Reactions Abound: ‘The Master’ Screens, Hyperbole Follows, Hype Reaches New Level

Joaquin Phoenix in The Master
Joaquin Phoenix in The Master
Photo: The Weinstein Co.

Last night Paul Thomas Anderson‘s The Master screened at the Aero Theatre in Santa Monica as part of the American Cinematheque screening of a new DCP restoration of Stanley Kubrick’s The Shining. It was the first public screening of the film, and it was shown in 70mm, which is reportedly causing some problems for distributors with Time Out Chicago quoting a source at the city’s Music Box theatre saying, “They’re not offering it to us… the Weinstein Company seems to be moving forward with its own booking plans.”

The film is targeting a limited September 14 release followed by a nationwide roll-out a week later, but it will first premiere at the Venice Film Festival followed by a screening at the Toronto Film Festival with press screenings assumed to be lined-up in advance as well. However, Friday night’s screening is already causing a lot of noise. It was a well-placed screening for sure as only die hard film fans would be in attendance and, on top of that, stay even later to watch Anderson’s film after the nearly two-and-a-half-hour Kubrick feature.

So what did people think? Well, let’s first look to Jeff Wells at Hollywood Elsewhere who had email contact from one attendee. Here’s what “Bobfilm” had to tell Wells:

“There are three or four scenes between Phoenix and Hoffman that are barn burners. It also contains the best work Amy Adams has ever done.

Phoenix WILL win Best Actor unless Daniel Day Lewis blows us away with [his] Lincoln performance. This is Raging Bull territory for him. Believe it or not, his performance is stranger than that fake doc he made. The only way I can describe him is ‘animalistic.’ (I think the Master title refers to more of a dog and his master. At least that was the vibe I got).

“The style feels like Terrence Malick by way of There Will Be Blood. Wish you could have been there!”

“Bobfilm” added that while no definitive runtime could be attained, the film “was close to 2 hours and 30 minutes” but a source on Twitter says it’s closer to two hours and 10 minutes.

Reactions don’t end there as people took to Twitter in droves. Here are those reactions:

You get all that?

So we see love for Phoenix, Hoffman, Adams, the film, Anderson and the screenplay, all coming from a group that more than likely expected to see Room 237 as the second film on the double bill, but were treated to a nice surprise that included Anderson and his wife Maya Rudolph in attendance.

Of course, such surprise screenings are wont to get nothing more than the most hyperbolic of reactions so this is by no means a definitive end to how great or otherwise The Master is, but as far as those of us that are truly anxious to see it this is a great start.

I will be seeing the film in Toronto if it doesn’t screen here locally before I leave, so expect to see my review some time in early September. Until then, here is the most recent trailer if you haven’t seen it yet.

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