I really didn’t know much about Joaquin Phoenix except he was part of the hippy-dippy oh-so-Sixties Phoenix family with siblings with such names a River (RIP), Summer, & Rain, whom, by the way, were all somewhat talented actors. I’d in fact pretty well written him off after his bogus retirement announcement and bizarre behaviour on the Letterman show a few years ago, clad in sunglasses and thick beard and mumbling incoherently. Who cares!? I thought. But it was all a spoof to publicize his self-made film I’m Still Here. Great, the world was really happy to know that! Then last month I caught the 2008 James Gray film Two Lovers, based on Dostoyevsky’s White Nights and starring Gwyneth Paltrow and Vinessa Shaw. Joaquin is in the lead role as a psychologically damaged young man who enters romantic relationships with both women. His performance is extraordinary as the dark, brooding, paramour, and brought to mind images of such Fifties actors as Montgomery Clift and James Dean. Now, I thought, this is an actor I will definitely watch more of. And, sure enough, opening later this month is Paul Thomas Anderson’s The Master, in which Phoenix plays – what else? – a troubled World War II navy vet who comes under the spell of the leader of a cult (played by another great actor, Philip Seymour Hoffman). The story has evoked comparisons to the Church of Scientology and its founder Ron L. Hubbard. Can’t wait to see it.