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Oh wow, I never left my thoughts on the film. Shame on me.
So I got to see this in theaters at the beautiful Castro Theater in San Francisco. To my surprise, PTA was in attendance and introduced the flick! Sadly, no Q&A session or anything like that, but still pretty awesome.
The movie itself was fricking great. You may not like it, it's easily his most inaccessible film. Definitely something needing to be watched more than once. I've seen it three times now and read the book. PTA did a great job on the script, as I think his changes to the second half are an improvement over an already great story.
The actors are all phenomenal, which isn't a surprise because PTA is the best actor's director working today. Even the extras and one-line actors are brilliant.
Highly recommended, but you kinda got be high, or at least really drunk.
Inherent Vice (2015)
After 3 or 4 attempts in the past, I finally "suceeded" in sitting through all of Paul Thomas Anderson's 'Inherent Vice'. A film noir movie transposed to the sunny 1970s. All the recognisable components of the genre are there but the twist is changing the private eye character from a hard-drinking tough guy, to a drug addled hippie. I've watched several OG detective noirs this past week, so it was a great time to experience this update.
There are several elements that make it hard to watch. There are (almost) no establishing shots, sometimes we cut from closeup in one scene, to a closeup in another scene. When Zack Snyder did that in BvS, I put it down to incompetence but with PTA, I'm unsure if it was deliberate but ill-advised choice. Whole scenes are done in one fixed medium-shot, with no other footage to further our understanding of what is going on. Characters endlessly talk about other characters that are not in the scene we are watching, that we haven't met yet, that we will never meet, or that turn out to have no real importance to the story. Characters constantly ramble on about inconsequential things, or do inconsequential things. The little nuggets of important info, neccessary for undertsanding the convulted plot are sprinkled into those ramblings, daring you to miss them. Joaquin Phoenix mumbles, slurs and whispers all his dialogue, so again not receiving important plot info is all too easy. The voiceover by another Hippie, sometimes explains things for us but is often just new-age nonsense about signs of the zodiac.
One part stood out for me as emblematic of the film-making in general: We glimpse a couple of Polaroids of a character called "Coy", then much later Coy approaches on a foggy night so we cannot really ever see his face but we hear his voice. The only way the audience is able to know that this guy is the same one from the photos is if they already recognise actor Owen Wilson's face and voice (he plays Coy). Admittedly that's highly likely but it's still sloppy film-making.
On the positive side, Phoenix's central performance is really wonderful. The sun scorched 35mm photography looks stunning. The ensemble cast is execellent. There are loads of hilarious moments like Phoenix suddenly screaming at a disturbing photo, Josh Brolin performing fellatio on a frozen banana, or Martin Short's whole turn as a loopy dentist. 'Inherent Vice' is worth the watch if you have the patience.
Excellent summation of the film, @'TM2YC'. You were lucky, I only saw it the one time in the theater, and while it does have it's moments (most of which belong to Josh Brolin) it is not a film that holds your attention at all times. Do you think you'll do a fanedit in the style of Blade Runner 2049, cutting out the frivolous scenes to make this film go faster?
I re-watched Inherent Vice. I hadn’t seen it since it first came out. I remember being mildly disappointed, but I think that had to do with the very lofty expectations of a PTA adaptation of a Pynchon novel. I really loved the movie this time. Joaquin Phoenix is just a tremendous actor and he nails Doc Sportello. I think a lot of people focus on the plot and mystery at the center of the story. But that really misses the point. I enjoyed it for its humor, its characters, and its ability to create an atmosphere of drug fueled, end-of-an-era, disillusionment.
I may be an idiot, but I didn’t catch that Sortilège is Doc’s inner voice or intuition the first time around. Though it seems fairly obvious to me on second viewing.
My only complaint would be the ending. I loved the final scene between Doc and Bigfoot, but the rest of the ending was a little too neat and tidy. It’s almost like Anderson couldn’t resist giving it a happy ending. But that ending isn’t in keeping with the rest of the film IMO.
Finally, I’m a bit surprised this one hasn’t achieved more of a Lebowski-like cult following. It’s hilarious and shares a lot of DNA with that film. If you haven’t seen it or haven’t seen it in a while, check it out.