Forget the possible Thomas Pynchon cameo. The eyeball pop in Logan Hill‘s Sunday N.Y. Times piece about Paul Thomas Anderson and Inherent Vice (debuting next Saturday at the New York Film Festival) is a quote about tone. For the last few months I’ve been hanging on to a notion (passed along by a filmmaker acquaintance who saw it last April) that Vice would be “Lebowski-esque.” We all know what that means — a certain lazy-stoner vibe, not bright enough, shuffling along, etc. Anderson, however, tells Hill that he’s “going for something akin to Police Squad! and Top Secret!.” He says that “we tried hard to imitate or rip off the Zucker brothers’ style of gags so the film can feel like the book feels….just packed with stuff. And fun.”
Reese Witherspoon, Joaquin Phoenix in Paul Thomas Anderson’s Inherent Vice.
Let me explain something very carefully. Paul Thomas Anderson wanting to emulate the tone of Police Squad! and Top Secret! is like Howard Hawks or Ernst Lubitsch saying they wanted to emulate the comic stylings of Arthur Lubin, director of the Abbott & Costello classics Buck Privates, Hold That Ghost and Keep ‘Em Flying. The concept is completely insane. PTA couldn’t make a ZAZ movie with a gun to his head. Remember also that before anyone saw Drive Nicholas Winding Refn told Cannes journalists at a press conference that it was infused with the spirit of John Hughes…complete bullshit.
Anderson says he also sees Inherent Vice as a “noir,” Hill reports. PTA “rewatched films such as The Long Goodbye, Kiss Me Deadly and The Big Sleep after wondering if there’d be an issue with the drug-ridden novel’s implausible plot,” the piece says. “It didn’t bother him for long. ‘North by Northwest?’ he said. ‘Tell me again how he gets to the middle of the field with a plane after him? I can’t. How does he get to Mount Rushmore? I don’t know, but it’s great.”
Wells to PTA: Cary Grant‘s Roger Thornhill arrives at the middle of the southern Illinois or Indiana cornfield (a.k.a. “Prairie Stop, Highway 41”) by Greyhound bus out of Chicago — simple. He’s been told to go there by Eva Marie Saint‘s Eve Kendall. Thornhill arrives at Mount Rushmore after taking a cab from Rapid City to the Frank Lloyd Wright-designed home of James Mason‘s Phillip Van Damm, which is located only a mile or so from the crest of the famous monument. While running away from Van Damm’s men through a pine forest, Thornhill and Eve suddenly realize where they are — “We’re on top of the monument.”