Thomas Pynchon’s ‘Inherent Vice’ reported to begin filming

Joaquin Phoenix is slated to play Doc Sportello, the private eye at the center of Thomas Pynchon's "Inherent Vice."
(Anne Cusack / Los Angeles Times)

Paul Thomas Anderson is getting back to work, according to /film. The director of “The Master,” “There Will Be Blood,” “Punch Drunk Love” “Magnolia” and “Boogie Nights” is beginning to film his adaptation of Thomas Pynchon’s novel “Inherent Vice.”

It’s the first book by Pynchon to be made into a film, and as with all things Pynchon, people have been fairly closed-mouthed about the project. In January, Anderson would not speak on the record about it -- or even the author -- with a New York Times reporter. “Mr. Anderson, a fan of that author since his teenage years, declined to speak on the record about him and seemed loath even to utter his name,” Dennis Lim wrote.

Nevertheless, a film of “Inherent Vice” is in the works: It’s got financing from Warner Bros., a page on imdb, and a star -- Joaquin Phoenix, who also starred in Anderson’s “The Master.”

It’s unlikely that Anderson and Phoenix will retread “The Master” -- it was serious drama, and “Inherent Vice” is not.


The novel, set in a fictional beachtown in Southern California at the burnt-out end of the 1960s, features pot-smoking detective Doc Sportello, his ex-girlfriend, a crime in a massage parlor, a rock band, and (in classic Pynchon fashion) a bunch of shadowy figures who may or may not be connected. It’s smart and suspicious and insightful and also pretty goofy.

In the trailer for the book, which was released in 2009, the narrator speaks in Doc Sportello’s voice. He sounds like Cheech Marin, but he is thought to be the reclusive Thomas Pynchon himself.

The blog Cigarettes and Red Vines, which is devoted to Anderson, posted the news that the movie is beginning filming “this month” -- confusingly, in a post that went up April 30, when the month was on its last day. While that kind of misinformation seems entirely Pynchonian, it’s likely they simply meant May. Probably.

The upshot: If you see a film crew in the next couple of weeks in the South Bay or Playa del Rey or Venice, or tucked into a seedy-looking beachside alley someplace else, it might well be “Inherent Vice.” Look for Phoenix and Anderson.


And then pop me an email at so I can see it filming, too.


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