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Inherent Vice is an Unforgettable Trip

Following some of his most earnest and darkest films (There Will Be Blood & The Master), writer and director Paul Thomas Anderson’s seventh feature film, Inherent Vice, is much lighter in tone and material. It’s wacky, goofy, and has plenty of moments that are just plain out there. However, that is not to say that this film lacks ambition and Anderson’s distinctive direction. Despite the fact that Inherent Vice might be Anderson’s most bizarre project, it still is one of his most ambitious. Adapting from acclaimed novelist, Thomas Pynchon, Anderson channels Pynchon’s dense material into an eccentric adventure that spoofs the noir detective genre. Its clever, compelling, and boldly ridiculous. Like most Paul Thomas Anderson’s film, Inherent Vice, will definitely divide audiences. Even so, there is still a rewarding experience to be found.

Joaquin Phoenix in Inherent Vice

Joaquin Phoenix in Inherent Vice

Inherent Vice follows stoner and private investigator, Larry “Doc” Sportello (Joaquin Phoenix), as he navigates through the psychedelic and free loving era of the 60s and 70s. One day he is startled when his ex-girlfriend, Shasta (Katherine Waterston), stops by his house and has a job for him to do. She wants his him to investigate the potential kidnapping of her billionaire boyfriend. Sportello nonchalantly accepts, and embarks on a wild adventure that has him come across strange people and even stranger circumstances.

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Her

From the mind of the always creative Spike Jonze, Her tells a story of an alienated writer, Theodore (Joaquin Phoenix). Theodore is recently going through a tough break up from his wife, and is reluctant to sign the divorce papers. He feels as though he has not only lost the love of his life, but also lost his place in the world. Things are extremely mundane for him, and nothing seems right. However, things are about to change when he buys a new operating system (OS) that has a conscious and the ability to get to know the owner personally. His OS, Samantha (Scarlett Johansson), is automatically unique and personable. Together they form an interesting relationship that pushes the boundaries of what love can actually be. Her has a brilliant concept that is refreshing, daring, emotional, and proves to be the best romance of 2013.

Joaquin Phoenix in Her

Joaquin Phoenix in Her

Her is a beautiful movie about love, moving on, and accepting the fact that life does not always go your way. Jonze wonderfully creates an ingenious story that seduces you from the start, and surrounds you with breathtaking visuals. It remains thought-provoking and engaging throughout, and Jonze masterfully adds an insightful commentary on alienation, male/female relationships, and the human need for loving and connecting with someone or even something. In an age where we tune out nearly everybody and then tune into our devices- our society feels as though we are getting more comfortable with our phones, tablets, and computers than we are with actual human beings. Although we are living in a world where we are able to reach out and connect with anyone anywhere, we have somehow found a way to be more lonely in this technological age. Jonze inserted this very feeling in a compelling, warm story that is also funny and genuine. Her tenderly and touchingly shows the need for human connection, and the evolving ways technology has taken the place of human interactions, but in the same breath shows how technology can never fully replace it. The message transcends the screen and speaks to all of us. It is refreshing, bittersweet, and profound. Jonze’s flair and artistry has allowed for an innovative tale that is all around one of the best love stories in recent memory.

Along with the emotional story that is sure to resonate with all of us and direction that is lyrical and sophisticated, Her’s beauty comes from the extraordinary performances from the two leads. The always incredible Joaquin Phoenix is absolutely stunning in the role of Theodore. This is the most vulnerable and hurt we have seen Phoenix, and he is able to convey all of the emotions of an insightful man that has lost his love and his place in the world. Phoenix is compelling, heartbreaking, poetic, and poignant. It is simply some of the best acting you will see all year, and it is hard to think of any other actor who could have pulled this off as well as Phoenix. The other powerful performance comes from the beautiful Scarlett Johansson as Samantha. Although we never see her, Johansson gives a tour de force performance that solely relies on her voice acting skills. Her seductive, warm vocals set the mood, and keeps the film grounded and believable. She is emotional present and on par with Phoenix, and is equally vulnerable. Samantha is quirky, funny, insightful, touching, heartbreaking, and thanks to Johansson we are able to lose ourselves in Samantha. She keeps us engaged, entertained, on our toes, and we soon begin to invest emotionally into Samantha. The supporting cast, specifically the delightful Amy Adams, also adds performances that are potent. Simply, the performances will sweep you off your feet.

With one of the most beautiful stories displayed on screen all year, writer and director Spike Jonze has crafted and created a personal, cathartic experience that not only speaks for the now, but also beautifully shows the promise of tomorrow. Set in the near distant future, Her shows off the many different possibilities of the advancement in technology, which makes you wonder what the future may hold for us. My only hope is that they still make movies like this in the future. 

The cast includes: Joaquin Phoenix (The Master), Scarlett Johansson (Don Jon), Amy Adams (American Hustle), Rooney Mara (Side Effects), Christ Pratt (Moneyball), and Olivia Wilde (The Change Up). It was written and directed by Spike Jonze (Where The Wild Things Are).

 

3.5 out of 4 stars

-By Louie Coruzzolo

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