Making a film is the art of retroactive hypnotism. And there is no greater cinema hypnotist than Paul Thomas Anderson. It's rare to see a movie simultaneously this interesting and this good; this incoherent and this profound; this frustrating and this enjoyable.
I haven't seen a Joaquin Phoenix film since I'm Still Here back in 2010. I was reminded of what a brilliant actor he is. Not only did he bring an innocence to a role that could have been played much darker, but he brought a physical humor to it.
There are films that make you want to run to the bookstore or, in reality, Amazon.com. Any Jane Austen or Dickens adaptation. Atonement. Requiem for a Dream perhaps. Then there is Paul Thomas Anderson's adaptation of Thomas Pynchon's Inherent Vice.
There is no wrangling legendary actors Christopher Walken and Philip Seymour Hoffman when they're in a room together. Like old friends, their conversation can swing wide and cover just about anything -- from the employment rate of Screen Actors Guild members to "The Hunger Games."
"Inherent Vice not only reminds us how rooted Mr. Pynchon's authorial vision is in the '60s and '70s," writes Kakutani, "but it also demystifies his work, underscoring the similarities that his narratives share."