I was lucky enough to bag some tickets to the 7pm London screening of Inherent Vice at the Prince Charles off Leicester Sq (thanks for the heads up Drenk!) PTA was in attendance and did a super-short intro about this being the right place to show this type of film and how we were about to see it in 35mm…
This is Katherine Waterston's movie and Josh Brolin's movie. Their performances are really STRONG and for me they make the film. For me the movie was centred around Shasta's infection/corruption via Golden Fang via Mickey Wolfmann (GF being down and dirty capitalism, stamping out of various cultures and communities, gentrification, a loss of hope, murder, paranoia, a multiple personality disorder culture - nothing is what it seems, everyone has three or four faces but somehow remain faceless, greed, the american way as we now know it) and Bigfoot's struggle to place his flag in the ground and take a stand (how can you fight these forces in the fog?) despite knowing/feeling/carrying the weight of the Golden Fang's influence, gradual domination. Every time Waterson appeared the movie came alive for me.
Joaquin Phoenix as Doc Sportello, didn't quite come off for me. He laid it on too heavy. The flashbacks were cool but I didn't quite believe/feel his melancholy so much as I was constantly being told about it by Joanna Newsom or another side character. Overall, I don't think the voiceover works, especially in the first scene. For me, it hurts Joaquin's performance because we never get a chance to see/feel what he's feeling. She's always interrupting his flow. Also his comic chops/timing were okay but somethings in the way. Something doesn't work.
This is the first ever PTA movie I've ever being slightly bored/restless in. (I left it feeling languid. Is this film too long? Maybe) Is it the dialogue overload? I was hoping, looking for that Love Streams, Cassavetes vibe that Wilder mentioned, but in those movies people are talking about their feelings, their trying to connect or not, here it's just dense dense dense information information information but I felt it was more funny, irreverent, ape shit and digestible when I was reading it in the book, than when I was watching it. Maybe this is down to performances, which maybe aren't up to PTA standards? (Malone delivers, Owen Wilson is Owen Wilson, I liked Newsom, everyone else was ok) or maybe it's because in my mind's eye the book was about a community. It was expansive, freewheeling and alive. You got a taste of characters and their personalities outside of the main narrative, here, characters just appear, talk to Doc, give him some information (or don't) and piss off. Or Newsom tells us a bit about them before the above happens.
It also doesn't help that the movie is mostly interiors, very tight shots, either pushing into a two-shot or handheld singles. It felt SUPER flat and somewhat monotonous after a while. At times I thought I was watching a stage play and was waiting for a cinematic passage, a PTA combination of music, sound (movement) and character. It never really came. If i was pressed, I'd say maybe Doc walking in the street at the start or maybe the scene where Doc wakes up with the dead body, are moments, but not PTA standard moments. But maybe PTA is moving away from that and stripping it right down to the bone...Wanna hear another PTA standards rant?
I thought the use of music was pretty uninspired by his standards too. I don't really recall any really interesting uses of music/score/effects as in everything he's ever done. The use of Minnie Ripperton's song felt so arbitrary, I got a little pissed, I fucking love Minnie, I especially love that song and it felt like it was just thrown into the mix.
I dunno. I wanna see this again in a couple of months time, but I hate to say it, this movie although fun, never really resonated for me. Sure, it doesn't feel like anything out at the moment, it's obviously it's own thing, but it also never really moved me, or touched me, or shocked me, or fully engaged me, or made me feel ambivalent the way a PTA film does. Whereas reading the novel, I was genuinely touched and moved and it stayed with me for days afterwards. I had no burning desire to see it immediately again, and that's the way I've felt with every PTA film until now. I'm a bit sad, bummed out, disappointed and confused....for me, this isn't typical PTA. It's something else...
The scene with Josh Brolin getting pancakes is lovely (this is when the movie started moving for me) and the sex scene towards the end is great. I loved the exchange between Doc and the Golden Fang 'family/workers' collecting the dope.
This is the first PTA movie, where a character says the title.
I can't believe WB are putting this out. I just can't believe it.
I loved the first shot of Newsom talking, with the sun bitting her cheeks.
The poster with a huge Waterstone is totally appropriate. She owns IV with Brolin.