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It's that Scientology movie: A look at THE MASTER with Joaquin Phoenix

While everyone is over the moon about the latest from Wes Anderson, another favorite Director Anderson—namely Paul Thomas of BOOGIE NIGHTS and THERE WILL BE BLOOD fame—has been makin’ waves with his newest project for months. THE MASTER follows a story that very closely resembles the inception of Scientology, the so-seductive religion of the Hollywood elite, and features a stellar cast ranging from Amy Adams to Laura Dern. Apparently, Tom Cruise (the crown prince of that Scientology elite?) got a private screening (after all, Cruise and PT Anderson go way back to MAGNOLIA). The Cruise screening, along with his alleged reservations about the film, is a clear indication that THE MASTER is a sensitive issue amongst Scientologists, who fervently follow the teachings of the extremely controversial (and long dead) L. Ron Hubbard. And now we can all get in on the speculation! The Weinstein Company released a first look trailer of the film direct from Cannes:

The trailer (or hybrid trailer-clip) features a warbling, seriously wasted looking Joaquin Phoenix, here playing a troubled drifter (maybe not such a stretch?) who becomes the right-hand man to Philip Seymour Hoffman’s very Hubbard-like guru. For those of you who thought Phoenix’s seriously weird social-withdrawal phase was over, think again. After a four year sabbatical from Hollywood, that weirdest of David Letterman guests is back, and working on some pretty high-profile stuff. Aside from the new PTA flick, he’s currently filming a yet-to-be-titled Spike Jonze/Charlie Kaufman project (we don’t care what it’s called, we just want to know more). It’s interesting to remember that Joaquin, along with his late brother River and three other siblings, was born to Children of God missionaries and raised in a rather cult-like environment himself (it also seems ironic that parents so fervently purist and vegan, who christened most of their offspring with nature names, don’t have such a great track record with said offspring).

We’re curious to see if THE MASTER will be Phoenix’s opportunity to comment, perhaps, on that type of environment. Maybe, PTA’s new film will continue to tear Scientology a new asshole, a feat which last year’s New Yorker interview with Paul Haggis excelled at considerably. But, given Anderson’s openness to screen it with the Scientologists in his sphere, we’re guessing not.

Guess we’ll have to wait until October, when the film is released.