When it comes to the next Paul Thomas Anderson film, all news is mysterious news. While we’re still not sure exactly which of Anderson’s films might be going into production first, it had looked like it might be his Thomas Pynchon adaptation “Inherent Vice” this fall, but recent casting speculation leads us to believe it may be the untitled religious drama sometimes referred to as “The Master,” which is now possibly to co-star Joaquin Phoenix alongside Philip Seymour Hoffman. The next little morsel of news comes from reliable fansite Cigarettes & Red Vines. The site received a tip from a reader that indicates that Anderson has been shooting tests with and operating a 65mm camera, which the site also points out, is the same camera used by Stanley Kubrick on “2001: A Space Odyssey.” Anderson has always been a big advocate of shooting on film and if this were to happen it would be a cinephile’s wet dream.
While it’s likely Anderson is indulging his inner Kubrick, the reader suggests Anderson may have been inspired more recently by cinematographer Wally Pfister and director Christopher Nolan‘s use of the format on “The Dark Knight” and “Inception.” Pretty much everyone who saw “The Dark Knight” in IMAX had the same jaw-dropping reaction to the scenes filmed in the large format so it’s not entirely unreasonable. The aerial shots and action sequences looked so good (and so crystal clear) it’s actually frustrating to see so many other films fake the format by blowing up 35mm and calling it “IMAX” because the quality just isn’t there (We’re looking at you, pretty much every other tentpole.) “Inception” did not shoot in IMAX (due to the size and unwieldy nature of the IMAX cameras) but was instead filmed with much more manageable 65mm cameras, which is the best possible quality for film outside of IMAX. The site points out that “Nolan shot 65mm in a square, IMAX format whereas Kubrick kept the format at 2:35.1 to contain as much detail as possible for the optical effects.”
While it’s not clear whether he might be using it for “The Master” or “Inherent Vice,” it’s possible (though unlikely) he could be using it for some other purpose entirely. (Home movies? Superbowl commercial? Nature doc?) The site mentions they received an image to corroborate this story but due to the secretive nature of the information are unable to publish it. (They do include a hilarious drawing/recreation in its place.) The report also suggests that for the first time, Anderson’s next film will not be shot by regular cinematographer Robert Elswit though it’s not clear yet who might replace him. Elswit’s work has been such an integral (and beautiful) part of Anderson’s films that we’ll be sad to see him go but hopefully they can collaborate again on whichever project comes after.