Release date: November 16th, 2012 Certification: 15 Director: Paul Thomas Anderson Starring: Joaquin Phoenix, Philip Seymour Hoffman, Amy Adams
One of the problems with trying to promote the genius of Paul Thomas Anderson is that you can rarely find a satisfying centre between a succinct and sufficient synopsis. To call Magnolia a ‘surreal day-in-the-life ensemble drama’, or There Will Be Blood a ‘character study of a power-hungry oil prospector’, however accurate, feels like you are underselling their qualities; to fully explain them could require several essays. The Master seems to deliberately exercise this, its perceived identity as a fictionalised portrayal of Scientology’s roots not even beginning to scratch the surface of the film’s psychological study of two polar opposites of society sharing an incredibly close bond through notions of spiritual healing and devotion to an ideal.
A lot can happen in ten years, mostly in ways you can’t really see coming. In 2012, Manchester City won the English Premiership, America has a black President that isn’t Morgan Freeman, and dubstep is a thing. Could you have predicted that in 2002? You’d think the film industry is an institution that couldn’t throw up many surprises; great actors win Oscars, bad filmmakers make Transformers, and Kirk Douglas will live forever. However, in the past decade there’s been a lot of surprising twists and turns, and even Nate Silver’s math caviar couldn’t predict some of them.
Under themed headings, I’ll be looking at the careers of certain filmmakers and how they’ve changed quite dramatically. Basic career ascensions are excluded, as it’s not miraculous that somebody can get really famous in the space of a decade. Likewise, people die, sometimes suddenly, and I wont be covering that. But this still leaves several examples of changes that would quite possibly leave a recently-recovered coma patient mildly incredulous for, like, ten seconds. Maybe fifteen at a push.