If you’re planning on seeing Inherent Vice today, here’s a warning: You’ll need multiple viewings to wrap your mind around what happens. You can chalk it up to its equally dense source novel of the same name, written by Thomas Pynchon, or you can attribute that to its director, Paul Thomas Anderson, a man who seems to get a kick out of filling your brain with more than you can process at once.
Just take a look at the movies he’s got streaming on Netflix. All thinking-man’s dramas, the films wholly represent PTA’s signature style: at once brooding, beautiful, and baffling.
The Master (2012)
Anderson took a risk with The Master, blowing open the world of Scientology in an inexplicit way. Here, Joaquin Phoenix plays Freddie Quell, a World War II veteran struggling with his PTSD and reintegrating himself into society. Lost, he unwittingly stows himself away on the boat of one Lancaster Dodd (Philip Seymour Hoffman), a stern but chillingly calm man who happens to be the leader of a religious movement known as “The Cause.” The deeper Quell gets into the movement, the more its twisted secrets become apparent.
There Will Be Blood (2007)
Thanks to this movie, you can’t say the word milkshake without at least one person cracking an “I drink your milkshake!” joke. (We’ll spare you the reason why in case you haven’t seen it before.) The film, which won its star Daniel Day-Lewis the Oscar for Best Actor, follows Daniel Plainview, a silver-miner-turned-oilman who follows the paper trail to Southern California, where the oil business is booming. But Plainview is no country bumpkin looking to share the wealth. The ruthless businessman shows no mercy to anyone who gets in the way of his success.
Punch Drunk Love (2002)
Sometimes, it’s nice to watch a film that reminds you that Adam Sandler isn’t just a collection of loud noises and fart jokes. In his best dramatic role, Sandler plays a lonely, socially ill-adjusted man named Barry Egan, who passes the days keeping his novelty company afloat. Set up by his sister, he meets a sweet woman named Lena Leonard (Emily Watson), whom he immediately falls for. However, a bizarre extortion plot involving a misguided call to a phone-sex line made during one of Barry’s loneliest days inadvertently threatens his relationship with Lena. What unravels is a story about truth, forgiveness, and the importance of companionship.
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