You could try to summarize the plot of Paul Thomas Anderson's Inherent Vice, but it's almost beside the point.

If you were to try, though: it is 1970 in Gordita Beach, a (fictional) town on the edges of Los Angeles. Doc Sportello (Joaquin Phoenix) is a broke stoner and private investigator whose ex-girlfriend Shasta Fay Hepworth (Katherine Waterston) comes by to tell him a bunch of paranoid-sounding yarns about missing millionaires he has to check out. There are also Aryan Brotherhood bodyguards and Black Panthers, and there's Josh Brolin playing the straight-man cop Bigfoot Bjornsen and pretty women and a shadowy Chinese syndicate, maybe, called Golden Fang, or else they are just wealthy dentists.

Inherent Vice is sunshine noir that strongly evokes Robert Altman's 1973 The Long Goodbye, in which a hapless California detective isn't totally amazing at his job and seems to squint at the sun and get distracted a lot. This is unsurprising—Anderson has long cited Altman as one of his influences and was an additional director on Altman's last film, A Prairie Home Companion.

Just as The Long Goodbye is based on a 1953 Raymond Chandler novel, Anderson's film is based on a Thomas Pynchon novel published in 2009. And that's not where the similarities end.

(If a whiff of the term “postmodernism” makes you break out in hives, abandon ship now, because that's what we're about to talk about.)

Pynchon is one of the most well-known of the postmodern novelists, embodying some of the most prevalent features of the literary era: name-checking commercial brand names as a critique of capitalism; an emphasis on form over content; and, most importantly, a mining of the past for ...

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Inherent Vice
Our Rating
3 Stars - Good
Average Rating
(4 user ratings)ADD YOURSHelp
Mpaa Rating
R (For drug use throughout, sexual content, graphic nudity, language and some violence.)
Directed By
Paul Thomas Anderson
Run Time
2 hours 28 minutes
Joaquin Phoenix, Josh Brolin, Owen Wilson
Theatre Release
January 09, 2015 by Warner Bros.
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