Check out our review of this noir thriller written and directed by Paul Thomas Anderson based on the novel by Thomas Pynchon. In 1970, drug-fueled Los Angeles detective Larry "Doc" Sportello investigates the disappearance of a former girlfriend.
The Review at a Glance:
(max score: 5 )
Audio/Video total rating:
( Max score: 100 )
Studio and Year: Warner - 2014
MPAA Rating: R
Feature running time: 148 minutes
Disc Format: BD-50
Video Aspect: 2.40:1
Audio Format(s): DTS-HD 5.1 Master Audio, Spanish/French/English Dolby Digital 5.1
Subtitles: English SDH, Spanish, French
Starring: Joaquin Phoenix, Katherine Waterston, Joanna Newsome, Jena, Malone, Owen Wilson, Benicio Del Toro, Reese Witherspoon, Martin Short, Josh Brolin
Written & Directed by: Paul Thomas Anderson based on the novel Thomas Pynchon
Music by: Jonny Greenwood
Region Code: A,B,C
Blu-ray Disc release Date: April 28, 2015
"Film noir to the max"
When private eye Doc Sportello’s ex-old lady suddenly out of nowhere shows up with a story about her current billionaire land developer boyfriend whom she just happens to be in love with, and a plot by his wife and her boyfriend to kidnap that billionaire and throw him in a loony bin…well, easy for her to say.
It’s the tail end of the psychedelic `60s and paranoia is running the day and Doc knows that “love” is another of those words going around at the moment, like “trip” or “groovy,” that’s being way too overused—except this one usually leads to trouble.
With a cast of characters that includes surfers, hustlers, dopers and rockers, a murderous loan shark, LAPD Detectives, a tenor sax player working undercover, and a mysterious entity known as The Golden Fang, which may only be a tax dodge set up by some dentists...part surf noir, part psychedelic romp—all Thomas Pynchon.
Inherent Vice, is the seventh feature from Paul Thomas Anderson and the first ever film adaption of a Thomas Pynchon novel. I was intrigued by the trailer for this film and looked forward to seeing what it was all about. I haven’t read the novel but hoped that wouldn’t be a prerequisite for being able to glean the essence of the film’s narrative.
Clearly derived as a noir thriller, Inherent Vice is a period detective story set in 1970 and revolves around the protagonist, Doc Sportello, who after a brief visit from his ex-girlfriend finds himself embroiled in a bizarre case surrounding her sudden disappearance. As I sat and watched the story I found myself waiting for its elements to click. The narrative has lots of moving parts and extreme amounts of dialogue that are blended together requiring you to try and make heads of tales of where things are going. This is exacerbated by the frequent introduction of new faces, some of whose placement in the plot’s framework, seems out of place or inexplicable. I also had a hard time making out Joaquin Phoenix’s incessant muttering. The fact that he was in every scene didn’t help and you could forget his scenes with Benecio Del Toro as I couldn’t understand either of them (subtitles!)
In the third act the film’s various subtexts and quirky shifting sort of began to take shape but truth be told it never really became truly meaningful. I realize that the story is designed to be off beat and darkly funny but I simply didn’t connect with it at any significant level. The final scene with Josh Brolin left me scratching my head and essentially summed up the whole movie for me. I enjoyed the performances by the huge ensemble cast especially Joaquin Phoenix who was great (loved his Joe Cocker/Neil Young style 70’s look).
As much as I wanted to connect with and absorb Inherent Vice I simply didn’t find it funny, engaging or anything other than mildly entertaining, probably for the wrong reasons. At two and half hours I am not so sure that I want to invest the time in another viewing but may if truly motivated to give it another chance.
The rating is for drug use throughout, sexual content, graphic nudity, language and some violence.
AUDIO/VIDEO - By The Numbers:
REFERENCE = 92-100/EXCELLENT = 83-91/GOOD = 74-82/AVERAGE = 65-73/BELOW AVERAGE = under 65
**My audio/video ratings are based upon a comparative made against other high definition media/blu-ray disc.**
(Each rating is worth 4 points with a max of 5 per category)
- Low frequency effects:
- Surround Sound presentation:
- Dialogue Reproduction:
- Low frequency extension * (non-rated element): NA
- DSU Rating * (non-rated element): NA
(Each rating is worth 4 points with a max of 5 per category)
- Black Level/Shadow Detail:
- Color Reproduction:
Inherent Vice comes to Blu-ray Disc from Warner Brothers Home Entertainment featuring 1080p AVC encoded video that has an average bitrate of 24 Mbps and lossless DTS-HD 5.1 Master Audio sound that has an average bitrate of 3.2 Mbps.
This is a solid high definition video presentation that is reminiscent of a new release film coming to Blu-ray. The photography utilizes varying visual aesthetics to set the thematic tone of specific scenes however none differ vastly and provide a predominantly uniform presentation. Bolder use of contrast propels certain scene to an elevated level of vibrancy that can be eye catching. Colors can range from sullen to natural to deeply saturated bordering on exaggerated but the effect is never inappropriate and the results look great. Flesh tones are predominantly unaffected and offer lifelike tonal variety with noticeably warmer complexional emphasis. Resolution is excellent overall as images onscreen offer delineated close ups and appreciable refinement during wide angle pans. The beautifully captured images of the various shooting locations and vista views look terrific in high definition. Blacks are deep and mildly crushed while detail in low lighting and shadows ranges from excellent to slightly above average. Depth is only minutely affected as the sequences shot at night look great. There is a light veil of grain that permeates but never intrudes.
The lossless audio soundtrack capably delivers the elements within the recording and sounds very good overall. High level detail provides plenty of depth and audible texture to voices while enhancing the audibility of subtle background sounds within the mix. Being a film driven predominantly by dialogue didn’t afford this presentation many opportunities for active surround sound. Its use was primarily to create ambient environmental sounds and add a bit more envelopment and depth to the excellent late 60’s era music featured in the story.
- (HD) Los Paranoias – 2 minute featurette
- (HD) Shasta Fay – 1 minute featurette
- (HD) The Golden Fang – 2 minute featurette
- (HD) Everything in this dream – 5 minute featurette
- Bonus DVD
- Digital HD Copy
Based on the novel by Thomas Pynchon Inherent Vice is a quirky off beat noir thriller that asks much of the audience. I found it to be too far left of center and lacking cohesiveness for my taste. It did have its moments but not enough to sustain its bloated runtime. It comes to Blu-ray from Warner Brothers Home Entertainment featuring solid technical merits mated with a weak supplemental offering that is sure to leave its fans disappointed. If you’re a fan of trippy noir filmmaking I suspect Inherent Vice might be up your alley. I would strongly suggest a rental prior to purchase for those that are curious.
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