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Still no easy answers in this ‘Master’

There’s no end of deep thinking going on in Paul Thomas Anderson’s “The Master” (2012) — meditations on belief, on human needs and impulses, on the tenuousness of connection, on the torturous elusiveness of a sense of self. But don’t look to DVD for a definitive deconstruction, because you won’t find any commentary or conventional featurettes here. Instead, come prepared to formulate your own take — or at least to apply what you’ve gleaned from reviews, interviews with Anderson (“There Will Be Blood”), and whatever you know about Scientology, whose history partly informs the film. In his first work since his cuckoomentary “I’m Still Here,” Joaquin Phoenix again challenges viewers as Freddie Quell, a rough-edged WWII sailor whose boozy, troubled postwar meanderings lead him to Lancaster Dodd (Philip Seymour Hoffman), charismatic head of a self-actualization movement known as the Cause. Hoffman and Phoenix craft a complex leader-and-disciple relationship that’s twisted yet somehow genuine, and that rightfully nabbed Oscar nominations for them both. Amy Adams, as Dodd’s tightly smiling, unnervingly steely wife, likewise earned a nomination — although we’d argue that the real nod should be for her versatility. (“The Fighter,” “The Muppets,” and “The Master,” all in two years?) Extras: Anderson offers 20 minutes of outtakes polished enough to play like a short version of the final product. In lieu of talk about Phoenix’s character, we get John Huston’s 1946 documentary “Let There Be Light,” examining “battle neurosis” among WWII vets. (Anchor Bay, $29.98; Blu-ray, $39.99)


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