Inherent Vice, USA 2014

Showing Sunday 17th September 1:30pm

as part of Scalarama and the Philosophy & Film series

Sortilège (Joanna Newsom) narrating:

“Inherent vice in a maritime insurance policy is anything that you can’t avoid. Eggs break, chocolate melts, glass shatters, and Doc wondered what that meant when it applied to ex-old ladies”.

Inherent Vice is set in Los Angeles in1970. A classic stoner movie which reflects a counterculture that will be greatly appreciated by audiences who may or may not use cannabis … please remember that the Hyde Park Picture House is a non-smoking venue! The film’s director, Paul Thomas Anderson, adapted the film from the book by Thomas Pynchon.


Sortilège:

“She [Shasta Fay (Katherine Waterston)] came along the alley and up the back steps the way she always used to. Doc Larry Sportello (Joaquin Phoenix) hadn’t seen her for over a year. Nobody had. Back then it was always sandals, bottom half of a flower-print bikini, faded Country Joe & the Fish t-shirt. Tonight she was all in flatland gear, hair a lot shorter than he remembered, looking just like she swore she’d never look.”

Doc, a dazed and confused private investigator, takes up Shasta’s case and is soon enmeshed in a surreal world of crime, menace and deception. Love, sex and comedy too are all part of the mix. In the background is the menace of Nixon’s presidency and the Vietnam War. I won’t reveal the plot, largely because I don’t fully understand it myself. Suffice to say that Doc is a brilliantly acted anti-hero, who is joined by a great cast including an upright (or is he?) police officer, Lt. Det. Christian F. “Bigfoot” Bjornsen (Josh Brolin), plus Martin Short, Reese Witherspoon, Benicio Del Toro and Owen Wilson.

In total, it’s an entertaining neo-noir melange of moods and styles. It would take many viewings to grasp all the references to other films and to hippie lifestyles. Maybe you will be a little clearer after the Philosophy and Film Q&A that follows the film …

“What’s Up, Doc?” as Bugs Bunny used to say.


Bill Walton

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