When Paul Thomas Anderson’s The Master is projected at plain-old 35 mm, the narrative frustrations can start to overwhelm the film’s rapturous visuals. Where’s that much-ballyhooed scandal-filled exposé of Scientology? What’s the point of that long scene in the desert? And how come everyone’s dancing in the nude at that party? But at 70 mm, each double-wide frame appears with breathtaking clarity, and the full measure of Anderson’s vision is revealed.The everyday story of a seeker looking for his leader gets blown up to mythic size, with Mihai Malaimare Jr.’s gorgeous cinematography registering each subtle twitch and shift in power between Freddie Quell (Joaquin Phoenix) and Lancaster Dodd (Philip Seymour Hoffman), the cult leader loosely based on L. Ron Hubbard. The hypnotic shots of the waves that open the film are worth the price of admission alone. Three cheers to the TIFF Bell Lightbox for bringing back the full-sized edition of one of 2012’s best films, just in time for awards season (even if The Master got snubbed at the Golden Globes and, criminally, isn’t up for Best Picture at the Oscars).
Until at least January 24. $16. TIFF Bell Lightbox, 416-599-2433, tiff.net
Andrew D’Cruz is an online editor at Toronto Life. He edits The Dish and The Hype.