In the Dark

Groovy Solipsism

Inherent Vice
Produced and distributed by Warner Brothers
Directed and written by Paul Thomas Anderson, based on the novel by Thomas Pynchon

Produced by New Regency Pictures
Directed and written by Alejandro González Iñárritu
Distributed by Fox Searchlight Pictures

You never know what you’ll learn at the movies.  Watching the two films under review this month, I discovered solipsism isn’t, as I had thought, a philosophical school of thought, but a disease spread by smoking marijuana while taking yourself much too seriously.

Inherent Vice and Birdman both feature irremediably self-involved protagonists who, under the influence of cannabis, concur with Bishop Berkeley that esse est percipi, or, translating loosely, the external world exists only in their minds.  True, neither articulates this idea.  They would have to be decently self-aware even to entertain it, which they demonstrably are not.  What they are is self-consumed, as anyone familiar with the effect of cannabis would recognize.  For those who are unacquainted with this drug, the films thoughtfully provide primers by cinematically inducing a state of mind similar to that experienced under the influence of THC.

Inherent’s director Paul Thomas Anderson does...

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