Wednesday, September 9, 2015

3 Short Paragraphs: Inherent Vice

2014, Paul Thomas Anderson (Boogie Nights, Magnolia, The Master) -- download

No, not Paul WS Anderson of Resident Evil "fame".

Paul Thomas Anderson is one of those directors I expect is on the "needs to be watched" lists created by film aficionados. I still remember the buzz when Magnolia came out, with all the intertwining stories and extended cast. All of his movies get a lot of critical acclaim but I still wonder if they are popular with audiences. Not that it matters; I respect a creator that sticks to their ideal without all the bullshit we get when trying to make a movie popular & box office generating.

At its heart, the movie is a noir detective mystery. We get Doc, a hippy pothead in the 70s who runs a private eye business out of a medical clinic in Gordita Beach. His ex Shasta, the ex that he never got over, visits him and tells him of a conspiracy involving her new boyfriend, a local land magnate. And thus begins a twisted, convoluted tale that may or may not be exacerbated by paranoid drug delusions on Doc's part. Murder, conspiracy and politics all interweave, as they do in all the best noir, with the weird hint of humor from wacked out hippy culture.

There are a lot of characters in this movie, a LOT. From Bigfoot Bjornsen (Josh Brolin), the abusive cop with self image issues, to the dentist cum crime lord Dr. Blatnoyd (Martin Short) to land baron Mickey Wolfmann (Eric Roberts) to police informant / musician Coy Harlingen (Owen Wilson) to... it goes on. There's even a noirish narrator who doesn't actually seem to be part of the story, so maybe just a voice in Doc's head. It's a fun ride, all 1970s LA style where we focus on the flat, laid our architecture and geography as we do the clothing and cars. The paranoia of state vs hippy is as much a theme in the movie as a bad trip. I was just never quite sure the plot was as convoluted as Doc made it out to be.

P.S. The posters are a real treat, so I broke my unwritten rule and posted the best one.