Paul Thomas Anderson: New Film to be ‘The Master’.


Paul Thomas Anderson is a rare director with the ability of continually improving on his work whilst making films that are individually amazing and flawless. Hard Eight his 1996 feature, was an intense character study concerning the supposedly benevolent character Sydney (Phillip Baker Hall) a professional gambler who is unwillingly drawn into the personal lives of both John and Jimmy (John C. Reilly and Samuel L. Jackson respectively) two other professional gamblers. It’s miniscule budget and studio interference lead to a film different that what PTA originally hoped for and so to appreciate it or at least understand its significance next to the amazing Boogie Nights, Magnolia, Punch-Drunk Love and There Will be Blood – you have to look deeper to view the picture Hard Eight was intended to be.

Subsequently PTA demanded total control over his remaining films, as he is acknowledging of Hard Eight’s flaws and considers it to be different than his other work (to be honest, it is tedious and less entertaining). This includes a final cut of his pictures as well as input into its marketing and promotion (both the trailers and posters for Magnolia were cut and designed by PTA). If total control had not been possible, as his films are studio pictures and not complete independents, then he continually specifies to the thought police in control just how different the film will be from a normal classic Hollywood picture. Whilst making Boogie Nights, PTA continually retold his producers that the pictures glorious opening shot was going to be the one long take, without any cuts (in case they didn’t understand).

However, as respect for him grew PTA was largely left to his own devices – it was now trusted that his finished work will be quality – making films that satisfied his own creativity whilst being popular with the mainstream audience (to an extent). Punch-Drunk Love was an offbeat love story cut in with trippy, surrealist moving paintings by ‘outsider’ artist Jeremy Blake, and with a strong, believable performance by Adam Sandler (proving before Reign Over Me that he was a great actor).

There Will Be Blood was a departure. A period drama focused on the one character Daniel Plainview, with a grinding score by Radiohead’s Jonny Greenwood and understated direction that made film less self-referential than previous work (at times you forget your watching a film), his trademark long takes are there, but are less noticeable. Some of PTA’s regular collaborators were also not used: composer Michael Penn, and actors Phillip Seymour Hoffman, John C. Reilly, Julianne Moore, William H. Macy and Phillip Baker Hall. Finally, the picture was his most widely praised, with proper acknowledgement by the Academy. The film was nominated for best picture and PTA for best director, whilst Daniel Day Lewis won best actor for his intense, amazing and strangely heartbreaking performance as Daniel Plainview.

Considering PTA’s reputation for continually improving on his work, questions soon arose as to the nature of his next film. How could he possibly top what is considered by many to be a perfect film, and one of the best not only of 2007, but of the last decade?

In December of last year Newsinfilm published rumours of Anderson’s next film, a thinly disguised biopic on the founder of Scientology – Dianetics – L. Ron Hubbard. Tentatively called ‘The Master’, the film, said to be set in 1952, is about a charismatic master of ceremonies who decides to start his own religion, with the pictures focus being on the relationship between the master and one of his original followers, who begins to doubt the religion as its popularity grows.

The key word there is Doubt, for in 2008, Phillip Seymour Hoffman won praise for his performance as the priest Brendan Flynn in highly acclaimed film of the same title. Possibly due to his performance, or maybe because he’s a regular PTA collaborator (of course with the exception of There Will Be Blood), Seymour Hoffman is rumoured to be cast as the Hubbard-Esq master of ceremonies.

Those involved in the film have quickly denied any similarities between the picture and Scientology, defending it as an attack on all organised religion, as opposed to just the one.

However the film is coincidently set in the same decade as when Dianetics (Scientology’s original book) was first published, and Seymour Hoffman does resemble L. Ron Hubbard. Also, Jeremy Blake and Theresa Duncan, two artists from New York who were both friends with PTA, committed suicide during the making of There Will Be Blood. According to friends and family, both artists were under attack from Scientologists since deciding to leave the church, leading to constant bombardment from other believers and in some cases, attempts to ruin both Blake’s and Duncan’s credibility (it is not proven that their suicides was a direct consequence of the Scientology believers, but it is commonly accepted).

Coincidently, I was taking notes on an article I was wanting to write about Blake and Duncan when I saw the news bulletin about PTA’s next film. Like Boogie Nights, The Master maybe a broad satire whilst still being an indirect biopic on the one person (like with the Dirk Diggler/John Holmes character). Either way, it’ll be interesting see its reaction against the success of There Will Be Blood.

Advertisements

10 Responses to “Paul Thomas Anderson: New Film to be ‘The Master’.”

  1. The only people who said that Duncan and Blake were being harassed by $cientologly were Duncan and Blake. They were also doing their own stalking and harassment. Ask Miranda July.

  2. I think it would be unlike PTA to let his film merely be an attack on one man or one religion. TWBB was not an attack on organised religion, and viewing it as such fails to understand the complexity of the story being told. In that film we see the power of wanting power: how intoxicating this is, and how it drives two people to incredibly dark places. The fact their power comes from oil and religion is important, but I don’t feel the film makes rash generalisations about these two great American institutions.
    However, this close-minded reading of the film means that there are those who have already decided what “The Master” will be about: another Eli-like character hell-bent on maintaining control of his flock. I know PTA is far too interesting a director to make such a predictable film. I know the end result will be a lot more interesting and entertaining.

  3. PhilbertPerrywinkle Says:

    You both could be right. There is definitely no clear link between Blake and Duncan’s suicides and Scientology, but I’m sure that their friends and family were upset about whatever or whoever was causing their delusions (they had to have stemmed from somewhere). So maybe if Duncan and Blake felt that they were being harassed by another group, then maybe PTA (or whoever) would have become sceptical about them, as opposed to Scientologists.
    Its a big maybe though, apparently the film doesn’t have the complete go ahead, and Mark your right in saying that PTA doesn’t attack the specific thing in any of his films. However I didn’t say that TWBB was an attack on organised religion, although Daniel Plainview’s rants about God are there for a reason.
    P.S. It does seem a little too coincidental that the The Master shares similarities with Scientology, and that Blake and PTA were friends. Other articles have noted the similarities as well.

  4. Theresa and Jeremy Were Not Scientologists Says:

    Theresa and Jeremy were not Scientologists, but they were friends with one – Beck. Theresa was going to direct a movie she had written called “Alice Underground”, and which was to star Beck. He backed out of the film for reasons unknown, but friends of T+J speculated that it was because they questioned his beliefs in the COS, something which the powers that be may have learned about in an audit, and demanded he “disconnect” (one of many Orwellian vocab words the COS uses, in this case to concretize the concept of “cutting off people who question belief in the COS”).

    Of course this is only speculation, but it is significant that after the suicides, Beck claimed to never have met the couple. Unfortunately for Beck, there were pictures published in Vanity Fair and US Weekly, among others, which show all of them together on the beach having a picnic. Furthermore, an interview he had done with an Italian magazine at the time the film was being put together also surfaces soon after his denial (see http://nymag.com/daily/entertainment/2007/12/how_well_did_jeremy_blake.html).

    My point here is that they were not ever members of the COS, and their connection to that body was only through their friendship with Beck. And it should be noted that Theresa was devastated by his dropping out of her film, as it essentially doomed it to to that uniquely Hollywood purgatory known as “turnaround.”

    While their fears of being persecuted by the COS may or may not have been completely founded, their absolute conviction that they were being pursued was very real.

  5. Theresa and Jeremy were not Scientologists, but they were friends with one – Beck. Theresa was going to direct a movie she had written called “Alice Underground”, and which was to star Beck. He backed out of the film for reasons unknown, but friends of T+J speculated that it was because they questioned his beliefs in the COS, something which the powers that be may have learned about in an audit, and demanded he “disconnect” (one of many Orwellian vocab words the COS uses, in this case to concretize the concept of “cutting off people who question belief in the COS”).

    Of course this is only speculation, but it is significant that after the suicides, Beck claimed to never have met the couple. Unfortunately for Beck, there were pictures published in Vanity Fair and US Weekly, among others, which show all of them together on the beach having a picnic. Furthermore, an interview he had done with an Italian magazine at the time the film was being put together also surfaces soon after his denial (see http://nymag.com/daily/entertainment/2007/12/how_well_did_jeremy_blake.html).

    My point here is that they were not ever members of the COS, and their connection to that body was only through their friendship with Beck. And it should be noted that Theresa was devastated by his dropping out of her film, as it essentially doomed it to to that uniquely Hollywood purgatory known as “turnaround.”

    While their fears of being persecuted by the COS may or may not have been completely founded, their absolute conviction that they were being pursued was very real.

  6. PhilbertPerrywinkle Says:

    I’d always thought that it was unclear as to whether Beck was a Scientologist or not, but its interesting to get a first hand insight into what happened, especially because so many articles about the same thing have said that both Blake and Duncan were Scientologists and that they disbanded from the church etc. Personally, do you think PTA would be making The Believer for these reasons? I’m curious.

  7. will be back again bookmarked it for safe keeping

  8. Really Super Posting. Sorry English is not so good please accept my apology. I’ve bookmarked this posting. Thanks!

  9. Thanks for taking the top out to write this nice topic.

  10. he’s so cute. I wish I can see him in person

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: