Inherent Vice – P.T. Anderson (2014)

I saw P.T. Anderson’s Inherent Vice on Friday, with a very game audience at the Angelika, and had a blast. It does a great job of capturing the feel of Pynchon, as well as the semi-benumbed miasma of drugged-outedness. Great performances by all, with pop-ups from everyone from Michael K Williams to Belladonna to Eric Roberts, but I especially liked Josh Brolin as sad sack Bigfoot (“motto panukeiku!”). Of course, this is Phoenix’s show, and he carries it off hilariously, doing more with mumbles and long drawn out hedging groans than anyone else could have. I would guess that how you feel about the movie depends on how you feel about Pynchon, as the movie is all “dialogue” and the “action” is difficult to follow. (I have not read the book, but would wager this is realistic not only to it, but to the world of drug-fueled conspiracies generally). Like a lot of Pynchon, there is not much of an emotional core here, but no matter, this is one to see for the performances. Tons of fun, it felt an hour shorter than it is. Anderson has grown on me as a director; his early films range from the over-rated and slightly dull (Boogie Nights) to the overly-long and truly awful (Magnolia) to hit-and-miss twee (Punch-Drunk Love), but since There Will be Blood (still his finest hour) he’s redeemed himself.

Three and a half stars out of five

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