Paul Thomas Anderson’s ‘Inherent Vice’ Shooting This Month With Robert Elswit as DP & WB Backing

Back in January, we shed light on Paul Thomas Anderson’s next feature, the long-discussed adaptation of Thomas Pynchon’s Inherent Vice. As the first authorized cinematic revisiting of the author’s work, the project was announced back in 2010 and has since made its way around the rumor mill, with various speculations as to who would comprise of the cast, just when it would begin production, and who would backing the film.

And today, Cigarettes & Red Vines announced that shooting is set to go underway this month, thanks to finding its backing from Warner Bros. It was assumed that Annapurna Pictures, who financed and saved The Master would be taking on the project. But in an "amicable" decision, WB has taken the reigns and will mark PTA’s first time working with the studio. With Robert Downey Jr. initially as the leading candidate to take on the role of  Sportello—a stoner detective in Pynchon’s counter-culture noir—Joaquin Phoenix is now slated for the role, after he and Anderson’s impressive work together on The Master.  As for the rest of the cast, nothing has been announced but it’s safe to assume we’ll be getting a deluge of updates on that later this month as production kicks off.

In addition, although Mihai Malaimare Jr. gave us the incrediblly vast and stunning world of Freddie Quell and Lancaster Dodd, Robert Elswit will in fact be reprising his role of cinematographer on this one. After working on all of PTA’s films, save The Master, the Oscar-winning DP will be reunited with his old pal, shooting Inherent Vice on 35mm—no digital. Centering on the story of said Sportello uncovering a plot to kidnap a billionaire land developer in 1960s Los Angeles, the film will apparently be PTA’s "first foray into comedy." However, as we noted a few months back: 

Lest we forget, Punch-Drunk Love—an early-Altman-esque film about an emotionally inept man who collects pudding to amass frequent flyer miles and has a crying problem, who falls in love with an equally bizarre woman, in a world where aesthetics and mood go hand in hand while pieces of Jeremy Blake’s abstract art are spliced like tonal cue cards between moments—was Anderson’s attempt at a mainstream romantic comedy. 
So yes, if this is comedy, full speed ahead. We’ll be keeping a close eye on this one. And in the meantime, let’s watch some videos of young PTA talking about movies because, what better way could you spend your morning?

The ‘Entourage’ Movie is Coming to Theaters

I have never, ever, ever, ever, ever, ever been remotely interested in watching an episode of Entourage. But hey, I own The Best of Match Game on DVD and I watch it a lot. Where’s my Match Game movie? Basically, different strokes, is what I’m saying. I’m sure there are some people who have the biggest boners right now over the news that there will be a big-screen version of Sex in the City in L.A. but With Dudes. I’m just not one of those people!

Deadline reported yesterday that Warner Bros has given the greenlight to a film based on the HBO series, which ran from 2004 to 2011:

The film will be directed by series creator Doug Ellin, who wrote the screenplay and who exec produced the series with Mark Wahlberg and Stephen Levinson. Deals are starting to be made with Adrian Grenier, who played Chase, Kevin Connolly, who played his manager Eric “E” Murphy, Kevin Dillon, who played the actor’s brother Johnny Drama, Jerry Ferrara, who played their entrepreneurial driver Turtle, and Jeremy Piven, who played the show’s iconic type A talent agent Ari Gold. I’m sure Drama’s agent Lloyd (Rex Lee), E’s girl Sloan (Emmanuelle Chriqui), his management partner Scott (Scott Caan), and their quirky director collaborator Billy Walsh (Rhys Coiro) and Ari’s agency partner Barbara Miller (Beverly D’Angelo) will all be in the mix, along with a swarm of real Hollywood talent, playing themselves.

Oh shit, Beverly D’Angelo was on Entourage? Now we’re talkin’. 

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Warner Bros. Wants Spielberg to Direct New Moses Movie

Rumors are adrift that Warner Bros. is asking Steven Spielberg to direct a movie about the life of Moses. Deadline reports that the studio is “courting” the E.T. director to helm Gods and Kings, a Biblical super-epic that follows Moses’ life from river-floating babe to sea-parting holy man. Spielberg and Warner Bros. haven’t even had a meeting yet, but everyone is getting twitterpated about the possibility a movie that would be enormous in every sense of the word. Happy Rosh Hashanah!

Michael Green and Stuart Hazeldine wrote the script and it has all the makings of a Spielberg flick. Child with a complex relationship with adults? Check. Characters battling nature? Forty years in the desert, boom. Giant man-eating shark? Why not, I’m sure they can throw one in there. Hazeldine has experience writing screenplays with Biblical themes; he penned the upcoming adaptation of John Milton’s Paradise Lost as well as Green Lantern, where Ryan Reynolds played the fabled Green Lantern, son of Abraham in the Book of Leviticus. The studio has already made it clear that this won’t be a remake of the Charlton Heston classic The Ten Commandments. It’d be nice to say, “This isn’t your grandfather’s Moses,” but given the script’s reported faithfulness to the Old Testament, this is, in fact, your grandfather’s Moses. Warner Bros. is also developing a movie based on the story of Judah Maccabee, the Jewish warrior who fought off the Greek empire. Mel Gibson has the first option to direct, and given Gibson’s bigoted complicated attitude about Judaism, that film has caused quite a stir already. Our guess is that the sheer controversy will probably make it profitable. Combine that with the possibility of a Spielberg / Moses epic, and Warner Bros. will be partying like it’s 1999 B.C.

My Addiction to the Warner Bros. Archive

Why other studios haven’t followed suit I can’t say, but in the face of dwindling dvd revenues, the release of previously unavailable films from the Warner Bros. Archive on a burn-to-order basis makes sense. The films in almost every case have not been remastered or enriched in any way—most aren’t even equipped with a theatrical trailer—but this is a minor quibble given the alternative of zero availability. Like most in the crit world, I have a running list of difficult-of-access pictures I’ve always wanted to see, and the WB Archive has felicitously served up more than a few of them. I thought I’d have to surrender a limb before I owned an approved dvd release of Dusty and Sweets McGee.

There are over 350 titles thus far, with new releases turning up twice a month. It’s something of cinephile’s wet dream methinks, and though I’ve tried to keep myself away from it here and there for fear of achieving total insolvency, it’s hard with options like these:

Dusty and Sweets McGee (1971)

Director Floyd Mutrux’ debut is an unacknowledged masterpiece, a by turns poetic, elliptical, and excruciatingly frank depiction of Los Angeles junkies. The brilliant soundtrack, including songs by Van Morrison, Gene Chandler and one-hit-wonders Blues Image, anticipates both American Graffiti and all things Scorsese. It’s also worth noting that most of the film’s stars are actual users; the only bona fide actor with any recognition-value is Billy Gray, former child star of Father Knows Best, seen here:

Urgh! A Music War (1981)

Produced by drummer Stewart Copeland, Urgh! is a segmented concert film comprised of some thirty-odd new wave acts doing—with the exception of The Police—one song each. The synchronized Devo performance alone makes the whole affair worthwhile, but throw in additional perfs by Gang of Four, Magazine, Klaus Nomi, Echo & the Bunnymen, and The Dead Kennedys, and you’ve got my pick for best music film of the 80’s.

Freebie and The Bean (1974)

This is basically the ur-text for all buddy cop pictures. James Caan and Alan Arkin (who doesn’t pass for hispanic in the least) crack-wise, chase bad guys, and crash cars into buildings. This wasn’t always old hat. (Also was produced by Dusty and Sweets director Mutrux)

Out of the Fog (1941)

John Garfield and Ida Lupino star in this miasmic noir about a small-time racketeer and the girl who loves him. One of the best things about the picture is its atmospherics. Director Anatole Litvak takes the title seriously, limning working-class Sheepshead Bay with an aura of shadowy menace more palpably threatening than anything in Shutter Island.

West Point (1928)

Although I don’t consider it any kind of great film, West Point was shot on the eponymous location and stars, in addition to Joan Crawford, the now mostly forgotten William Haines. At one time the most popular male star in Hollywood, Haines’ career was effectively ruined when he refused studio dictums about covering up his homosexuality. Although he he went on to great success as an interior decorator, his film work has largely been consigned to obscurity, making a release like this all the more significant.