Posted on July 13, 2015
I didn’t understand the book and I don’t get Pynchon (The Crying of Lot 49 was like one long drag of fingernails across a blackboard for me in college) and I’m not particularly fond of director Paul Thomas Anderson (I haven’t found a single other one of his overlong, overwrought movies to be a valuable use of my time) so my love for this movie can only be described as completely inexplicable.
I do think Joaquin Phoenix is a great actor and he’s great in this film. Everyone, even the usually irritating Martin Short, is great in this film. Don’t get me wrong, the story doesn’t make a whole lot of sense but I don’t think it makes less sense than the source material. It just packages that same incoherence in a mixture of humor and nostalgia that allows someone who is exactly my age and has exactly my background to truly enjoy the time they spend with it.
And I can’t even argue with any passion that what I just said is actually true. The person with whom I first watched the movie is my age and has a similar background and his one word review was, “Hogwash.”
I’ve watched it several times since that first viewing, both sober and otherwise, and I still get a kick out of it. I think of it like a classic detective novel was looking the other way and someone dropped a hit of yellow sunshine into its bourbon.