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‘Inherent Vice’ Headed for AFI Fest: Why the Film Has a Long Way to Go

'Inherent Vice' Headed for AFI Fest: Why the Film Has a Long Way to Go

AFI Fest 2014 has slated Paul Thomas Anderson’s ’70s-set Pynchon adaptation “Inherent Vice” as its centerpiece gala film. Starring Joaquin Phoenix, Josh Brolin, Benicio del Toro, Reese Witherspoon, Owen Wilson, Martin Short, Jenna Malone and (wait for it) Joanna Newsom, the film will screen at the Egyptian Theatre on November 8 accompanied by a conversation with Anderson.

The first half hour of Paul Thomas Anderson’s bloated (148-minute) stoner detective film noir is exhilarating. But the movie faces a tough slog ahead (here are five reasons why). For one, it’s not clicking with Oscar gurus, who’ve placed it on the low-end of the Best Picture race at number 16. Reactions out of the New York Film Festival ran the gamut even among Anderson acolytes. (TOH! debates the film with Indiewire’s Eric Kohn here.)

Anderson had long wanted to adapt Pynchon. Is it successful? That depends on what you demand from an L.A. detective mystery. “Inherent Vice” won’t satisfy a wide swath of moviegoers–even smart ones–although it will be a must-see for any self-respecting cinephile. And “Chinatown” it is not.

At any rate, “Inherent Vice” is the latest addition to a festival already packed with awards possibilities.

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