Riffing here, but rereading JB's review...diversion: I understand why people don't like this one. This movie is different than his others...
I didn't read the book...or much. I began it. Never finished. But one thing I feel is more immediate here in Inherent Vice than in PT's other movies, maybe mostly due to the inclusion of voice over, is the feeling of the struggle to be in the present, to get out of your own head. Everyone is in their own heads. This is something I felt in his earlier work in general, but not as expanded upon. In Magnolia Rose tells Jimmy to "say it", to express his personal truth [instead of his lies], and Claudia urges Jim Kurring "to say the things that they...that are real or something...", but these are urgings away from inhibition ...about shying away from an internally known and already grasped truth, not necessarily about a loss of language that might constrain conversation and connection.
After my third viewing of IV the plot started to coalesce - not completely, but the film is definitely more coherent than I had originally thought. To me, this is PT's most internal movie, even more than The Master. It's the perspective of an introvert struggling to be external, knowing that in every situation there's something going on outside of him but having trouble engaging, of everyone having trouble engaging, because the ocean in Doc's mind is constantly calling his attention away from whatever larger plot or interaction might be occurring. Maybe this is my personal reading, but the unknowability of the characters, what JB refers to as a lacking depth, to me is (maybe unintentionally, but if that's the case I think it inadvertently works) a reflection of the impossibility of getting to know anyone's depths of personality to the degree that they exist, because that inner monologue is silent and only visible to us when deliberately acted upon and shared.
Sortelige's narration exposes just some of those fleeting thoughts that add up to emotions and vibes and general perception that can be difficult to articulate and is usually beyond the realm of language for most people -- simple words to describe feelings don't always exist, especially in the thick of strange moods and converging philosophies, and Pynchon and other writers with a certain level of literary mastery hold more keys to their transmission than most possess, and so are able to hint at what is going on inside of -everyone- trapped in stoned silence without that advantage. The movie conveys this idea better than almost any other film I can think of, and in terms with which I feel in sync, so for me it succeeds in doing something new and rewarding.