Wednesday, September 2, 2015

Inherent Vice

***DISCLAIMER*** The following review is entirely my opinion. If you comment (which I encourage you to do) be respectful. If you don't agree with my opinion (or other commenters), that's fine. To each their own. These reviews are not meant to be statements of facts or endorsements, I am just sharing my opinions and my perspective when watching the film and is not meant to reflect how these films should be viewed. Finally, the reviews are given on a scale of 0-5. 0, of course, being unwatchable. 1, being terrible. 2, being not great. 3, being okay. 4, being great and 5, being epic! And if you enjoy these reviews feel free to share them and follow the blog or follow me on Twitter (@RevRonster) for links to my reviews and the occasional live-Tweet session of the movie I'm watching! In a sense this film is a stoner comedy but not the type of stoner comedy that stoners find comical...or maybe they do.  I won't pretend to understand stoners. 

Inherent Vice – 4 out of 5

I’ve never actually read anything by Thomas Pynchon but I’ve been friends and acquaintances with individuals who have. They’ve raved about how deep and complex his books get but, despite the fantastic and glowing reviews these people in my life have given me about Pynchon, I’ve never really been interested in his work. Usually, the books I read have the words "star" and "wars" in the title or about a world that is disc-shaped and rests on the backs of four elephants on top of a giant cosmic turtle or they tell the stories of a runaway Time Lord in his TARDIS. So, needless to say, his work might not have been up my geeky alley but when one of his most popular novels called Inherent Vice is adapted by Paul Thomas Anderson and stars the likes of Joaquin Phoenix, Josh Brolin, Benicio Del Toro and even throws in Eric Roberts, then absolutely I’m going to check it out.

The longer you stare at this the funnier it gets.

Brolin, seen here looking like he's waiting for Story Time.
The film revolves around stoner and private investigator Larry "Doc" Sportello (Joaquin Phoenix) suddenly finding himself surrounded by the criminal underworld of 1970s L.A. Originally, he takes on a case to find his missing ex-girlfriend and her current money bags boyfriend but one case ends up leading to a total of three cases that all seem to be connected in some way. And, trust me, it’s a lot more complicated than it sounds and that is me putting this film as simply as I can.

We've all been there, amirite?

Inherent Vice is a terrifically put together film. The editing is tight, the visuals are great, the comedic timing on the gags are superb and the cast is filled with tremendous players and are all doing their jobs beyond excellently but the film does have one HUGE issue that hurts the film badly. That issue is the fact this film is very complicated and extremely hard to follow.

I'm assuming Del Toro is explaining the story to Phoenix.

While on the Nerdist podcast, Owen Wilson admitted he
didn't understand this, I don't feel bad when I
got lost in the story.
As I mentioned, Pynchon’s novels are known for their complexity and director Paul Thomas Anderson did a great job of capturing that (or, at least, I have to assume since I’ve never actually read the source material--to put it another way, he did a great job of just capturing complexity in general). There are a lot of characters with a lot of depth to them and the story is constantly pushing into new territory after many twists, turns and exposition-encrusted dialogue. This doesn’t necessarily make the film bad but it did make it hard to follow during many points because there is so much information thrown at your face and almost relentlessly so. A couple of times I would have to repeat chapters on the DVD because I would miss something but this reality never obliterated my entertainment value I found in it. It just made for a movie that required complete and undivided attention. Heck, blink and you might miss some info that will cause you to get lost.

Only a man with the name Blatnoyd can wear a purple suit...and that's not a bad
thing at all because after looking at that suit, I really want to change my name.

Aside from this, Inherent Vice is a great movie. From a technical standpoint, it’s incredibly put together and is very darkly funny along the way. Joaquin Phoenix does a tremendous job of carrying the movie as the main character Doc but he is surrounded by actors and actresses that can match him beat for beat. It’s a really well constructed film that looks good and is interesting…the only issue was it does get confusing and convoluted at times but it’s not impossible to follow.

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