- INHERENT VICE -The film is set in 70s California during the hippie culture. In this film, Joaquin Phoenix plays a hippie private investigator named Doc. He is visited by his ex girlfriend, Shasta who tells him that her present lover’s wife is plotting to throw him in a “loonie bin” so that she can get all his fortune. Doc agrees to investigate and soon faces a lot of hurdles and gets involved in this severely complicated world.The response to this film was really divisive. Many people didn’t like it because of the complicated nature of the plot, which could be frustrating for some. This is a film that you wont completely understand on the first viewing. I think this film was really misunderstood by most people, the plot is deliberately made that way, you are not really supposed to connect the dots. You are just supposed to enjoy all the chaos on the screen, and hang out with these characters. Many things happen on the screen that you dont need to know if they matter or not, because we dont know if they are actually happening or not. The film is about a hippie who is high most of the time, the movie is made in a way so that the viewer feels high while watching it. The whole movie is like one good trip with a lot of characters. Of course there is a lot of PTA symbolism in every scene. he is so skilled that while he can make an entertaining film, he could also slap your face with a lot of deep stuff.
I fucking love this movie. The film perfectly captures the 70’s California atmosphere and the hippie culture. it is extremely stylish, the soundtrack is amazing, it adds to the paranoia. Robert Elswit’s cinematography is fantastic, it is subtle and makes the film look melancholic. The film is full of warm and vibrant colours, it’s great to look at. as you guys know that I love noir films, this film gives the feeling of The Long Goodbye, The Big Lebowski and Chinatown but with an incomprehensible plot. Also this is probably PTA’s funniest film, I really liked the use of humour in this film. You can actually watch this film not as a noir but as a comedy, it’s hilarious.
Let’s talk about one of the best ensembles of the decade- Joaquin Phoenix is magnetic as Doc Sportello, he is like this stoned loser of a hippy, Josh Brolin is fantastic as Bigfoot, a detective working for the LAPD. The relationship between these two characters is hilarious. Even though they dont like each other, they are the only people in the city who understand each other. It’s like a relationship between an elder brother and younger brother. I was really impressed by Katherine Waterston, I want to see her in more of PTA’s movies. All the side characters are also memorable, Benecio Del Toro as Doc’s lawyer and buddy, Reese Witherspoon as the girl Doc’s seeing who happens to be working at the DA’s office and Owen Wilson as this undercover informant. The scene with Martin Short was damn memorable. It was so surreal and dreamlike, it was like a movie in itself.
In the end I’d like to say that Inherent Vice is a fantastic movie. Just don’t try to keep a track of the story, the film is an experience, just have fun seeing these characters hang out while they deliver some smartly written dialogues. You may find the film a little meandering , because it is deliberately made that way, to make you feel hazy just like our lead character feels.
2. MY NIGHT AT MAUD’S
My Night at Maud’s is directed by Eric Rohmer and it stars Jean Louis Trignintant as this 34 years old devout catholic who holds some really strict principles. He’s in love with a girl who he saw at church once, but has never actually met. One day his friend, Vidal invites him for dinner at his friend, Maud’s place who’s a recently divorced woman. He ends up staying the night, and all his principles are challenged, he also has to make a few moral decisions.
The movie is basically centred around this long conversation that takes place during the course of a night.This is one of the best dialogue driven films I’ve ever seen. The characters talk about a range of stuff, from Christianity to mathematics. The whole film is like one casual but intelligent conversation, its free flowing and often not important to the plot, but you have to figure out the subtle details that could be important to where the plot can progress. The film shows some of the best human interactions I’ve ever seen on screen. You see how this guy’s ideals are questioned and how he may be holding these useless and hypocritical beliefs. Ofcourse there is a lot of stuff below the surface, many philosophies like that of Pascal and Janenism went above my head, but these conversations were engaging and interesting to watch. The characters are very fresh and intelligent, that they are really fun to observe.
The film beautifully depicts morality in relationships, and shows how the lead has to make a tough choice. He’s confused about whether he should spend the night at Maud’s, would it be cheating to the girl he loves but has never met. I also liked the stylistic choices that Rohmer has made, especially the way he has captured the winter landscape. The ending really surprised me and gives a great message.
All in all, A Night at Maud’s is one of the most important films of the French New Wave and shows how intelligent and important Eric Rohmer’s work is.