This weekend's movie offerings include a cult leader, an old scout, a con artist and a pre-wedding party from hell.
The pick of the week, and one of the best movies of the year, is Paul Thomas Anderson's "The Master." It tells of a disillusioned WWII sailor (Joaquin Phoenix) who fights his own demons and falls under the influence of a charismatic author (Philip Seymour Hoffman) whose quasi-religious group is growing in post-war America. Anderson's detailed character study is gorgeously photographed, and bolstered by stellar performances by Phoenix, Hoffman and Amy Adams as the cult leader's steely wife.
Adams also stars in "Trouble With the Curve," a corny but still effective baseball comedy-drama. It centers on Gus, an aging baseball scout played by Clint Eastwood. When Gus' eyes start going bad while checking out a hot prospect, his daughter Mickey (played by Adams) is encouraged to take time off work to help Dad out. There's plenty of humor and warmth, as well as a nice turn by Justin Timberlake as a young scout. But director Robert Lorenz' focus stays sharply on the tough-but-tender father-daughter relationship. (Read The Cricket's interview with Lorenz, talking about how intimidating it is to direct Eastwood.)