how about we stop just imagining (imaginating?) our dream adaptations, but in addition to that, which is worth nothing to anyone, we actually try to guess the kind of movie he'll make next, based on the trajectory of the films he's made before.
he is rather predictable, since he can't stop making the same movie over and over again. with the same ending, the same contracts at a desk, the same father/son drama, the same film every single time. just like kubrick, like scorsese, like lynch, like any director worth a damn.
Inherent Vice will be a turning point but not in the way we or even PTA was expecting. the death of PSH will be felt. apart from the prominent dedication he'll get at the end of IV, the real impact will be evident in whatever creative pursuit PTA undertakes next. his influence on PTA's output is on par if not exceeding that of altman, demme, his girlfriends, and his father. look at the way those figures have shaped his films without directly being involved with them.
PSH was someone that actively had a hand in his films. someone he trusted more times than anyone with his vision through the sheer number of times they worked together. we know that his relationship to his actors is nothing ordinary. he didn't just hire them to read the lines and hit their marks. he wanted something from them, and they were all too willing to give it to him -- better than that, they promised to find in themselves something beyond what PTA had imagined. they wanted to go the extra mile for him.
PSH was at the forefront of those who gave themselves to PTA's vision, he signed on to the master without even reading the script, he saved PDL by stepping into the villainous role when Sean Penn pussied out, hell he would've replaced the idiot who played Eli Sunday originally if he hadn't been 30 years too old and 30 kg too fat for the role.. still would've been better than Paul Dano. but i digress.. the way his actors give themselves is not just spiritually, emotionally, professionally, it's an adverb that is not in common usage because it only applies to the relationship an actor has with their director.
PTA, when he used to give a lot more interviews and do commentaries etc, used to describe his relationship with actors as "i'm just a fan".. he hires them and then he sits back and LOVES what they do.. what is a fan in this sense? he's not after their autograph, they're already giving their image to his film, he's not after a picture with them either for his instagram.. you see as peasants our understanding of the way directors relate to their actors is somewhat limited. what PTA loves to do is GIVE.. firstly he gives them amazing material to work with, then he gives them TRUST and FREEDOM, he allows them to show HIM something he couldn't have imagined. that's how Joaquin came up with Freddie's gait, remember? and from the recent scene we talked about in That Moment we know even little things like the clicking of PSH's pen to his mouth as Scotty J is something he didn't come up with but absorbed into his vision.
so by now, despite his greatest efforts to trick us otherwise, we can safely predict a lot of aspects of his films -- that's precisely the reason we go to them because they will have these amazing qualities that have been present in everything he's done. Inherent Vice is going to be a turning point. we can see from the entire production saga that all this movie is about is new casting announcements. that's funny but there's more to it than mundane blog fodder. without even reading the book we know it's going to have a huge cast.. while it may be driven by JP's PI character it's safe to predict he will encounter a whole slew of interesting characters. what is PTA doing with these people, how is he using them? why choose a story that has so many characters relative to his recent output?
IV feels like a hybrid of his single-character films, PDL-CMBB-TM, and the ensemble films he left behind.. the way to make this work will be for JP's character to be a passive intruder to the lives of many vivid entities. all main characters are surrogates for PTA and side characters function as revelations, anxieties, fears, memories, loves, addictions, and myriad other things he has on his mind. IV will be his most generous film, it will make the most money, not least of which because it might well be hilarious but also he's once again hit upon a hot topic without meaning to - marijuana. the spirit of the 60s is flourishing once again on the east coast and through serendipitous alignment he finds himself in the centre of it. refer to his previous hits: sex in the late 90s clinton era, oil and greed in the bush era. That was not his point, but it didn't hurt his pocket.
now i think we can arrive at what PSH will do for his next film. he can't count on that most reliable extension of himself, even if he wanted to, even if he thought he had one more great role for PSH to play.. the time has passed. in some ways he has foreshadowed this event through the bittersweet farewell he gave the master. that may well be the most touching tribute to his friend, in his presence, in his film. but I think death will play a bigger role in the next film.. it took him 2 films to get over his father's passing, it took him just as many to tear himself away from altman, his only consistent loves remained California and PSH, with occasional affairs with various leading men and minimal visits to other locations.
his next film is his hardest to predict, but if we approach it with what we know about him (we should know more than anyone on the internets) we can probably take a good stab. i think he'll go back to the source, since he'll be reaching some kind of apogee with Inherent Vice. somewhere in california, Mumbles O Malley will make an appearance, and what he mumbles will blow everyone's mind: "Hoffbud".