Inherent Vice

It's that special time of year between the insanity and overblown commercialization of December and that insane and overblown award ceremony where they give out little gold statue-men. It's during that choice gap where the theaters are packed with really good movies all vying for one of those little gold guys.

Inherent Vice is one of those movies, as it meets several of the necessary criteria:

  • Period Piece
  • Stars Joaquin Phoenix
  • Directed and Written by Paul Thomas Anderson

However, I'm sure that this movie will be snubbed by the committee (if it even gets nominated for anything) because it is one of the most ridiculous Oscar-bait movies I have ever seen. I don't mean that it was a bad movie. Rather, it was a wonderful cinema experience. It was just so complicated and convoluted that I can't imagine that it would garner awards because the jury would need to watch the movie three more times just to make sense of what they had seen. 

A friend of mine described the plot of Inherent Vice as "a darker Big Lebowski with more drugs". I don't think there's a better way to succinctly explain this film. The plot is equally (if not more) tangled, with a parade of characters that have their own distinct quirks and personalities.

Phoenix plays a PI/Hippie named Doc who is trying to unravel a bizarre conspiracy involving a missing saxophone player, a bunch of white supremacists, a real estate mogul, and a dentist with a coke problem. I can't really go into much detail here without giving anything away, but I can assure you it's quite a ride.

One thing that really struck me about this movie was how subtly hilarious it was. One moment that stands out in my mind is Doc having a serious conversation with several FBI agents, but everyone is picking their noses without any comment from anyone involved. There are plenty of overt jokes as well and tons of clever dialogue, so even if you can't follow the plot you'll still be amused as you watch Doc chain smoke joints and watch the madness unfold around him. 

I had a great time watching this movie, even though I definitely didn't catch all of the subtle nuances. I know I'm gonna watch this one two or three more times just to soak everything up. 

Check this one out for sure!