The Master

DVD - 2013
Average Rating: 2.5 stars out of 5.
The Master
In post-World War II America, a naval veteran arrives home unsettled and uncertain of his future, until he is tantalized by The Cause and its charismatic leader.


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Mar 23, 2015
  • MICHAEL TAGGART MALONEY rated this: 4.5 stars out of 5.

THE MASTER is a period piece set in post-WWII America about an L. Ron Hubbard-type character, played by Philip Seymour Hoffman (a regular in Anderson's films), and his relationship to a messed-up, drunk veteran, played by Joaquin Phoenix. The movie looks great; it captures the vibe of the time. All the performances are great; not just Phoenix and Hoffman, but also Amy Adams and Laura Dern. Most importantly THE MASTER is filled with ambiguity (something rarely delivered up by a big Hollywood picture). The final two scenes are wonderful, sumptuous, loving celebrations of the ambiguous (a.k.a., Life).

Dec 11, 2014
  • Nursebob rated this: 4.5 stars out of 5.

WWII has just ended and able-bodied seaman Freddie Quell, alcoholic and violently psychotic, is set adrift in the American heartland by a military bureaucracy which doesn’t know how to deal with him. Unable to keep down even the most menial of jobs due to his paranoid outbursts, Freddie wanders in a perpetually drunken stupor until eventually falling in with The Cause, a fledgling cult which believes our current afflictions—-including war and disease—-can be cured through hypnosis and past life regression. The Cause’s intensely charismatic leader Lancaster Dodd, himself a man of questionable moral appetites, sees in Freddie’s crippling mental illness all the makings of a perfect acolyte. Claiming to be, among other things, a doctor, author, and nuclear physicist, Dodd (aka The Master) subjects Freddie to one humiliating “treatment” after another…aided in part by some particularly powerful homemade moonshine…until Quell becomes that most dangerous of creatures, the True Believer. But this is not a simple Master/Disciple relationship for just as Freddie’s sick mind cries out for direction and focus, so too does the egotistical Dodd’s megalomania demand faithful adoration. As The Cause comes under increased scrutiny by both the authorities and some of its own adherents, the cracks in Dodd’s mental armour begin to show forcing his relationship with Quell, who is finally having doubts of his own, to reach a new level of dependence. Saturated with a psychological edginess as well as a stifled eroticism, Paul Thomas Anderson’s piercing study on the cult mindset (Scientology itself is never mentioned, of course) features outstanding performances; most notably Joaquin Phoenix and Philip Seymour Hoffman as Quell and Dodd. Their emotional interplay is almost sexual in its intensity as each one feeds off the other while Dodd’s fully indoctrinated wife (a frightening Amy Adams) sits in judgement over both. Anderson’s attention to minute period details is impeccable while his cinematography propels the story forward whether it’s a widescreen panorama of restless waves or a slow pan across a parlour of enamoured believers. A brilliant and exhausting cinematic experience which leaves you wondering how, in an age of supposed enlightenment, something like this could even happen. I suppose it doesn’t matter whether it’s a pope or a new age guru, there will always be sheep in search of a flock.

Sep 16, 2014
  • kendalliah rated this: 1.5 stars out of 5.

I am a huge fan of P.T. Anderson and was incredibly excited for this film, but ultimately disappointed with the outcome. Hoffman is incredibly as always, and Phoenix does a good job playing a rather simple character, but the momentum was painfully dull and underwhelming.

Sep 12, 2014
  • rationallady rated this: 4.5 stars out of 5.

I watched it last night. I found the acting great and the nostalgic recreation of the 1950's, the era of my childhood, quite haunting. It is a movie worth watching again. As to meaning, it is quite enigmatic. Sad too watching Hoffman's fine performance, knowing there will be no more.

Aug 26, 2014
  • BloomFree rated this: 3.5 stars out of 5.

As in more than a few movie which I feel are too orchestrated, I found myself feeling very remote from the characters. It's hard for me to be really critical of this movie though because I believe it is well intentioned and is one of those films which can be great, boring or lousy for each individual. Each to their own taste.

Aug 19, 2014

What a disappointment....I only made it 22 minutes into the movie before I got so bored I had to stop the madness (and the movie). I thought this was going to be a good one and I rarely stop a film before it's finish. What a bummer.

Jul 30, 2014
  • LibraryUser53 rated this: 3 stars out of 5.

The main problem is that the portrayal of the lead character would take an actor on the order of an Olivier, Brando, or Depp to pull it off without a hitch. And even they might not have been up to the challenge. To Mr. Hoffman's credit, he came close; but he and the rest of production company did leave a few remaining hitches. That said, it is still a good and interesting film and worth a watch. Although no mention is made of either, the plot is sort of a combined "My Fair Lady" and "Dianetics: The Modern Science of Mental Health". You can see how that combo might be interesting. Besides Mr Hoffman, the other main actors also turn in creditable performances. Mr. Phoenix's performance is a little over the top, but that's just who he is. It doesn't detract from the film. The main downsides: It's slow going and hard to follow in several spots; too long; and for reasons unexplained, contains capricious nudity. Modestly recommended.

Jul 10, 2014
  • eusebius rated this: 2 stars out of 5.

Paul Anderson's films are always a chore to watch. Superb camerawork and fine music often have to accompany a silly, trite story as they do here. Joaquin Phoenix has the face of an anguished rat, and his character is never interesting. Rotgut booze is not a fascinating plot device. Hoffman saves the film; his performance is sly, ingratiating and often moving. Amy Adams does well with her sketchy role.

May 15, 2014
  • Janedith rated this: 3.5 stars out of 5.

Great acting. OK story.

May 08, 2014
  • MLhightower rated this: 1 stars out of 5.

movie had no sound

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Aug 26, 2014
  • BloomFree rated this: 3.5 stars out of 5.

BloomFree thinks this title is suitable for 18 years and over

Apr 14, 2014
  • mozifox rated this: 0.5 stars out of 5.

mozifox thinks this title is suitable for 18 years and over


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Aug 05, 2014
  • jimg2000 rated this: 2.5 stars out of 5.

Pages of quotes from IMDb ... This quote sums up the film's hohum message: Lancaster Dodd: If you figure a way to live without serving a master, any master, then let the rest of us know, will you? For you'd be the first person in the history of the world.

Jul 23, 2013
  • aaa5756 rated this: 1 stars out of 5.

“Two things are infinite: the universe and human stupidity; and I'm not sure about the universe.”
― Albert Einstein


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Jul 06, 2013
  • Ron@Ottawa rated this: 3.5 stars out of 5.

Sexual Content: Brief nudity and a couple of sexual situations.


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