The Master

(R) ★★★★☆

In Paul Thomas Anderson’s latest, Freddie (Joaquin Phoenix) is an alcoholic World War II vet suffering from a nervous condition. Eventually, he finds himself in the company of fellow misfit, Lancaster Dodd (Philip Seymour Hoffman), the founder of The Cause, a Scientology-like religion. The movie makes the “how” clear in terms of how a religion along the lines of Scientology manages to draw a crowd. Anderson is a marvel, and this beautiful, challenging film is one of the best to come along in quite some time.

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