Paul Thomas Anderson's hotly anticipated new movie "The Master," loosely based on the life of Scientology founder L. Ron Hubbard, isn't being released for another four weeks. But The Weinstein Company has let a few lucky fans see the movie at advanced screenings in Los Angeles and Chicago -- so thanks to their reactions on Twitter and blogs, you don't have to wait until September 14 to decide whether or not to see it.
Viewers' reactions have generally skewed toward the positive but confused. Charlie Schmidlin at The Playlist, in a B+ review, praised the film's "incredible performances and direction" but found the plot a little opaque for comfort. Danny King, over at The Film Stage, called it "the most cryptic film Anderson has made yet" in a somewhat spoilery review.
Schmidlin's colleague Matt Singer at Indiewire compiled some of the most telling Tweets from the Chicago screening; they tell a story much like the early reaction to last year's "Tree of Life," of viewers who came away thinking, "That was beautifully shot, but I didn't quite know what was happening."
Here are some of the Twitter reactions to the Chicago screening:
One contentious point on which the Chicago contingent was unanimous: the movie should be seen in 70mm, the high-definition format in which it was shot, rather than conventional 35mm. Yet reports have indicated that The Weinstein Company would only make a very limited number of 70mm prints available, because relatively few theaters around the country are equipped to project movies in the medium.
Another big round of reactions is sure to follow the film's screenings at the Toronto and Venice Film Festivals. Chances of them being as glowing, if not more more glowing than, these first thoughts are good, if reviews of PT Anderson's other movies are any guide. A quick search of Metacritic shows that his first five movies have an average Metascore around 80, higher than almost any other American director working today.