I am unmoved by all of the gushing tweets posted by people who were among the first to see Paul Thomas Anderson’s The Master Friday night. I don’t doubt that it’s a great movie – we expect greatness, or something near, from the man who made Magnolia and There Will Be Blood. I just don’t put a lot of stock in the tweets.

'The Master' movie poster

The quality of the film aside, there was a certain amount of giddiness built into the situation, wouldn’t you say? Just before the 7:30 p.m. American Cinematheque showing of The Shining at Santa Monica’s Aero Theater, moviegoers reportedly were told there would be a “secret screening” afterwards that they all were invited to stay for.

This was the first public screening of the new film by a major filmmaker whose last movie, 2007′s There Will Be Blood, received eight Oscar nominations and won two (for Daniel Day-Lewis’ lead performance and for Robert Elswit’s cinematography). Anderson and his wife, Maya Rudolph, were in attendance. It must’ve felt like Christmas for that film-loving audience. Of course they gushed in their tweets.

I’m not saying their reactions weren’t honest or that their views aren’t valid. I’m just saying that the wily Weinstein Company publicity department knew what they would get when they planned to screen the movie the way they did. And I’m saying that it’s silly to report about the tweeted reactions as if they mean something.

I’m very interested in seeing The Master, of course. The movie (said to be about the founding of Scientology) is about the relationship between a charismatic intellectual who launches a faith-based organization in the 1950s with the help of a drifter he taps as his right-hand man. It stars Philip Seymour Hoffman, Joaquin Phoenix and Amy Adams. It opens in limited release on Sept. 14.

I have not been impressed by the trailer and clips that I’ve seen from the movie, but that says nothing about the quality of the movie – just that it’s a hard case for the marketing department to get its arms around. That, probably, is what accounts for the secret screening stunt.

If it helps get people into theaters to see it when it opens, more power to them.

Categories: Movie News

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  • About Eric Harrison

    Eric Harrison reviewed movies and covered film for a decade for the Los Angeles Times and Houston Chronicle. His movie coverage continues here on InsideMovies.net. You also can read Eric's movie coverage geared to Houston, the nation's fourth largest city, on MovieHouston.com. Find out more at EricHarrison.org.
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