A Short Riff on the Inherent Vice Film Trailer

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A. It’s likely that if you care about these things you’ve already seen the first full (non-teaser) trailer for Paul Thomas Anderson’s film adaptation of Thomas Pynchon’s novel Inherent Vice.

B. Here is that trailer:

 

C. What do you think?

D. I think it looks pretty great.

E. Well, I mean, the trailer still has the, I don’t know, rhythms and contours and tropes of, like, quirky indie comedy film trailers—verbal slapstick, slapstick slapstick (I love the bit at 00:27 when the cop knocks Sportello down, but the callback at 1:52 seems like it could squash a punchline), an affected scream, up-tempo soundtrack (although “Don’t Know Much About History” isn’t one of the many, many songs mentioned in the book). But hey, target audience, etc. etc. etc.

F. And I’m sure the target audience here loves to get a taste of Owen Wilson looking vulnerable and sensitive and just very Owen Wilsonish. (I, a target, enjoyed the taste).

G. And apparently Michael K. Williams is in this movie making his Michael K. Williams face.

H. And also: Joanna Newsom is supposedly in the film—both as a character and narrator. She narrates the trailer, but if she’s in it, like, physically, I think I missed that.

I. And we get this:

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J. And a New Age cult pizza party, staged in a loose approximation of The Last Supper.

K. And Eric Roberts.

L. And Josh Brolin shouting for pancakes in sloppy Japanese.

M. And guns! Yes, guns in the trailer, audience!

N. And some ass shots to boot, including our man Sportello, prostrate, cowering.

O. I like that the trailer—and I’m guessing the film itself (?)—uses the same neon-noir font that the book did; I thought the cover of Inherent Vice was horrendous, but ultimately made sense.

P. But what I find most fascinating here is how neatly Newsom’s narration sums up the novel’s plot in the first 20 seconds of the trailer, highlighting just how irrelevant the plot is in Pynchon’s novel. Inherent Vice: The Novel eschews plotting in favor of verbal style, mood, and imagery—which makes Paul Thomas Anderson an ideal filmmaker to handle the first (and maybe we should hope only) Pynchon adaptation.

Q. I’m usually pretty wary of film adaptations of big-ell Literature, but Inherent Vice is kind of on the bubble there. It’s a shaggy dog tale, just like the Coen brothers’ classic The Big Lebowski, or Tarantino’s best film Jackie Brown. (When I reviewed the book a few years ago, I brought up Elmore Leonard and Lebowski, along with Chinatown).

R. My big concern is that PTA, like his hero Robert Altman, can get a bit too shaggy. When he’s got a clear trajectory to follow (Boogie NightsPunch Drunk Love), PTA offers up a deep comic complex humanism. But then there’s that fine mess Magnolia. 

S. I loved the last film that Joaquin Phoenix and PTA did together though, 2012’s The Master.

T. And what do we think of Joaquin Phoenix as Doc Sportello? Does he look a little bit, I don’t know, too old? I don’t know. He kind of looks a little bit like a stoned Hugh-Jackman-as-Wolverine here.

U. (That’s not necessarily, like, bad).

V. The trailer makes me want to see the film more than I had wanted to see it before, which was its job, so, like, good trailer, I guess.

8 thoughts on “A Short Riff on the Inherent Vice Film Trailer”

  1. As long as someone doesn’t try to take The Crying of Lot 49 and make it into a trilogy of films shot in the Outback, then I’m all for it. TV miniseries of Mason & Dixon? For it. FOX Superbowl Halftime live 15-minute dramatization of Gravity’s Rainbow? For it. Ross Lynch as voice of Benny Profane in Disney animated musical version of V? For it, babee!

    Like

  2. Doc should be early 30s. Phoenix looks a little old for that, but, hell, it’s acting!

    I think Jeff Schwaner’s suggestion of a Gravity’s Rainbow Super Bowl halftime show is the best idea ever.

    Like

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