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Quint on the Cannes reel footage of Paul Thomas Anderson's The Master and David O. Russell's The Silver Linings Playbook!

Ahoy, squirts! Quint here with the other two-thirds of the big Weinstein Company footage presentation at Cannes.

Now, the order of events was Harvey Weinstein introducing the footage presentation, teasing us at first that we were tricked there and will be seeing an hour long tape from his Bar Mitzvah that Martin Scorsese found and was restored by “all the directors I’ve ever argued with over the years,” followed by footage from The Master, The Silver Linings Playbook and, finally, Django Unchained. You’ve already read my write-up of Django I’m sure, now let’s look at the two movies about mentally unstable people.

The soundtrack to the entire Master reel was much the same as the teaser they put out today and even covers the same interview dialogue, but over different footage. The majority of the interview dialogue (“How’s your sleeping?” “I sleep just fine, sir.” “When you sleep, do you have nightmares?” “Not as much as before.” Etc) follows a rather Kubrickian push in on Joaquin Phoenix, dressed in Navy duds, as he writes something on a piece of paper down a long, long hallway. When we get close to him, he finishes and leaves. We see the paper and it’s a note saying he’s leaving for China.

Don’t quote me on this, guys, but I think Joaquin Phoenix is a little mixed up in this movie. Seriously, there were some shots of him where he looks like a background extra in One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest.

I hadn’t seen the teaser before walking into the footage screening, so this might have been discussed, but that sequence where Phoenix is in red light, pulling fuel from a torpedo and drinking some, really kinda surprised me a bit… Maybe it’s just me, but in that light, he looks exactly like a young Sean Connery. I know that’s a weird thing to focus on, but it struck me and stayed with me, so I thought I’d throw that out there.

Oh, and despite IMDB saying so, Phoenix’s character’s name seems to be Freddie Quell, not Freddie Sutton.

It seems this unstable seaman has “episodes” and the interviewer wants to know if he remembers the last one. Phoenix clearly doesn’t. “Was there a fight? What happened? Sir?” “Well, let’s just see if we can’t help you remember what happened.”

Enter Philip Seymour Hoffman’s Lancaster Dodd, a mustachioed self-described writer, doctor, nuclear physicist and theoretical philosopher (“and, above all, I am a man”) and then you get why people have dubbed this the “Scientology Movie.” While Dodd is not L. Ron Hubbard, he sure as hell feels a lot like the man.

Primarily he seems to fit into this story to help Phoenix’s character, much to his wife’s displeasure, it seems. Amy Adams plays Hoffman’s wife and she’s looking a lot like Sissy Spacek in her prime in this film, I gotta say.

She seems to be the extreme one of the two, actually. She goes on a wide-eyed tirade at one point in the footage that was pretty off-putting. The speech goes like this:

“And this is where we are at; at the lowest level… to have to explain ourselves. For what we do we have to grovel! The only way to defend ourselves is to attack. If we don’t do that we will lose every battle that we are engaged in. We will never dominate our environment the way we should unless we attack!”

I like adorable, bubbly Amy Adams! This crazy lady scares me! Make the bad woman go away! I liked the nice one!

Adams distrusts Phoenix’s character, maybe sees that he’s beyond care… or maybe there’s more than meets the eye here. I don’t know. But one of the meatier dramatic moments in the footage comes from Adams trying to get Hoffman’s character to stop Phoenix’s care, paranoia rising in her voice as she states that this man will be their undoing.

Hoffman’s response: “If we are not helping him, then it is we who have failed him.”

That hint of drama makes me more curious to see the movie than anything else in the footage. Hoffman’s just so damn good, his desperate passion showing through in just a few words… and Adams comes across as his biggest fan and supporter in this footage, to see them at odds over this patient is a very interesting dynamic.

I also have to mention a shot of Phoenix opening a suitcase and fire erupting out of it. It was just a quick shot in amongst a bunch of other scenes, like a guy jacking it on a beach and a shot of an insane man rapidly punching a plate glass window like it was a boxer’s speed bag, so I have no idea the context, but Phoenix doesn’t seemed to be all that shocked at fire coming out of his trunk-like suitcase.

The whole vibe of the footage made a bit anxious. Between Jonny Greenwood’s ticking-clock score, the shot compositions (lots of close ups), the length of the camera moves, the slightly disconnected look in Phoenix’s eye and the juxtaposition of image the footage both impressed me and put me on edge, which I’m sure is exactly what Anderson hoped to do.

In other words, very impressive… and again… very Kubrickian. Maybe it was the period and armed forces setting or the long dolly shots, but it really did feel a bit like Full Metal Jacket in terms of the filmmaking angle. Not that it’s any surprise, but I can’t wait to see the full film this October.

Next up was some footage from The Silver Linings Playbook, which I feel was the odd man out here. That’s not to say David O. Russell doesn’t stand comfortably next to Anderson and Tarantino or that the footage was bad, but it seemed like the anticipation for this footage was far lower and it was doomed to get lost in all the hubbub over The Master and Django Unchained.

Bradley Cooper stars in this film about a man newly released from a many year stint at a mental hospital who is trying to get back together with his wife, who doesn’t want to see him. Cue Jennifer Lawrence, who plays a character almost as crazy as Cooper is, and I’m sure we can see where this is going. Cooper wants to get with someone who doesn’t want him anymore and at first doesn’t like Lawrence, but her brand of crazy grows on him and he finds the salvation he’s looking for in her instead.

I know it sounds like I’m being slight, but I actually liked the footage… it was just cut more like a regular (if longer than usual) trailer, so it felt more like I was watching an advertisement than something designed to really give me a feel for the movie.

Cooper and Lawrence both look at their charismatic best here, Rober DeNiro plays Cooper’s father and he looks awake and invested, so that’s good, and the big happy surprise was seeing Chris Tucker pop up as a fellow mentally unstable friend of Cooper’s. Tucker looks like he’s put on a little healthy weight and the tiny bits he has in the footage were sharp. Glad to see him back.

Tonally this feels much more commercial than I Heart Huckabees and like I said, everybody looks to be really charming and on the ball, but it was at a disadvantage coming after footage from The Master and before the footage from Django Unchained, both of which made a unique impression in their own ways.

So, that’s that. I have some Cannes interviews that’ll be going up shortly and tomorrow brings new films from Takashi Miike, Andrew Dominik and Bernardo Bertolucci and (if I can make it work in my schedule). Time for 4 hours of sleep! Stay tuned!

-Eric Vespe
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Readers Talkback
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  • May 21, 2012, 7:13 p.m. CST

    Do you know what they call a 3-piece meal in France???

    by Tikidonkeypunch

    The N-word. Ha!

  • May 21, 2012, 7:14 p.m. CST

    3 of my all time favorite directors BTW.

    by Tikidonkeypunch

  • May 21, 2012, 7:55 p.m. CST

    Lawrence needs to be nominated for The Hunger Games and only that.

    by Paul Hanlin Jr

    Otherwise would be a slap in the face to moviegoers across the country.

  • May 21, 2012, 8:30 p.m. CST

    Wait, Sissy Spacek had a prime?

    by matthooper8

    Comparing Amy Adams to Sissy Spacek (at any time in her life) is like comparing a beautiful vine ripened apple to an apple core.

  • May 21, 2012, 9:39 p.m. CST

    amy adams

    by eloy

    I feel that Amy Adams is, out of the entire, current crop of actresses, female movie stars and overall starlets to grace the screens, the likeliest to inherit the undisputed reign of Meryl Streep as the greatest actress/movie star ever. This mostly due to her career choices, as eclectic and intelligent as possible. She is, after two bona-fide box office hits (the biggest of them entirely dependant on both her performance and screen persona) and three Best Supporting Actress Oscar Nominations, in a position to freely choose whether to dwell exclusively in All-American movie star efforts (Enchanted, Julie and Julia), awards-bait vehicles (Junebug, Doubt, The Fighter, The Master), or event blockbuster wannabes offering scorching paychecks (The Muppets, Man of Steel) and yet, it clearly seems, she´s determined to take them all. She obviously has the looks to play the cute girl next door or the sexy love interest, and has more than amply demonstrated that she´s got the talent to keep the leads coming her way a long time after the most apparent beauty abandons her, thus achieving a wide advantage margin over those of her peers -pretty much everyone else- who can merely manage one of those fields. If she´s still kicking in thirty or forty years -and so are we- we´ll undoubtedly regard her as the absolute Hollywood queen.

  • May 21, 2012, 10:35 p.m. CST

    all 3 sound awesome

    by jsfithaca

    im getting really intrigued by the master. i actually havent seen any paul thomas anderson films but i should prolly at least get around to there will be blood before the master comes out. and david o. russell i feel is very underrated. i especially dont think the fighter was given enough credit i looooooved that movie. def better than the kings speech, 127 hours and true grit, prolly not the social network though.

  • May 22, 2012, 3:23 a.m. CST

    I can't wait for the Anderson film.

    by jasper Stillwell

    'There Will be Blood' was a much-needed reminder about just how great films can get.

  • May 22, 2012, 4:18 a.m. CST

    I wanted to love "There will be blood" I really did

    by Dhaemon

    But the slow burn and the awful music was too much to bare. First movie to actually give me headaches!

  • May 22, 2012, 6:37 a.m. CST

    Make room for the Andrew Dominik stuff, Quint

    by Logan_1973

    Anxious to see his next. And whoever doesn't like BLOOD should stick to BATTLESHIP movies.

  • May 22, 2012, 11:08 a.m. CST

    Yeah, but was it "Kubrickian"?

    by Stuntcock Mike

  • May 22, 2012, 12:08 p.m. CST

    The Master looks really good

    by Kakii

    Phoenix is perfect for this kind of role, the teaser trailer has got me really excited and this could turn out to be one of the more interesting movies of the year

  • May 22, 2012, 1:02 p.m. CST

    Couldn't give a shit about how "Kubrickian" The Master is

    by mr_bellamy

    As long as it's "Andersonian", I'm pumped. Not directing this at Quint so much, since there are other sites that dropped the K-bomb way more often in their write-ups, but a director who's proven his individual worth as often and as boldly as PTA has shouldn't still have to be compared to others from the past.

  • May 22, 2012, 10:03 p.m. CST

    Agree with the above

    by detectivesoap

    Kubrick he aint, both good for different reasons... though PTA puts dudes like Malick to shame name a bad film he did, please