A new film from Joel and Ethan Coen is always a big deal, and the marketing push for Hail, Caesar! juiced anticipation, at least among the cinephile community. A kidnapping comedy (whatever “comedy” means when the Coens are concerned) set in the studio-centric days of Old Hollywood starring George Clooney, Josh Brolin, Scarlett Johansson, Tilda Swinton, and more seems like the perfect recipe for a great movie.
It’s all been leading up to this. After revisiting his feature filmography up to this point, it is finally time to review Paul Thomas Anderson’s newest film: Inherent Vice, based on Thomas Pynchon’s novel of the same name. Pynchon’s work has been considered unadaptable up to this point, as evidenced by the fact that no one has really tried in the last 50 years. But Paul Thomas Anderson isn’t just anyone. The filmmaker has embraced the challenge, describing his movie as a mixture of a classic noir, an Airplane!-style slapstick, and a Cheech and Chong-era stoner comedy. Does he hit that high? Or does Inherent Vice fall all over itself in a bad trip, man?
When Sin City was released in 2005 it was widely praised for its innovative visual style and exaggerated neo-noir tone. I was there at the beginning, a 15-year-old watching with a group of friends as part of a birthday celebration. My sister was there too. She didn’t care much for the film, but it worked for me. Sin City was a touchstone for me at the time. It was the first R-rated movie I snuck into. It was a comic series I would leaf through in Borders (RIP), hoping to be titillated. It was everything a teenager could want. But I’m not a teenager anymore, and Robert Rodriguez and Frank Miller made the mistake of waiting 9 years to put out a sequel. So if I’m not watching Sin City: A Dame to Kill For for titillation – why am I doing it?