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Master Piece

Tuesday 20 November 2012, 12:36

Mark Kermode Mark Kermode

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After what seems like a long wait Paul Thomas Anderson's new film The Master is now playing in cinemas across the country. It opened first in London in 70mm - who saw it in that format and did it make a difference?

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    Comment number 41.

    I saw it in 70 mm print although I did not appreciate the print to extent that others may have noticed. What I will say is that the colour was fantastic with the blacks looking as black as they can be which is rare outside of IMAX.

    The only issue really is the cinema it was shown in. The Odeon West End is dreadful and has no character.
    There is a huge amount of seats however because they are not staggered in stadium style, I could see the backs of everyone heads. On top of that the seats were uncomfortable before the film started which is never pleasant for a long film such as this. The screen it was shown on was very small and did not in my opinion show off the film to its full potential.

    I loved the film and the niche fact it was on 70mm (although I could not really tell), I did not have like the cinema, the screen or the staff for that matter.

    Perhaps I should raise this with the cinema directly...

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    Comment number 42.

    'Did anyone make the trip DOWN to London...?'

    Sir, one always travels UP to London and DOWN to the country.

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    Comment number 43.

    As an Odeon Employee, I was lucky enough to see the 70mm of The Master for free at the West End. However, being a huge Paul Thomas Anderson and having never seeing a 70mm print, it was crucial that I take advantage of this once-in-a-lifetime opportunity.

    My expectations of the format were not only matched, but greatly exceeded. The colours were vivid and expressive, the grain added a texture long forgotten in the digital era, and overall, the image looked clearer, sharper and brighter. To add to that, there was a projectionist in the booth the entire time, paying careful attention to the presentation of the image.

    Paul Thomas Anderson has said in the past that film projection is a sublime and wonderful experience, whereas digital is simply akin to watching the greatest TV screen in the world. Having first hand experience of the digital projection era, it was fantastic to see a film-maker pay such attention not only to the format which he shoots with, but the format he presents it with. It would be wonderful to see more special film screenings of new releases, as it is a shame that this experience is secluded to only one cinema.

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    Comment number 44.

    Whatever happened to the film club we had going on here, Mark?

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    Comment number 45.

    KHolland96 - I was thinking the same thing - where's the follow-up to Local Hero?

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    Comment number 46.

    I'm too young to have ever experienced celluloid on the big screen. However, I went to see The Master on the weekend and loved it. On exiting, amongst the mumbled voices I heard nothing but praise for the film. I'd love to make the pilgrimage to London to catch the film on celluloid, but honestly I can't see how it could improve the experience of a film, and in particular, of these fundamentally flawed and interesting characters, any better. Perhaps someone here can enlighten me?

    And by the by, best film of the year.. so far.

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    Comment number 47.

    I did see it in 70mm and whilst I haven't seen it since it has been released nationwide, the 70mm was beautiful to watch. Compared to the other films I've seen this year, not counting Dark Knight Rises in IMAX, the picture was a lot clearer and seemed to have a lot more depth, if that makes sense. The film is absolutely incredible and proves my point that Paul Thomas Anderson will be the next Scorsese. Even though I have money on Lincoln to win Best Picture and Day-Lewis to win Best Actor, I really hope The Master picks up all the awards it deserves.

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    Comment number 48.

    Going to see it tonight in standard digital print at Reading Showcase. So what follows is off-topic, so apologies.

    I live in Bracknell and have at least 3 multiplex cinemas within a 10 mile radius. So approx 30 screens. The Master has been screened 4 times a day for 1 week at the aforementioned Reading Showcase and from tomorrow reverts to one screening a day at 10:30pm. It is not being shown at my local Odeon or at the VUE in Reading.

    Rust and Bones (another film I would love to see), Amour and Beasts of the Southern Wild have not shown at any of the chains. My local so-called art house cinema in Bracknell simply shows main stream movies that were at the multi-plex months ago.

    In order to see any of these films (with the rare exception of The Master) I need to make the expensive trek into London. Which I did a few weeks ago to see Beasts of the Southern Wild. Otherwise there is no choice but to wait for the blu-ray.

    I know there are economics at play here but I guarantee there will have been late night screenings at the Odeon Bracknell of Taken 2 which have played to empty audiences. Why are independent films not being given a chance?

    Mark - I have read your comments about how indie films that occasionally crossover (such as The Artist) end up damaging Indie cinemas as they miss out on revenue. But where I live the indie cinema is just not up to scratch.

    There needs to be legislation on this in order to force cinemas to show a wider range of movies. Rather than the constant diatribes against 3D and this format against that format, a figure as repected as The Good Doctor would be using that position to much greater effect to campaign for more diversity in the multiplex chains. Because at the moment quality cinema is the privilege of Londoners.

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    Comment number 49.

    I've seen it in both 70mm and standard digital. In both formats, the film looks utterly sumptuous. However, the 70mm print gives the film an ambient glow; like it's being screened through a prism. It looks warm, hypnotic and utterly absorbing, all of which are the emotions one felt towards the narrative and characters. The Master is a masterpiece.

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    Comment number 50.

    Watched it in 70mm at Odeon West End a couple of weeks ago. Yes it certainly is a stunning movie and I would recommend it… however, don't be too disappointed if you can't get to see this print, particularly given that the projectionist has managed to put a scratch right down the centre of the frame (Odeon did put up signs offering refunds to anybody who wanted one) that last for the first 20 mins or so. Also, its worth mentioning that the screen size at the Odeon West End is not exactly the Empire screen 1 and you do find yourself asking, would it have been significantly different in a digital projection? Maybe not, but I'll wait for the blu ray purchase rather than attend another screening.

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    Comment number 51.

    Call me a philistine, the atmosphere of the venue makes more of a difference than the format to me; bar a big imax screen, eg Waterloo. I've seen some footage of The Master and the camera work sorta makes it a bit too hyper-realistic: Like my visual senses have been magnified to see tons of visual detail in EvErYtHiNg.

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    Comment number 52.

    I have seen The Master twice but in normal digital format, I don't live in London so what can I do. But I just want to say that if ever a film merited a second viewing its this film. It's one of those films that I was slightly unsure about after seeing it for the first time but I knew I liked it I just had to see it again. And the second time when you can focus more on the scenes, the performances etc rather than the old thought process of what's going to happen here exactly? It is actually basically perfect. Every scene is perfectly constructed, from the writing to the directing to the acting to the music. Greenwood's score is incredible, and even better than his score for There Will Be Blood. Philip Seymour Hoffman was incredible, as was Amy Adams but Joaquin Phoenix was absolutely mesmerising I don't think I've ever seen someone act that convincingly. He just becomes that character even better than DDL as Daniel Plainview in TWBB. The informal processing scene in the first part of the movie is the most intense scene of acting I've ever witnessed and what PTA does in this film that was pretty much absent from TWBB is the inclusion of greater character emotion in the characters espicially Quell. I definately had emotion stirred in me for his character, espicially in the processing scenes, the story with the girl he loves and the scene at the end. Definately a masterpiece and PTA is the greatest filmmaker working today, an absolute legend already.

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    Comment number 53.

    Just see this in digital format. Enjoyed it tremendously. Drew me right in to each of the two main protagonists worlds. Somewhat confused, however, by the number of scenes in the trailer and in your blog which are not in the final release of the movie. I guess that they will be in the deleted scenes on the DVD. I wonder therefore whether the movie could have been even better if the final 5th was tightened up (I felt some loss of tension after the motorbike scene) and could have had some additional material included elsewhere.

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    Comment number 54.

    It looks great in digital, so I presume it's even better in 70mm. Though, I still shan't be satisfied until I can sit in a 21st century cinema and finally be able to look up at pin-sharp, full-HD. For me, the often stunning perfection of Blu-ray (I almost cried when I watched my LAWRENCE OF ARABIA disc) has somewhat degraded the whole cinema experience. Yes, I know the change is coming, but since 'going Blu-ray' two years ago, I've noticed I'm watching fewer and fewer films at the cinema. In general, I just wait for the Blu-ray now, to watch my own 'premiere' with the best visual and audio quality I have available in my own home. So, as great as 70mm may look, it isn't full-HD and, therefore, won't be making me salivate, or induce a trip down to London.

    As for the film, its one weakness lies in the undercooked screenplay that no amount of masterful direction and acting can mask. Its visually stunning, but the script says nothing to me. THERE WILL BE BLOOD it ain't.

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    Comment number 55.

    Hi Mark really enjoy your blog I'm a long time listener first time writer.

    I was looking forward to watching The Master for a long time now and when i heard it was getting a limited 70mm release in London I was sold. I sat down in the newly allocated "premium seats" (that i did not pay for) and waited for the curtains to open. When they did to my surprise the 70mm print of The Master was smaller than i thought, at first I was unsure perhaps i'm making a mistake. No, it's definitely being projected in 1.85 and not the 2.28(there a bouts) it should be. So he cut off the sides of his own film? What? Why? Never mind i guess it looks great I think to myself and then a beautiful birds eye view shot of what looks like the trailing sea water from a boat but all of a sudden it starts flickering and my eyes feel like they were being punched by a butterfly. It takes me a while to get over this but perhaps this is just a mistake in the projection room or the fact that my eyes are now tuned to the screen of a computer but i still can't shake this ratio from my head i feel cheated almost I should be seeing more.

    I read Jason Gorber's excellent article on the subject and have since learnt that PTA chose the aspect ratio so that the audience feels like they have travelled back in time, the cigarette burns being a clear example. The films cinematographer Mihai Malaimare said "Paul believed 1.66 or 1.85 felt right for the period, but 5-perf 65mm has a native ratio of 2.2. We decided to center-crop the 65mm neg to 1.85, which meant losing the left and right sides of the frame."

    Now, If a musician decided that he wanted to record his new material in an analogue studio, magnetic tape, apex 8-track reel-to-reel tape recorder, all of that, but when it came to mixing he decides he's going to cut off all the low bass sounds and all the high trumpet sounds…therefor negating the main benefits of using the format.

    Surely the immersive qualities of a full 70mm print shown in its correct 2.2ish aspect ratio are far more effective in transporting your audience back in time than chopping the sides off. I mean I don't doubt that PTA knows what he's doing but I don't understand it. To me it seems like an irrational choice given the tools he used, his idea of transporting us to a time through the image is undermined as ultimately it gives us a choice. It taps in to our emotions rather than drag us in to a world through them. I think all this anticipation created about The Master getting a limited 70mm release set it up to disappoint or at least not full fill its promise.

    I find myself seemingly in a more difficult position in that PTA has made a film that may do away with the superior quality argument of celluloid projection over 4k. Digital will eventually outrun film & win the first leg at home but the second leg is on our turf the ethics of projection and how a film should be shown will perhaps always be in our favour. Digital only ever emulates celluloid in recording movement through algorithms and 1s and 0s and then converting that information back in to frames but the art of Motion pictures is not one of recording movement. Like the title suggests they are a series of still photographs that when shown at 24 frames a second, through a lightbulb, create the illusion of movement.

    The film does indeed look great but the experience is not worth the £18.50 I paid to see it.

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    Comment number 56.

    Saw it today in digital as I wasn't given the option of the 70mm print. It looked great visually anyway. It's not a black or white/good or bad polarized perspective of the two main characters. You are asked just to observe. I liked this viewpoint as it has become tiresome to 'take sides'. Just to observe them objectively instead of making a moral judgement was refreshing.
    Hoffman was outstanding and Phoenix excellent too (although he was rather rehashing his Johnny Cash persona at times). It felt like a 'real' movie if you know what I mean...

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    Comment number 57.

    I have now seen The Master in both 70mm and digital print and can say that in both cases the film is stunningly beautiful. However, I must admit that the 70mm did look better. This was not just limited to the alien desert landscapes or the churning ocean, but also the interior shots. The scenes were richer in their colour, lending scenes an almost painting-like quality. This is not to say that the difference was revolutionary, only that it was a noticeable difference and I preferred the 70mm print. However, I also preferred the admission charge for the digital projection which was nearly half the price.

    70mm isn't for every film, or even a majority I suspect, but when a craftsman like PTA is behind the camera it does enhance the film.

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    Comment number 58.

    Saw a digital version at The Pictureville in Bradford and it looked superb. As for the film, a masterpiece. As for the acting, sublime.

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    Comment number 59.

    I saw The Master this afternoon in digital. I went in not expecting to love it and i didn't, whilst i wasn't bored, i wasn't enthralled either. The good doctor said this film would divide audiences and he was right, but then it's film like that keep this blog from being boring.

 

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