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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 )

Film:


Extras:


Audio/Video total rating:
( Max score: 100 )

85



Details:

Studio and Year: Warner - 2014
MPAA Rating: R
Feature running time: 148 minutes
Genre: Thriller

Disc Format: BD-50
Encoding: AVC
Video Aspect: 2.40:1
Resolution: 1080p/24

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"


My Take:

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.


Parental Guide:

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.**



Audio: 80
(Each rating is worth 4 points with a max of 5 per category)


  • Dynamics:
  • Low frequency effects:
  • Surround Sound presentation:
  • Clarity/Detail:
  • Dialogue Reproduction:
  • Low frequency extension * (non-rated element): NA
  • DSU Rating * (non-rated element): NA

Video: 90
(Each rating is worth 4 points with a max of 5 per category)


  • Resolution/Clarity:
  • Black Level/Shadow Detail:
  • Color Reproduction:
  • Fleshtones:
  • Compression:


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.

Bonus Features:
  • (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





Final Thoughts:

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.







Ralph Potts
AVS Forum Blu-ray Reviews



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This title looked to be rather promising, and as I started reading your review I still had hope.
But the more I read, the more that hope faded.
I can sure understand your comments about Benecio Del Toro, can never understand just what he says in any movie!!
Even tho it sounds to be a lackluster movie, I'll still check it out, can't pass up a detective noir movie!!!
Thanks Ralph
 

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Ugh!!! This one has been high on my list...I may need to move it down a bit after reading this review.

Bummer!
 

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That sounds like a fun comedy, with weird characters; I'll make sure to give it an eventual spin. And besides, the director is high on my radar.
 

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first of all, THIS ISNT A COMEDY. The trailer really gives the wrong impression. the story is more about the decline of the hippy culture, and is quite sad. I really liked it, think its one of PTA's best.
 

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Being a big Paul Thomas Anderson fan, this has been on my Amazon wishlist since I first saw it.

Looks weird... but I like PTA's weird movies :)
 

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Yeah the trailer wanted one to believe that it was a quirky comedy, since I haven't seen this I can't comment much other than, it will be on my list one day.......maybe. :p
 

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PTA is one talented guy - never made a bad film and several truly great films. This film does demand much of the audience and that is the point! Multiple viewings are a must but maybe too much for the Michael Bay crowd!
 

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As Pynchon books go, Inherent Vice is one of the more accessible to be turned into a script. A Pynchon story without excessive dialog, and 100's of pointless characters (many of which exist just so he could make up an amusing name) would not be a Pynchon story.

In Pynchon's books places are characters, and people are ideas; places are ideas, and people are places.

If you stick with it, on the authors terms, it begins to make sense. Best enjoyed if you can read the book in marathon sessions. At some point in your progress through the book, people that know you will starts asking "Are you OK?".

The obvious reply is, "No worries, I'm just reading some Pynchon". Unfortunately most people won't know what you're talking about. Now thanks to PTA, I can stop trying to explain Pynchon to people and just hand them the DVD.
 

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Discussion Starter #10
As Pynchon books go, Inherent Vice is one of the more accessible to be turned into a script. A Pynchon story without excessive dialog, and 100's of pointless characters (many of which exist just so he could make up an amusing name) would not be a Pynchon story.

In Pynchon's books places are characters, and people are ideas; places are ideas, and people are places.

If you stick with it, on the authors terms, it begins to make sense. Best enjoyed if you can read the book in marathon sessions. At some point in your progress through the book, people that know you will starts asking "Are you OK?".

The obvious reply is, "No worries, I'm just reading some Pynchon". Unfortunately most people won't know what you're talking about. Now thanks to PTA, I can stop trying to explain Pynchon to people and just hand them the DVD.
Greetings,

Great post...thanks! :)


Regards,
 

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As Pynchon books go, Inherent Vice is one of the more accessible to be turned into a script. A Pynchon story without excessive dialog, and 100's of pointless characters (many of which exist just so he could make up an amusing name) would not be a Pynchon story.

In Pynchon's books places are characters, and people are ideas; places are ideas, and people are places.

If you stick with it, on the authors terms, it begins to make sense. Best enjoyed if you can read the book in marathon sessions. At some point in your progress through the book, people that know you will starts asking "Are you OK?".

The obvious reply is, "No worries, I'm just reading some Pynchon". Unfortunately most people won't know what you're talking about. Now thanks to PTA, I can stop trying to explain Pynchon to people and just hand them the DVD.
You've sparked my curiosity enough to make me want to read the book and watch the movie. I've been on a kick lately to read books that have been made into movies. So far, I've read Maze Runner, Gone Girl, Wild, and I've started on Unbroken. I can highly recommend both Gone Girl and Wild as worthwhile reads.
 

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You've sparked my curiosity enough to make me want to read the book and watch the movie. I've been on a kick lately to read books that have been made into movies. So far, I've read Maze Runner, Gone Girl, Wild, and I've started on Unbroken. I can highly recommend both Gone Girl and Wild as worthwhile reads.
While good reads in their own rights, none of those books can prepare you for a Pynchon novel.
 

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I've been wanting to check this out for a while now. But Ralph just spooked me a little now, this one might have to wait til the wife's out of town. The trailer for it reminded me of The Big Lebowski a little but I don't think that's the case anymore. However the way Ralph outlined the plot it seems they may have something in common.
 

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Nobody mentioned Katherine Waterston. I guess we're all getting old. I loved the film. It's the only film that captures the sheer madness of California.
 

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After the review here I wasn't to sure if this would be any good or not.
Turns out it was a great movie and I laughed all the way through it!!
 

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Nobody mentioned Katherine Waterston. I guess we're all getting old. I loved the film. It's the only film that captures the sheer madness of California.
As seen from New York? :p ;)
 

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As seen from New York? :p ;)
Yes! After 40 years in mega tax NYC, I now live in Harbour Island in Florida. I just visited my daughter in Hollywood and CALIFORNIA IS INSANE! "Inherent Vice" and Joaquin Phoenix show this in a way that interviews suggest that PTA intended. Katherine Waterston is a mouthwatering, very talented lady that I would love to buy a stepladder and speak to.:)
 

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Watched this past weekend with a friend close to the same age. Really enjoyed it despite, or due to, its weirdness.

I think it helps if you were alive during this time period, and can relate more. I even lived in Southern California back then, and even being 10-11 years old, it was like a trip back into the past.
 

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I post to this long dormant thread to report, first, that I finally have seen Inherent Vice and, second, that it can be seen on one or another of the Cinemax channels this month. Ralph's assessment of the film largely matches my own, although I may have found it marginally more entertaining than he did.

For those of you considering taking on this film for the first time, know that its runtime is 2.5 hours and that it has little if any plot. That's its vice. Its virtues are that it is filled with delightful performances by talented actors and is often laugh out loud funny. Anyway, when I finished watching the film, I thought the time I had spent on it had been worthwhile, albeit marginally so. It made me not miss the war-torn culture wars of the '60s, with often dope soaked dropouts on one side and the moral majority on the other, but made me realize that there was much to laugh at there, at least from the safe remove of the 21st Century. Conditionally recommended, 7 Stars out of 10.
 
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