Thomas Pynchon – A Journey into the Mind of [P.]


Thomas Pynchon – A Journey into the Mind of [P.] (2001)
Written and directed by Fosco Dubini
and Donatello Dubini
Music by The Residents
Language: English
Runtime: 96mins

“Things are not as they seem.” In US writer Thomas Pynchon’s case, this is a mantra, cornerstone to a life and labyrinthine oeuvre freighted with ceaseless speculation. In books like V. and Gravity’s Rainbow, the covert arenas of the contemporary order (the military-industrial complex, governmental conspiracy, the sinister reaches of science) mesh with counter-cultural values, permeating paranoia, arcane knowledge-systems and profoundly ironic humour in an encyclopaedic investigation of modernity. Central to this is a (doomed) quest for some singular explanation of things, a motif taken up by the Dubini duo in their intriguing derive that takes in his biography, times and obsessive supporters.

On the surface it’s a tall order: Pynchon is one of the great cultural recluses, unphotographed for 40 years, his absence from the flashgun glare now an inseparable part of his “project.” So the film offers an atmospheric collage, chaptered around varying recollections and his synchronicity with resonant aspects of post-war US society. Apposite newsreel and found-footage of missile experiments and Agency psychedelics tests mix with talking heads, spoken extracts and Pynchon’s articulate fans. Stand-ins, doubles, lookalike contestants populate a shifting reality, scored to a trippy, fragmented soundscape care of The Residents, that builds towards a compelling final act, searching for the grail of a new image of the writer. Reflecting the hall of mirrors in which the novels, history, the novelist and his “researchers” move, this documentary, while uneven and occasionally over-extended, provides required viewing for devotees, and should reward those keen to explore the mysterious dynamics of the age via one of their definitive surveillants.

Gareth Evans, Time Out.

The Grey Lodge is torrenting a 632MB avi version. Buy the DVD here.

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