Inherent Vice - SPOILERS!

Started by MacGuffin, October 01, 2014, 02:10:50 PM

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WorldForgot

Just Withnail... I think you are a fantastic writer, and possibly our imaginations share many of the same proclivities. Thank you for writing this piece. I will be re-reading it tomorrow morning with some coffee. I'm especially glad you highlighted this film's use of architecture. After seeing it for the first time, my mind was turned-on to texture and spaces (and production design) in a way it hadn't been before.

For now I'd like to highlight how much of your thematic observation is essentially bottled lightning in the film itself.

QuoteAll we see of Shasta and Doc's former relationship is filtered through his rosy fantasies, so we never quite know what it was like, but it's clear that those fantasies have little to do with their relationship as it is now

It is as you wrote, this film is about flux and flow. In the scene where Shasta has shown up to Doc for a drink and a tryst we are treated to one of the film's most elusive duels (and this is a film composed of one-on-one sparring scenes). Joaquin and Katherine take us through the entire arc: Flirting, contention, aggression, climax, denouement. They do so while serving each other hearty doses of lust, so coated it's tough to see the love yet impossible to miss the chemistry. Then their climax is almost painfully resentful to any notion of "romance" even including a tear, and its angle excludes most of Doc's emotion, instead focusing on Shasta. Anyway you spin it, they're just as heartbroken as the other.

QuoteWe simply can't contain the world in our heads, so it will always suprise us.

Although I know many friends who found the film's structure impenetrable, I've found that the best advice for IV first-timers is this: Do not try to "understand" the mystery, and do not try to remember each character. May seem strange, and even contrary to the point, I know, but it seems to work. When I tell people going into this film for the first time to prepare themselves to be confused, and that most characters won't appear more than once, they take it as the comedy, rather than an LA Neo-Noir or arthouse-thriller. It removes the expectation of "neatness" and ties into the chaos that makes this film so infinitely rewatchable/engrossing.

I may steal one of your screengrabs for my first 2018 Avatar.

Just Withnail

Thank you! I'm very happy to hear that.

I really like your thoughts on Shasta's seduction scene, I left that out completely as I didn't really know where to start with it - and it's certainly one of the central scenes in the film. It sticks out in every way.

WorldForgot

Quote from: wilberfan on December 15, 2017, 02:35:15 PM
Quote from: modage on December 15, 2017, 02:09:41 PM
PTA loved La La Land
https://theplaylist.net/paul-thomas-anderson-phantom-thread-20171215/

And directed Inherent Vice.  (But I'm trying not to hold either against him.)   :yabbse-wink:


I hope one day your opinion on Inherent Vice changes, seems to be a vendetta (against a delightful, intricate tapestry)  :oops:

wilberfan

Quote from: WorldForgot on December 15, 2017, 05:07:44 PM

I hope one day your opinion on Inherent Vice changes, seems to be a vendetta (against a delightful, intricate tapestry)  :oops:

My IV butthurt dissolved in the moment Reynolds met Alma...  My opinion may change one day (fingers crossed) but at least I can relight the candles on my PTA Altar now.   

csage97

Quote from: wilberfan on December 15, 2017, 06:12:08 PM
Quote from: WorldForgot on December 15, 2017, 05:07:44 PM

I hope one day your opinion on Inherent Vice changes, seems to be a vendetta (against a delightful, intricate tapestry)  :oops:

My IV butthurt dissolved in the moment Reynolds met Alma...  My opinion may change one day (fingers crossed) but at least I can relight the candles on my PTA Altar now.

Read the book if you have time. Pynchon is my favourite author!

Drenk

I don't agree. If you really dislike IV, I don't see why you would enjoy the book.
Ascension.

WorldForgot

Quote from: Drenk on December 16, 2017, 11:59:06 AM
I don't agree. If you really dislike IV, I don't see why you would enjoy the book.

^^ Pretty much. Insofar as PTA's film is a successful adaptation, the book may have more "scenes" and anecdotes to the characters, but the feeling of elusiveness + Californian anxieties is the same.

csage97

Quote from: Drenk on December 16, 2017, 11:59:06 AM
I don't agree. If you really dislike IV, I don't see why you would enjoy the book.
Quote from: WorldForgot on December 16, 2017, 12:46:27 PM
^^ Pretty much. Insofar as PTA's film is a successful adaptation, the book may have more "scenes" and anecdotes to the characters, but the feeling of elusiveness + Californian anxieties is the same.

I have to disagree with you here. The book is a different experience (though similar in lots of ways, of course), as it often is when compared to a film adaptation. It's cartoonish in a different way and more lyrical. Despite making Sortilege the narrator in the movie, the book really gives you the experience of Pynchon's prose and idiosyncratic description, which is something in itself. There are way more driving scenes and general talk about the LA landscape in the book. (I was disappointed in the lack of establishing shots and general terrain/LA cityscape shots with the film.) There's a sort of vastness to the literal space of the book, insofar as LA is a large and diverse city, which is missing from the movie. The movie feels more claustrophobic; the book feels vast and open and at times claustrophobic. I was actually really surprised at the lack of camera movement in the film; it seemed like PTA was the perfect director to use this as a way to mirror Pynchon's sprawling prose, and I feel like an opportunity was lost there.

I think PTA was faithful to the book and did a really good job, BUT the center of the film is put more on the relationship between Shasta and Doc. I'm not saying this is a bad thing, but Shasta is just one thematic and plot point in the book. The concept of inherent vice is explored through more avenues in the book and equal weight is given to the end of the sixties/the end of Doc's fabled time and place as is given to Shasta. (Shasta seems to stand in as more of a plot driver and metaphor in the novel. I could get into the thematics further and write a whole article on it, but I'm going to stop there to save time and space.)

Anyway, my point isn't to try to shoot you guys down or give you less credit. I'm happy to discuss these things here and it's all enjoyable. I'm going to have to say that the novel is more sprawling and funnier (yes, there were funny moments in the film, but you just can't totally capture the syntactic and subtle humour of Pynchon via film: the silly puns, and endless movie and pop culture references). There's a level of literary depth to the novel and to Pynchon that just can't be accessed via film. This is NOT a knock on PTA, but just a limit of the medium. Pynchon's signature layers of references to pop culture, music, movies, history, politics, science, sociopolitical geography, and just about anything under the sun just can't be included in the movie, and if you're into this mode of layers, the book as a medium is unparalleled. I will also just reiterate that Pynchon's unique voice is something for me on its own, as is PTA's unique voice, and I enjoy the book on the level alone, as I likewise enjoy the film on that level alone. They are similar but two different things in many ways and on many levels.

csage97

Don't know if this has been posted around these parts yet, but here's some very cool behind-the-scenes footage from the IV shoot, filmed by Laura Colella on Super 8 with additional narration and music from Theo Green and The Growlers, respectively. https://vimeo.com/130899960 Theo Green is reading from IV, the book.

As a Pynchon and PTA enthusiast, this short piece is heaven. The sense of space, sunshine, and people all around is actually what I had envisioned the film would be more like. Plus, it includes more prose from Pynchon.

One thing this piece nails is the music. Not that Jonny Greenwood's score for the film was bad by any stretch, but what it lacked was straight up surf rock, which is ALL OVER the book, so much that it's really like another character. Not only that, but it obviously invokes surfing and the beach, which are also all over the book (there are plenty of characters who are surfers in the book -- Flaco the Bad, anyone?). In the end, I suppose using a lot of surf rock in the film would've maybe made things a bit too light-feeling, and the choice of music helped to induce the sense of paranoia and dark tinge that came with the exact time of the setting, a time when the Manson murders were sending shocks through Doc's community, as well as Doc's sense that something is not right in the ideal world he wants to hold onto and the way the world operates in general.

csage97

Quote from: Mogambo on February 02, 2018, 05:03:36 AM
Great read:

https://www.jacobinmag.com/2015/02/inherent-vice-review-counterculture/

VERY good read! This article effectively summarizes what the book and film are about and how the plot points relate to that. These paragraphs in particular are wonderful at summing things up:

"The movie's immediacy also stems from its exploration of the moment we could begin to detect the emergence of the neoliberal forces that would ultimately generate the 2008 crisis: privatization, deregulation, real estate speculation, and development booms. It is no accident that Thomas Pynchon's Inherent Vice was published in 2009. And as both the film and book suggest, the hippie ideal contained within itself the very seeds — the "inherent vice" — that would turn it into a nightmare.

The film operates within the genre conventions of film noir, complete with shadows, fog, dark alleys, a femme fatale of sorts, and a nearly impenetrably complex plot: Doc Sportello, a pot-smoking hippie private eye, is visited by his ex-girlfriend, Shasta Faye Hepworth, who has since taken up with Mickey Wolfmann, a big-time real estate developer. Shasta claims that Mickey's wife, Sloan, and her own beau — ostensibly her "spiritual advisor" — have plans to take care of Mickey and make off with his money, before herself promptly disappearing. Later, Doc is hired by Hope Harlingen, an ex-junkie with fake teeth, to find out what happened to her husband — Coy, a heroin-addicted Communist turned COINTELPRO informant.

It turns out the two cases are related via the "Golden Fang," a vast corporation and heroin smuggling ring that on the surface appears to be a tax shelter set up by a cartel of dentists. The Fang also owns a newly privatized mental health facility, where orderlies dressed as Jesus run around with Uzis, and where the "insane" are "cured": that is, mentally reprogrammed to be dutiful, docile, and obedient citizens."


Although it may seem like the movie is about Doc and Shasta's relationship that's slipped away, that's really just the most immediate and personal way to Doc that privatization, real estate, and deregulation have co-opted the world, and what it's really all about is exactly what the article says: "Exploration of the moment we could begin to detect the emergence of the neoliberal forces that would ultimately generate the 2008 crisis: privatization, deregulation, real estate speculation, and development booms. It is no accident that Thomas Pynchon's Inherent Vice was published in 2009. And as both the film and book suggest, the hippie ideal contained within itself the very seeds — the "inherent vice" — that would turn it into a nightmare."

HACKANUT


WorldForgot


Lewton

I watched this again recently via the Blu-ray and it's really a completely different experience in the summer (well, nearly summer). I remember seeing this in theatres in the dead of winter and something about the seasonal mismatch nagged at me...which is probably a weird observation, lol, but oh well. But this is a movie meant for summer afternoons and nights...heck, summer mornings, too. Phantom Thread, on the other hand, really feels like a winter movie.

Also, IV is the kind of movie where you reach the end and "Any Day Now" flares up and you're like, "wait, is this the best movie he's ever made?" And in that moment you're almost ready to toss aside The Master and PDL to bow down to this one as the true magnum opus!

eward

 :bravo:  Yeah, every time I rewatch Inherent Vice it creeps further and further up my list of favorites. I would encourage all those who have more lukewarm feelings about it to give it a second, third, fourth, fifth (ad infinitum) spin. 

modage

Probably not intentional/conscious but came across this scene in Sugarland Express and reminded me a bit of Shasta's entrance in IV. Particularly the orange/blue.

Christopher Nolan's directive was clear to everyone in the cast and crew: Use CGI only as a last resort.