6. Inherent Vice (TBD US & UK)
I love the idea of Thomas Pynchon novels. The mixture of wordplay, anachronistic technology, social trend analysis, paranoia and Hawaiian shirts… it all just promises so much. Then I run into the text, which is built like a solid wall of oblique cultural and linguistic references, and I go and read some Murakami instead. And so it is that of the six Pynchon novels have optimistically bought at various points in my life, I’ve only managed to finish one. Hell, I never even started Mason and Dixon. Now they’re turning Inherent Vice, his seventh work into a movie. This is good news. I can find out how it ends without having to Wikipedia it.
Robert Downey Jr plays ‘Doc’ Sportello, an overly relaxed dropout and private investigator in 1969 California, who spends a certain amount of time getting knocked out, roughed up, seduced and knocked out again. Comparisons to Jeff Lebowski are to be expected. The case is something to do with an ex-girlfriend, real estate, the invention of the internet and a shadowy organisation called The Golden Fang, which may be a criminal cabal, or may just be a dentists’ union.
This movie is like an irresistible force meeting an immovable object, in that Pynchon’s work is so fundamentally linguistic in nature that there should be NO WAY it could ever be successfully adapted. And yet this is being directed by Paul Thomas Anderson (Magnolia, There Will Be Blood, The Master), who is clearly one of the greatest film-makers working in America today. Something has to give.
Also starring Joaquin Phoenix and Martin Short. In other news, Martin Short lives! – AJP