During the psychedelic 60s and 70s Larry "Doc" Sportello is surprised by his former girlfriend and her plot for her billionaire boyfriend, his wife, and her boyfriend. A plan for kidnapping gets shaken up by the oddball characters entangled in this groovy kidnapping romp based upon the novel by Thomas Pynchon.Written by
The look of the movie was inspired by a few reels of improperly stored film that Paul Thomas Anderson had kept in his garage for nearly fifteen years. Only a few shots actually used the aged film, however, as it was too risky to rely on the damaged film stock. See more »
At the dentist's office the receptionists asks for "contact information"- a term not coined until the 21st century. In 1970, one would ask only for "a phone number" or "address." See more »
Coy's band, The Boards, were currently renting a place in Topanga Canyon from a bass player turned record company executive, which trend watchers took as further evidence of the end of Hollywood, if not the world, as they had known it.
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After the credits roll, the end caption is the opening inscription from Pynchon's novel, Inherent Vice: "Under the Paving-Stones, the Beach!" - Graffito, Paris, May 1968 See more »
Dense, indecipherable, whimsical, but melancholic.
Paul Thomas Anderson has gone from a perfectionist to an imperfectionist. Now he encourages incoherence and spontaneity above controlling every detail for a hyper reality and instead wants to stay closer to a documentary aesthetic. In fact, I'd argue that he's never been more Robert Altman-esque than with Inherent Vice. This is wacky, whimsical and bizarre, but ultimately deeply sad. The plot is dense, near indecipherable and hard to follow. Threads get solved without much celebration and they just lead to a bigger mess of problems. It's still enjoyable thanks to the sleek and smoky atmosphere in the production with the blend of a funkadelic soundtrack and Joanna Newsom's sultry narration. It's easy to sink into even if it isn't your scene. But it's not about sex, drugs and cults. Set in California in 1970, the time and place of Paul Thomas Anderson's birth, it's probably one of his most personal films. It evokes its era with a deep longing for it despite the pain, confusion and chaos, much as Doc longs for his ex- girlfriend.
I assumed Inherent Vice meant that there's always a dark side, but the film explains it that means nothing in this world lasts. Subsequently it becomes irrevocably melancholic despite the humour of the film. The cinematography feeds into this idea as well being shot on grainy film in a way that is arguably dying. Anderson utilises it for the best effect, but its appeal is limited, as he strips down the mise en scene and often puts actors against white walls as if it's a dress rehearsal. Unfortunately Joaquin Phoenix is a disappointment, having impressed greatly in his comeback with The Master and Her. Perhaps he's run out of juice. He tries too hard to balance light and dark and his character isn't believable enough to hold the weight of the film. However, the supporting cast is excellent, especially Josh Brolin and Joanna Newsom even if tracking their character's inner conflicts is a struggle. Inherent Vice is an intentional mess, but one with great ideas at its core if not ones that are articulated as eloquently as Anderson's previous films. A masterpiece roll can't last forever, ironically.
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