Inherent Vice movie review

Paul Thomas Anderson never ceases to amaze. He makes a rain of frogs look plausible, turns Adam Sandler into an actor, and makes an iconic image out of drinking milkshakes. He’s always doing something surprising and wonderful. Anderson’s latest film, Inherent Vice, is two hours of those moments loosely strung together with a detective narrative.

Based on the novel by Thomas Pynchon, Inherent Vice stars Joaquin Phoenix as Doc, a ratty detective whose mysterious ex-girlfriend Shasta (Katherine Waterston) asks for help with a supposed plot against her new squeeze. Doc obliges, as Doc does with many people in the film, but the movie never really cares about solving this mystery. It’s more interested in Doc’s pot-infused, Choose Your Own Adventure lifestyle where he says “yes” to everything and takes the ride that follows.

That ride introduces some absolutely insane, memorable characters played by the likes of Josh Brolin, Martin Short, Reese Withersooon, Owen Wilson, Benicio Del Toro, Eric Roberts, Maya Rudolph and Jena Malone, all of whom pop in and out of Doc’s life on a whim. Some play significant roles, others do not, but Inherent Vice isn’t a movie about connecting these points. It’s pretty much just about the trip.

Inherent Vice had its Los Angeles Premiere at the AFI Fest presented by Audi and you can continue reading our Inherent Vice movie review below.

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American Sniper poster header

Director Clint Eastwood has great aspirations for American Sniper. First and foremost, he hopes to make a movie paying tribute to the most deadly sniper in the history of the United States. That’s the late Chris Kyle, played by Bradley Cooper. He also hopes to show Kyle not as only a heroic solider, but a complex man confident in his actions and concerned about of their results. The film paints a grim picture of post-traumatic stress disorder and what it does to our veterans, especially in regards to their families. Finally, there’s also a drive to keep things exciting, so there are many gun battles in the deserts of Iraq.

Yes, American Sniper is an incredibly ambitious film with many moving parts. All of those parts work in certain instances, but only on rare occasions do they all come together at once. The disconnection makes the film fall just short of those great aspirations.

American Sniper had its World Premiere on Veterans Day at AFI Fest presented by Audi and you can read the rest of our review below. Read More »

Inherent Vice

In just a few weeks, one of the best films festivals in Los Angeles hits the silver screen. It’s the AFI Fest Presented by Audi. Taking place from November 6-13 in Hollywood, CA, the festival not only features some of the fall’s most highly anticipated films. Tickets are completely free. For real.

This year, some of the big titles screening are Paul Thomas Anderson‘s Inherent Vice, Bennett Miller‘s Foxcatcher, Mark Wahlberg in The Gambler, and Tommy Lee JonesThe Homesman. In addition to those, AFI has a ton of other films that need to be on your radar. Below, find out how to get tickets and sample just a small amount of the awesome films on the schedule at AFI Fest 2014. Read More »

Joaquin Phoenix Her

There’s a vast difference between simply making a movie and taking the time to develop a new idea to make a movie about. It’s the difference between franchises releasing a new sequel every year, and the work of Spike Jonze, a filmmaker who up to this point has only made three movies in 15 years. His fourth film, Her, is the director’s first original screenplay. It’s everything you’d hope for from the mad genius who brought to life Being John Malkovich, Adaptation and Where the Wild Things Are.

Her is a dramatic sci-fi romance about a man named Theodore (Joaquin Phoenix) who falls in love with his artificially intelligent computer operating system (voiced by Scarlett Johansson). It’s a simple, yet brilliant conceit realized with depth and emotion, two rare traits in mainstream cinema. The depth comes from Jonze’s ideas about technological dependence and loneliness, and the emotion is conveyed as the film raises questions about what it means to love and our capacity to do so. It’s a film that’ll both spark intelligent debate and plenty of tears.

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Michael Haneke‘s latest film Amour (aka Love) is probably the saddest happy movie ever made. It tells the harrowing story of an elderly couple’s long time love for each other and how their bond is tested when one of them falls incredibly ill. Depressing? More than you can imagine. But Haneke’s realism and the unbelievable performances of his leads, Jean-Louis Trintignant and Emmanuelle Riva, somehow takes terrible pain and transforms it into an affirmation of life.

Audacious in its attempt to make opposite ends of the emotional spectrum into perfect complements, Amour is a true feat that’s not to be missed. The film won the Palme D’Or at this year’s Cannes Film Festival and just played AFI Fest presented by Audi. Read more after the jump. Read More »

The ABCs of Death is an anthology comprised of twenty-six vile, disgusting, hilarious, sometimes fantastic, and other times forgettable horror shorts. Individual directors each paired a letter of the alphabet with a way someone can die, and every possible option was on the table, no matter how offensive or gory.

Predictably, the results are equal to the imaginations and skills of each director. Some episodes look gorgeous with innovative, shocking and exciting ideas executed beautifully. Others are simple and clean, and work just right. Then there are films that don’t do much with their concept and lay there. Along the way, the constant excitement and anticipation of which filmmaker is next and what their death might be provides a worthy propulsive energy in the absence of a narrative. But when one of the films lays an egg, it hurts everyone else around it.

The ABC’s of Death hits VOD January 31 and theaters March 8, but it just screened at the AFI Fest Presented by Audi. Read more after the jump. Read More »

On the Road is one of those books people live their life by. It changes perception. People read and reread it, discuss its particulars, and keep a copy in their luggage when they decide to act on its inspiration and go on a trip just like the characters Dean Moriarty, Sal Paradise and Marylou. Most of the time filming a work of literary genius like that is near impossible, especially one that lacks a traditional narrative structure. The film version of On the Road just about gets it right.

Director Walter Salles and screenwriter Jose Rivera have done as good a job of translating Kerouac’s tone and pace as possible with On the Road. Starring Garrett Hedlund (in the role of his career), Kristen Stewart, Sam Riley and featuring supporting performances by Viggo Mortensen, Amy Adams, Elizabeth Moss, Kirsten Dunst and others, the film echoes the free and easy tone defined by the book, filled with travel, drugs, sex, and philosophy. The question is: does that make for an entertaining film? The answer is complicated.

On the Road opens on December 21, but recently played as part of the AFI Fest Presented by Audi. Read more below.

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John Dies at the End, which is director Don Coscarelli‘s take on the wacky, cult novel by David Wong, is incredibly entertaining for the sake of being entertaining. Featuring huge monsters, metaphysical conversations, pop culture-based humor, hilarious performances and big action scenes with flame throwers, explosions, and bullet time, you’d be hard pressed to be bored by the picture. Unfortunately, all of that promise and entertainment value feels wasted because the film has very little to say, and is capped with a slightly disappointing payoff.

John Dies at the End comes on demand December 27 and in theaters January 26, but recently screed at the AFI Fest presented by Audi. Read more below. Read More »

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