The Morning Read: Paul Thomas Anderson preps Pynchon’s ‘Vice’ and Scientology screed

Welcome to The Morning Read.

Oh my god… a new Radiohead album this coming Saturday?  I may buy it as a digital only version, but I’m tempted by the deluxe “Newspaper Album.”  I love the title.  “The King Of Limbs.”  Oh, man, I’m an easy mark, and I… don’t… care.

Sometimes, you just get a gift, and I think that’s got to be how Paul Thomas Anderson is feeling these days.  If you haven’t read the Thomas Pynchon novel Inherent Vice, it’s a loose, funny, shaggy detective story set in Los Angeles in the ’60s, and it reminds me of both “Kiss Kiss Bang Bang” and Altman’s riff on “The Long Goodbye.”  Knowing that PTA is the one adapting it, and that he’s already got a first draft of the script that Pynchon actually read and approved, I am delighted.  If Vulture is correct and Robert Downey Jr. is thinking about playing the lead role of Doc Sportello, then there is no other film in development I’m more excited about.

Except maybe “The Master”.  Or whatever it’s going to finally be called.  I’ve got a copy of this script which deals with the tensions within a pseudo religion called The Cause, but I don’t want to read it.  If it really is Anderson’s take on Scientology, then I’d rather just see the movie.  Phillip Seymour Hoffman is evidently interested in playing the leader of the movement, but the part of the disciple whose fall rattles the entire organization will no longer by played by Jeremy Renner, who was attached when the film almost got made at Universal.

The appearance of Megan Ellison, a 25-year-old billionaire whose dad Larry Ellison co-founded Oracle, must have felt like a total miracle to Anderson, who has had trouble making the films he wants to make while resisting the compromises built into the cost of some of the things he’s interested in doing.  Ellison is one of the producers of last year’s “True Grit,” and she also just rescued a John Hillcoat film from some financial speed bumps, so she’s starting to become a very interesting and welcome presence in the film financing world.

I hope Lasse Hallstrom actually makes “The Danish Girl” with both Nicole Kidman and Rachel Weisz attached.  It’s adapted from a novel by David Ebershoff about the marriage of Einar Wegener and Gerda Wegener that evolved from artistic collaboration to the world’s first sex-change operation.  Kidman will be playing Einar as both a man and a woman, before and after the operation, and Weisz will be playing Gerda.  It sounds like a great vehicle for both of them, and I’d like to see Hallstrom making films I’m interested in again.

I am pleased to see that there are other people in this world who can see through the nonsensical stance that “Die Hard 2” is anything but terrible.  Because it is, to be clear, terrible.

How cool is this?  All the way cool.

Also cool?  Mr. Beaks interviewing Elton John.

Also also cool?  Steve Johnson’s recent decision to publish everything he’s ever touched.  He’s a FX artist who is putting together these records of all the things he’s worked on, and io9 just got a look at a DVD he’s putting out that looks at the work he did on “The Abyss.”

My wife just caught up with “Inception” for the first time, and it’s amazing how the conversation on the film just seems to keep on going.  Yes, I know it’s Oscar season and they’re campaigning, but there’s still a real sense when I’m talking to people that they are chewing on this one, revisiting it, curious about it.  If you’re one of those people who can’t get enough of the movie, this is for you:

Don’t tell anybody, but it appears that the MPAA doesn’t really understand how the Internet works.  At all.

This entertains me.  Enormously.

Unreal.  I’d never read about the CIA’s miniature robot insect surveillance program before, and looking at this, I’m amazed at what was possible 40 years ago.

First, look at this.

Now, I want you to read a truly clever film critic at work.  Because the world needs more reviews of Bo Derek in “Bolero.”

Very smart and balanced piece about the Singularity school of thought, and well worth a read.  And if you don’t know what the Singularity is by now, it really is worth reading up on, so you’ll be ready when our robot computer overlords finally arrive.

If you want a good look at how frustrating it is to be a working film director even after critical success, just check out this piece about Miguel Arteta and the list of stuff he couldn’t get over the finish line.

Five books about filmmaking that Darren Aronofsky recommends.  That sounds like a good solid way to spend a few minutes, right?

True dat, BoingBoing.

God, I love VHS covers.  Just like I love laserdisc covers.  Just like I’m a sucker for fun film packaging of all sorts.  I had a sort of epiphany in my theories about fanboy culture this weekend, and I’m seriously considering writing a book about what I realized.  Part of what helped me reach that conclusion was realizing that Hulu now has the movie “The Rock-A-Fire Explosion” available to view, a documentary that I’ve been hoping to track down for a while.  If you’ve got time for a feature film today, you could do a whole lot worse than checking out this look at a very particular subcorner of a subculture of a subculture, which has some larger points to make about fandom in general:

I read this entire thing and all I took from it was “Blah blah blah blah we screwed up the way we show pictures on Facebook and we don’t feel like admitting it blah blah blahbety blah.”

Come on, James Cameron.  You know you wanna.

I have played this one several times over the weekend, and I almost played this wrong version for the boys when they asked me to see the preview again tonight:

I want a Moon Tree.  Just saying.

The worst thing about the impermanence of distributors and production companies in the film industry is the way films sometimes vanish into legal limbo, completely unavailable for viewers for reasons that have nothing to do with the quality of the films.

I found some storyboards for Zack Snyder’s “Superman,” but don’t tell anyone.

Interesting.  I think the debate about how 3D works and whether it works at all is a very real and interesting conversation, and this piece highlights a number of things I’ve noticed about the difference between conventional 2D films and 3D films.

Look! Hobbitses and Dwarveseses, Precious!

“Party Down” was all sorts of awesome, and this oral history of the series compiled by Whitney Pastorek is just plain awesome as well.

I would have totally missed this if Scott Weinberg hadn’t retweeted it a few times, and that would have been a damn shame.


Tim Sullivan is one of those guys you meet in Hollywood who knows everyone and who always turns up in the most interesting places.  Tim’s introduced me to KISS, the surviving Doors, and any number of other filmmakers over the years, and he always seems to be ground zero for all sorts of coolness.  He just put up a great blog about the Masters Of Horror dinners that any genre fan should take the time to watch.

I haven’t seen “Sanctum.”  Now I feel like I have to.

“The King’s Speech” and “The Karate Kid”?  Well, now that you mention it…

And finally today, I love this.  I love the notion of taking a photograph from decades ago and restaging it with the same person in present day.  It’s just remarkable, but I’ll warn that there’s a wee bit of nudity in one or two of the photos.  Nothing lewd, though.  It’s an interesting glimpse of time at work.

And speaking of time, I’m out of it.  I had interviews to do this weekend, including one with Johnny Depp, and I’ve got more interviews to do this morning for the new Farrelly Brothers film “Hall Pass,” and then I want to try to sneak over to Toshi’s kindergarten class for their Valentine’s Day party.  I’ll be back later today, though, and there’s a number of things I was trying to get to last week that I’ll have for you this week instead, including the return of the podcast with special guest David O. Russell, a new Film Nerd 2.0, and more.

Now if they just made more hours in the day…

The Morning Read appears here every Monday, Wednesday, and Friday, except when it doesn’t.