Donald Clarke

Whingeing about cinema and real life since 2009

Inherent Vice avoids Toronto and Venice

Paul Thomas Anderson’s take on the Thomas Pynchon novel touches down in New York

Tue, Jul 22, 2014, 20:44


It’s the sort of conspiracy that Thomas Pynchon might have enjoyed. Spiralling from the depths of Colorado, to urban Canada, to the south of France and on Manhattan, the story of Inherent Vice’s premiere causes eyebrows to rise and brows to furrow. A screaming is set to come from the sky. Well, a screaming is set to come from the Lido and Lake Ontario anyway. Paul’s take on Tom’s mad crime novel is destined for another shore.

As we noted recently, film releases have, in recent decades, become more tied to rigid patterns than ever before. In particular, “quality product” — the stuff that wins awards — tends to premiere at either the Toronto or Venice film festivals in September. Over the last year or two, Telluride has begun to cut into Toronto’s line up of premieres. This is a funny one. That Colorado event deals largely in surprise screenings. You don’t know what you are going to see until you get there. As a result, they got away with jumping the gun on some of Toronto’s big unveilings. The trade papers were, it was argued with some justification, unlikely to travel to that remote location on the off-chance they might catch one of the big movies early. That was the theory. It looks as of Telluride has become a victim of its own recent success. So reliably strong was the programme that the likes of Variety and the Hollywood Reporter made sure reviewers were there for the classy films. Last year seems to have proved the final straw. Such films as Gravity generated all their initial reviews in Colorado — some time before the “official Premiere” in Canada. The folks at TIFF (that’s the Toronto International Film Festival to you) put their collective foot down and declared that any film screening at Telluride would lose its prestige Toronto slot at the weekend. Handbags have been drawn. Would Toronto — still, after Cannes, the world’s second most important film festival — continue to bag the big films.

If you say so.

The programme is out today and the answer seems to be a qualified “yes”. A large portion of the films listed in our last post about Oscar odds are there: Jean-Marc Vallée’s Wild, Morten Tyldum’s The Imitation Game and Jason Reitman’s Men, Women and Children to name a few.

But there is one omission. When Inherent Vice failed to complete itself in time for Cannes, everyone began fretting about which of the three big festivals it would first touch down at. None of them (or not officially) it now seems. P T Anderson will be taking Vice to the New York Film Festival in October. That event has already grabbed David Fincher’s Gone Girl as its opener. So it really is coming up in the world.

Here’s where it gets a bit Pynchonian. Is this move to New York as result of Toronto’s strop? Will that film actually turn up first as a “surprise” at Telluride? Is Toronto really about to lose some kudos? I don’t know, kid. At any rate, if the largely unseen Tom wants to attend the official premiere he need only take a subway to the event. I can’t see that happening. But you never know…