Entries tagged with “Joaquin Phoenix”.


Doc prepares to bust open the case.

After doing research, Doc prepares to bust open the case.

Paul Thomas Anderson (“PTA” in the trade) is one of those people. If he’s behind a camera, I’m in front of the screen. Gimme, gimme, gimme.

A few months back, the trailer for his latest film Inherent Vice was released. Joaquin Phoenix, Josh Brolin, Owen Wilson, Katherine Waterston, Benicio Del Toro, Martin Short and a slew of other interesting actors in the trippy tale of Doc Sportello, a gumshoe in sandals, as he smokes dope, snorts blow and tries solving a corker of a case set in 1970 L.A.

The movie’s based on Thomas Pynchon’s novel of the same name. Pynchon is a writer with a cult following. I never waded into those waters, so I got the book and dove in. The guy can write, some passages are transformative. That said, I got a little over half way through the book and it was a confusing mess. I laid the novel down and never picked it up again. I just didn’t care.

I liked the movie much better– liked it enough to finish it at least. The performances PTA gets from his cast make the confusing tale fun to watch. Robert Elswit’s cinematography makes you want to pack a bag for the L.A. sun, and Jonny Greenwood’s score pluses the pretty pictures and powerful performances. Everyone delivers the goods, and Joaquin shines as usual.

Is it perfect film? No. It’s not a perfect story. It’s like an impressionist painting, there are strokes all over the place and with some distance, you get the true beauty and artistry of the picture.

Inherent Vice may try you at times, but it’s worth the ride.

Well-told human stories endure longer than special effects.

So many movies live only in the time they take to be projected. They are light, fluffy entertainment that exist only in the moment. When you rise from your seat, they are left behind like the popcorn kernels on the floor.

This isn’t a bad thing, these films are just momentary entertainment. Escapism with little of substance to take away after they’ve run.

Then there are movies that engage, entertain, confound and confuse at times, and toy with your emotions. They don’t give you all the answers–– they demand that you participate and bring your life to them and think about the story being told and why things are the way they are and why people act the way they do.

These movies plant seeds in your brain and give you something to think about long after the final reel has flickered into darkness. They are the movies that explore the human condition, pique curiosity and encourage thought. They’re human stories, not mega-special-effects-driven wonders. They don’t feed, they nourish.

I love these kinds of films, and here are two candidates for your consideration from a pair of the most compelling and interesting directors working today. First is David O. Russell’s Silver Linings Playbook with stellar performances from Bradley Cooper and Jennifer Lawrence. It’s a rom-com of a different sort, one that explores characters haunted by fragile mental states and some driven mad through their obsessions. It’s a terrific ride and one that you’ll find yourself thinking about long after the movie has run.

Some pictures and performances live on a long, long time.

Then there is Paul Thomas Anderson’s The Master, a film that explores damaged psyches and the art of manipulation. Joaquin Phoenix, Philip Seymour Hoffman and Amy Adams deliver amazing performances worthy of little gold statuettes (as do Cooper and Lawrence).

Russell and Anderson both explore with film for the benefit of self-discovery. No, you won’t always find all the answers, but you will definitely find questions that illuminate.

Both films of these two auteurs (that’s French for ‘artsy-but-not-too-fartsy’) are well worth seeing. Give them a look and see if you don’t agree they’ll be strong Oscar contenders.