Inherent Vice

2 OSCAR NOMINATIONS! Best Costume & Best Adapted Screenplay

2 Oscar Nominations! "Somehow, 'Inherent Vice' director Paul Thomas Anderson ('Boogie Nights,' 'Magnolia') and his up-for-anything lead, Joaquin Phoenix, have managed the impossible. They’ve turned Thomas Pynchon’s work into a slapstick noir homage that doesn’t just reward but demands multiple viewings.

"Phoenix’s extraordinary performance — which earned him a Golden Globe nomination — pulls the movie’s infinite strands together. But this twisty tale takes so many foggy turns that you’ll want to approach it with a plan.

"The story is set in 1970 L.A. Our narrator (Joanna Newsom) describes these as 'perilous times, astrologically speaking, for dopers.' That’s certainly true for Doc (Joaquin Phoenix), a private detective generally found in a chilled-out fog. He’s roused to unusual levels of action when his beautiful ex, Shasta Fay (Katherine Waterston), disappears.

"She’s been dating a shady real estate mogul (Eric Roberts), and Doc is soon entangled in a citywide web of illegal activities. He gets help from a disdainful cop (Josh Brolin), a deputy D.A. (Reese Witherspoon), some ex-junkies (Owen Wilson, Jena Malone) and his lawyer (Benicio Del Toro). But he’s also got to contend with plenty of villains, including a drug-running businessman (Martin Donovan) and a depraved dentist (Martin Short).
They’re all connected somehow, but keep your focus on Doc. Within just one of Anderson’s gorgeously composed long takes, Phoenix can shift almost imperceptibly from shaggy passivity to hilarious ineptitude to heartbreaking pathos.

"Among the standouts in the supporting cast, Brolin makes a perfect, and perfectly ridiculous, foil. And it’s easy to see why Doc would keep risking his life for Waterston’s sad-eyed, unattainable Shasta Fay.

"As for Anderson, his outsized ambitions have more than paid off. The movie looks beautiful, with the warmth of Doc’s beachside pad contrasting evocatively against the whitewashed corporate world. Anderson also is audacious enough to risk our frustration by staying true to the novel’s complexity...The director overlaps his characters, story lines and period details with an observational empathy that vividly reflects both Pynchon and his obvious influence, Robert Altman.

"Even so, Anderson has made a movie that can accurately be called all his own. It’s one thing to be the first filmmaker confident — or crazy — enough to tackle the vibrant madness of Pynchon’s prose. It’s quite another to get it right."

-- Elizabeth Weitzman, New York Daily News

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