Paul Thomas Anderson's The Master has so far been previewed by microscopic filmstrips, cryptic teasers, and numerous assertions that the movie about the creation of a 20th-century cult is not explicitly about Scientology. In other words, it's been the perfect amount of withheld information and obfuscation for a movie that is, let's face it, probably about Scientology. Now there's also this just-released poster image debuted on The Huffington Post, which we can similarly scrutinize from our outsiders' perspective, but never truly understand until we finally ascend to a certain level of awareness. Is its evoking of a liquor or wine bottle label a nod to Joaquin Phoenix's character's alcoholism, and the way this makes him more susceptible to the influence of Philip Seymour Hoffman's charismatic leader? Is there a "the glass is half-full/empty" dynamic being explored here that evokes Hoffman's particular philosophy? Is the film settling into a bath of Tom Cruise's hot tears? Let's force it to submit to taking a deeply personal inventory.
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