It's funny to think that this is the only PTA film I didn't make a fuss over buying right when it came out. I still don't own the blu ray simply because I didn't see the point in revisiting it after my two theater viewings, I didn't feel the need to dig any deeper into it. Then, it just kind of came to me a second ago that maybe PTA was attempting to make the most dense stoner film of all time? Like, the go to quality those movies seem to shoot for is their rewatchability, that you can just throw it on at anytime, any scene, and have a laugh with your bros. It's probably the most universally reviled films by all his fans, though. I think what that speaks to is how adamantly he intended to make a Thomas Pynchon film over his own. That novel spoke to him so deeply, that he needed to propel it out there for us. I find that compelling. This movie is a beast to deal with, but I look forward to the day when I can sit on my couch, barefoot in the living room smoking a joint as fat as one doc would roll and really trying to get to the bottom of what this thing is about.
I'm grabbing Reelist's post from the other thread. Good stuff there. I agree that he definitely wanted to put Pynchon forward- and you know, this film brilliantly demonstrates his screenwriting/editing mastery. His ability to pare down a fairly dense novel into the most crucial plot points and thematic ideas. Honestly, he did better than I thought he could.
Even then, this is still pretty quintesentially a PTA film. There's this (very PTA) restless/yearning quality to it has been apparent in his works since PDL (arguably Magnolia). But if we're talking about something more concrete and less wanky, he promoted the relationships to forefront. The other book IV reminds me of is The Crying Lot of 49 (another Pynchon work). There's a lot of meandering to both stories and that's crucial because it really does demonstrate the confusion prevalent in both works, a feeling of this circular hopeless investigation. Anyway, PTA managed to capture that quality in the film yet he gave into his natural instinct and elevated the relationships. This is a side effect of trimming down the plot but boy does make the emotional aspects of the film more affecting. Some of the changes he made were pretty interesting MINOR NOVEL SPOILERS
, having Shasta in the car at the end gave the ending a different vibe to the book. Then there's Sortilege's altered presence in the film which is really quite cool ands some moments of much needed warmth and affirmation (I adored that 'what's going to nag away at you in the middle of the night' part)- which also ties into Coy Harlingen's return to his family which is so goddamned nice in the film. However the best change in the whole film is the final Bigfoot scene- it takes a smaller conversation between Doc Denis in the book and turns into a puzzling dude vs dude confrontation. All of Doc's care and confusion, all of Bigfoot's internal struggle- 'no, but you could use a keeper'. That scene is definitely now part of the PTA essential canon.
Anyway, I think that PTA's reverence of Pynchon is evident in the film but to me, it is very much a PTA film. It does seem more apparent on repeat viewings.
On a relatedish note, it's pretty amusing how all over the internet everyone expected some sort of return to Boogie Nights and instead they got his most difficult work yet. Boogie Nights is challenging and brilliant on its own terms but this is still closest to The Master. This is a totally logical progression in style from The Master, from the way he frames his shots to how he structures the film (the anxious, uncomfortable comedy of PDL is also present in this film). Someone mentioned how The Master is a masterpiece (true) and IV is an interesting diversion. I think that's interesting because it certainly isn't a stylistic leap- the way Magnolia was to PDL was to TWBB to TM (yes, I think TWBB and TM are somewhat disparate). But it does seem like PTA has found a style which is comfortable to work in. Then again, he could easily throw this out the window with whatever he makes next.