P.T. Anderson Still Adapting ‘Inherent Vice'; Compares It To ‘Cheech & Chong’

Published 3 years ago by , Updated September 4th, 2012 at 5:00 pm,

pt anderson inherent vice P.T. Anderson Still Adapting Inherent Vice; Compares It To Cheech & Chong

Paul Thomas Anderson has only directed five films over the past 15 years; as our Kofi Outlaw observed during the SR Underground Fall 2012 preview, the idiosyncratic auteur is very much the Stanley Kubrick of the 21st century, in terms of his taste for eclectic subject matter – the porn industry in Boogie Nights, the rise of American Capitalism in There Will Be Blood – and how he plays according to his own rules (occasionally getting in trouble along the way).

Anderson’s The Master is touring the festival circuit, ahead of a theater release later this month. Thematically and stylistically, the 1950s drama is a companion piece to There Will Be Blood, as well as a metaphor for the post-WWII American experience. It’s fitting, then, that the psychedelic 1960s/70s should get the Anderson treatment next – with an adaptation of Thomas Pynchon’s Inherent Vice.

Hollywood trade reports that Anderson had his eye on adapting Pynchon’s novel began circulating a couple months after pre-production on The Master was halted in mid-2010; for a while, there were even rumors that Anderson was going to start filming Inherent Vice with Robert Downey Jr. starring. That was before Annapurna Pictures head Megan Ellison rescued The Master from development oblivion – since then, Inherent Vice has been sitting on the backburner.

Empire caught up with Anderson at the Venice Film Festival (where The Master is showing), and the filmmaker confirmed he’s still working on a screen adaptation of Pynchon’s stoner detective-mystery – describing it “like a Cheech and Chong movie. [It’s] just gonna be great and, hopefully, fun.”

Pynchon’s book revolves around the misadventures of private eye Larry “Doc” Sportello, who occasionally emerges from a marijuana-induced stupor to assist an ex-girlfriend on a complicated (and bizarre) case involving blood-thirsty loan sharks, Thai hookers, a surfer-rocker saxophone player, and an assortment of other “colorful” personalities. Anderson admits “There’s so much [material to adapt]. But it’s fun too, because they’re his words, and… it’s like taking your dad’s car for a ride, y’know?”

inherent vice movie P.T. Anderson Still Adapting Inherent Vice; Compares It To Cheech & Chong

Inherent Vice is the sort of rollicking yarn about the 1960s drug culture and American society that would’ve done Hunter S. Thompson proud; in other words, it’s an intriguing match for Anderson’s unusual storytelling sensibilities. The filmmaker further expressed his own enthusiasm about the venture to Screen Daily, saying “It’s taking my mind off this, actually. It’s a lot of fun. It’s such a different piece, though. It’s nice to have a collaborator, as it were, through working on the book.”

The dreamy styling of Punch-Drunk Love and sheer exuberance of Boogie Nights offer a decent primer for what to expect from Anderson’s Inherent Vice; then again, as history has demonstrated, you can never be too sure what his approach is going to be. For example: while Anderson has yet to specify whether or not he plans to shoot Inherent Vice in 70 mm – as he did with The Master – he does seem open to the idea:

“It would depend on the story. It would be tempting to do it again. It’s a lovely format. The camera is as big as a table. It’s loud, too. You can hear it in [‘The Master’]. It’s like a fan at times.”

More on Inherent Vice as the story develops. In the meantime, you can check out The Master when it begins a limited theatrical release in the U.S. on September 21st, 2012.

Source: Empire, Screen Daily

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  1. Really hope he doesn’t used RDJ for this. I got the book a year or two ago and I think it requires a more cynical/downtrodden type of actor than RDJ, plus I’m tired of his sarcastic quick witted shtick at this point. Save it for Sherlock. I imagine a modern day Blade Runner Ford for this.

    • RDJ has done the cynical down-trodden thing before, and he should be capable of it. This could even be the perfect opportunity for him to go back to that and mine some serious depth, and show the public that he hasn’t simply painted himself into that hyperactive, hyper-intelligent well he’s been going back to over and over again for 4 Iron Man movies and 2 Sherlock Holmeses. I certainly think Anderson would be the right director to help him go there; I guess the question is whether he wants to. Because I’m certainly getting tired of what is quickly becoming “the RDJ schtick” and would like to see more sides from him, and definitely wouldn’t want him cast if he were to just do it again here. But Anderson is great at casting and working with actors, and I think he probably understands he needs something darker and with more depth somberness to offset the manic-ness of the world.

      And really looking forward to seeing Anderson work with material that has that kind of an energy again. As great as There Will Be Blood was, and as Masterful as The Master looks, I think Anderson is at his best when the material lets him fully unleash himself. Boogie Nights was the most ecstatic Scorsese-inspired riff I think I’ve ever seen (I mean, it was basically Goodfellas with porn stars, and Anderson letting both his actors and the camera go wild, stealing every play from the Scorsese and Coen Brothers playbook, all the while making it his own). He kept the huge ensemble with Magnolia and refined the formula, but a little of the giddiness was gone. Blood and Master are much more intense, studied, and probing. Definitely excited to see Anderson let it all hang out again, so to speak– which seems to be one of the themes of The Master as well.

  2. Hopefully now that Anderson is working with someone like Ellison we won’t have to wait so long between films. While it always is worth the wait it feels criminal that a director of his talent often has to struggle to get funding.
    I’m sure he could probably get a one for you then one for me deal with some studio where he’ll make a more commercial film in order to secure the money for a more independent film but I respect the fact that he hasn’t done so. I can’t wait to see The Master and then hopefully this or anything else Anderson wants to make in the next 2 years or so. I guess that makes me a PTA fanboy but with films like Boogie Nights, Magnolia and There Will Be Blood on his resume I’ll wear the fanboy label as a badge of honor…

    • I think a lot of it is they may ne great films but they don’t make a lot of money.