While there’s some contentment about Paul Thomas Anderson‘s Inherent Vice having earned $330,000 this weekend in five New York and Los Angeles theaters, there’s also concern that it might not match the earnings of previous PTA films (The Master, There Will Be Blood, Punch-Drunk Love, Magnolia, Boogie Nights) by the end of the road. I was half-and-half on The Master, seriously impressed by Blood, generally pleased with Love and Magnolia and delighted with Boogie Nights. But I’ve had difficulty with Inherent Vice both times I’ve seen it. My first reaction after the New York Film Festival showing was that I might not be smart or patient enough to get it, and that maybe the curtains would part upon my second viewing. Well, that didn’t happen. There’s always round three but I don’t know that I’m up for it. I really don’t want to hang with Joaquin Phoenix‘s Doc Sportello again, man. I hated his company like nothing else. Vice is far from thoughtless or haphazard and certainly deserves respect for PTA’s meticulous composition and use of…was it one or two Neil Young tunes? But I didn’t give a damn who did what (and neither did Thomas Pynchon — I get that) and I didn’t care about anyone in the entire cast except Martin Short. Pynchon fans might argue that Inherent Vice is an entirely different bird than Robert Altman‘s The Long Goodbye and Joel and Ethan Coen‘s The Big Lebowski, but these films are still quasi-detective stories about low-rent loser types trying to make sense of a complex Los Angeles demimonde and scratching their heads and shrugging their shoulders at the perverse and ungainly sprawl of it all. I recognize that Vice is more liked than disliked by critics and that the HE comment symphony may take a few pokes at me, but I’m used to that. What’s the verdict?