Tag Archives: Paul Thomas Anderson

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+

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The Death of Film Stock is Upon Us

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Being a native of Rochester, New York I know all there is about Kodak and George Eastman. I grew up in that region and I’ve become really interested in the history of both Kodak and George Eastman himself. I’ve been to The Eastman Theater, to see a screening of Willy Wonka and The Chocolate Factory, and toured his house. It is a fascinating venture and sure to interest any cinephile.

Recently Christopher Nolan, Quentin Tarantino, Judd Apatow, and J.J. Abrams have campaigned heavily for studios to buy film stock and use it more often than they do. The chairman of Kodak CEO Jeff Clarke announced Wednesday that their company will continue their production of film stock. According to the Wall Street Journal, prominent studios such as Warner Bros. and Walt Disney Studios will purchase a certain amount of film stock each year. This solidifies the use of film stock for certain films. I see it used more so on their smaller projects rather than their blockbuster.

Bob Weinstein, one of the chairman for TWC, stated “It’s a financial commitment, no doubt about it. But I don’t think we could look some of our filmmakers in the eyes if we didn’t do it.” This shows just how committed they are to preserving the magic of movies and their love for the medium.

I’m happy to see that people are still in support for something that has been dying out in past few years. After The Master I think that people will realize the beauty that film contains.

The film selection at the Toronto Film Festival always impress me. I am really looking forward to Argo and The Master just because they seem to be one of the more interesting. The Master is hard to decipher I have yet to find out what it is truly about but that will not get in the way of me seeing this film. I am a big fan of Paul Thomas Anderson‘s work, Boogie Nights, Magnolia, and There Will Be Blood, and this movie will be no exception. I really like where Ben Affleck‘s career has gone, he was not always my favorite actor but when it comes to his directing he has made two of the greatest modern crime films and Argo looks to be the one the gets him a nomination for directing( and rightfully so). Outside of Looper the other films on this list I have no real knowledge of but may have to check them out when the time comes to it. The one I am looking forward to the most has to be Looper, it looks like a tense action thriller that makes you think about time travel and all the possibilities that it brings forth. Right now it stands at the top of my list as most anticipated of this fall and if it is as good as I am hoping it may end up being one of my favorites of the year or maybe it will not live up to my expectations and end up being something that disappoints more than anything. With that I will try to stay updated with other films coming out of the Toronto Film Festival and hopefully get to see them if I have time away from school, work, and homework (which hasn’t been much time lately).