Inherent Vice

Inherent Vice

Paul Thomas Anderson’s Inherent Vice is slowly unleashing itself in a few theaters to sneak into the 2014 awards race before its wide release next year. Joaquin Phoenix stars as Doc Sportello, a strange, drug-taking private eye investigating the disappearance of an ex-girlfriend and finding himself in the middle of an insane mix of missing persons, police investigations and strange business ventures. This is the first Thomas Pynchon novel to the make it to the big screen (save for “Gravity’s Rainbow” inspiring the German docudrama Prüfstand VII). It’s a film that will never be a blockbuster success, though it boasts a cast ranging from Jena Malone and Owen Wilson to Jeannie Berlin and Eric Roberts; it’s just too weird. It is, however, a breath a freakish fresh air in a film landscape that’s gotten oppressively predictable. If this could start a trend where Hollywood embraces weird texts, there are no shortage of possibilities ripe for the picking – ones that evolve from our obsession with post-apocalyptic worlds, the dangers of multi-national corporations and scientific experimentation, and worlds where a can of pork and beans can set off on an epic journey to salvation. Here are seven delightfully unique tomes that should be made into movies. Success or failure, at the very least they’d give our eyes and mind some new cultural food to graze on.

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Inherent Vice

Over the weekend, the New York Film Festival took on a distinctly pungent scent, thanks to the world premiere of Paul Thomas Anderson‘s Inherent Vice, a star-studded adaptation of Thomas Pynchon‘s novel of the same name. Featuring Joaquin Phoenix as a weed-friendly detective — fine, he’s a stoner — the film is already garnering lots of attention for its shaggy vibe, its massive cast and a free-floating narrative that will likely appeal to both the Anderson faithful and viewers who approach the material with the edge taken off (if you know what we mean). But is that the key to unlocking the film’s charms? Over at Awards Daily, Sasha Stone caught on to the trend early, writing about the first round of tweets regarding the feature, issued immediately following its NYFF press screening on Saturday morning, mentioned its “stoner noir” vibe more than, well, just about anything else. But is Inherent Vice just a “stoner” movie — or, perhaps more appropriately, a movie that can most easily be classified as a “stoner” film above anything else? Let’s take it to the critics.

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Inherent Vice

In its 2009 review of writer Thomas Pynchon’s “Inherent Vice,” Rolling Stone said that it was “the funniest book Pynchon has written,” and called it “a crazed and majestic summary of everything that makes him a uniquely huge American voice. It has the moral fury that’s fueled his work from the start—his ferociously batshit compassion for America and the lost tribes who wander through it.” Switch out some words and an emphasis here or there and you’ll have an appropriately perfect way to describe director Paul Thomas Anderson’s new film adaptation of Pynchon’s novel. Anderson’s Inherent Vice is a wild and weird noir-tinged freakout that brings the filmmaker back to the ensemble pieces that sparked his early career, but goes above and beyond the brooding aplomb of more recent work like The Master.

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Ben Affleck in Gone Girl

Doesn’t it feel like we just finished up covering the Toronto International Film Festival and Fantastic Fest? Well, it should, because we did, but that’s festival season for you, and now we’ve got a whole other festival (in a whole other city) to get to work on. This year’s New York Film Festival (the fifty-second!) kicks off later tonight with the world premiere of David Fincher‘s Gone Girl (side note: we cannot wait), followed by a hefty number of hyped and highly anticipated features. This year’s festival boasts a solid mix of festival favorites — Whiplash! Pasolini! – and some brand new stuff that’s yet to rock audiences — Inherent Vice! CitizenFour! – all combining into one hell of a fun slate that should quite easily send its attendees into Oscar time feeling quite prepared. Festival season is here, and here’s what we can’t wait to see at this year’s NYFF.

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Inherent Vice Movie

In 2012, Owen Gleiberman wrote a piece for Entertainment Weekly explaining why he had fallen out of love with the films of Paul Thomas Anderson. In the article, Gleiberman shares his own thrill of discovering Boogie Nights at the 1997 Toronto Film Festival and the impact it had on him as a film critic; he then goes on to discuss his perceived problems with There Will Be Blood and why Anderson’s films no longer affect him the same way. I came across Gleiberman’s article recently during my struggle to detail my own relationship to Anderson’s films. Like Gleiberman, my first Anderson film was a revelation. As a manager for an independent theater in a small town, it was my job to assemble a 35mm print of Punch-Drunk Love during my Thursday shift and sit by myself through a midnight technical screening. I was tired after a long day and annoyed that I hadn’t been able to pawn what I assumed to be another Adam Sandler comedy off on any of my coworkers. Naturally, I spent the rest of my evening in a state of shock at what I had seen. In that empty theater at two in the morning, I watched a movie that could have been made just for me; Anderson and Sandler overclocked my sense of empathy and made Barry Egan the most heartbreaking character I had seen on screen. And so began five years of obsessing over Anderson’s previous films – Hard Eight, Boogie Nights, Magnolia – […]

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Sin City A Dame to Kill For

Josh Brolin‘s performance in Sin City: A Dame to Kill For isn’t wildly dissimilar to his work in Men in Black III. They’re very different films and performances, of course, but both prequels feature Brolin inheriting a role from another actor. Brolin eerily embodied Tommy Lee Jones as Agent K, while in Sin City: A Dame to Kill For he’s channeling Clive Owen’s work as Dwight McCarthy from the first movie. This is Dwight before he had to change his face, which, in case you haven’t read Frank Miller‘s comics, is why Owen isn’t back playing the character. Whether Josh Brolin studied Clive Owen’s performance never came up in our wide-ranging conversation with the actor, who’s clearly pleased with both the film and his performance. With the exception of Labor Day – a film I’ll readily go to bat for — it’s the first time since True Grit Brolin hasn’t had to carry a movie. Not because he isn’t the lead, but looking at Oldboy, Gangster Squad, and Men in Black III, the end products often weren’t on par with Brolin’s work in them. Thankfully, that’s not the case in this instance, nor should it be in the near-future. Brolin has Paul Thomas Anderson’s Inherent Vice coming up, the Coen Brothers’ Hail, Caesar!, and Everest, a survival pic boasting an impressive cast. He’s also playing Thanos in the Marvel Universe. Brolin has a lot going on at the moment, but he took the time to speak with us at the junket for Sin City: A Dame to Kill For.

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alexandre-desplat

Even though “Please Mr. Kennedy” is probably still stuck in most people’s heads, it is officially a new year full of films with music that will move us to tears, make us cheer, make us smile, or simply introduce us to something different. Sometimes a movie won’t hit all the marks, but the music will be unforgettable and other times the music ends up being the element that makes a film by tying all the other elements together. After looking over the titles set to hit theaters this year, the following 15 are the ones to keep your ears open for. From well-known composers embarking on new collaborations to popular artists once again taking to the stand to musicians stepping away from their usual genres into something new,  the upcoming year is poised to deliver films boasting an eclectic array of tunes. If you are still looking for something to use those holiday iTunes gift cards on, get ready to add these upcoming scores and soundtracks to your playlists for 2014.

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brolinworkout

What is Casting Couch? It’s a daily casting column that’s currently shocked and appalled that a mainstream actor has signed on to help legitimize Tom Six’s miserable Human Centipede series of body horror films. Read on to find out who has lowered themselves to delivering poop jokes. Paul Thomas Anderson’s next project, Inherent Vice, is an ensemble crime piece that’s going to see him working with a huge cast of talented actors. Already the film is looking to feature names like Joaquin Phoenix, Sean Penn, Owen Wilson, Reese Witherspoon, Jena Malone, Benicio Del Toro, Martin Short, and the list goes on. The latest news is that he’s looking to add Josh Brolin to the list, who, due to his recent acting comeback that got kickstarted by his starring in the Coen brothers’ No Country For Old Men, is no stranger to working with top tier directors. Brolin is said to be taking a feature role, so this should be a pairing that will produce exciting results.

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penntough

What is Casting Couch? It’s a daily info dump of casting news. Today we’ve got reports of new jobs for Internet favorites like Simon Pegg and Peter Dinklage, as well as a bunch of pictures of actors holding animals, because why not? Paul Thomas Anderson’s upcoming film, Inherent Vice, is said to have somewhere around 20 important speaking roles, so it’s starting to look like it may call for the most star-studded cast he’s ever put together; or at least the most star-studded since he last did an ensemble piece like Magnolia. Anyway, Cigarettes and Red Vines is reporting that the next big name likely to join the film is Sean Penn, as he’s currently in negotiations, and if the PTA-centric blog had to take a guess as to what role he’s up for, they imagine he’s going to be playing hard-nosed loan shark Adrian Prussia. They also have the interesting news that Penn’s signing would make him the fourth member of his family to work alongside Anderson. They’re really a very thorough blog.

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wilson

What is Casting Couch? Casting news. Today we’ve got updates on new roles for people like Michelle Williams, Laurence Fishburne, and—what the heck—let’s stick in a rumor about who might play the Scarlet Witch in Avengers 2 as well. It looks like Owen Wilson might be taking a trip back to the ’70s. The Wrap reports that he’s the latest name in negotiations to join Paul Thomas Anderson’s next film, his adaptation of Thomas Pynchon’s Inherent Vice. Never ones to let a good PTA rumor go uncommented on, Cigarettes & Red Vines then took this story and ran with it, contacting their own sources and discovering that the role Wilson is in talks for is that of Coy Harlingen, who’s described as being a surf-saxophone player and a heroin addict, and who may be the most Owen Wilson-y role ever written.

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benicio

What is Casting Couch? Today it’s headlined by news of three big actors working with three well-respected directors, but it also has news about new jobs for ladies like Keira Knightley, Reese Witherspoon, and the Dowager Countess. Benicio Del Toro is the talented and unique sort of actor who manages to be interesting to watch even when he’s in a project that isn’t that great. The dude was fun in Savages. Basically, you can set your watch to him. But pair him with a director who’s good at working with actors, and you’re likely to get pure magic. That’s why The Wrap’s news that Del Toro is in talks to join Paul Thomas Anderson’s Inherent Vice is basically the best thing that’s happened all day. Big actors often times give their best performances when working with Anderson, Del Toro is a big actor—it’s perfect. Also, he’s supposed to be playing a lawyer in the film, which, if you’ve seen Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas, you know can get pretty entertaining. Zang.

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Joaquin Phoenix

What is Casting Couch? It’s heading into the weekend with three pieces of casting news about three actors everyone has actually heard of. Star power! Remember how rumors were going around that Robert Downey Jr. was going to be the star of Paul Thomas Anderson’s upcoming project, Inherent Vice? Well, turns out that didn’t pan out. Don’t let the news that Downey and Anderson aren’t teaming up get you down for long though, because Variety has a report that says Inherent Vice is now going to star Joaquin Phoenix instead. Though opinions on The Master were a little divided, pretty much everyone agreed that Phoenix’s performance in that film was powerful enough to be hypnotic, so it should be great to watch the actor being directed by Anderson again. And, seeing as this one is supposed to be more of a comedy, it should feel fresh watching Phoenix doing something that isn’t so creepifying.

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Robert Downey Jr

What is Casting Couch? It’s a column that’s trying to talk about casting news on a day when Oscar nominations are king. Pity it. Paul Thomas Anderson is the sort of filmmaker who casts amazing actors in his movies and then directs them to the best performances of their careers. From Philip Baker Hall in Hard Eight, to Tom Cruise in Magnolia, to Daniel Day-Lewis in There Will Be Blood, to Joaquin Phoenix in The Master, this has always been true. According to Showbiz 411, Robert Downey Jr. may be adding his name to that list soon. They say that he and possibly Charlize Theron are looking like they’re going to be the stars of Anderson’s upcoming adaptation of reclusive author Thomas Pynchon’s novel, Inherent Vice. If this ends up being true it would, of course, be completely awesome for film fans, and probably be the biggest thing that’s happened to Downey’s career since he got cast as Iron Man. That’s a win-win for everybody.

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Paul Thomas Anderson

Speculation surrounding what Paul Thomas Anderson’s next project is going to be like is usually intense enough in the film geek community, but when the guy starts making claims in interviews that his next film is going to be like a Cheech and Chong movie, well then people really start scratching their heads. The project in question is called Inherent Vice, and it’s an adaptation of a Thomas Pynchon novel that the director has been said to have been working on for about as long as we’ve known he was going to make The Master. Pynchon’s book is set in ’60s-era Los Angeles and features a drug-soaked private investigator named Larry “Doc” Sportello as its protagonist. It’s a story that’s awash with music and cultural references from the era, and in a profile that The New York Times did on Anderson, he gave the publication a little bit of insight into what the process of adapting this rich tapestry of experience from the page to the screen has been like. What’s most notable is that, unlike how we heard There Will Be Blood was an adaptation of Upton Sinclair’s book “Oil!” and then the two proved to only have loose connections, this time around Anderson is looking to do a fairly faithful adaptation of Pynchon’s work, so much so that he seems to have been working with the author, who is famously reclusive and not prone to accepting visitors. When asked to elaborate on the cooperation that’s gone on between […]

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Paul Thomas Anderson

Paul Thomas Anderson knows just the right words to say. According to an interview with Empire, the director sees his next project – the Thomas Pynchon adaptation Inherent Vice – as a “Cheech and Chong movie.”  The parallels are easy to spot, considering the book features a perpetually high private detective who makes a good companion to The Big Lebowski‘s free-roaming plot. When it was first announced in 2011, it was part of a partnership between Anderson and independent producer Megan Ellison, but it’s unclear right now whether the movie will happen in the near future or not. “Hopefully [it won’t be] long. I’d like to have a few years of being more productive. But we’ll see,” said Anderson. Hopefully we will. And hopefully Anderson realizes the literal potential of his statement and hires Cheech Marin and Tommy Chong in a sweet attempt at resurrecting their careers in a way no one thought possible. If anyone could do it, it’s him. Or maybe he can get Daniel Day-Lewis to play Cheech and Chong. Both of them. It’s not like the guy can do wrong.  

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Megan Ellison is the 25-year-old daughter of Oracle boss Larry Ellison. It wasn’t too long ago that she was gaining attention all around the Internet for being a rich girl out of control. Reports of her bisexuality and hard partying ways were pouring in from all sorts of highly reputable news sources conducting investigative reports into her MySpace profile. It was very clear from just a brief glance at these pieces that we were about to have another Paris Hilton on her hands, another Lindsay Lohan. Not content to just release a line of handbags and designer perfume like all of the other billionaire heiresses, Ellison has recently taken up the hobby of film producing. Oh great, that’s all we need, some dim bulb in her twenties throwing around money and influencing what gets made in Hollywood. What has she done so far? Well, she co-financed the Coen brothers’ remake of True Grit, which has gone on to make over 150 million dollars to date. And her next move was to invest in Jonathan Hillcoat’s awesomely cast Wettest County in the World. Wait… who is this girl?

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published: 12.18.2014
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published: 12.17.2014
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published: 12.15.2014
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published: 12.12.2014
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