PTA, Phoenix and Pynchon: Inherent Vice

Joaquin Phoenix with mutton chops? Alright!  Paul Thomas Anderson adapted the 2009 novel by Thomas Pynchon, Inherent Vice. The film version is slotted for release on December 12 and combined with a stellar cast, it’s a neon-pulsating invite for Oscar contention.

Paul Thomas Anderson and Joaquin Phoenix

Inherent vice–the hidden defect in an object that comes to light usually too late.  I suspect it’s Doc.

Josh Brolin, Reese Witherspoon, Jena Malone, Martin Short, Owen Wilson, and Benicio Del Toro join Joaquin Phoenix as the principal cast. There’s a lot of energy and talent here for the ensemble to bounce off each other.

I wanted to read the novel first before the film came out and I am glad I did. It combines crime, mystery, and love set in Hollywood, 1970. Our hero is a pothead private investigator, Larry “Doc” Sportello, who attempts to find his missing ex-girlfriend, Shasta. A bully sergeant reluctantly works with Doc to solve the mystery and connection between Shasta and a missing tycoon. It’s also funny, with quirky characters in bizarre dialogue surrounded by a hippie/surfer setting. I liked the book–it was a fast-paced, easy read. I’ll be curious to see how Paul Thomas Anderson translates Thomas Pynchon’s novel to the screen. Robert Elswit has joined Anderson again as cinematographer. The musical score of late 60s hits–plus the cast–it looks like a fun ride.  Listen to the book trailer narrated by Pynchon himself. It’s the opening of his novel and gives you the vibe.


Looking for summer reading? Give Thomas Pynchon’s book a try.



19 thoughts on “PTA, Phoenix and Pynchon: Inherent Vice

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  1. Great post Cindy. I really can’t wait to see this. PTA is a favourite of mine, as is Phoenix, so this is a big one for me. However, I may just take your advice and read the book first.


    1. Hi Mark, Thomas Pynchon is a man’s-man’s writer. He’s not in any way fluffy. He’s old school and gave the blessing to PTA to adapt the novel. I am curious how it all translates and how PTA will direct it. All that’s missing from the script is Philip Seymour Hoffman. The book and story feels like a Noir with the shaggy, beach blonde surfer cult twist.


  2. Hard to believe this guy has not won his Oscar yet?
    Not that seems to care.
    He continually keeps us off balance – not knowing what he’s going to do next – only that we will be surprised if it isn’t artistically excellent.


    1. Isn’t he something? I thought he should have won for ‘Walk the Line’. I can’t think of anyone else who could have pulled off Johnny Cash like he did. Since then, he’s gone uphill.


  3. Sounds like a decent read, Cindy!

    The stomping ground looks and sounds a lot like Venice, but about 20 miles north.


  4. “Joaquin Phoenix with mutton chops” Ahah, taking cue from Wolverine I see 😉 I haven’t heard of this before, but hey sounds good. Phoenix is a phenomenal actor and Paul Thomas Anderson is a filmmaker I’m not yet familiar with but curious about.


    1. He has quite the cult following, PTA. My respect for Joaquin grows and grows. He’s so versatile and his relationship with PTA is solid. Boogie Nights and There Will Be Blood and The Master are masculine films, aren’t they? He seems to get great acting out of those he casts and his films always are Oscar contenders. Even if you don’t like his films, he commands respect.


      1. I still haven’t seen any of PTA films [sheepish smile] but what I’m most curious about is Magnolia as people seem to have such a high praise for it. Not really interested in There Will Be Blood for some reason though.


        1. I’m not surprised. You wouldn’t like the The Master, either. He’s hard, realistically violent when it’s called for. His characters aren’t warm and fuzzy. Magnolia, my turn to blush, I haven’t yet seen. Somehow, it bypassed me. Must have been ultra busy. Thanks for reminding me to put it on my list to watch this summer. This one coming up, though, Inherent Vice, feels like American Hustle and Blow. I bet you would love the score, lots of 60s music. I don’t know, of course. I’m looking forward to seeing it this December. 🙂 Shouldn’t you be on a plane over the Atlantic by now?


    1. Hi! By the way, what the heck is your name?
      Thanks. What is it about him that stands out for you? I like his ensemble casting. I like how he uses long takes without cuts; it gives his films a sense of present reality. I like how he works with the best actors. I like his complicated, multi-layers. His films aren’t fairy-tales, they are hard and cold. I can’t say I’m happy watching his films, but I like the stark surroundings with the hard characters. It’s a gritty reality. I wonder if he’ll evolve into something else or remain distinctively how he is today. He’s so young.


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