Monday, March 25, 2013

The Master (2012)

WHO: Joaquin Phoenix deserved every accolade he got for his performance as Freddie in this film, in my opinion.

WHAT: The Master is a film that, in the words of my friend Ryland Walker Knightis "practically all interiors, mimicking the space of the characters, and mapping it yet closer by living in the close up." This visual scheme makes it all the more audacious that its director Paul Thomas Anderson decided to film it in the large-format Panavision System 65 and to release it in 70mm to certain theatres, a treatment traditionally reserved for outdoor-oriented epics like Lawrence of Arabia or Cheyenne Autumn, and not tried since Kenneth Branagh's 1996 version of Hamlet. Anderson's camera goes about as far as physically possible to penetrate his characters' expressions in the highest practical resolution, as if to demonstrate the sensory limits to detecting the real motivations and computations of a complex human being. Apropos for a film about minds and their meetings, for all of these close-ups we never really get more than hints at what's really going on inside Freddie's or Lancaster's or Peggy's heads. 

WHERE/WHEN: Screens tonight and tomorrow at 8:00 at the Castro Theatre, with additional showings tomorrow at 2:00 and 5:00.

WHY: When I placed The Master at #4 on my list of top 10 films of 2012, published at Fandor, it was really a provisional ranking based on having seen the film only once. I missed the Castro's advance benefit screening of the film in August, and was only able to make it over to the gorgeous Grand Lake Theatre in Oakland to see it projected in 70mm once. I had little interest in seeing it projected digitally or even in 35mm knowing that a 70mm print was surely destined to show at the Castro at some point relatively soon. Now soon is now. I'm psyched to finally see The Master again and on a screen even bigger than the Grand Lake's.

HOW: In 70mm.

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