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Wednesday
Jan292014

We Can't Wait #5: Inherent Vice

[Editor's Note: We Can't Wait is a Team Experience series, in which we highlight our top 14 most anticipated films of 2014. Here's Amir Soltani on "Inherent Vice."]

Inherent Vice
Doc Sportello, a perennially buzzed detective in Los Angeles at the beginning of the 70s, gets himself tangled up in a mess with former lovers, low life gangsters, prostitutes, billionaire crooks, a ship called Golden Fang and a whole lotta people with really weird names.

Talent
One of America’s greatest filmmakers, Paul Thomas Anderson, is behind the camera and one of America’s greatest actors, Joaquin Phoenix, is in front of it. Cinematographer Robert Elswit is collaborating with the director again after a one-film break, as is composer Jonny Greenwood. Josh Brolin, Owen Wilson, Benicio Del Toro, Martin Short, Reese Witherspoon and P.T.'s partner Maya Rudolph fill out the rest of the cast list.

Maya Rudolph in "Inherent Vice"

Why We Can’t Wait
With Paul Thomas Anderson’s name attached, little else is needed to drum up excitement. In my opinion, he has directed three spotless masterpieces (Boogie Nights, There Will Be Blood and The Master) and the rest of his filmography is as compelling as it is provocative. His is a singular and vital voice in modern American cinema. But there’s another factor at play here too: Inherent Vice is one of my favorite novels of recent years, and one of Pynchon’s most polished and coherent works. Its relatively modest scale should lend itself better to adaptation than the rest of his bibliography.

It will also be interesting to see Anderson in a more relaxed mood again. Vice has the potential to take him back to the Altman-esque structure he so successfully utilized in Boogie Nights, both because of its sprawling cast of colorful characters and its bitter humor and casual insight into the Angelenos counterculture. Few directors can get an ensemble to click as comfortably as Anderson does and it’d be a shame if he never used that gift again. If adapted faithfully, Doc Sportello is more central to the narrative than Dirk Diggler was, but there’s still plenty of meat for everyone else to chew on here. Plus, look at that cast! It’s mouthwatering. So good, in fact, that I’m willing to forgive the presence of Reese Witherspoon!

But We Do Have To Wait
Warner Brothers has the distribution rights, but we know we have to wait a while. None of Anderson’s films have been released earlier than mid-September on the calendar, and chances are this one won’t be an exception. A festival bow in Venice is likely; one in Toronto is almost inevitable.

Previously on "We Can't Wait"
06 Into the Woods
07 Snowpiercer
08 Nymphomaniac
09 Boyhood,
10 Big Eyes,
11 The Last 5 Years,
12 Gone Girl 
13 Can a Song Save Your Life 
14 Veronica Mars 
runners up  just missed the cut.

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Reader Comments (21)

Paul and Maya have collaborated twice on a feature film. Both times Maya was actually pregnant with their child. Although not an actual Anderson movie -- A Prairie Home Companion was the first instance of this. Anderson was onset everyday as the director if Altman was unable to see completion of the production.

January 29, 2014 | Unregistered Commenter3rtful

I love me some Boogie Nights and There Will Be Blood, but with The Master I'd feared PTA was starting to believe his own hype and disappeared up his own ass. Everything about this project seems like a return to his 90s period, though, right down to his use of 35mm instead of SUPER-IMPORTANT 70mm from the Master, or how fast its coming out compared to the gap in time with his last couple of films. It looks like he's having fun again, and that's a good sign for me.

January 29, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterJohnny

It's a shame Reese became a punchline for a while (Election showed SO MUCH promise), but, though Elle Woods was a weird career direction, an idealized vision of Becky Sharp was the more blatant warning sign. She's FINALLY starting to be in more interesting stuff again (Jeff Niccol's Mud, Atom Eogyan's Devil's Knot, Wild with Jean-Marc Vallee and this with PT Anderson), but between Legally Blonde 2 and Mud, the most interesting thing she did was Monsters vs. Aliens. Yes, she went from Tracey Flick to a really bland "girl power" movie masquerading as good genre parody. (Touches of it work, but it's really uncommitted to creating the 1950s/1960s atmosphere that'd sell the potential strong joke.) At least MULAN had more style to it and never got painfully on the nose.

January 29, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterVolvagia

Reese was originally supposed to play Amy Adam's role in The Master.

January 29, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterBhuray

Bhuray- I was not aware of that and I can't tell you how happy I am that didn't pan out. Arguably Adams's best performance and Witherspoon just can't handle a role as complex as that (given the evidence so far, at least.)

January 29, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterAmir

Jeremy Renner was also supposed to be Freddie but when him and Reese left, some gossip points to the Church of Scientology putting out a whispering campaign, leading some investors to leave. Enter Megan Ellison who of course got Adams in to other films and made Joaquin the front and center star again in Her after The Master.

I know some people dislike The Master, but I think there's too many good things within it going on, particularly the performances, even if the connective tissue is questionable.

Legally Blonde may have been an odd turn at the time, and the sequel wreaked, but it's a guilty pleasure re-watch you can see again and again on cable. I think it is one of her better roles.

Anyway, PTA and Maya finally working together and in a whole lot of meta commentary, PTA has her wife playing pregnant.

Never read the Pynchon book. Should I check it out? Note: I was raised by Vonnegut and Salinger short-stories than Pynchon in high school.

January 29, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterCMG

CMG - Yes. You absolutely should! As I mentioned in the post, I think it's Pynchon's best.

January 29, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterAmir

I want to see this film more than any other film in 2014. Not just because of PT Anderson but also the cast which includes THE BEST IN THE WORLD.... Jena Malone.

January 29, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterSteven

Maya Rudolph looks like Angelica Huston in that photo.

January 29, 2014 | Unregistered Commenterforever1267

I'm so happy that Martin Short is in this movie. I think he's the #1 actor who fits the description of "everybody knows he's great, but he very rarely shows it." I haven't read the novel, but I hope his role gives him something interesting to do.

January 29, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterEdwin

Probably my most anticipated film in the last few years (I was so unbelievably pumped for American hustle). PTA is a master and Joaquin Phoenix is the best actor this side of Day-Lewis. Thanks for these little entries, this is fun.

January 29, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterLavon Woods

I so miss the PTA from "boogie nights" and "magnolia" (even "punch-drunk love"). hopefully this is more like those films than similar to "the master" (ugh).

January 29, 2014 | Unregistered Commentermarcelo

Ok, so Reese Witherspoon has made terrible movies for the better part of the last decade. But that fact doesn't diminishes her talent at all. Tracy Flick is a classic and most importantly, transcendent. Isn't that the mark of a great performance. It'll be referenced forever. The problem is, while she's a bonafide moviestar (she made Legally Blonde worked), she's so much better at being a character actress. She and Joaquin is said to have mostly improvised in Inherent Vice, so that gets me xcited.

January 29, 2014 | Unregistered Commenterlindy

MAYA!

January 29, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterJohn

Let's hope he's trying to engage the audience with this one. Sitting through the listless, arid exercise in pretension that was The Master made me yearn for the dentist's chair. With Laurence Olivier.

January 29, 2014 | Unregistered Commenterbrookesboy

I dunno, that cast is actually turning me OFF. Beyond Benicio Del Toro and Maya Rudolph (her years on SNL shows that she can do anything, why aren't more people clawing to get her in their movies?) I'm not liking the rest of that lineup at all. Reese may be part of some interesting projects but her roles are rarely good. I was really hoping he'd try someone else other than Joaquin again -- that seems so default, Josh Brolin has become so uninteresting lately, Owen Wilson has no real chops, Martin Short can be very polarizing with bad material which something like this could lend itself to.

I dunno, I mean, I'm sure the film with look and sound amazing (like The Master's technical expertise) but he's just not really working with anyone I give a damn about this time around. And he wasted Laura Dern last time so NEVER FORGET.

January 30, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterMark The First

The Mater was terrible. Maybe this will be fun and enjoyable like he use to be. Oh and maybe it will have a plot.

January 30, 2014 | Unregistered Commenterted

Mark the First- Default? It's only their second collaboration.

January 30, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterAmir

It's crazy that I didn't know that Maya and PT were married. Have I been living under a rock or something? I am excited about this, poor Reese remember when people used to get excited about her in movies she really needs a good film part again and this might be it. Joaquin is a genius as an actor and the rest of the cast looks interesting, and varied. Too bad there was no part for Julianne Moore in it, her previous collaborations with PT were so great.

January 30, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterRami

Mark the First & Amir: If anyone's overused in Mr. Paul Thomas Anderson's films, it's PSH. Let's give Joaquin another shot, shall we?

January 30, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterVolvagia

Boogie Nights and Magnolia were brilliant. There Will Be Blood and The Master were also brilliant. Odds of Inherent Vice being brilliant? Pretty damn high.

February 1, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterIsaiah

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