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19 Feb 2013

Blu-Ray Review: 'The Master' Is a Good Film With Amazing Performances—but It's Still a Disappointment

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I count director Paul Thomas Anderson’s There Will Be Blood and Magnolia as two of my all-time-favorite films. The Daniel Day-Lewis performance in Blood currently stands as my favorite performance by anybody, in any movie, ever.

What I’m saying is that Paul Thomas Anderson is one of the greatest directors to ever set foot on the planet. I suppose as a critic, I’m supposed to avoid such grandiose remarks, but screw it: I feel confident my declaration will stand until my dying days.

That said, The Master—out Feb. 26 on DVD and Blu-ray—is my least-favorite of his movies. However, on a grading scale, I’d still give it a “B,” which is a good grade, and lord knows I’m a tough grader.

The pre-release scuttlebutt about the film declared that it was Anderson’s take on the advent of Scientology—but it isn’t. Instead, it’s about a stressed-out World War II Navy sailor (Joaquin Phoenix), a cult leader (Philip Seymour Hoffman) and their strange, almost-codependent relationship.

Watching these two square off is a delight. They both received Oscar nominations, and they both deserved them. I guess I was seeking a little more substance in the story itself, and felt Anderson was repeating himself a tad (especially with the Jonny Greenwood soundtrack; Greenwood also provided the music for Blood).

It’s a good movie featuring astonishingly great performances. I just want more from Anderson. I’m a selfish bastard, and I admit to this, so there.

Special Features: The disc takes a unique approach to deleted scenes by creating a short film of outtakes and even bloopers scored by Greenwood. It’s a great way to watch deleted footage, and I actually wish some of these cuts had made it into the movie. There’s also a behind-the-scenes short film, culminating in a rather funny fart moment. Finally, you also get John Huston’s World War II documentary Let There Be Light, a film Anderson borrowed from while making The Master. Some of Phoenix’s dialogue is directly drawn from it.

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