on March 15, 2017
Great acting, plot, sound track and twist at the end. Joaquin Phoenix, Phillip Seymour Hoffman and Amy Adams were all excellent.

I've watched this movie three times already and catch things each time I never noticed before. I wish this movie was marketed to a wider audience when it first came out as I never even knew it existed until recently. Hollywood should produce more movies like this one.
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on March 7, 2014
PTA knows there's no disputing his greatness as a filmmaker after There Will Be Blood and is no longer content to be contained by straightforward movie narratives.

As a result The Master can be disjointed at times, and often plays more like a jumble of casually related scenes than an actual narrative. Yet if you pay attention, even the meandering narrative has a thematic function. Most of the disjointedness between scenes takes place whenever Freddy is in control of his own life, drifting from place to place seemingly at random and with no common thread other than Freddy himself. This is contrasted with how purposefully scenes build upon each other whenever Phillip Seymour Hoffman's character cohabits the screen with Freddy, creating a clear thematic parallel to Freddy's scattered inner life and the Master's plan to gradually build him towards something.

Where the movie goes with that arc may not climax anything like Paul Thomas Anderson's previous films, but that's also part of the point PTA is trying to make - that real life doesn't always unfold in the tidy way we expect our Hollywood stories to.* (That said, I'm a hypocrite because if the ending was anywhere near as wildly climactic and entertaining as There Will Be Blood's this would probably have replaced that film as my favorite of all time.)

A name to watch - Mihai Malaimare Jr, standing in as cinematographer for Anderson's usual collaborator, Robert Elswit, and somehow outdoing the Oscar winner. It's a shame that so much of the movie is relegated to an ordinary house, because every image shot outside of the confines of that damn window and wall is pure gold, from Freddy lounging on a ship's mast while sailors fling food at him to Freddy sprinting headlong into a field of crops with an angry, drunken mob at his heels.

In particular I love how one of my favorite shots - a breezy, elegant glide through a mall as a sales model shows off her wares - is comically juxtaposed with Freddy's decidedly inelegant way of cutting short his date with that same sales model later that evening. That scene captures The Master's appeal in a nutshell - beautiful, bizarre, and driven by one hell of a character.
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on September 10, 2017
Such an excellent film. Maybe my enjoyment comes from the fact that I was once a member of a fundamentalist cult, and all of this RINGS TRUE, but either way, it's absolutely fantastic. This is the way that cult leaders (and followers!) behave. Some of my favorite moments:

-How you constantly question whether PSH believes it himself or not... but that it becomes subtly clear he knows he's bullsh*tting everyone.
-The fact that Amy Adams fully believes it and her "righteous indignation" ... classic.
-The one scene where the man argues with PSH and calls the organization a cult -- it's one of the only places where you get to see outsiders' viewpoint
-The scene where Laura Dern asks "if our previous method was to induce memory by asking 'can you recall,' doesn't it then change everything if now we say 'can you imagine'?" and he blows her off (classic cult leadership -- changing things that they previously insisted were essential or eternal)
-When you think JP's character has maybe healed or gotten better because of the cult, but then he pummels the reporter and you realize he hasn't changed at all. AKA the religion did nothing for him.
-How JP actually heals on his own, and the cult is still functioning and poisoning the minds of more and more people (really making THEM mentally ill, in a way), and you realize that JP is better off and more intelligent and healthy than any of them. And when Amy tells him "you look sick. You don't look well." With that self-righteous face that cult members use when they need to believe they're right...
-When JP steals PSH's motorcycle and just goes away away away... (and then resolves in "real life" what he'd been doing in his hypnotic visions)

So many good things! It feels all too familiar!

I can see how some people would find it a little bit boring or confusing, but I didn't at all. I was fascinated (and I like the slow-moving type of movie as well).
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It's a brilliant film, and of course, despite the usual disclaimer in the ending credits, it is about a particular movement. The film is clearly a fictionalized takeoff of Scientology and its founder, L. Ron Hubbard. Joaquin Phoenix and Philip Seymour Hoffman are superb in their leading roles. I still see Joaquin Phoenix as Johnny Cash in the 2005 film Walk the Line, and he was just as good in The Master playing Freddie Quell, a World War II Navy veteran suffering from alcoholism and probably PTSD. He becomes an early follower of Lancaster Dodd (played brilliantly by the late Philip Seymour Hoffman), the founder of a movement named "The Cause." In his loyalty to Dodd, Quell becomes the attack dog for The Cause, punishing those who publicly question Dodd and his ideas. At one point, as Dodd's ideas become increasingly bizarre, one of his sons tells Quell that "He's just making this sh*t up as he goes." And when Dodd's wife talks about doing something for a billion years, well, the comparison to Scientology's Sea Org contracts is unavoidable.

It's a bizarre film like nothing I've ever seen before. But it's one of the most compelling movies I've seen in years. One caveat: The MPAA "R" rating is for real. There are plenty of F-bombs, frontal nudity, and explicit sex, so if you're watching the film at home on Amazon Video or a DVD player, I recommend putting the kiddies to bed first.
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on November 14, 2014
This is a movie that gets better with each viewing. Obviously it is a masters class in acting in which the three main characters are virtuosic. But it is more than that. The Master is a sensory delight from the score to the sets, the landscapes to the vacillating focus of the camera. I won't deny that it drags a bit. Some of the cultish, self-help rituals in the second half seem at least unnecessarily long, if not just unnecessary. And the subplot with Doris is just undeveloped enough to make it seem out of place.

However, as a meditation on the complexities of vice, community, and power it is unparalleled. As vagrant and megalomaniac, Freddy and the Master are an unlikely couple. Of course masters and servants like to find each other, but there is more going on here. For all the abstract and otherwordly ideals (not too mention an orgy of platitudes that are at once banal and outlandish) of the Cause, Lancaster Dodd remains remarkably human. Unlike his wife. Freddy brings this out in the master. It is not simply his love of strong drink, but a verve for dancing, laughter, merriment, and small sensual pleasures. Freddy is the anti-Hero. He is that improperly socialized person who cannot adequately suppress their desires. Perhaps his own instinct is Freddy's real master, but in the end Lancaster Dodd seems to concede victory to Freddy's emancipated vices and pursuit of the "landless latitude." It is the conflict between the loftiness of the cause and the baseness of the imbecile Freddy who can't get it right that makes this movie.

Each time I watch this movie I pick up on new themes and motifs that are weaved throughout it. Perhaps P. T. Anderson could have done a better job holding his audience's hand, but in this case he really wants you to work for it. The beautiful wake of the ship that begins this movie is the central recurring metaphor. It stands for the transience and purity of Freddy pursuing his landless latitude where he can serve no master.

Plus there are just so many great quotes in this move: "pig f#ck"
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on September 22, 2012
Perhaps our most fascinating American director continues his evolution in a fascinating and frustrating film that I view with a mix of feelings.
It could well be argued that this is a step backwards from "There Will Be Blood", and certainly, after 2 viewings, this lacks, for me the cohesive
power of the best of Anderson's earlier work.

Some will just hate it. The pace is slow, the message often oblique, there's no catharsis, no easy answers. Just two riveting characters being
given riveting performances by two of our best actors, bouncing off each other, slowly giving us fragmentary glimpses into their souls.
Philip Seymour Hoffman plays the Master, a charismatic charlatan quasi-religious leader who desperately needs adulation, and seems to
have long ago lost track of how much of what he says he really believes, and how much he's just making up as he goes along. Joaquin
Phoenix plays Quell, an angry, possibly crazy young man suffering from what we'd probably now call PSTD after coming out of WW II.
He seems to need a father figure as desperately as Hoffman's Lancaster Dodd needs to be adored as a father, so these two are drawn
together, and yet repelled as they both can see the damaged souls under the other's surface, and in the eyes of the other see the reflection
of their own wounds. So begins a non carnal love story between these two characters. Indeed, to me the film seems to be about love and how
the American male has such a hard time asking for it, accepting it, giving it or taking it in any direct manner, so we start religions or become
acolytes ·(or become porn stars or heartless oil tycoons). The only thing these two polar opposites seem to have in common is that neither
of them can communicate without manipulation, or without burying their real meaning. And when they try to break through that, it inevitably
pushes them apart.

It's the tragedy of the American male, a theme Anderson has explored repeatedly (along with fathers and sons);we can't cope with our feelings,
our vulnerability so we slowly pervert our need for love into quests for power, or violence, adulation, or domination or submissiveness. Whether
it's "Hard 8" or "Boogie Nights" or "There Will Be Blood", Anderson's men are doomed by trying to be the men they think they have to be to
survive, thus distorting their perceptions and their hearts.

But there is a fuzziness here. One of Anderson's great strength as a film-maker has been his ability to make us sharply understand what's going
on viscerally, even if at moments it's hard to get on a literal level. But, at least for me, there were too many moments when I felt lost in the bad
way, not in a mystery, but a muddle. There are very interesting scenes, but in retrospect I'm not sure what some of them added to the story. I
expected a second viewing to reveal greater depths, but for me instead it made the film feel a little more shallow, as if maybe some of the leaps
in logic didn't actually have a point, but were just slightly unfocused storytelling.

I would still urge anyone interested in film-making or acting to see it. There is some spectacular work here, dramatically and visually. But, for
once, the sum of an Anderson film seems like less, not more than the sum of it's parts.
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on March 4, 2014
Couldn't be happier to experience this film again at home. I can understand the reviews declaring it polarizing, but I stand firmly on one end of that polarization. Paul Thomas Anderson delievers another masterpiece showing that his visual storytelling has never faultered and his direction of some of the most powerful and compelling actors of our time is both overbearing and seemingly invisible, and the two couldn't be mixed better. You are never aware you are watching a fabrication. Everything in this film comes and alive and feels organic, which just adds to how terrifying the content of the story is and how it will haunt you even after the credits roll. With the late Phillip Seymour Hoffman giving arguably the strongest performance of his life, it will be something he will be remembered for and his friends and family should be ever proud of this legacy and collaboration he left behind.
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on January 30, 2017
A good movie that asks a lot of you. The person watching has to think about why Freddie is this way and why he does the things he does. It's not a movie that simply tells you what to think. It was interesting to see the controlling relationship of the "master" as it unfolded and how both main characters are heavily flawed- just in different ways. Beautifully filmed, the simplicity really feels nice with such a complicated theme. Pair this with great acting performances and you have yourself one to remember whether you like it or not.
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on March 25, 2016
Hoffman was great. It's a shame we lost him so soon. He had just matured as an actor and then he was gone. I liked this one and yes, it seems like it is a lot like Hubbard
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