Readers who consider themselves unabashed Midlife Crisis Crossover completists (i.e., my wife and me) may recall my preoccupation with the trailers for Paul Thomas Anderson’s new film The Master, in which Academy Award Winner Phillip Seymour Hoffman plays a charismatic jack-of-all-trades who’s not named Hub L. Ronnard, who attracts followers to his self-invented belief system that’s not called Scientetics or Dianology, who has Academy Award Nominee Amy Adams as the wife by his side, and who’s trying to lure Academy Award Nominee Joaquin Phoenix to his side with vague platitudes and cryptic encouragement.
Recapping our first three installments for newcomers:
* Teaser Trailer #1: a reserved interrogation, a forgotten fight, some crawling through machinery, and adult sand sculptures, all set to spooky bass-‘n’-percussion from composer Jonny Greenwood, the Radiohead guitarist who also worked with Anderson on There Will Be Blood.
* Teaser Trailer #2: Hoffman takes center stage with his myriad talents and elliptical statements of purpose, all overlapping and fighting to surface in the consciousness of Phoenix, who chafes in a new, awkward chapter of his life. Adams loves her husband. The Greenwood score repeats.
* Full Trailer #1: an unbalanced Phoenix fails at life on the post-war homefront and instead follows a writer who’s big on doublespeak and revival tents. Adams is not at all happy this time around — glaring at doubters, questioning Phoenix’s sanity, and acting perfectly fine with her husband’s shenanigans. Greenwood is replaced at the 1:39 mark with Jo Stafford’s maudlin 1950 hit “No Other Love“.
And now, the four-part miniseries, “The Trailers of The Master“, concludes with the final, fragmented chapter:
Other than reruns from previous trailers, the core is a stilted speech about how human spirits trump the animal kingdom. A soft orchestra is drowned out by Joaquin Phoenix drumming like Buddy Rich on a locked window. Standard male viewers should now be excited by the prospect of fights, guns, motorcycle races, and sex scenes. (Yeeeey.)
The officially R-rated movie begins its limited-release rollout to American theaters on September 14th. IMDb lists release dates in several other countries over the next several months, mostly in Europe. (Is Scientology discussed or even heard of in Asia? I’d be curious to know.) My intrigue in the general concept has ebbed a bit, but we’ll have to see if Indianapolis’ only art-house cinema offers it before next Oscar season; how my curiosity, budget, and conscience are doing by then; and if I’m not yet tired of those involved repeating in every related interview like a holy mantra, “IT’S NOT ABOUT SCIENTOLOGY.” When I turn it over in my head, it’s funnier because I hear it in the voice of Arnold Schwarzenegger from Kindergarten Cop. In reality, it grows more disappointing every time I hear it.