5 things we learned from Inherent Vice

The auteur extraordinaire PT Anderson's new film, Inherent Vice is an LA surf-noir unspooling in madcap spirals.

by Sharon Thiruchelvam
30 January 2015, 10:57am

Paul Thomas Anderson's new movie, Inherent Vice, is an adaptation of a novel by cult writer Thomas Pynchon with an epic cast that includes Joaquin Phoenix, Joannna Newsom, Josh Brolin Eric Roberts, Benicio Del Toro, Owen Wilson, Reese Witherspoon Here's what watching it taught us.

Getting blazed helps detective work
Joaquin Phoenix plays Doc Sportello, a beachside PI investigating the case of missing real estate magnate Mickey Wolfmann. Doc's narcotic-use is so cultivated he keeps a daily log-book of joints, and laughing gas in his consulting room. His paranoia (helpful notes-to-self include "Not hallucinating") only brings him closer to the era's darkening conspiracy complexes.

Every movement fears appropriation
Set at the tail-end of the 60s, as the promise of free love is stripped away by corporate interests, Inherent Vice represents a stand-off between subcultures and capitalism. Hippies, surfers, bikers and mystics try to sustain fringe lifestyles while evading thread-bare labels and mainstream pastiche.

Subcultures have the best style
"Change your hair, change your life," Sortilege advises Doc, who later captures the 60s-to-70s shift in one perm-fro. The film has strong "looks" worn by tribes like the Aryan Brotherhood, Black Panthers, Chick Planet strippers - and then there's that wardrobe of hard-core mistress ties…

Inherent Vice is ultimate cult
Wild and erudite, Pynchon's novels were thought unfilmable, even as they influenced generations of film-makers. The Inherent Vice movie sews-up Pynchon's place in pop-culture. Jonny Greenwood composed its score and Joanna Newsom makes her acting-debut as Sortilege, the film's oracle-astrological narrator.

Reclusive authors can make cameos
While he's eluded the media for fifty years (his last known photograph was from 1962), obsessives are searching for the promised Thomas Pynchon cameo. This from the man who has appeared twice in the Simpsons with a paper bag over his head and had a double collect his National Book Award.

Inherent Vice is in UK cinemas today         


Text Sharon Thiruchelvam

Paul Thomas Anderson
inherent vice
thomas pynchon
pt anderson
joaquin pheonix