Zachary⚡’s review published on Letterboxd:
watched on my laptop
if you ever have the chance to see this in a theater, watch it immediately.
idk wtf this movie is trying to say. The Master doesn't really indulge itself in details. it just covers a bunch of vague topics like nature vs nurture, man vs ideology, identity, sexism, PTSD. the story itself is just yea it exists.
but what really makes this movie a MASTERPIECE at times, are the performances, the actors, the cinematography, the score and the whole technicality of it. the score. its like its own character in this movie, akin to DUNKIRK, its own being shifting in and out of these beautiful scenes. the cinematography. every single scene is gorgeous, makes you feel like you're in the 50s with these characters. it makes you FEEL like you're Phoenix LMFAOO. the actors. Phoenix plays a sadistic vagabond haunted by his past war-related and sexual trauma almost perfectly, Phoenix plays a better dog than a real actual dog. Amy Adams plays the perfect obedient and culty wife archetype with a complex need to influence others, especially the misogynistic men around her, to fit her desires. and Hoffman just murders this performance as a persuasive everyman. The interplay between these three characters is incredibly compelling to watch. their personalities clashing through verbal arguments; there's so much dramatic air to soak in when you have three terrific actors play compelling characters in even more compelling character conflicts. now combine everything, the score, the cinematography and those performance set pieces and you have this masterclass in creating captivation through the movie-making's most basic tenets. no grand screenplay, no grand narrative or no grand CGI: just people in conflict shot beautifully.
I feel like a lot of Paul Thomas Anderson's latest films' story are more templates than they are full-bodied stories which we see in Boogie Nights or Magnolia. The Master is a great movie, but there's just nothing further to chew on this movie than some vague notions about society. these characters are just not really there and I can understand when people say they just didn't get an emotional reaction from this movie. plus, if we really want to go into the narrative, Jesse Plemmon's character is done dirty in this movie as we never get a chance to see him develop. but still.. this is such an hypnotically beautiful movie and how The Master induces one to this mystifying spell is truly a masterclass in film-making itself.