Inherent Vice Writer/Director Paul Thomas Anderson: “I Can’t Say Enough About All The Ways That I Love Joaquin Phoenix”
Writer/Director Paul Thomas Anderson’s highly anticipated follow up to The Master, Inherent Vice – adapted from a book by Thomas Pynchon – is set to be released at the beginning of 2015 and has already become the hot topic of discussion amongst the lucky ones who have sidled their way into an early screening.
DIY were fortunate enough to be invited to one of these early screenings the other week, along with a post screening Q&A with Paul Thomas Anderson himself. Cue some hastily rearranged plans and a mad dash to make the screening at the cosy Ham Yard Hotel in the middle of Soho on time. After spotting a jovial looking Dexter Fletcher happily mingling with other guests and accidentally pouring some kind of clear fruity cordial into a glass after mistaking it for water (possibly have diabetes now just from that one, unpleasantly sticky sip) we make our way into the screening room. What follows is a film set to polarise opinion; odd and largely incoherent, it is nonetheless a very funny, entertaining oddity with a hugely loveable performance from Joaquin Phoenix in the lead, ably supported by a mental Josh Brolin.
Film critic Mark Kermode takes to the stage after the screening, introducing Anderson who bounds down the aisle like an excitable child about to sit on Santa’s knee. Sitting next to Kermode the garishly pink curtains begin to close on stage reducing the pair and the audience into a mess of giggles, Anderson blowing kisses as he’s engulfed by layers of fabric. Curtain malfunction dealt with in classy style, Kermode begins the Q&A asking Anderson why he chose to adapt Inherent Vice above Pynchon’s other work: “It presented itself a little less difficult than the other ones. You had a good hero, a great character in Doc who would episodically take you through this investigation. And it was funny, it lent itself a bit easier than other stuff. But more importantly it encapsulated a lot of stuff from all of his work.”
Adapting the book was something of a low tech affair for Anderson who revealed that he simply laid Pynchon’s novel on a cookbook stand and highlighted what he wanted in the script claiming that the dialogue was “pretty much word for word,” from the novel.
Inherent Vice follows loveable stoner and private detective Larry “Doc” Sportello (Phoenix) in 1970, who is paid a visit by his ex-girfriend, Shasta (Katherine Waterston). Seeking help from Doc, Shasta reveals that there is a plot to kidnap her billionaire boyfriend by his wife. Doc finds himself mixed up with a strange host of characters and a mysterious entity known as the Golden Fang.
Once again Anderson collaborates with Radiohead’s Johnny Greenwood on the score, “I gave him the script and told him what I was doing. For anybody that’s read the book there’s stuff where Doc is going to the first Arbinet computer, which is the internet. The ideas that started were computer stuff, more like electronic music, I cut that from the script and it never materialised. Whatever ideas at the beginning were talked about, none of them ended up being in the movie [laughs].” As well as Greenwood’s score the likes of Neil Young and Can crop up on the soundtrack, Anderson jokes, “I’ve hopefully started a movement to get more Can into the movies, more Can everywhere, all the time. It’s groovy man, it’s great.”
Greenwood isn’t the only returning collaborator, Anderson’s leading man, Phoenix worked with the director on his last project, The Master: “I don’t think there’s anybody who’s worked with Joaquin who wouldn’t want to do it again. I know that people’s impression of him is that maybe he’s weird and it’s so far from the truth. He’s a little weird but he’s not that fucking weird! He’s very soulful, very compassionate and he’s very committed. He’s so much fun. He can drive you a little crazy but he’s so sweet and so daring, I can’t say enough about all the ways that I love him. The way that I worked with him on this was to give him the script and we read it through together. It was the funniest thing because we read through it then we both went into different rooms and took naps [laughs].”