A new genre has been invented. It’s not a whodunnit or a mystery or a thriller. This is a bona fide what-on-earth-is-going-on-here-anyway-it.
Based on a 2009 book by Thomas Pynchon, it’s straight out nuts, breathless and surprising, from the very first scene.
Doc (Joaquin Phoenix) is a 1970 detective who smokes a lot of marijuana. He lives on the beach in Los Angeles. His ex (Katherine Waterston) asks him to find her new boyfriend, who has disappeared and it may be because of his wife or his wife’s boyfriend.
Confused? You are just at the beginning of this convoluted and very long movie. Paul Thomas Anderson directs and scripts this funny yet serious stoner fantasy with even less clarity than “The Master” offered.
The feel of 1970 – when Anderson was just born – is awesome. Movies without smart phones and laptops are always welcome and you could probably get wrecked just by watching this and trying to work out what’s happening to whom, why and where.
Surreal and speedy, you get whizzed along with a wide cast of wonderfully-named people through the shaggiest of shaggy dog tales. Everyone is called “Japonica” or “Shasta” and the straightest character of all – it’s the fuzz, man – is called Bigfoot. Bigfoot is played straight by a glorious Josh Brolin.
It’s an enjoyable film which keeps up its weird 1970 drug-laden feel. Images stay in my head, but I am a long way from figuring out what happened, when, why or how it ends. I am puzzled, as was the very-full Stratford East Picturehouse audience.
If you miss 1970s values, this is a good movie to watch. I now have a slightly better chance of getting through a Thomas Pynchon book since I long to know what happened in “Inherent Vice”. Mind you, I might not end up any the wiser.
Inherent vice means that something has a fault that will come out, inevitably. The example used in the film is that chocolate will always melt. It’s used in insurance and law to mean a fault or feature that needs to be factored in. Clear? No, me neither.
The star-studded cast all look like they are having a blast. Original and sunlit, it looks good and has a wonderful soundtrack.
Just writing about it leaves you sounding slightly alternative and medicated.
It’s a far out trip. Peace out, man.