Still processing thoughts on Paul Thomas Anderson's THE MASTER. But I give it an A. A few times it threatens to veer off the rails, as THERE/BLOOD did for me, but it's a most assured, mature, fascinating work. Of course it looks gorgeous, and the period detail *and* period emotional feel are spot on. But shouldn't be overlooked (and it won't be Oscar-time) that Phoenix and Hoffman are extraordinary. A surprise too is the humor in it. Astory full of darkness for sure but unlike in BLOOD he finds the bleak, surreal humor in the story.
I was fortunate enough to see it in 70 mm at the Castro Theater in SF, and the visual splendor in that regard did not disappoint. (I believe there will be another opportunity for Bay Area cinephiles to see it this way, at Oakland's Grand Lake, by the way.) However, the sound isn't great at the Castro, alas, as much as I love that place, and the often tinny speakers left me missing some key lines. So I'll be seeing it again and will have more detailed thoughts another time.
At any rate, THE MASTER fascinates. It felt like classic 70s Cinema, a bit Rafelson here (at times Phoenix will remind of young Nicholson or DeNiro), a bit Hellman and (farther back) even Howard Hawks there. But the late 40s/early 50s setting and look will also put you mind of Douglas Sirk amped up on amphetamines.
Do see it.