A lot of films lately have done a really good job of tapping into specific parts of my brain and causing me to have weird, uncomfortable emotional disturbances. Whiplash made me question my drive, Nightcrawler made me question my ethics, Gone Girl made me question how good I’m doing in my relationship, and Birdman just made me question the purpose of my existence. Inherent Vice, the newest movie to mess with me, confirmed a feeling in my head that I’m probably super paranoid about everything. And I don’t even take (non stomach related) drugs!
This movie has plot oozing out of every orifice. Just when I think the movie is about one thing, a new character is introduced, a seemingly new, different case is now on private investigator Doc’s (Joaquin Phoenix) radar, and another branch of story is shooting in a direction we haven’t explored yet. Whether it all actually gets tied up again at the end, I want to say… perhaps? ¯\_(ツ)_/¯. I’m no connoisseur of fine literature [licks fingers, turns page on Goosebumps book], so I have no idea how much Paul Thomas Anderson strayed away or faithfully stuck to Thomas Pynchon’s source material, but it was a movie that felt like an endless stream of people talking and creating more plot. There were only a couple of scenes that provided some breathing room, and they were appreciated. Not that I’m complaining about the dialogue or anything, it’s all very clever. And it had one of my new favorite movie lines ever; as Doc and his rival police chief, Bigfoot (Josh Brolin) are meeting at a breakfast joint to discuss (one of several) cases, Bigfoot says, “The pancakes aren’t as good as my mother’s… But I keep coming back here for the respect.” Haha, I’m definitely using that line next time anyone questions a food choice I’ve made. Then I’ll start shouting “MOTO PANACAKU! MOTO PANACAKU!” in their face until they leave the room. Yeah, I’m annoying.
Paul Thomas Anderson might be one of the only film makers who can throw in an unapologetically strange moment into his story, leave it completely unexplained as he moves into the next scene, and make the entire audience somehow believe that what we just watched was supposed to belong there. This sort of randomness could infuriate me in other films, but with PTA, it’s almost *expected* to occur, and for whatever reason, I don’t just enjoy these moments, I look forward to the next one. Inherent Vice is filled with so many of these moments, however, that I couldn’t help but leave the theater not only wondering “What the hell did I just watch?”, but also “Why did I enjoy this movie?” The latter confused me the most because I truly did enjoy it. I enjoyed it despite the fact that I probably couldn’t relay the plot to someone in the hallway of the movie theater right after I walked out of the auditorium. I have no idea what this movie was supposed to be, and I enjoyed the hell out of it.
But I don’t think I could possibly recommend Inherent Vice to anyone. I just tried flipping through the mental Rolodex of people I know, and I’m not entirely sure I’d be confident in encouraging any of those people to actually pay money to sit through these two and a half hours of lunacy. That’s not to say that you (or many people) wouldn’t like it, but I can just imagine everybody also wondering what the hell they just watched and why the hell I told them to go see it. So… Don’t go see Inherent Vice. It’s really good. But your time is precious. It’s only great filmmaking. It’s not for you. And I liked it a lot. Stay away.
Confused yet? Huh? OK. 8.5 out of 10. Or is it? Probably? Maybe? I think? No? So? What?