film review by PSquared

inherent vice

Paul Thomas Anderson's new film, Inherent Vice, is out in limited release this Friday (12/12) and goes into wide release on January 19. Here in NYC, it opens Friday at the Angelica and Loews Lincoln Square. It's the first feature adaptation of a Thomas Pynchon novel, and stars Joaquin Phoenix, Reese Witherspoon, Benicio Del Toro and Josh Brolin. Here's the synopsis:

When private eye Doc Sportello's ex-old lady suddenly out of nowhere shows up with a story about her current billionaire land developer boyfriend whom she just happens to be in love with, and a plot by his wife and her boyfriend to kidnap that billionaire and throw him in a looney bin...well, easy for her to say. It's the tail end of the psychedelic `60s and paranoia is running the day and Doc knows that "love" is another of those words going around at the moment, like "trip" or "groovy," that's being way too overused - except this one usually leads to trouble.

BV's own PSquared caught the film during the NY Film Festival premiere and liked it a lot:

The landscape is littered with corrupt cops, an undercover stoner sax player, neo nazi gangs, what could be a possible Asian drug running organization or just simple cocaine obsessed dentist tax cheats. It is Anderson's most hilarious film. The benchmarks here are late 40's noir, slapstick comedies, 70's masterworks The Long Goodbye and Chinatown and hippie drug comics like The Fabulous Furry Freak Brothers. The all star acting troupe, as you would expect is uniformly superb headed by Joaquin Phoenix as Doc and Josh Brolin eating up scenes as the nasty but "you can't hate him" cop Bigfoot Bjornsen.

You can read his whole review below.

Also appearing is Joanna Newsom who plays Sortilege, the film's narrator. You can hear her in action in the brand new trailer for Inherent Vice that also uses Can's "Vitamin C" as part of its soundtrack. This was the first acting role for the indie harpist, who's married to comedian Andy Samberg, apart from an episode of Portlandia. She told Billboard about her first day on the set:

I had a very strong sense that I didn't know what I was doing/ Afterward, Paul came up to me and said, 'You're going to go home and start freaking out and think that you did a terrible job, and I'm just going to tell you now that you didn't, and that it will be easier the next time.' And he was right.

Joanna also mentions to Billboard that she's busy working on the follow-up to 2010's Have One On Me but the film did not impact her writing. "I'm so slow anyway with music. [Inherent Vice] did take up some of my creative energy and time, but it was completely worth it." She's not Inherent Vice's only indie music tie-in: the score was written by Radiohead's Jonny Greenwood (also also scored PTA's There Will Be Blood and The Master) and it features a never-recorded Radiohead song, "Spooks," as performed by two thirds of Supergrass.

If you'd like to see Inherent Vice for free, Videology in Williamsburg is giving away a bunch of pairs of tickets tonight (12/9) at their weekly Movie Trivia night. It starts at 8:30 PM as is free to attend (get there early if you want a table).

Psquared's Inherent Vice review and the film's trailer featuring Joanna Newsom's narration, below...

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REVIEW: Inherent Vice

One of the great modern day filmmakers, Paul Thomas Anderson, adaptats one of the great authors of all time, Thomas Pynchon's 2009 novel, Inherent Vice. This being the "lightest" of all the author's novels and maybe the easiest to adapt -- although if you are as much of a fan of Pynchon's writing as I am than you know how difficult his work lends itself to a film adaptation. His novels are filled with the most colorful and colorfully named characters, Often meandering through their situations, often searching for some element of truths, colliding into one another and most of the time not in any kind of logical manner. For the film, Anderson takes many of the characters, adds a voice over narration to anchor the story and give it some straight ahead direction, and wisely keeps large chunks of the novel's wonderful dreamlike hazy and often hilarious prose intact. Once again, working in PTA's favorite Robert Altman style of ensemble storytelling, the film is one hell of a beautiful mess.

The story, as loose as it is, revolves around the world of acid fried and weeded-out private eye beach bum Doc Sportello. Visited by his ex girfriend Shasta who pleads with him to investigate a possible plot to kidnap her billionaire current boyfriend, Doc travels through a late 60's/early 70's Los Angeles where peace and love has given over to paranoia and conspiracy. This changing LA in a changing world has all parties searching for their, and the world's, hidden defects and to escape these "inherent vices" which of course they can't. The landscape is littered with corrupt cops, an undercover stoner sax player, neo nazi gangs, and what could be a possible Asian drug running organization or just simple cocaine-obsessed dentist tax cheats. It is Anderson's most hilarious film. The benchmarks here are late '40s noir, slapstick comedies, '70s masterworks The Long Goodbye and Chinatown and hippie drug comics like The Fabulous Furry Freak Brothers. The all-star acting troupe, as you would expect, is uniformly superb, headed by Joaquin Phoenix as Doc and Josh Brolin eating up scenes as the nasty but "you can't hate him" cop Bigfoot Bjornsen. Other notable mentions are a sexy alluring star turn by Katherine Waterston as Shasta, a well-known-among-these-parts beguiling Joanna Newsom playing our seemingly all has it figured out narrator Sortilege, and Martin Short as crazed dentist Rudy Blatnoyd whose time onscreen is unfortunately too brief. Mention has to be made of the cinematography of the master Robert Elswit giving the film a dried-out, hazed/faded '70s cinema look, and the soundtrack, once again, composed by Johnny Greenwood while also containing songs by artists such as Can, Minnie Ripperton and a new song -- written by Radiohead and recorded by two-thirds of Supergrass -- called "Spooks." I also am pretty sure I spotted the cameo made by the reclusive author Pynchon.

While this film might prove to be inscrutable to many, I found it, for all it's flaws (and there are plenty) to be immensely enjoyable. Like all great filmmakers, Anderson's films reward further viewings and I for one can't wait to watch this extravaganza again and again.