Friday, October 10, 2014


Rob Cotto has always had a spiritual presence at PINNLAND EMPIRE considering he's sat right alongside me on quite a few films that I've written about over the last few years (Her, Nebraska, Only Lovers Left Alive, Joes Bed-Stuy Barbershop, The Tree Of Life, etc). It only makes sense that his first guest spot be something this big. 
For various reasons ( I wasn't able to attend this year's New York Film Festival, but luckily Rob was able to attend, and he just so happened to catch the biggest most talked about film there: Inherent Vice
For two years I've been waiting on him to bless this blog with a write-up of some kind and this was definitely worth the wait (I'd still love to get that guest piece on The Killing Of A Chinese Bookie when you have the time). 

On a side note- It hit me after reading this that PT Anderson is rarely mentioned on here and the one time his work was reviewed (The Master), it wasn't the most favorable. So it's nice that things got a little balanced out. 


Rather than write a traditional review on Inherent Vice for my long-awaited debut piece for PINNLAND EMPIRE, I was inspired by Doc Sportello to take this approach:

I think you’re way past having to defend any of your motives. Whatever you do for us, for me, for my generation, who grew up with you, you were always "The Man". There was you, and then there was some other people. We always felt like, I always felt like, how the fuck does he do it? How does he get the camera to move like that? As you can see there are people, left and right, trying to imitate you, trying to rip-off how you do it. None of us can get it right. There’s a certain vocabulary that a few of us are armed with that get to make movies that directly comes from Marty and he will talk about the films he gets it from but you can never really recognize–you can recognize sort of what he’s talking about but he’s done moves and things, an attack on telling the story that is unique and was brand new when he started doing it, all the way along he’s been doing it, but he’s been developing it over the years – you see the culmination of it every time he makes a movie and seeing it tonight in this movie – we look at him and he is The Governor.
- Paul Thomas Anderson on Martin Scorsese

"The critics are making their peace with it", a fellow film connoisseur commented to me this week following the World Premiere of Inherent Vice at The New York Film Festival on Saturday, October 4th.
Good. They should. It's going to be screened repeatedly by film geeks around the world and be hailed as a masterpiece for many years to come, just like the rest of PTA's canon.
Paul Thomas Anderson is in a rare class of filmmakers. The top film critics know it and have been trying to pigeonhole this stoner masterpiece by throwing around perfunctory comments about what the film is like since it went into production. Critics and cinefiles know that the film is based in the 70s, PTA is a huge Robert Altman fan, and the main character is a bumbling stoner, investigating a few "Missing Person" cases that seem to be tied together and that are somehow connected to Black Panthers and Nazis. Knowing this, they immediately compare it to The Long Goodbye, Chinatown and The Big Lebowski. For good measure, they'll throw in Night Moves - that cool 70's film you think you're hot shit for knowing and writing about but have never seen. The only things these films owe to Inherent Vice is that the director saw them; just reconfirming the above sentiment he bestowed on Scorsese; PTA understands the vocabulary he's been armed with and has made a film that insists upon your attention rather than itself...

What I'm taking about is the definition of influence. While people criticize Quentin Tarantino for stealing and pawning it off as such, Mr. Anderson has allowed his cinema study to inform his own singular vision. While Mr. Tarantino's films are fun, entertaining and take you for a ride, they are purely superficial. When you go back to them, they might be fun, but there's no further discovery. If Tarantino made a "Noir/Detective" film set in 70s Los Angeles, I'm sure the comparisons to the above referenced films and some other insignificant B-movies that Mr. Tarantino holds in his arsenal would be valid. (There's nothing wrong with what Tarantino does, by the way. I dig it. Hard. He would probably agree with me about PTA and his own films if he wasn't Quentin Tarantino) 

Random Thoughts:

Joaquin Phoenix is great as Doc. He disappears into every role. Can't really say more about him that hasn't already been said.

Let's just revisit this:

Martin Short - One scene stealing turn from an incredibly underrated and often forgotten genius of performance.

This guy thinks so, too!

Katherine Waterston is going to be a big star. You only needed to see the trailer to know that.

The Academy Awards - I'd love to see Paul Thomas Anderson pull a Best Adapted Screenplay win on this. Though the dense plot comes off as incoherent, it is the best adaptation of a work previously published, the very definition of that Oscar. The Oscars are more often a nod for "overall good work" rather than the definition of award-winning. It's never about who's best. If it was, Scorsese would've won for Raging Bull and Denzel Washington's only Oscar would still be for Glory. I'm sure PTA would appreciate the pat on the back. However, at this point, it's cooler to not win.

Will this film make my year-end best of list? Absolutely. It's the one film, in an overall weak year of cinema, that has left me confuckled for almost a week.


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