Inherent Vice: Paul Thomas Anderson created a film that is, at the same time, an homage and a caricature (a good one, since it exaggerates the essence of the genre without falling into ridicule) of a film noir; it’s a fine line to walk. One such element is the plot, impossibly serpentine; that it’s never fully explained is part of the plan. The large and colorful gallery of characters is another element; the main character (played brilliantly by Joaquin Phoenix) is (mostly) cut from the mold of a classic gumshoe. The whole cast is, in fact, great; Josh Brolin gets more airtime and is a hoot. Robert Elswit’s cinematography is a wonder: vivid colors, beautiful (unusual at times, but never showy) framing, and the occasional long take (the kind that showcases the acting more than itself). This film, ultimately, is an atmospheric piece; expecting to completely grasp the story is hopeless, and that’s not a bad thing.
(Note: If I had seen this in a timely fashion, it would have entered somewhere in my Top 10 Films of 2014.)