AWFJ Movie of the Week, Dec. 8-14: INHERENT VICE

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Opening Dec. 12, the AWFJ Movie of the Week is Inherent Vice, the latest work from writer/director Paul Thomas Anderson (There Will Be Blood, The Master). An adaptation of Thomas Pynchon’s novel – Anderson being a self-confessed mega fan of the author – the film reunites Anderson with his Master star Joaquin Phoenix, who here takes the lead role of cop Larry ‘Doc’ Sportello. Working in LA in 1970, Sportello is fuelled – like most of the city – by a heady mix of drink and drugs, and finds himself rather over his head while investigating the disappearance of ex-girlfriend Shasta (ethereal newcomer Karen Waterston). Read on…

Combining the freewheeling tone of Boogie Nights with the narrative scope of Anderson’s later work, Inherent Vice may initially seem like one man’s riotous journey through LA’s insane underbelly, but actually paints a picture of a city on the cusp of monumental change. The dawn of the 1970s sounded the death knell for the optimistic ideals of the 1960s, and the emergence of harder drugs brought with it new and dangerous paranoias, and Anderson ensures that Pynchon’s explorations of this seismic change remain intact.

As Sportello, Phoenix is deliciously off-kilter, stumbling through a city that’s lit in shades of neon by cinematographer Robert Elswit, and a story that’s part stoner comedy and part social history. With it’s detached aesthetic and surreal humour, Inherent Vice is likely to divide opinion – but you’ll see nothing else like it.

AWFJ Movie of the Week Panelists Comments:

Pam Grady: The Big Sleep meets The Big Lewbowski in 1970 Los Angeles as hippie private eye Joaquin Phoenix gets in way over his head in Paul Thomas Anderson’s hilariously groovy adaptation of Thomas Pynchon’s novel.

Anne Brodie:Inherent Vice is crazy good, an adrenalized road trip / journey into the guts of 70’s LA. Joaquin Phoenix’s Oscar shot, and Paul Thomas Anderson continues his winning ways. Far out.

MaryAnn Johanson: My pick is Inherent Vice, because (having seen the film) I suspect this is going to be the most divisive PTA film yet.

Film Details:

Title: Inherent Vice

Director: Paul Thomas Anderson

Release Date: Dec. 12, 2014

Running Time: 148 minutes

Language: English, Japanese

Shooting Location(s): San Bernardino, CA; Las Vegas, NV; Los Angeles, CA

Principal Cast: Benicio Del Toro, Josh Brolin, Joaquin Phoenix, Reese Witherspoon, Jena Malone, Owen Wilson, Martin Short, Katherine Waterston, Joanna Newson

Screenwriter: Paul Thomas Anderson

Production Company: Ghoulardi Film Company, IAC Films, Warner Bros.

Distributor: Warner Bros.

Official Website


AWFJ Movie of the Week Panel Members: Nikki Baughan, Anne Brodie, Pam Grady, Leba Hertz, MaryAnn Johanson, Loren King, Cate Marquis, Jennifer Merin, Nell Minow, Rebecca Murray, Kristy Puchko, Carrie Rickey, Sheila Roberts, Jeanne Wolf, Sara Vizcarrando.

Other Movies Opening the Week of Dec. 8-12, 2014:

Dec. 12

The Captive

Exodus: Gods & Kings

Immoral Tales

Inherent Vice (limited)

Magician: The Astonishing Life and Work of Orson Wells

Things People Do

Top Five

Edited by Sandra Kraisirideja, Associate Editor

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Sandra Kraisirideja (Archived Contributor) was started by entertainment journalist Sandra Kraisirideja, an accredited member of the Motion Picture Association of America. A 16-year industry veteran, her work has appeared in the Los Angeles Times, Entertainment Today,,,, North County Times, East Hampton Star and Southampton News-Press. Ms. Kraisirideja is listed in the (MPAA) Domestic Press Directory for 2009.