Inherent Vice (2014) directed by Paul Thomas Anderson
Back in the 1990s when I was a teenager the 1970s was the decade to idealize. As a pre-teen I needed to do my homework on Led Zeppelin, The Doors, Woodstock and Joni Mitchell to name a few icons. Unfortunately a lot of information came from popularized visions such as the movie Forrest Gump (1994) or The Doors (1991). Sources like Thomas Pynchon's Inherent Vice novel did not exist. I cannot help but feel that Inherent Vice is a vision of the 70s filtered through the 90s. It kind of makes sense, as the current trendy past decade that continues to be referenced is the 90s. As Nick mentioned after we strolled out of the cinema (or I didn't stroll, I half-ran because for an hour and half out of 2 and a half hours I needed to pee), the characters and their way of being could have just as well been a portrayal of 2015 hipsters in Coachella. I liked this time and style confusion very much.
|Phoenix as 'Doc'|
|The stars lining up to promote Inherent Vice|
P.T. Anderson dips into the Robert Altman well of goodness again. And in 2015 it's fair to say why not. It's also fair to say that any debt Inherent Vice may owe to Altman's cinema is superficial at best: Altman's The Long Goodbye is the obvious touchstone, but apart from a couple of similar plot references Inherent Vice really stands as its own piece of quirky cinema. Elliott Gould certainly broke the Philip Marlowe template in Altman's film but Joaquin Phoenix takes the private investigator to new levels of stoned magnificence probably never seen in the movies before. Phoenix's Doc and Inherent Vice in general also have a welcome Neil Young obsession (way beyond Phoenix's sideboard sideburns) – we're talking mid-1970's Young, so it's OK. This just adds extra layers of strangeness and unconventionality to Inherent Vice. Anderson's latest feels more than ever like a film out of time, something that people daren't make in 2015. The executives were probably screaming at P.T. "Paul, people just won't get this rambling mess of a movie".
|Joaquin Phoenix or Neil Young, spot the difference.|
It's true, Inherent Vice rambles and can seem quite incoherent. It plays fast with plot conventions and the joy for me was just going with the indulgence and diving into Inherent Vice's multi-faceted set-up. Of course I could have been being taken for a ride by Inherent Vice, but Anderson always snapped you out of your stoned stupor by bringing some scenes sharply into focus. Following Doc as he is offered case after case and lead after lead is an intricate web and puzzle and whilst it's easy to get lost, it's also great that Anderson offers us some good laughs along the way to another dead end. Inherent Vice not only plays with plot but offers the usual rich attention to detail that has become such a trademark of Anderson's cinema. From costume to setting and the use of color you can just focus on the look and style of this movie and get lost in it. It's a drug infested LA that we're watching and the beauty of Inherent Vice could be that Anderson's vision of a super stoned LA might really have been the way it was. Jonny Greenwood's soundtrack fits perfectly here and Anderson and the Radiohead guitarist are building something which will be looked back on than more than special.
|Inherent Vice is so rich in detail it's sometimes easy to miss the references|
|Doc takes shelter|