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PAUL THOMAS ANDERSON DIRECTS INHERENT VICE

2015 rating: *
Judging by appearances alone, INHERENT VICE has already been compared to THE BIG LEBOWSKI since our scruffy hippie hero is… well… a scruffy hippie hero, like Jeff Bridges as The Dude. But the real similarity is both channel Film Noir where reluctant underdogs become entangled in an eclectic web of deceit, beautiful women, red herrings and more last names than a phone book…

And while LEBOWSKI centered on the product of the 1960’s lost in the 1990's, INHERENT VICE takes us to that actual magical place: a colorful era where idealistic L.A. druggies proudly contrast from the straight-laced necktie jerks, who, in this particular case, are all more crooked than Richard Nixon himself (numerously mentioned along with The Manson Family, Paranoia, Blacklisting and a napsack of other counter-culture clich├ęs).

Joaquin Phoenix
The problem with VICE isn’t the abundance of characters spouting endless monologs within dull interior locations, but our main man, Joaquin Phoenix, whose Larry "Doc" Sportello doesn’t seem established enough to be taken seriously as an investigator of any sort, or a doctor or… Whatever the hell he's supposed to be just isn't clear. 

With Josh Brolin
Phoenix sleepwalks through the role without humor, pathos or legitimate world-weary dynamic while his given-task weaves in so many twists and turns, there’s no palpable destination. Being misled through a foggy treadmill maze is the staple of any gumshoe flick, but a light at the end of the tunnel, or a few sparks along the way, keeps the viewer intrigued, enlightened, and awake. Meanwhile, epic art house director Paul Thomas Anderson seems even more absent than his otherwise talented MASTER star.

The best character is Josh Brolin’s square-jawed flattop bully cop Bigfoot, who represents everything hippies thoroughly detest: Ironically enough, he has one thing the entire movie lacks, which can be summed up in three words: An… Actual… Pulse.
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