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Incomprehensible 'Inherent Vice'

I only watched it for the period choppers, Phoenix and Brolin

Inherent Vice is a film by Paul Thomas Anderson starring Joaquin Phoenix and Josh Brolin; I was first alerted to it because I'd read that a number of people I know (and know of) on the SoCal chopper scene had been cast as bikers for the movie, which is set in 1970.

I wanted to go to see the film when it came out a few years ago mostly to see the motorcycles and look out for faces I recognised; I am also a fan of the main actors in the film and of a couple of Anderson's other releases (Boogie Nights and There Will Be Blood). But I'm glad I waited; I just watched it on Netflix over a couple of nights (it's very long and it's very convoluted).

On the plus side, the acting is excellent; Phoenix and Brolin are mesmerising. But I felt utterly unmoved by the film: not engaged emotionally in the seemingly senseless plot or the characters' fate. The film's based on a novel by Thomas Pynchon and seems to have garnered awards mostly because critics were impressed the adaptation had even been attempted. The story is rambling and – for me at least – quite dull.

And if, like me, your interest was piqued by wanting to see SoCal painter/bike builder Harpoon leading the gang of period chopper-riders in the movie, the above photo is pretty much all you see of them.

If you like your films to be coherent and gripping, Inherent Vice just isn't: hopefully I've saved you a couple of hours.


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