Peter Travers' 2012 Fall Movie Preview

The 25 movies to see and five that go straight into the Scum Bucket

'The Master'

The Master
Phil Bray

In Theaters: September 14th
Starring: Philip Seymour Hoffman, Joaquin Phoenix
Directed By: Paul Thomas Anderson

The first film of the fall season is also the best movie I've seen all year. If things get better, we're in for creative nirvana. As the story of a 1950s cult leader (a towering, terrific Philip Seymour Hoffman), who mentors a disturbed World War II Navy veteran (Joaquin Phoenix, a volcano in full eruption  in the performance of his career), The Master takes on the business of religion. Scientology? You be the judge. The names have been changed to ward off  fanatical unrest. No matter. It's the human element that bleeds onscreen in this mindbending cinematic landmark. You can't take your eyes off Phoenix and Hoffman – acting doesn't get better than this. Writer-director Paul Thomas Anderson is a rock star, the artist who takes us to the limit. If you foolishly didn't think so after Hard Eight, Boogie Nights, Magnolia, Punch-Drunk Love and There Will Be Blood, The Master should erase all doubt.

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