New ‘Master’ trailer: The rhythm of the saints ... and sinners

This post has been corrected. See the note at the bottom for details.

With its rhythmic pounding, the hypnotic new trailer for Paul Thomas Anderson’s “The Master” recalls the 2009 spot for the Coens’ “A Serious Man,” only then it was Michael Stuhlbarg’s head and not Joaquin Phoenix’s fists making all the noise.

The “Master” trailer offers a tantalyzing glimpse at the way Anderson approaches one of the movie’s primary concerns -- the human conflict between primal instincts and transcendent, spiritual ambitions. It offers passion, firearms, violence, red lips, lingerie, vintage motorcycles, talk of science and cults -- basically, all you could want from a movie -- in the space of 72 seconds.


And with the movie having its official coming-out party Saturday at the Venice Film Festival, writer-director Anderson has started to talk a bit about the meaning of it all. Of course, since Anderson makes the kind of movies that ask audiences to bring something to the table, he’s often wonderfully vague on specifics. This interview, published in the Italian newspaper la Repubblica, reminds me of the great conversations between Bob Dylan and author Bill Flanagan where Dylan would reveal just enough information to start you thinking on your own.

“The Master” opens in Los Angeles and New York on Sept. 14.

[For the Record, 10:28 a.m., Aug. 29: A previous version of this post said Simon Helberg starred in “A Serious Man.”]


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Follow Glenn Whipp on Twitter: @glennwhipp


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