Tag Archives: Benicio del Toro

Inherent Vice Review, A Pretentious Bore of a Comedy

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Inherent Vice

Directed by: Paul Thomas Anderson

Starring: Joaquin Phoenix, Katherine Waterston, Josh Brolin, Owen Wilson, Benicio Del Toro, and Eric Roberts

There was a time that I thought some directors could do no wrong. I’ve held directors up a pedestal, praising the genius of their work but they gotta fail at some point. Right? When walking into Inherent Vice I was slightly optimistic, I love Paul Thomas Anderson but didn’t like the book at all. It is sad to say that the book didn’t translate well to screen. Anderson returns to a time that he captured so well in Boogie Nights and to a genre that he loved with Punch-Drunk-Love. In a way he combines both of those movies, the strange comedy mixed with a period piece, and tried to adapt a book that was never meant to be adapted. I question the love for this movie, to me it is more a love for Anderson combined with the stubbornness to admit that he isn’t the perfect director everyone thinks he is.

The movie begins with Doc Sportello (Joaquin Phoenix) receiving some troubling news from his ex-flame Shasta (Katherine Waterston) about a conspiracy to send billionaire Micky Wolfmann (Eric Roberts) to an insane asylum. Not long after receiving the news both Micky and Shasta disappear without a trace. Doc is the prime suspect but he takes it upon himself to find out what has happened to his ex and her new boyfriend.

After I finished watching this movie, it immediately reminded me of The Counselor and that is in no way a good thing. The Counselor was a movie that used nonsensical dialogue to further the plot, only leading to a convoluted and disappointing ending. Inherent Vice is exactly the same way to me. The dialogue is overwritten to the plot that you completely forget what that began talking about. It is all about these interactions.

Labelled as a “comedy” is a bold statement. I found very little to laugh about. There were certainly funny and entertaining scenes scattered throughout the film but when you add in all the extended scenes of talking about nothing it’s really not effective. Josh Brolin’s character Christian “Bigfoot” Bjornsen provided most of the laughs. At one point he barges through Doc’s door and smashes it completely as he walks in. I found that amusing. I give a lot of credit to both Brolin and Phoenix for excelling in their roles and their presences elevate the movie slightly.

The supporting cast was mostly wasted. Outside of Josh Brolin and Martin Short, no one was utilized to their fullest potential. The 5 minutes that Short was in was exciting and fun and I credit to his zany performance. The female characters are worthless as well. The film is narrated by an unknown female character that isn’t even explained. She pops in and out of the movie as if she had an important role. For the longest time I believed she was just a voice in Doc’s headed. Shasta was an interesting character who is given two big scenes to shine. She mostly opened the story and closed the movie. The longest she was in the movies was an extended nude scene that leads to her telling the audience about the horrible nature behind her recent relationship. It makes sense in the grand scheme of things but fells a little exploitative.

There are certain things that I could praise about this movie. Paul Thomas Anderson is a director who understands the process of filmmaking. He takes on new and daring things and Inherent Vice still falls into the category. He knows what he wants and he gets it. The camerawork is absolutely great. He is always moving his camera in interesting ways and makes for a visual experience. The first scene where Doc talks to Coy Harlingen (Owen Wilson) is the essential visual of a noir film. The score is also effective but slightly too much in certain scenes.

I keep going back to this but everything in this movie felt pointless to me. The interactions between characters and the story itself. What could have been a good movie turned out to be a very disappointing entry into Paul Thomas Anderson’s career.

Grade: D+

Savages Review

Savages Poster

Savages

Directed by: Oliver Stone

Starring: Aaron Taylor-Johnson, Blake Lively, Taylor Kitsch, John Travolta, Benicio del Toro, Salma Hayek

As a film fanatic I have never really cared for Oliver Stone’s work, not even Platoon for some reason, and his films have just become very political and focused and the troubles of America at the moment, his two most recent films the controversial W. and Wall Street: Money Never Sleeps. When I heard that his new film focused away from that I was glad and after seeing the trailer I was interested to see that final product. I do have to say that it was a much better movie than I was expecting and that it was definitely a step forward for Oliver Stone, in my opinion. The biggest fear that I had was that the main characters where relative new comers, sure some of them stared in big films but they ended up being flops at the box office and critically, but each one of them managed to give a convincing and deep performances as one stays in captivity and the others are on a mission to rescue her. The other main plays are some of the greatest actors and actresses, Salma Hayek seemed to be enjoying playing the villain while Benicio del Toro gave one of the most haunting yet best performances for him and the movie in general. John Travolta seemed to enjoy what he was doing and that is probably why I enjoyed his performance so much. The story itself doesn’t really break any new boundaries or anything and was rather generic but I stilled liked the way that it was handled by Stone and the actors.

Entrepreneurs Ben, a peaceful and charitable marijuana producer, and friend Chon, a former Navy SEAL, run a lucrative, homegrown industry – raising some of the best weed ever developed. They also share a one-of-a-kind love with Ophelia. Life is idyllic in their Southern California town… until the Mexican Baja Cartel decides to move in and demands that the trio partners with them. When the merciless head of the BC, Elena and her enforcer, Lado, underestimate the unbreakable bond of the three friends, Ben and Chon – with the reluctant assistance of a dirty DEA agent – wage a seemingly unwinnable war against the cartel. And so begins a series of increasingly vicious ploys and maneuvers in a high stakes, savage battle of wills.

I can definitely say that the movie is not for everybody due to its graphic violence but it is definitely a fascinating movie that I really enjoyed.

8 out of 10