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"The Master" is an acting masterpiece, critics say

(CBS News) One of the most highly-anticipated movies of the year, "The Master," opens today, starring Philip Seymour Hoffman, Joaquin Phoenix and Amy Adams.

Filmmaker Paul Thomas Anderson is behind the 1950s drama about a naval veteran who returns to a home that World War II unsettled and becomes influenced by a new faith-based organization.

Photos: Fall Film Preview 2012
Pictures: Toronto Film Festival 2012

"The Master" garnered a lot of buzz at this week's Toronto International Film Festival, and critics have given it largely favorable reviews; it has an 86 percent rating on Rotten Tomatoes.

Both Phoenix and Hoffman have received kudos for their acting with critic Alison Willmore of Movieline describing their roles as "career-highs."

Check out what else critics are saying below:

Anthony Lane of The New Yorker: "On reflection, and despite these cavils, we should bow to The Master, because it gives us so much to revere, starting with the image that opens the film and recurs right up to the end."

Peter Travers of Rolling Stone: "'The Master,' the sixth film from the 42-year-old writer-director, affirms his position as the foremost filmmaking talent of his generation. Anderson is a rock star, the artist who knows no limits. Fierce and ferociously funny, 'The Master' is a great movie, the best of the year so far, and a new American classic."

Todd McCarthy of The Hollywood Reporter: "A bold, challenging, brilliantly acted drama that is a must for serious audiences."

Claudia Puig of USA Today: "As impeccably rendered as it is, 'The Master' is enthralling, ponderous and elusive in equal parts. Aiming for epic, it's undeniably thought-provoking, but too ambiguous to fully satisfy."

Kurt Loder of Reason.com: "For a movie with not a lot of plot, or much of a point, 'The Master' is nevertheless mesmerizing, especially in its first half. Its central pleasures are the all-stops-out performances of Philip Seymour Hoffman and, especially, Joaquin Phoenix--roaring back from a two-year layoff following the very strange mock doc 'I'm Still Here.' Even after the picture has drifted off into the land of whatever, Phoenix remains an electrifying presence."

Richard Corliss of TIME: "'The Master' is neither a masterpiece nor, exactly, a [L. Ron] Hubbard expose. It's an overlong (2 hr. 17 min.) study of a drifter in postwar America who joins the retinue of a charismatic spieler with similarities to Hubbard and to other high-octane peddlers of the good life. And while the movie (the first to be shot in 70 mm since Kenneth Branagh's Hamlet 16 years ago) is glorious to watch, it brings no coherence or insight to its two main characters: the wastrel Freddie Quell (Joaquin Phoenix) or the shaman-showman Lancaster Dodd (Philip Seymour Hoffman).


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