Cast your memory back to late 2010/early 2011, and you might remember that Paul Thomas Anderson, whose The Master is currently impressing early festival-going audiences, announced he’d be writing and directing an adaptation of Thomas Pynchon’s Inherent Vice, the notoriously reclusive author’s latest novel.

Score: 1, for lovers of Pynchon everywhere.

And not only that, but he’d been talking with Pynchon, himself, about the project, and the writer had given his seal of approval on its development.

Score: 2, for lovers of Pynchon everywhere.

And not only that, but Robert Downey, Jr. was mentioned from the get-go as being on board to take the lead.

Score: 3, for lovers of Pynchon (and Robert Downey, Jr.) everywhere.

Talking to Empire, Anderson has revealed a little about how the project is coming, describing it as being,

“like a Cheech and Chong movie.[Adapting Pychon’s work is] just gonna be great and, hopefully, fun.”

Important to note, however, is that a lot of US outlets are currently quoting Empire’s article as saying he’s also developing Gravity’s Rainbow – but if you read the original piece, it doesn’t say that at all. So as much as I’d love to see Anderson go for a Pynchon double, as of yet, it doesn’t look like we have any confirmation on that one. Quoting the original text:

“But although Anderson has been working on bringing the Gravity Rainbow author’s most accessible work to the big screen for several years, it’s not clear exactly when it will happen: “Hopefully not long. I’d like to have a few years of being more productive. But we’ll see.””

The big-screen adaptation of any novel is naturally always going to be a divisive issue. There will be lovers of the novel who are outraged that their favourite works are being mined by Hollywood. There will be lovers of the novel who can’t wait to see how a certain writer and director make their mark in the cinematic treatment.

But with Anderson at the helm, directing from his own script, I think most will be confident that he’s going to be bringing something awesome to the table when it comes to adapting Pynchon.

And with Downey, Jr. expected to take the lead in Inherent Vice as good ol’ Doc Spordello, things are looking brilliant for what would mark the first big-screen adaptations of Pynchon’s significant career.

“There’s so much. But it’s fun too, because they’re his words, and… it’s like taking your dad’s car for a ride, y’know?”

By my count, Anderson has racked up quite a few points already, and we’re still only in the development stages, and this can only be good news.

Pynchon’s Inherent Vice is one of my favourite novels of all time, and certainly my favourite written on this side of the millennium. And I can’t wait to see Anderson’s take on adapting it for the big screen.

Courtesy of Waterstones, the synopsis to the original novel looks a little like this:

“Part noir, part psychedelic romp, all Thomas Pynchon – private eye Doc Sportello comes, occasionally, out of a marijuana haze to watch the end of an era as free love slips away and paranoia creeps in with the L.A. fog. It’s been awhile since Doc Sportello has seen his ex-girlfriend. Suddenly out of nowhere she shows up with a story about a plot to kidnap a billionaire land developer whom she just happens to be in love with. Easy for her to say. It’s the tail end of the psychedelic sixties in L.A., and Doc knows that ‘love’ is another of those words going around at the moment, like ‘trip’ or ‘groovy’, except that this one usually leads to trouble. Despite which he soon finds himself drawn into a bizarre tangle of motives and passions whose cast of characters includes surfers, hustlers, dopers and rockers, a murderous loan shark, a tenor sax player working undercover, an ex-con with a swastika tattoo and a fondness for Ethel Merman, and a mysterious entity known as the Golden Fang, which may only be a tax dodge set up by some dentists. In this lively yarn, Thomas Pynchon, working in an unaccustomed genre, provides a classic illustration of the principle that if you can remember the sixties, you weren’t there…or…if you were there, then you…or, wait, is it…”

Megan Ellison’s Annapura Pictures was announced as being on board to finance the project, and so as long as Anderson and Downey, Jr. can match up their schedules, we’ve got what could be one of the best films of the twenty-first century to look forward to in the years to come.

If you haven’t yet read Inherent Vice, I highly recommend picking it up the first chance you get. More news as we get it.


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Since graduating, I spend as much time as possible watching films/TV shows, reading books, and listening to music. So getting to write about what I love is nothing short of awesome. Biggest film-related hope for 2014/ever: Guy Ritchie announcing the RocknRolla sequel is finally moving forward.