The first teaser for Paul Thomas Anderson‘s eerie new film The Master was appropriately creepy, considering it’s about a Naval officer named Freddie Sutton (Joaquin Phoenix) who’s struggling with some measure of PTSD and memory loss. And that was before we even met any of the other characters! Now, two months later, like clockwork, there’s a full trailer that introduces us to the rest of the cast and the other major part of Freddie’s life: The strange, Scientology-esque religion he gets wrapped up in, courtesy of Philip Seymour Hoffman.
Hoffman’s character Dodd could be read as a stand-in for Scientology founder L. Ron Hubbard, or maybe he’ll prove to be his own unique brand of charismatic cult leader, like John Hawkes was in Martha Marcy May Marlene. However, Dodd’s seems to be a more civilized religion: He’s a writer who churns out books filled with teachings he might be making up as he goes along. The strongest component in sustaining any organized religion is faith, which Dodd has from his doting wife (Amy Adams) and his new protege. The moment I heard Hoffman’s voice — and when there was that shot of him racing Phoenix on a motorcycle — I also had a brief premonition of how great he’s going to be as Plutarch Heavensbee in Catching Fire next November. We’ll want to watch this performance for hints of how he’ll play the new head Gamemaker, who has to navigate the Capitol’s social circles while planning something entirely different up his sleeve.
Shockingly, I haven’t seen a one of Anderson’s movies—not Punch Drunk Love, not Magnolia, not Boogie Nights. But I’m really excited for The Master, probably because it looks so supremely creepy. Not to mention, this is Anderson’s first film since 2007′s There Will Be Blood; similarly, we haven’t seen Phoenix on-screen since he starred in that pseudo-documentary I’m Still Here in 2010. We’re excited to welcome both of them back on October 12, 2012.