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PostPosted: Sun Dec 14, 2014 1:32 pm 
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I liked it a lot, but it's one of those movies that's impossible to review. It's not about anything, and coherence isn't a goal. The earlier description of it as Anderson's "hangout movie" (c. Q. Tarantino) is spot-on. It's nothing but an assemblage of frequently hilarious scenes and characters. I enjoyed being in their company for a few hours. I suppose the highest praise that I can give it is that I wanted to watch it again, immediately afterward. Then I want to watch it some more after that. Motto panukeiku! It's the sort of movie where the reputation will grow tremendously with time.

I totally get why many people don't dig it. Much of the humor is so low-key that it's almost delivered with a shrug, and the languorous narrative (such as it is) plays like a particularly lazy fever dream. There's a legit complaint to be made about the low dialog mix in the opening scene with Doc and Shasta. Sportello's mumbling needs subtitles.

The comparisons to Night Moves and especially to The Long Goodbye are apt, though it's far more spaced-out than either. It really feels like one of Altman's 70s joints. Robert Elswit's cinematography captures that vibe perfectly, bleached and blown-out, a little grainy. I wish Anderson had gone all out with the restless camera that Altman loved too. Inherent Vice isn't like anything Paul Thomas Anderson has done before. Sure, he's been accused of Altman pastiche since Boogie Nights and Magnolia, but like his mentor, he's got so many gears, you don't know where he's going to go next.


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PostPosted: Sun Dec 14, 2014 2:03 pm 
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Jeff wrote:
I wish Anderson had gone all out with the restless camera that Altman loved too.


In retrospect this may make a very significant difference. Aside from the expired film look that knocked me out at first glance, so much of Inherent Vice was aesthetically inert to me. I saw The Long Goodbye again, and it never once feels that way.


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PostPosted: Tue Dec 16, 2014 5:55 pm 
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Kent Jones


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PostPosted: Sat Dec 20, 2014 7:00 am 

Joined: Sun Mar 22, 2009 4:53 pm
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Academy Conversations: Inherent Vice


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PostPosted: Sat Dec 20, 2014 1:15 pm 

Joined: Wed Aug 01, 2007 12:00 pm
I saw this yesterday and was pretty transfixed. I'm not sure what people mean when they say it isn't "about" anything. And, I don't mean that as a critical statement, I mean I genuinely don't understand what people mean when they say "about."

It seemed to have a very clear and traditional detective narrative for the first 2 hrs and then spun off a bit in the last half hour. That leads me to believe people don't mean it doesn't have a clear narrative when they say "about."

I love that PTA gets his signature, long, steadycam shot out of the way early, but then returns to it frequently throughout. He isn't afraid to let the camera linger and the shot stay on screen for as long as, or even longer than, is necessary. The dialogue is funky and represents the fog of information being processed through a drug addled brain and delivered through intoxicated muscles. There isn't ever any attempt to glean meaning from the sometimes entirely out of place words and phrases spoken and heard. The characters all seem to understand their place in time and location. And, as such, let words mean whatever they might mean.

I'd watch it again today if I could. I'd probably watch it again tomorrow, too.


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PostPosted: Sat Dec 20, 2014 1:51 pm 
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I haven't chimed in yet, but I generally agree with the not "about" anything sentiments. It's true that the narrative as such is no more or less obscure than those of the most quintessential detective archetypes from Hammett and Chandler. The book revels in comic Pynchonian conspiracy like so many of his others but with lower stakes and to lesser effect. The film has a flavor of the South Bay without being authoritatively anthropological in the way that, for instance, Anderson's films about the San Fernando Valley are or a film by a peer he cites specifically in his Lincoln Center talk, Jackie Brown, is. The film is layered with gags that were supposedly inspired by the manic energy of movies by the Zuckers, by Hitchcock's North by Northwest and even the punk rock sensibility of Repo Man, without achieving a similar intensity of spectacle, invention or humor. There's not enough weight or complexity to any of the thematic or generic concerns, unlike another Los Angeles movie about a super-laid back P.I. that others have mentioned above and that Anderson must have been thinking of: The Long Goodbye. To top it all off, like others have already said, the film isn't even about the exuberance of its own filmmaking, which is a surprising thing coming from Anderson. To the extent that it's druggy, Inherent Vice just feels comfortably static and kind of pleasantly buzzed for the whole run time, aimlessly riding out a mild high.


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PostPosted: Sat Dec 20, 2014 4:01 pm 
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wattsup32 wrote:
It seemed to have a very clear and traditional detective narrative for the first 2 hrs and then spun off a bit in the last half hour. That leads me to believe people don't mean it doesn't have a clear narrative when they say "about."

I mean it's not thematically "about" anything grand as far as I've been able to decipher, and also that the narrative isn't really of much interest to Pynchon or Anderson. Whether or not it happens to be coherent is of little consequence to them.


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PostPosted: Sun Dec 21, 2014 7:24 pm 
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I loved the cinematography. Given its pynchon I didn't expect anything resembling a good story, narrative coherence, nor an ending, but I watched garlic is as good as ten mothers before this and I was in the right head space and inherent vice couldn't ruin the buzz that film gave me.

If the film had the set up /twist (and payoff) that phoenix says at the end of the film he thought was coming it would be much more satisfying. But it's not Chinatown doc, forget it, its Palos verdes.


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PostPosted: Mon Jan 05, 2015 3:39 pm 
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I was actually a little bummed when I heard that Anderson had kept the stylistic parameters he has been experimenting with in films like THE MASTER and THERE WILL BE BLOOD, but going in with that in mind, I enjoyed it immensely. My only gripe is that by being filmed in that sparse style, it loses that crazed everythingisgoingonatonce tone that is distinctively special about the work of Python. I read Python and imagine it to be like a Mad Magazine cartoon where there's so much going on that the frame is crowded with energy and Anderson' VICE is the exact opposite of that. I understand that it's because he wants us to focus on the roller coaster dialogue, but if an audience member loses that thread, and the person I was with got lost and completely disengaged from the film, there's only the (fantastic) performance to latch on to, but for a lot of people, including someone in the audience who stood up and BOOOOOOOOO-ed the film when it ended, that just isn't enough.

I know this posts is mostly gripes, but I still loved the film.


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PostPosted: Mon Jan 05, 2015 3:57 pm 
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I really like the ministry of silly walks


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PostPosted: Tue Jan 06, 2015 3:48 pm 
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Kindle edition of the novel is $3.99


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PostPosted: Fri Jan 09, 2015 3:28 pm 
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feihong wrote:
Is the world's longest tracking shot still in the film? It sounds like it's shot in a more orthodox way than are previous PTA movies. No reviews so far have mentioned that dolly track.

Saw the film on Wednesday night. Nothing jumped out as being an extremely long dolly shot, but I went back & looked at the photo. Based on the location, the shot might be there. There is a flashback scene with Doc & Shasta running down a street in the rain that takes place where the track appears to be laid. I remember a dolly shot moving back and forth, although perhaps they ended up just not making the shot travel as far as they originally planned.


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PostPosted: Fri Jan 09, 2015 7:20 pm 
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Surely you remember "Richard Python" from Professor Irwin Corey's acceptance speech on behalf of Thomas Pynchon for "Gravity's Rainbow" at the National Book Awards.

http://youtu.be/I-NBPpM--pY


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PostPosted: Sat Jan 10, 2015 2:19 am 
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Is a film inherently (heh) imperfect merely because it demands to be seen a second or even third time before anything in it makes sense? I had a much better experience with this tonight than I did back in October, but I don't know if that can be rounded up to greatness, by sheer virtue of the fact that I had to put in a decent amount of work (including seeing the damn thing once already) before I could just give myself over to it tonight. Regardless - I now think it's a really good film, and perhaps it'll continue to be a grower (though that Adrien Prussia stuff at the end could've wound up on the cutting room floor, it still outstays its welcome runtime-wise), but it feels like real effort is required in order to get there.

EDIT: Seems Vanity Fair has the same question


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PostPosted: Sat Jan 10, 2015 3:12 am 
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mfunk9786 wrote:
Is a film inherently (heh) imperfect merely because it demands to be seen a second or even third time before anything in it makes sense?

Absolutely not. Better this than a film whose tricks wear out their welcome after 2-3 viewings.


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PostPosted: Sat Jan 10, 2015 8:44 pm 
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Joined: Thu Nov 11, 2004 5:18 pm
Location: Rio Rancho/Albuquerque
I thought this film was excellent. It's probably going to require a second viewing sometime down the road. I tried to stay focused and actively piece the many different subplots together, but I think just like Doc, you're better off going along for the ride without worrying too much how everything will turn out. I read a review over at Metrotimes I think and the reviewer made a point that I agree with about the overall idea of the film and that is that things eventually degrade or become instable over time. I also think it has a lot to do with how everything from ideologies to drug use is eventually co-opted for other means. My Dad,who saw it with me, was in California during the summer of 1970 and said it's a spot on portrayal of the time in that state.
My only gripe is that while Katherine Waterston is fantastic to look at:
[Reveal] Spoiler:
The sex scene between her and Doc kind of killed the rhythm of the film


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PostPosted: Tue Jan 13, 2015 12:00 am 
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Location: Tativille, IA
The strangest filmgoing experience of the year. I was initially very impressed by Joaquin Phoenix's performance (between this and The Immigrant, he may have the two best performances of the year, at the very least the best onscreen falls. Now that I think about it, he also had the best fall of 2013 in Her. I can only hope that his character in the upcoming Woody Allen project is extraordinarily clumsy) and the completely straight-faced string of jokes, but it wasn't adding up to much. Then I noticed Doc's loneliness and it hit me all at once, realizing how it had been bubbling underneath the surface of the film the whole time, similar to the way M. Gustave's loneliness does in the other zany-serious Anderson project of the year. The whole of Inherent Vice works in this backwards method, first sketching all it can, as quickly as it can, and then coming back to fill in the lines later or, in some cases, never filling in those lines, leaving them as broad sketches. It's been said many times, but this film requires multiple viewings. I don't see this as a problem in the least since P.T. Anderson created a world of abstract specificities I want to return to and further investigate. I'm most interested in getting a better grip on Doc's character in that he appears to be a goofy, well-meaning, if melancholy pseudo-PI, but somewhere along the way
[Reveal] Spoiler:
shows that he's startlingly competent and violent in two uncomfortable scenes
This is an example of how the characters and world of the film are too important to Anderson not to be taken seriously and grounded in some sort of (twisted) reality, no matter how silly.

I would disagree with the statement that the film isn't about anything, as it seems to be a vivid portrait of a character, a setting, and the vicious gap between the culture//counter-culture of the time, and I'm sure there are other thematic threads that eluded me on first viewing. That being said, perhaps the strangest part about seeing Inherent Vice was that I became so used to making sense of the sideways dialogue delivered in whispers and the hazily intense visuals that I ended up having trouble adapting to the real world afterwards, to the point where I indeed felt somewhat stoned. Clearly this is Anderson's most radical attempt yet at aesthetically inciting audience empathy :wink:


Last edited by Superswede11 on Tue Jan 13, 2015 9:51 am, edited 1 time in total.

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PostPosted: Tue Jan 13, 2015 1:03 am 
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Great points, especially about "abstract specificities" (well phrased!), which approximates what reading the novel feels like. Pynchon's deft pen renders so much bizarre stuff with crystal clarity, and Anderson, in presenting it for the camera, which captures things with equal clarity, is following his lead.

I feel like it's a movie you have to apply something to, like knowledge of the novel--there are scads of winks and nods to the source. It's like a visual version of the doper slang that's used (and in some cases co-opted) by the film's characters.

But it's not that exclusive--even thinking about film in relation to a hippy concept like yin and yang yields some interesting connections in a larger sense. Things like
[Reveal] Spoiler:
Doc and Bigfoot being inversions of one another, or the Harlingens' arc echoing but inverting Doc and Shasta's relationship...or even, in a single image, Doc's peace sign that he flips into a middle finger at the Golden Fang's operatives near the end of the film.


It's a movie about wanting to be sated and subsequently chasing a high--drugs, security, freedom, love (in Doc's case, all of the above)--and finding all of those things fleeting because of (or, hell, in spite of) the sweeping machinations of powerful people and-or-maybe-kinda-huh-waitwhat entities.

I don't know. I've only seen it once yet, and I'm drawing on my reading of the novel to backstop what I'm saying, which I think is kind of dubious, seeing as I'm an ardent book-and-film-must-be-separate entities filmgoer. I loved the film--loved the cast, the woozy but precise staging and direction. It's funny, it's sad, it's sweet, it's nasty...it's a big puff of sweetsour smoke dissipating in the sunset sky.


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PostPosted: Thu Jan 15, 2015 2:28 am 
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I did a reread of the book in the week leading up to the wide release, with unofficial annotations and Google image search always on hand. And, while I can understand mfunk's strategy of not reading the book beforehand so as not to find himself picking the film apart, and even agree that this is something that can be good in many cases, in this case it might have been precisely the wrong move. To me the film was a completely joyous explosion and enaction of certain moments and surfaces and concerns of the novel, without really working quite as a direct page-to-screen adaptation (even if that's what Anderson intended; I just don't think that sorta thing is possible with Pynchon). I think IV is very low tier Pynchon--despite what most say, for me more interesting than it is entertaining--and I have to say that I don't think it completely works. And if I hadn't read the book, I think I would have been alternately frustrated and bored for most of the film. But taken with the book, I really enjoyed it, maybe to the point of saying it's my second favorite PTA film. The way they work together is better than either of them on their own. To those who are saying that they should see the movie multiple times in order to get the most out of it, I would just say read the book. With all the architecture of the book burned solidly into your brain you can relax and the best of what the film has to offer will be thrown into sharp relief for you. Watching the film over and over again trying to clarify what it's doing on its own strikes me as a waste of time, especially if you find yourself wanting to go back and rewatch the talky scenes of information overload. The convoluted plot is an essential aspect of what IV is, for sure, but it's hard enough to metabolize when you're staring at a page and you can take your time with it, let alone when Owen Wilson's mumbling paragraphs at you. I understand the notion that if a film doesn't stand on its own, maybe it's not that great of a film. But I would say that's limiting for the possibilities of how an adaptation can work. Anyway, my two cents.


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PostPosted: Thu Jan 15, 2015 10:57 am 
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I agree wholeheartedly - the second time seeing this film worked so much better for me because I could sit back and turn my mind off of things that don't matter: What's going on, who everyone is, etc. And when you have the luxury of doing that, and let the film come to you, a lot more of it makes sense. It's not even that you need an encyclopedic understanding of everything, you just sort of need an outline in your head of what to expect from it. I look forward to seeing if there's further upward momentum, but either way, what you describe is surely just as/if not more beneficial.


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PostPosted: Sat Jan 17, 2015 4:51 am 
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Why Thomas Pynchon is made for the movies (from The Guardian)


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PostPosted: Mon Jan 19, 2015 12:48 am 

Joined: Thu Jun 28, 2007 12:16 pm
I should preface this by saying, like many, Paul Thomas Anderson has been my favourite director since seeing Boogie Nights, So obviously going into Inherent Vice I was a little more than excited. My excitement turned into confusion. Not because I didn't understand the plot or what he was trying to do, because I did. It just fell flat to me. Most of the acting was great. The writing and direction was just "off". The humour just wasn't there like he wanted it to be. Specific parts felt like they were trying really hard to be memorable, instead of the audience finding those moments organically. I've read & re-read that "this is something you need to see twice and three times!" and there's no doubt I will. I just don't see my judgment changing. This is easily his worst movie to date and I wouldn't even put it in the top 3 of the year. Better luck next time, hopefully.


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PostPosted: Wed Jan 21, 2015 7:39 pm 
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I'm of the opinion that this is a misfire, too--but one that still has a lot of great stuff in it. The problem (for me at least) is that it is so uneven; watching it (twice) I found myself going back and forth with each scene, thinking "this is genius!...this is a failure..." and so on.

People seem divided on Katherine Waterston's performance; personally, I found her magnetic, and the scenes between Doc and Shasta struck me as some of the film's most electrifying. This seemed to be the part of the film in which it felt most dark, sad, and haunted. I wanted more of that and less dumb humor. Anderson has proven in his previous films that he can balance comedy and drama very carefully but the balance here felt way off. In only one scene,

[Reveal] Spoiler:
the final confrontation between Doc and Bigfoot, when Bigfoot literally devours Doc's stash of pot, does IV come close to approaching that territory that PTA is normally so great at channeling, where you're confronted with a moment so out there you can't decide if it's funny or sad or both, and it just destroys you. Both times I've seen the film in the theater this scene has gotten hearty laughs, and it is funny--but combined with Greenwood's eerie music, and considering the raw hostility which seems to be radiating off of Bigfoot, it feels genuinely creepy and kind of heartbreaking, too.


Scenes like that are what I love PTA for. I only wish there were more of them throughout. Phoenix is brilliantly funny throughout but there is a lot of time wasted on gags that don't work and plot complications that don't mean anything. And yes, a lot of those conversations are just really boring to look at/listen to. Even if this can be considered a successful adaptation of Pynchon, here's hoping Anderson goes back to writing original screenplays next time.


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PostPosted: Sun Jan 25, 2015 6:18 am 
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I know that the main attraction (or strength) of this film is not really the plot, but I have a plot question anyhow. Am I wrong that there's a shot of Doc Sportello trying to map out the connections between the various characters on an easel on which the name "El Drano" appears, before the character is first mentioned by—I think—Bigfoot Bjornsen?


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PostPosted: Sun Jan 25, 2015 6:29 am 
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The "El Drano" subplot seems to be one thing he filmed and then cut (it actually may be the source of the missing tracking shot; I remember there's quite a bit of discussion about the community along the L.A. River).

As far as missing pieces, it's not as important as the glossed over Tariq Khalil-Glen Charlock connection, but I do wonder if it wouldn't have helped tying in Adrian Prussia better.


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