Watching a Paul Thomas Anderson film – ex. Magnolia, There Will Be Blood, The Master, etc. – can sometimes be akin to experiencing a fever dream (albeit, one with underlying themes and ideas), so it should probably come as little surprise to learn that production on his movies can be perplexing in its own right. That’s the case according to actor Josh Brolin, who’s fresh off collaborating with Anderson on the auteur’s new literary adaptation, Inherent Vice.
Inherent Vice, based on the novel written by Thomas Pynchon (published in 2009), is such a live-wire piece of storytelling – like an old-school detective book by way of Hunter S. Thompson’s drug culture commentary (see: Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas) – that it’s difficult to imagine how shooting on a movie adaptation wouldn’t be, at the least, a little overwhelming. Brolin suggested as much during a recent interview, while he was discussing his role in Juno and Up in the Air director Jason Reitman’s upcoming drama (and potential 2013 awards season contender), Labor Day.
Here is what Brolin said, with respect to the different filmmaking styles of Reitman versus someone like Anderson (via Cigarettes & Red Vines):
“Because I can’t go back and say, ‘Oh Jason does this thing,’ whereas like Paul Thomas Anderson, having just worked with him… [it's like] let’s go this way, or let’s whisper the lines, and let’s actually take out all the lines and we’ll do it like charades once. Or, you know, like, hold him — put him on your shoulders and let’s do the whole scene like that. He’s all over the place. It’s just absolute f***ing chaos every day, all day. Which is great, ’cause you feel like you’ve done something. But, you know, we’ll see how it turns out.”
Brolin’s last comment is worth noting, since it’s no secret that – outside the circles of hardcore cinephiles – reactions to Anderson’s films tend to be all over the place, as the final product can sometimes turn out too befuddlng and ruminative for many people’s tastes (see: the division between positive critical responses to The Master versus your average moviegoer who’s left unimpressed). Then again, the experience of making such a film like can be immediately rewarding, which is something that Brolin acknowledged when asked whether he preferred Reitman or Anderson’s approach more:
“No… they’re isolated experiences. They just are what they are, you know? I appreciate Jason’s [approach] just as much as I appreciate Paul’s. I think I’m more attuned to Paul’s…even though that was crazy and nuts and created insecurity and this and that…”
Inherent Vice, as scripted by Anderson, tells the misadventures of private eye Larry “Doc” Sportello (Joaquin Phoenix), a pothead detective who is pulled into a strange and mystifying investigation after being contacted by a former girlfriend. Brolin plays but one of the numerous colorful personalities that Doc encounters on his journey, with the supporting cast rounded out by such people as Oscar-winner Reese Witherspoon (Mud), Owen Wilson (The Grand Budapest Hotel), Benicio Del Toro (Guardians of the Galaxy), Jena Malone (The Hunger Games: Catching Fire) and Maya Rudolph (The Way, Way Back) – Anderson’s real-life significant other.
Anderson has begun post-production on Inherent Vice, presumably with an eye on having the film ready to go by the second half of 2014; maybe earlier, should WB push for the movie to premiere at a film festival like Cannes next year. Brolin says that the filmmaker is very much heads-down in the editing process right now – and enjoying every minute of it:
“I see Paul, after this movie that we just did, and he was just exhausted, man. Exhausted. Like, he just took off and died somewhere, you know? Not literally, but figuratively… Crawled into an editing room. But he was into it. He called me in the middle of the night, goes, dude I’m working on this thing, it looks amazing, it’s so cool. It’s like a kid. It’s like being around a bunch of kids. That’s fun.”
Sometimes films are truly made during the editing process (that was certainly the case with The Master – watch the deleted scene reel for proof of that), so it should interesting to see how Inherent Vice turns out once Anderson and Oscar-nominated editor Leslie Jones – who’s collaborated with the director before on Punch-Drunk Love and The Master – are done reassembling the raw footage into something with more structure (emphasis on “more”).
Are you excited to see how Inherent Vice turns out? Or are P.T. Anderson’s films just not your cup of tea (as a general rule)?
Inherent Vice does not currently have an official release date. We’ll let you know when that changes.