Much of the movie is still pretty boring to me, maybe because I can’t believe in a millennial version of 1970 where everyone speaks in stoic, millennial Bogie imitations, and as a mystery this is even more convoluted and less compelling than the Philip Marlowe capers that serve as its models.
You can get overwhelmed by these complexities. You can also be exhilarated by them, the recognizable insanity (and it is recognizable, even bafflement is recognizable) of it all. Inherent Vice seeps into your soul… Why is this is so heartachingly beautiful? The movie doesn’t so much require multiple viewings, it seduces you to revisit it, again and again, pulling you in far enough, while remaining just enough out of reach. You feel as if you need it.
If there’s one thing Anderson has gotten great at, it’s filming faces. The Master turned the close-up into a vista, something as worthy of blown-up 70mm grandeur as desert dunes or deep space, but the close-ups of Inherent Vice arguably explore richer emotional domains in the comically broad expressions of the actors. The focal point for any given scene usually isn’t an action itself, but Doc’s reaction to it.
I wonder how many times Paul T. Anderson and Joaquin Phoenix sat around watching BIG LEBOWSKI before making this shamelessly derivative film. Even the soundtrack; just replace Dylan with Neil Young. The only things missing are the bowling and the missing toe. Oh, and throw in a a few elements from Robert Altman's THE LONG GOODBYE, too. Great cast (Martin Short!), but the soundtrack album is better than the film. 3.5
The Conspiracy Against the Human Race. Something tells me that if "Inherent Vice" had come out right after the 2016 Election, it would have been heralded as the film of our paranoid and confusing times. Such is the curse of an artist like Paul Thomas Anderson being ahead of the curve, but we can still appreciate "Vice" for what else it is: a shuffling and esoteric stoner-detective story set in a lost California.
I'm not sure you're supposed to read Pynchon, not like a normal book. I think you're supposed to study him. There's far too much going on anyway. The movie's too short to capture what was going on, and a mini-series might seem like torture if you tried to explain things better. What we have is a snapshot of a fevered dream, with close-ups so we can really appreciate the acting and forget about the context.
This is PT Anderson's Long Goodbye. I am not familiar with the source material but what Anderson brought to the screen here is nothing short of brilliant, perfectly complimented by this great ensemble of actors lead by the redeemed Joaquin Phoenix.
As a kitsch puzzle, Inherent Vice is a strong 2-hour-long entertainment. It discusses the american promisse of the 70s dream and I dig it. By the way: what an interesting atmosphere: it's noir, it's california, it's woodstock, it's a cop show: all tight together in a story built for fun. Thumbs up, Doc.
Understand that I wanted to hate it. I scowled through the first half hour of bad acting (Shasta) and ill-advised soundtrack and why the fuck is Sortilège narrating? Any moments of beauty were cribbed straight from the book, which was practically written for the screen anyway, so no points for PTA there... But then he - and 2.5 hours, and Joaquin's Doc (and some nostalgia on my part) - pulled it off. 4 grudging stars
A set of great comical performances (Brolin, Short & Chau are the highlights to me) that doesn't quite work as a whole. The narrator, Sortilège, is the most enigmatic element. She exists as a character in some scenes, yet seems to float in and out of them against all logic. When she voice-overs it rarely clarifies the convoluted plot, existing more like Doc's conscience so that he can directly address the audience.
kill all hippies. there are very interesting politic ideas. the film is a mess - which is not necessarily bad - and quite often just feels flat. there is some mastery in the filmmaking, good acting and everything.. an ok film for a break or something.