peteg's blog - noise - movies - 2015 01 10 InherentVice

Inherent Vice

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$12, 4pm, Landmark at 2828 Clark. Got the bus up from Division due to some dodgy time management; it was warm enough, and still enough, to schlepp. The cinema was packed as it only opened yesterday. I sat three rows from the front in the friend-of-a-wheelchair-user row.

Another Paul Thomas Anderson, seemingly rushing up in the wake of The Master, though I now see that two years have passed inbetween. This is an adaptation of Thomas Pynchon's recent (2009?) book. I haven't read the book or anything else by him. I initially hoped I could follow some of the story, or at least figure out what the characters were for, but once Joaquin Phoenix slid into full-on mumbling mode I gave up and tried to enjoy the ride. Most of the humour is observational (cf Phoenix's mumbling). I found Josh Brolin a bit meh, perhaps because he came as a form-fit caricature; those who enjoyed his performance may have latched onto it as one of the few anchors on offer. I also didn't get into the Owen Wilson thing at all. Benicio del Toro phoned it in; what happened to the deft attorney skills he showed in Fear and Loathing? Martin Donovan sure got old; then again, his Hal Hartley days are getting on to twenty years in the previous. Reese Witherspoon is typecast-prissy. The cast is unbounded.

I walked home down Halsted, stopping at Noodles in the Pot for a dinner of basil chicken. Not so great; I conclude that the locals, who rate it 4.4/5 on Google, do not know what good Thai tastes like.

Dana Stevens observes the antecedents: The Big Sleep and The Long Goodbye. Shaggy it is and no cat in sight. It had it's Chinatown moments too. Manohla Dargis: to me, narrator Joanna Newsom as Sortilège evoked the Stranger in The Big Lebowski; of course Phoenix is playing a similar game to the Dude, though he has no Maude in need of impregnation, nor a persian rug. She's right to quote Donovan's character: "People like you lose all claim to respect the first time they pay anybody rent." She makes it sound like one long homage. Geoffrey O’Brien also cites Donovan's line. The photo has Owen Wilson in it but the text does not. Strange. Ben Sachs at the Reader. Anna Shechtman at the L.A. Review of Books. Perhaps the meat was in the Owen Wilson bits. Michael Wood. Evan Kindley is late to the party.