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Archive for February 4th, 2015

INHERENT VICE

 © 2015 by James Clark

       A likely response to Paul Thomas Anderson’s film, Inherent Vice (2014), a rendition of Thomas Pynchon’s novel, from 2009, under the same title, would be to maintain that the principals have gorged a bit on the peculiar impertinence of California—specifically, LA—style. The year is 1970 and although the whole population has not been concussed with billiard cues this is a shipment of players that gives outsiders the distinct idea that the locals have enlisted in a gigantic wave of franchising their presumably amazing stories.

But though Pynchon is a resolved and deft student of entropy, his Inherent Vice is far more than that. And Anderson’s film copiously demonstrates that he and his vehicle have bought into that more comprehensive and vastly more difficult to comprehend motive. There are features of Pynchon’s text broaching subtleties and sophistications exponentially transcending the addled dialogue of those acting out. (For example: “‘You need to find true love, Doc.’ Actually, he thought, I’ll settle for finding my way through this. His fingers, with a mind of their own, began to creep toward the plastic hedge. Maybe if he searched through it long enough, late enough into the night, he’d find something that might help—some tiny forgotten scrap of his life he didn’t even know was missing, something that would make all the difference now.”)  Anderson resorts to a voice-over in the person of Sortilege, a woman friend of the protagonist, Larry Sportello (whom everyone addresses as Doc, due to his famously finagling the partners of a medical clinic to rent out an office for his private investigation business [but perhaps also due to his willingness to provide solace]); but her discursive energies, heavily laced with astrological rubrics, do not coincide with those of Pynchon. So it is that our starter’s (namely Pynchon’s) arsenal of other pitches must carry much of the thematic load here. That includes inventively exuberant proper and surnames and a perfect wave momentousness as to veins of true gold in the repository of art predating the (by some) supposed renaissance of those self-beatified diggers of the 1960s.   (more…)

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