i think this time it's perfectly fine to read the book. with Oil i don't think PTA actually gave a shit about the actual story of that snoozefest. this time it looks like he's really invested in the book and he has reverence for the author. i want to read it cos all i've ever heard is that it's MINOR pynchon. so why make a movie about it?
i think PT wanted to do a detective story on one level (for the reason listed in the primer) but he jumped on the chance to also explore an even bigger mystery that is Pynchon himself. what's there to talk about so much that they've been meeting all these times? they're not just talking about the book. PTA set out to make friends with one of the most elusive authors of our time. he always seems to set himself this kind of challenge.. observe:
he wrote Frank TJ Mackey for Cruise. he stalked him out, of all the actors we've heard about in that film, the most intestesting pre production bit that we never got to see in the making of doco was when he went to the set of freaking EWS to talk to Cruise.. was mark rance there? he must've at least tried. but they don't even mention it! of all the preproduction madness from script writing to rehearsal to shooting post production and everything else he covered in That Moment, that has to be the most juicy bit in the legend that is the making of magnolia. to say nothing of the fact PTA was also seeking to encounter that certain Pynchon of directors, maybe befriend him too.
the fact it emerged as such a memorable event highlights the specific focus he had put on Tom Cruise as a pivotal part of this film. Cruise is himself one of the most elusive big name actors around. and PTA made a huge effort to win him over. what's next.. Sandler is not so much inaccessible as he is hard to take seriously, he is arguably on the same celebrity status as Cruise which grants him special "outsider" status in society by virtue of being so rare, but i think the real elusive character he was hoping to befriend in PDL was Sean Penn who passed on the role of mattress man.
during this time we have come to learn that he also was trying to court Joaquin Phoenix in some unknown capacity. this dude is ALSO famous for being inaccessible. but i'm skipping ahead. after PDL he decides to go after this amazing actor who has all but retired into a farm somewhere save for indulging his wife in that one film of hers and helping his buddy Marty make some money. i'm talking about DDL of course. and the way i described in the primer that he talked to DDL is very similar to the kind of affection he showed for Sandler in that clip where they ate gummy bears that one time
. PTA LOVES to befriend the outsiders in his world.
Downey Jr is no longer an outsider but he definitely has been, regardless of how much the teenagers making him rich these days are unaware of it. he spent years in the wildnerness. clearly he's well suited to the role of some pot smoking detective on the hunt for who knows what, some woman probably, but the real star of this film i think will be the phantom presence of the author. he's continuing to bring the outsider to light.
this is why PTA loves character actors so much, as far as to transform them into leads through sheer force of will. his early films are populated almost exclusively by actors who have no reason to believe they are the centre of the world. PDL was an interesting experiment because sandler was indeed that, but that's another topic, i'll just briefly say that was a perfect way to show someone who gets no respect in some circles playing someone who gets no respect in his familial circle finding his inner strength through a lifelong fan. With DDL and JoaqP he summoned the KINGS of the fringe (of sanity?). this is different to what Tarantino does when he shoehorns random forgotten actors into his films and revives their careers that should have in most cases stayed dead. he's a fanboy, nothing more.
what PTA is doing is much more sophisticated than what that hack does, PT is putting things in their proper place, showing us things as they were meant to be, actors in roles they were meant to play. not some stupid gimmick that only trash-loving neckbeards really care about. so read the book, read ALL of Pynchon's books.. they deserve to be read, and you have PTA's blessing.