edit: maybe minor spoilers below but if you just want a recommendation, definitely check it out. hell even if the script completely stunk, its worth seeing for the acting alone. phoenix gives maybe his best performance imo, which is saying a lot. hoffman is hoffman, adams is terrific. plus Todd from Breaking Bad makes a surprise cameo! coincidentally with the last name 'Dodd' lol
yeah, it was here for a week and i caught it on its last day
if you can find it in theaters, definitely check it out. avoid a cam version imo. its visually stunning, and there are a few scenes that really make it worth seeing on the big screen. it's right on par with pta's other movies, and even though i'd probably call it his weakest next to punch drunk love, that has more to do with the quality of the rest of his catalogue than any shortcomings in the master itself. great script with equal doses of humour and philosophy and family drama, just the right amounts for me
that said, it wasn't exactly what i went in expecting. i only caught the trailer once and that was long before i saw it, but the hype around the movie, especially all the hubbard stuff, led me to believe that it was really going to explore the evolution of a philosophical cult, how it grows, how it maintains itself, how it shields its members from outside criticisms, etc. i suppose a broad focus like that would have been much much harder to pull off so i understand it. still, it would have made for a more interesting script. i also wish the movie had gotten into 'the master's head more. him being the club's intellectual chief, and uber charismatic at that, i thought there was more in his psychology to explore, and a number of different ways to do it. oh well
one aspect i thought anderson did pull off was spelling out the cult doctrine with just enough substance to give the audience an idea without too much to bore them. it blended a bunch of cool ideas together; collective consciousness, hypnosis, reincarnation, some psychoanalysis. great balance i thought.
the movie is mostly about the relationship between the two leads. and by the end of the movie, that relationship, while wildly interesting, reveals very little and leads nowhere. not sure if that's a good thing or a bad thing, but i didn't mind.
Definitely not a fan friendly film. But if you want to see acting at very high levels (both Phoenix and Hoffman deserve the gold statue for their work, no offense to DDL who was fantastic as usual) then you'll like this one. But really not a plot driven film at all.