When Quentin Tarantino was doing press for Inglorious Basterds, he was asked by a reporter what films or filmmaker would inspire him today if he was just starting out in the business. He answered Paul Thomas Anderson, writer-director of The Master, opening Friday in LA and New York:
“We’re really good friends and we have a very kind of artist romantic relationship. I feel I’m Marlon Brando to his Montgomery Clift. But there is a reality. Brando was better because Clift was out there. Same thing, Clift was better because he knew f*ckin’ Brando was already there, all right?”
In Anderson’s The Master, Joaquin Phoenix is one part Brando and four parts Clift. The actor’s colossal portrayal of Freddie Quell, a man who quite literally is fighting at every moment to quell his personal demons, ranks as the first performance in a very long time to recall the on-screen syncopated beats and off-screen tortured genius of an actor who had his own fair share of namesake films (The Search, The Heiress, The Defector).