Who do you serve in life, and to what cost? Questions posed by the brilliant, enigmatic The Master. Joaquin Phoenix stars, contorting himself into a crackling sneer of a man. A sailor post-WW2 whose violent outbursts and PTSD cause him to drift from job to job. He's eventually taken under the wing of a charismatic cult leader (Philip Seymour Hoffman) who wants to curb the grotesque animal instincts of man—of which there is often little else inside Phoenix's psychotic, simple mind. An early “processing” session between the two men may be one of the finest acted scenes ever put on film. Director Paul Thomas Anderson continues his winning streak of a career, packaging together a dense and furious movie amongst some gorgeously diverse landscapes. The Master puts a stranglehold on its audience, brandishing its own obtuse composition like a blunt instrument. It is astonishing.