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Okay, now I fully believe that Paul Thomas Anderson is a sadist.
How else do you explain his decision to start dropping these tantalizing clues about his new film "The Master" when we've still got months and months until we actually see the thing?
"Why all the skulking and sneaking?"
When I was at Cannes, the first teaser was released, and that night, I went to the presentation that the Weinstein Company held, where they showed us a much longer trailer. I transcribed that entire footage reel in the article I published that night, and this new trailer features some of that material as well as footage that wasn't part of it at all. This new stuff makes a really strong case for this as something special, and I find myself excited because of how much it looks like it fits with Anderson's other films, about unconventional groups that form around charismatic centers, about these charming monsters. And if that's what Hoffman's playing, that sounds like it's going to fit him like a glove.
Right now, the buzz word when anyone talks about this film is "Scientology," but I think that's both reductive and presumptuous. I read an early draft of the script which I'm sure isn't going to be the final film, but which indicated that this is really more about how a charismatic center can create a very specific power dynamic. Cults happen for a reason, and they happen in a very specific way, and you don't have to pick just one when you're making a film like this.
"I am a writer, a doctor, a nuclear physicist, a theoretical philosopher. But above all, I am a man. A hopelessly inquisitive man, like you."
October is the release date on this one. I have a feeling he's going to hold it as long as he can. We're not going to see this one early. It'll be ready when it's ready. Right now, the film's in that amorphous "in progress" state. I know Jonny Greenwood is working on the score right now, and if that's a sample of it in both of the trailers so far, that strange mixture of the strings and the percussion, then it's going to be just as interesting and rich a collaboration as it was on "There Will Be Blood." That score still amazes me, just by itself, as a piece of music. With the film, I find it almost overwhelming. It's a hard film to revisit because of how primal it is in some ways.
It looks like "The Master" is reaching for something very raw. Amy Adams in this trailer is fascinating, and Philip Seymour Hoffman totally appears to be feasting on this script and this character, and Joaquin Phoenix is evidently ready to finally lay everything bare in a performance it feels like he's been building to for much of his career.
"I know you're trying to calm me down, but JUST SAY SOMETHING THAT'S TRUE."
It's an exciting fall and winter ahead for film fans, and this is definitely one of the most interesting things that we have coming. I love these peeks so far, and I hope he keeps flying under the radar, trying this sort of idiosyncratic marketing. It's fun, and it makes the film feel like something sort of dangerous and wild.
"The Master" opens October 12, 2012.