PTA is back. All hail The Master.
Release date: November 9
The pitch: Having ditched the tramp beard and twatty rap moniker, "Wacky" Joaquin Phoenix makes a welcome comeback as the loosely-hinged right-hand man to Philip Seymour Hoffman's charismatic L Ron Hubbard-esque religious leader.
The buzz: Any new film from Paul Thomas Anderson is a major cinematic event. The Master has been on our radar for the best part of 18 months, and since the release of the enigmatic first teaser back in May we've been itching to catch a proper glimpse of Phoenix and Hoffman side-by-side in this 1950s-set drama. Even after this extended snapshot, plot and character details are thin on the ground (just what exactly is 'The Cause' all about?). But with the timing right for The Master to make its debut at Venice in August, we might not have too much longer to wait to get the full picture.
Reasons this could be good: War, religion, hubris, greed... Like 2007's oilman opus There Will Be Blood, The Master appears to be chock-full of themes relating to the sociopolitical fabric of contemporary America. Perhaps more overtly politicised than PTA's previous offerings – make what you will of the conspicuous allusions towards Scientology – although from the look of this trailer The Master will be more intimate character study than blunt social commentary. To that end the casting of Phoenix and Adams is encouraging, while The Hoff looks the absolute business as the eponymous despot with the Hemingway 'stache and robust intellect.
Reasons this could be bad: PTA is an allegorical filmmaker, not a polemical one – he chooses to observe rather than aggravate. Boogie Nights and There Will Be Blood both offered a sideways look at complex issues relating to specific industries. As an apparent critique of religious fundamentalism, here's hoping The Master takes a similar approach.
The music: Is the minimalist, tip-toey snippet of Jonny 'Radiohead' Greenwood's score used here a sign of the slowburning tone to come?
Best bit: 0:47-0:53 – "But above all I am a man. A hopelessly inquisitive man, just like you." Hairs. Neck. Raised.
The verdict: While a full-fat trailer is almost certain to land sometime between now and the film's scheduled winter release, we're anticipating the end product to be as devilishly understated as this 90-second gem.