Paul Thomas Anderson is an incredible filmmaker and The Master is an extraordinary film. It's the story of a post-WWII drifter, played by Joaquin Phoenix, who is taken under the wing of a mysterious scholar who leads a small congregation of followers who believe in the pseudoscience of metaphysical transcendence. The group is "The Cause" and they condition fragile minds. If this sounds familiar that's because much of the story is inspired by the foundation of Dianetics, the forerunner to Scientology. Other aspects of the story were taken from unused material of Anderson's previous film There Will Be Blood. Above all else this is a performance piece! Regardless of its narrative, you can stare at the screen and get totally lost in these amazing characters. Phoenix steps up and reenforces his reputation for being a solidified, methodical and transcending actor and Anderson clearly understands his talent as he fixates on Phoenix's face throughout the film. The emotions are raw.... and then there's Phillip Seymour Hoffman! Wow! Originally the lead character, it was Hoffman himself who dug into the script and suggested that Phoenix take the lead although, as the film's title suggests, his presence is all commanding. Anderson seems to be a sure thing and hasn't made a bad film yet. He works outside of the Hollywood perimeters and rarely compromises on his vision. I am intrigued also at a curious little fact prior to the film's release. Being a close friend of Tom Cruise, Anderson granted him a private screening of the film. I would love to have been a fly on the wall.... what would Scientology's leading spokesman have thought of The Master?