This was my first time watching a PTA film in theaters and in 70mm no less, it was sort of a tense experience with all the expectations and me having and internal kinship with his other films- it was tough not to sit and think about how others were reacting, whether they liked it, if it was a dud, did it get laughs etc. almost like I was screening one of my own films. Also having read the book multiple times just wondering what where and when and werenít things were there and comparing and all that...
So anyway the STYLE- Inherent Vice made me feel intensely claustrophobic in a way that few other films have- at two and half hours of close-ups and tightly framed two shots of one on one monologues with our hero, I wonder if this was what he was going for? I felt maybe he may have stripped back it too far the point where it feels almost like a mumblecore film with a-list actors or a lower budget TV series, with tight closeups on white walls and intentionally ugly framing that several times cuts off peoples heads- itís not a visually ugly film but it almost feels like the work of a perfectionist deliberately trying to make an imperfect film
Somehow I felt this vibe didnít really jive sometimes with Pynchon's ornate and fluffy, ridiculously self referential dialogue which is EXACTLY transposed here, case in point the Benecio scenes which were mostly unnecessary and only kept in probably because Benecio is Benecio and you canít cut him out right?
Moving on, The voice over, which annoyed the shit out of me in the trailers, actually mostly works here, yes it does have a bit of an expository copy/paste quality and I sometimes wished PT used it in a more cinematic way like the time where sortilege appeared and reappeared in the car, but her casting is inspired and the character adds another interesting dimension that wasnít in the book, which is always a plus too an adaptationÖ
Iíve been listing to Greenwood's Soundtrack a lot this week and itís growing on me too- doesnít strike you in the same way as the last two but it adds to the mood and is an another inspired choice.. I appreciate PTA for not just loading the soundtrack with golden oldies like I feel a lesser director would have done. The pop tunes sometimes seem haphazardly used, they sort of are just kind of sit there, not really adding too or punctuating scenes but they are well-chosen and tasteful
Also thereís no sense of geography in this movie, and that combined with the editing, like the Master, may throw some people off- the scenes flow into each other abruptly which is what I thinkis causing the ďdrug haze/tripĒ vibe everyone is talking about despite the fact that in no way whatsoever is the film overtly ďpsychedelic" or surreal, itís as straightforward as possible considering the source material, this is not Fear and Loathing 2.0, Bunuel is an interesting comparison but its still more straightforward than that, it reminded me a bit of Roger's LSD trip scene in that Mad Men episode, offbeat in a really restrained, relaxed way
But throwaway all the Vegas (felt tacked on in the book to me, too), acid trips and looney tunes (s much as I would have liked to see that stuff), the heart of the book was Doc, Bigfoot, Shasta and itís hard not to say that PTA knocks that out of the park. Iím officially on the Brolin Bandwagon- Bigfoot was the funniest character in the book but Brolinís characterization is so much deeper and funnier and more complicated and just better than Bigfoot in the book, that last scene with Bigfoot eating the weed was like a parody of the last one on one in the Master and I mean that in the best possibleway. Waterston is great as well
and yes Joaquin is a great Doc, You can practically smell him through the screen. And No, RDJ couldnít have pulled it off, Joaquin is already pushing credibility being 39 as is.
In general I would differ a bit from samsong and say The Master is a masterpiece and IV is an interesting diversion
If this is all sounding kind of negative, I really liked the film and I'm looking forward to getting back in that world again even though to seems pt tries so hard to make it unnoticeable. Also trying to distance it from the novel and take it on itís own as a PT anderson picture and all that
ALSO : DOC - great character, one of pynchonís most realized (havenít read much of his stuff but character is not really his strong suit I take it) and probably one of PTAís best too- what does this guy dream about? what kind of music does he listen to.. these are good questions and a good sign that your doing something right