Inherent Vice, the new film from Paul Thomas Anderson, isn’t just an adaptation of the novel of the same name by Thomas Pynchon. It is part of a specific tradition of movies that pry into the gaps between visions of American culture, especially as seen on the streets of Los Angeles locations. Paul Thomas Anderson has talked about one or two specifically as Inherent Vice influences, and beyond those few titles is an expansive set of movies in which characters who are all but lost as mainstream culture and power swirl around them.
These are films that line up with the spirit of Inherent Vice. Sometimes it’s just in the case of one sequence, or one shade of the movie. But put all these films together and you have a weekend worth of movies that will prepare you for the desultory, city-spanning story of Doc Sportello. No spoilers for PTA’s movie are here as we talk about the films that link up with it in this particular cinematic tradition, but when you do see Inherent Vice after seeing these you’ll immediately see how they all fit together.
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Here at Slashfilm, if a holiday doesn’t go well with movies we just ignore it. Sometimes we’ll remain totally oblivious to a holiday. For others, we won’t even get out of bed, or we’ll just sip on a beer and pretend it’s Slashfilm Day, and it always is. You can’t make a movie party around a holiday for friggin’ trees, or Abraham Lincoln or the [cough] Irish (Far and Away party at your house! I’m Scottish). If a holiday is up to snuff, take Halloween and Christmas for instance, it will go well with a gang of great movies, friends, laffs and drinks. Ladies and Gentlemen, today, March 10th is the International Day of Awesomeness and we here at Slashfilm wholeheartedly endorse the f**ker!
IDA or, NAD (National Awesomeness Day) to jingos, obviously goes great with awesome movies, so we suggest you call up your awesome friends and celebrate awesomeness in film today (or any day. This piece is a little late. My Audi just exploded. Not awesome.) Don’t plan on going to work tomorrow, because you will be radiating awesome and other suspect smells. We’ve compiled a group of movies that are indeed very awesome, but we’ve made sure to take our well-versed awesome readership into account (hey there Sex Man and Billy Mitchell! See ya, Jerry Butler) and include some awesome films that you may have overlooked, as well as a few diehards (hello John Carpenter!).
So, what is awesomeness? The answer to that is awesome. And “awesome” is what so many philosophers, historians, scientists and even Buddha have overlooked in their vast search for the meaning of life. What makes a movie awesome is more complicated.
An awesome movie usually has an intense, direct and quite populist connection between the director and the audience. This connection is comparable to urging a friend on in a pie-eating contest and basking in the glory when s/he wins the contest by 20 pies; except you’re essentially urging your friend (the director and stars) on after they have already succeeded. Make sense? If not, sense isn’t a qualifier for awesome anyhow. There is usually a certain madness and playful (but rarely ironic) awareness present in an awesome film. There is also usually a gung-ho spirit in an awesome film that can be mistaken for the elusive spirit of the geek-jock. Awesome movies are not “movies for guys who like movies” but the latter type of movies can be awesome (Predator, Dirty Harry, Joysticks).
Like porn and Rip Taylor, you know an awesome movie when you see it. What are we telling you for anyhow? Here are some awesome movies in no particular order. Feel free to expose your awesome Slashfilm peers, including Peter and me, to more awesome films in the comments below. Happy IDA/NAD everyone!
Update (2:30 a.m. EST): I will be updating this article with awesome movies for the rest of the day/night/ummm week!
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