Is Joaquin Phoenix crazy? Since I don’t plan to dine with him here in Toronto, I think that question is beside the point. At the premiere of Paul Thomas Anderson’s “The Master” last night at the Princess of Wales Theater on King Street, Phoenix received adulation for a performance that was already getting buzz out of Telluride. Clean-shaven, formally dressed, eager to please, he held his right arm protectively around the waist of a young bottle-blond identified only as “Heather.”‘ Nearby, The Weinstein Company’s Harvey Weinstein held court with the expansion of personality that comes from having the gut feeling that “The Master” will be part of the awards conversation and is also “high art” in a Hollywood sense.
As for Phoenix, despite the fact that the screening was an hour late and it would be polite to say that the audience was testy, he was a man behaving Sunday-school best, bad boy issues shelved and beard shaved. He’s playing the off-screen role of penitent Oscar-nominee and Oscar-seeker — not crazy man on a vendetta to slay his own career. The screening began and Phoenix sat with Heather in the orchestra seats alongside co-star Amy Adams. If the screening of a 70mm print of “The Master” had begun on time, there’s no saying how much star power would have ascended to the stage before or after. However, the lateness of the night (delayed by the appearance of Canadian mega-star Ryan Gosling at the earlier premiere of “The Place Beyond the Pines” and adoring throngs) meant that director Anderson was very, very brief in his opening remarks and the stars never took the stage. [Read more…]