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A view on Blu-ray by Gary W. Tooze

The Master [Blu-ray]


(Paul Thomas Anderson, 2012)



Review by Gary Tooze



Theatrical: Annapurna Pictures

Video: Starz / Anchor Bay



Region: 'A' (as verified by the Momitsu region FREE Blu-ray player)

Runtime: 2:17:30.033 

Disc Size: 41,602,990,148 bytes

Feature Size: 30,616,713,216 bytes

Video Bitrate: 24.72 Mbps

Chapters: 8

Case: Standard Blu-ray case

Release date: February 26th, 2013



Aspect ratio: 1.85:1

Resolution: 1080p / 23.976 fps

Video codec: MPEG-4 AVC Video



DTS-HD Master Audio English 3365 kbps 5.1 / 48 kHz / 3365 kbps / 24-bit (DTS Core: 5.1 / 48 kHz / 1509 kbps / 24-bit / DN -4dB)



English (SDH), Spanish, none



• Back Beyond: Outtakes, Additional Scenes - music by Jonny Greenwood (19:59)

• 9 Teasers / Trailer (16:30)

• Unguided Message 8-minute Short / Behind the Scenes (7:59)

Let There Be Light (1946) John Huston's landmark documentary about WW2 veterans (58:06)





Description: Paul Thomas Anderson's The Master stars Joaquin Phoenix as a psychologically damaged war veteran who finds himself working for Lancaster Dodd (Philip Seymour Hoffman), a charismatic figure building his own religion. As the alcoholic, self-destructive former soldier becomes more deeply involved with the leader of this cult-like organization, his natural instincts keep him from embracing his new position as strongly as others in the group would hope. The Master screened at the 2012 Toronto International Film Festival.



The Film:

Paul Thomas Anderson's closely observed character study represents a reverse image of its predecessor, There Will Be Blood, in which a prospector (Oscar winner Daniel Day-Lewis) and his protégé (Paul Dano) engaged in an epic battle of wills. In this more tonally consistent effort, the acolyte takes center stage. Gaunt, tightly wound, and eerily reminiscent of Montgomery Clift, Joaquin Phoenix plays Freddie Quell, an ex-naval officer suffering from posttraumatic stress disorder. Since World War II, he's had difficulty holding down a job due to his hot temper and affinity for paint thinner-spiked potions, but the charismatic Lancaster Dodd (Philip Seymour Hoffman in a more subtle, but equally skillful turn) finds him irresistible as a project, a surrogate son--maybe even the shadow self that he normally keeps hidden (Dodd shares Quell's propensity for the occasional splenetic outburst). Lancaster welcomes him to join the Cause, a movement that recalls Scientology by way of Freud, since he focuses on the elimination of past trauma through a pseudo-psychoanalytic exercise called processing. If he provides Quell with a surrogate family, much like Burt Reynolds in Boogie Nights, his loyal wife (Amy Adams) and cynical son (Jesse Plemons) seem more skeptical. While participating in their rituals, Quell sails with the group from San Francisco to Pennsylvania, but it's hard to tell whether he really believes or whether he's just going through the motions. The lack of clear-cut conclusions will leave some viewers cold, but you've never seen a performance--simultaneously riveting and repellent--like Phoenix's before.

Excerpt from Kathleen C. Fennessy at Amazon located HERE

Paul Thomas Anderson’s ‘The Master’ riffs on the early roots and allure of Scientology with the same compelling strangeness and heady intensity that the American writer-director of ‘Boogie Nights’ and ‘Magnolia’ brought to his last film, ‘There Will Be Blood’. ‘The Master’ is another tale of warped power and fanatical delusions, and it sees Anderson on captivating form as a director who is able to surprise and impress with scene after scene.

Some of the pre-release talk about ‘The Master’ sought to distance its gaze from Scientology, but the film is less equivocal: the organisation depicted here by Anderson may be called The Cause and its leader Lancaster Dodd (played with a frenzied, red-nosed exuberance by Philip Seymour Hoffman), but Dodd is clearly modelled on L Ron Hubbard, from his physical appearance and his eccentric theories to his claims to be a writer, a scientist and much else besides. The parallels are many, and the disguise is so thin as to barely exist.

But you can understand why Anderson didn’t want to get too bogged down in facts. His interest is as much emotional and psychological as historical. He creates a totally beguiling character, Freddie Quell (Joaquin Phoenix), to lead us in and out of Dodd’s bizarre world. We meet Quell at the end of World War II, a disturbed sailor obsessed with drinking and sexual fantasies (images of him and colleagues frolicking on a beach look like a Bruce Weber photo shoot gone rogue). Phoenix plays Quell with an alienating intensity; he’s unpredictable from the first frame to the last.

Excerpt from TimeOut Film Guide located HERE

Image :    NOTE: The below Blu-ray captures were taken directly from the Blu-ray disc.

The Master arrives on Blu-ray from Starz/Anchor Bay.  The image has a bit of teal-leaning but otherwise looks quite strong on the dual-layered disc.  The many close-ups showcase impressive detail. The 50's appearance, established by the brilliant art direction is a huge point in detailing an authentic timeframe. The bitrate is adequate for the 2 1/4 hour film and contrast exhibits healthy, rich black levels. There are some notable sequences - credit the cinematography of Mihai Malaimare Jr. (Coppola's Tetro). The 1080P visuals seem consistent and are probably a strong replication of the theatrical film experience.


NOTE: As reminded by 3 individuals in email; The Master was the first film in more than a decade to be shot in 70mm!

















Audio :

Audio comes with only one option - a DTS-HD Master 5.1 surround at a healthy 3365 kbps. There are not an abundance of effect separations but some nice orchestrations via the original music by Jonny Greenwood. Nothing sounds better though than Jo Stafford singing "No Other Love". The track is rich and deep easily handling the film's audio requirements. There are optional English (SDH) or Spanish subtitles and my Momitsu has identified it as being a region 'A'-locked.


Extras :

The first supplement segment is entitled Back Beyond and includes 20-minutes of Outtakes and 'additional' scenes, left on the cutting room floor. The music of Jonny Greenwood is played. There are 9 examples of teasers and trailers lasting a cool 16.5 minutes and an 8-minute 'Unguided Message' as a short 'Behind the Scenes' glimpse. Lastly Let There Be Light, John Huston's 1946 hour-long documentary (the final entry in a trilogy of films produced for the U.S. government by Huston) It follows 75 U.S. soldiers afflicted by emotional traumas from battle as they enter psychiatric treatment.



The Master is both complex and compelling with a storyline of add directions but precise style. Paul Thomas Anderson remains as brilliant as he is fearless while investigating areas and unearthing performances to expose one of the better, most enigmatic, films of 2012. The Starz/Anchor Bay Blu-ray provides a solid presentation with some extras as unusual as the film. Anderson diverts you from The Master's duality and, like all his works, requires multiple viewings for maximum appreciation. Recommended! 

Gary Tooze

February 13th, 2013


About the Reviewer: Hello, fellow Beavers! I have been interested in film since I viewed a Chaplin festival on PBS when I was around 9 years old. I credit DVD with expanding my horizons to fill an almost ravenous desire to seek out new film experiences. I currently own approximately 9500 DVDs and have reviewed over 5000 myself. I appreciate my discussion Listserv for furthering my film education and inspiring me to continue running DVDBeaver. Plus a healthy thanks to those who donate and use our Amazon links.

Although I never wanted to become one of those guys who focused 'too much' on image and sound quality - I find HD is swiftly pushing me in that direction.

Gary's Home Theatre:

60-Inch Class (59.58” Diagonal) 1080p Pioneer KURO Plasma Flat Panel HDTV PDP6020-FD

Oppo Digital BDP-83 Universal Region FREE Blu-ray/SACD Player
Momitsu - BDP-899 Region FREE Blu-ray player
Marantz SA8001 Super Audio CD Player
Marantz SR7002 THX Select2 Surround Receiver
Tannoy DC6-T (fronts) + Energy (centre, rear, subwoofer) speakers (5.1)

APC AV 1.5 kVA H Type Power Conditioner 120V

Gary W. Tooze






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