Setter’s ‘Spectives: The Long Cinematic Torture of ‘Inherent Vice’

Setter Drawing for Blog 082613I knew Inherent Vice was going to be a big, sloppy movie. I just didn’t know how much.

And I didn’t know it was going to be awful, either.

Boy, was this a plodding film. The Paul Thomas Anderson-directed (and -written, based in the novel by Thomas Pynchon) story of a dope-addled P.I. out to uncover various uninteresting mysteries in 1970 California, Inherent Vice isn’t nearly as funny as it thinks it is. And it’s more pretentious, to boot. Plus, there’s the addition of some bland narration, which suggests that the film doesn’t trust its audience to make its own judgments.

That’s a problem. Good movies have faith in their viewers. They coax people along, encourage them. Bad movies hold their audiences at bay, alienate them. And that’s exactly how I felt while watching Inherent Vice.

Much of this movie should’ve ended up on the cutting-room floor; there are all kinds of little idiosyncratic bits that purportedly suggest character development but ultimately fail in providing solid context. What results is a tedious mess. Too bad, because it could’ve been so much better.

I like Pynchon, but I think Inherent Vice, as a movie, doesn’t succeed. There’s originality here, but it’s not enough to carry it. For such a tiresome picture, it feels strangely rushed. That’s just another reason not to like it. Oh, well.

Setter’s ‘Spectives: Driving Along With Spielberg’s ‘Duel’

Setter Drawing for Blog 082613Would you believe I’d never seen the Steven Spielberg movie Duel until last night?

A real shame, huh? Especially considering the fact that I’ve seen a host of other films helmed by the master director.

Duel, the story of an average businessman’s encounter with a homicidal, unseen truck driver on the lonely roads of California, was very tense and suspenseful. Great editing and cinematography, making the most of a tight script that was only hindered by a few bursts of internal monologues here and there … which it didn’t need.

I liked this movie a lot, and it was interesting to see such a strong picture so early in Spielberg’s career (the movie debuted in 1971). I’m not sure I’d want to watch it again; it’s not clear how the suspense and thrills will hold up. But it remains a well-crafted movie.

What film will come next for me? Only the screen has the answer.