Review: Inherent Vice

I’ve been waiting to watch this for months! I take that back, years! This first came on my radar when I heard Robert Downey Jr. was attached to play the lead role. I still would love to see that by the way. I went right out and bought the book by Thomas Pynchon, but I never finished it. I’ve tried to read three of his books now and have only completed one. He is a brilliant author, I just can never commit to the book long enough to get through them. I may go back and give this book another try. Paul Thomas Anderson directed and wrote this for the screen. I really like Anderson’s work and really want to re-watch his last neo noir, Hard Eight.

So we don’t get Robert Downey Jr. as our main character,”Doc,” we get Joaquin Phoenix.  Not a bad second choice, if you ask me. Supposedly Anderson thought Downey Jr. was a little to old for the character. Doc is visited by his ex-girlfriend who is our femme fatale for this tale and is played by Katherine Waterston. She has a new boyfriend who happens to be a real estate mogul played by Eric Roberts, worth a lot of money. Robert’s wife and current boyfriend have a plot to get rid of him and want our femme fatale to help. This leads us on multiple cases for Doc that all seem to be intertwined. Doc has a love hate relationship with his police connection, “Bigfoot” played by Josh Brolin. Doc is also dating assistant D.A. Reese Witherspoon while broken up with his femme fatale. He takes on a case for Jena Malone who is looking for her husband Owen Wilson. We have great actors cast in minor roles such as Michael Kenneth Williams, Benicio Del Toro, Martin Short and Maya Rudolph as Doc’s secretary. We also get an interesting scene with porn star Belladonna showing her acting chops and former MMA fighter Keith Jardine playing a Neo-Nazi bodyguard. There are to many great little appearances to list them all, but you get the idea.

This movie is long at almost two and a half hours, but it is worth it! We have no idea where it is going and how are hero will ever get out of this mess. This film is highly praised by critics, but is not well liked by the general public. I loved it! This is not a film you can be distracted while watching, because every little conversation is important to the story. I think people who really like great cinema will love this and those that don’t, won’t like it. I plan to buy this on Blu-Ray as it is one of those films where you will learn new things on each viewing. I highly recommend this to everybody. Maybe it is just me, but after watching this I think I will go get some pizza now.

Favorite Tidbit: According to Josh Brolin, Thomas Pynchon, who keeps a pretty low profile, appears somewhere in this film. There are a couple of theories on where in the film he appears, but nothing is verified yet.

Re-watching the Classics: The Usual Suspects

The greatest trick the Devil ever pulled was convincing the world he didn’t exist. And like that, poof. He’s gone.

I can’t believe this film is 20 years old this year!  The Usual Suspects is one of the great modern neo-noir movies and launched the career of director Bryan Singer into the stratosphere.

This film is known for it’s all-star cast, and it is a great cast, but where they all-stars when this film was made?  Kevin Spacey was a great actor before this film, but wasn’t in much you would have heard of.  Though I loved Swimming with Sharks, most probably never heard of this film.  This film gave him an Oscar win and made him a big name in Hollywood.  Benicio Del Toro did some T.V. work and few movies before this as well, but as the scene stealing Fenster his star meter went up drastically.  Kevin Pollak was already a star as a stand up comedian, but this movie showed his dramatic side.  Pollak has worked steady ever since, bouncing from comedic to dramatic roles.  Alec’s little brother Stephen Baldwin was doing well and may have been considered a big star at the time.  His star power has dimmed in recent years, but he showed some great presence in this film.  Gabriel Byrne was probably the biggest draw for this film at the time of its release, and was excellent as always.  Chazz Palminteri plays his usual Italian tough guy from New York in this film and it fits perfectly.

Our story starts out with our Usual Suspects all getting arrested in connection to a load of gun parts being hijacked.  They quickly become good friends and team up together on some more heists.  The whole story is told in flashback fashion from Kevin Spacey’s character Verbal being interrogated in a police station in Los Angels.  Our plot thickens as new evidence becomes available and they ask Verbal more questions on what happened.  As the audience we want to know the answers as much as the police do.  What is going on?  What was really on the boat?  Who got away alive?  and of course Who is Keyser Söze?

I’m not going to lie, I love Singer’s X-men films, but what would really make me happy is if he made another neo noir film.  This is a film you can watch over and over again and find little hints and clues to one of the greatest mysteries in movie history.

Favorite Tidbit: **semi-spoiler alert**  As this film was being made, all the actors were told “they are Keyser Söze.”  None of them learned the truth until the first screening of the movie.