From the NY Review of Books, a review of Inherent Vice vis-a-vis the film adaptation, written by Geoffrey O’Brien. Never finished Gravity’s Rainbow, but inspired to give it another go. Or at least add this to my Netflix queue.
From the start—framing its opening exchanges in close-ups as if in the middle of a scene—the film has an intimate, off-kilter tone that manages to coexist with all the extravagant comedy and visual grotesquerie. It is not a question of shifting moods but of the bizarre fusion of seemingly contradictory moods into some not quite identifiable state of mind, a condition quite compatible with the wrenching extremes of attitude and comportment that might be commonly encountered in California in 1970. Anderson was in fact born that year, but he channels its atmosphere—its sense that everything has just been freshly reinvented and is already starting to fall apart—with the same mediumistic certitude he brought to other eras in Boogie Nights and There Will Be Blood and The Master. Inherent Vice takes its place in what is emerging as an inner history of California and by extension of America.