by Dan Gibson
Inherent Vice, the new film from Paul Thomas Anderson, isn't coming out until Dec. 12 (although it may not get to Tucson until the wide release date on January 9, 2015), but the hype is starting to kick into top gear, mostly because it's directed by one of American film's greatest artists and based on a novel by reclusive genius Thomas Pynchon, whose work, including Inherent Vice, is largely unadaptable. It's a perfect storm of nerdish enthusiasm.
Thankfully, at least based on the trailer, the film seems like it'll be amazing.
[Paul Thomas Anderson] is different. It’s impossible to guess what he’ll do with a film visually, narratively, or substantively. His reimaginings have only proven that point: There Will Be Blood was an adaptation of Upton Sinclair’s Oil! like a 747 is an adaptation of a biplane. And Inherent Vice is no Oil! The most screen-ready of Thomas Pynchon’s novels simply in that it isn’t 800 pages long, Inherent Vice is a meandering and phantasmagoric detective story that features very little detective work or story; most of what passes for plot is a sequence of conspiracy theories stacked up one on top of the other, until they begin to congeal. For that reason alone, it’s a classically American story — few other novels so closely resemble the million-car pileup that is our cultural consciousness — but it’s also written by one of the greatest stylists in postwar literature. Turning it into a movie requires two big decisions: (1) what of that stew-like story can be ironed into a “plot,” and (2) how to render the prose into something physical.