Licorice Pizza - SPOILERS!

Started by wilberfan, November 05, 2021, 08:30:50 PM

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Ok we have had references of john cassavetes, elaine may, jonathan demme, altman, scorsese, Fellini, tarantino, wes anderson in the reviews. What the fuck is happening in this movie????


Heard it was a lot like Jan Švankmajer from trusted sources


Cooper is portrayed like a piece of meat


Quote from: Robyn on November 24, 2021, 11:07:58 AM
Heard it was a lot like Jan Švankmajer from trusted sources
Thanks for reminding I have never seen a movie of his and should get to it


Just heard most of Christie's review on the car radio on my way home from errands just now.  I don't think she could possibly like this film any better.

Licorice Pizza movie review & film summary (2021) | Roger Ebert

Paul Thomas Anderson's golden, shimmering vision of the 1970s San Fernando Valley in "Licorice Pizza" is so dreamy, so full of possibility, it's as if it couldn't actually have existed. With its lengthy, magic-hour walk-and-talks and its sense of adventure around every corner and down every block, it's a place where anything could happen as day turns to night.

And yet within that joyful, playful reverie lurks an unmistakable undercurrent of danger. It's in the score from Anderson's frequent collaborator, the brilliant Radiohead guitarist Jonny Greenwood, putting you ever so slightly on edge. It's in the searchlights outside the grand opening of a Ventura Boulevard pinball parlor, incessantly beckoning to the sky. And it's in big, brash moments through showy supporting performances from Bradley Cooper and Sean Penn, both going for broke. Anything could happen as day turns to night—but are you ready for that?

This is a place Anderson knows well from his own childhood and it's where he still lives today. His love is specific and palpable for the Valley, with its suburban sprawl and non-descript strip malls. This is the place of my youth, too—I grew up In Woodland Hills, just down the 101 Freeway from where the events of "Licorice Pizza" occur, and I recall fondly the Southern California record store chain that gives the film its title. (As a kid, I used to go to the one on Topanga Canyon Boulevard in Canoga Park, across the street from Topanga Plaza.) He's taken us on a tour of this area before in a couple of the great, early films that put him on the map ("Boogie Nights" and "Magnolia") but with "Licorice Pizza," he offers us a gentler view. Anderson has harnessed all the thrilling, muscular techniques that are his directing trademarks as well as his affection for high drama as a writer and applied them to telling a story that's surprisingly sweet.

It's also wildly unexpected from one moment to the next as Anderson masterfully navigates tonal shifts from absurd humor to tender romance with a couple of legitimate action sequences thrown in between. "Licorice Pizza" meanders in the best possible way: You never know where it's going but you can't wait to find out where it'll end up, and when it's over, you won't want it to end. Once the credits finished rolling, I had no desire to get up from my seat and leave the theater, I was so wrapped up in the film's cozy, wistful spell.

And in Alana Haim and Cooper Hoffman, both making their feature film debuts, Anderson has given us the most glorious guides. "Licorice Pizza" will make superstars of them both, and deservedly so. Hoffman is the son of the late Philip Seymour Hoffman, whose long and fruitful relationship with Anderson resulted in some of the defining work of his career, ranging from the heartbreaking ("Boogie Nights") to the terrifying ("The Master"). Hoffman has a very different look and demeanor from his father—he has an infectious, boyish optimism—but he shares his dad's intriguing screen presence. And Haim is just a flat-out movie star. She has that "thing": that radiant, magnetic charisma that makes it impossible to take your eyes off her. The youngest of the three sisters who comprise the indie rock band HAIM—they have a long and fruitful relationship of their own with Anderson, who's directed several of their music videos—she's got impeccable comic timing and consistently makes inspired choices. Together, she and Hoffman have a snappy chemistry that's the stuff of classic screwball comedies, but they both seem totally at home in this '70s setting. Adding to the authenticity is the presence of Haim's sisters, Danielle and Este, playing Alana's sisters. And their actual parents play their parents, all of which pays off beautifully in a hilarious, Friday-night shabbat dinner scene.

We haven't even begun discussing the plot, but then again, the plot isn't really the point. In the simplest terms, "Licorice Pizza" finds Haim's Alana and Hoffman's Gary running around the Valley, starting various businesses, flirting, pretending they don't care about each other, and potentially falling for other people to avoid falling for each other. One thing: She's 25 and he's 15, and they meet cute at his high school where's she's helping the photographers on picture day. What makes this amorphous romance make sense is that a) it's extremely chaste, b) she's sort of stunted at the film's start, and c) Anderson wisely establishes early on that Gary has a swagger and intelligence beyond his years. In a way that's reminiscent of Max Fischer in "Rushmore," all the adults Gary encounters take him seriously and treat him as an equal. The fact that he's a longtime child star has a lot to do with his maturity (and the character of Gary is inspired by Gary Goetzman, Tom Hanks' longtime producing partner, who was an actor in his youth). So when he meets Alana and is instantly smitten by her, he carries himself with such confidence and addresses her so directly that she can't help but get drawn into his world.

While their ever-evolving relationship provides the framework for the film, "Licorice Pizza" is really about this young woman's journey of self-discovery: trying out different jobs and clothes, different priorities and personalities, and seeing what fits. (Oscar-winning "Phantom Thread" costume designer Mark Bridges vividly reinvents her look for each new situation.) The vast majority of characters Anderson has focused on throughout his career have been men, from Dirk Diggler to Reynolds Woodcock, so to see him turn his immense artistic instincts toward a woman is only part of what makes "Licorice Pizza" such a breath of fresh air. Hope springs eternal for Alana, but the reality of life as a young woman in Los Angeles—hell, in the world—keeps rearing its head. Maybe it's an intrusive conversation with an agent when she's pondering becoming an actress. Or it's a midnight motorcycle ride with a much older screen star (Penn, as a William Holden figure, gets to be unusually charming). Cooper serves as a much more obvious source of menace as an unhinged Jon Peters, the real-life hairdresser-turned-producer who dated Barbra Streisand; he absolutely tears it up in just a couple of scenes in a way that's funny and ferocious at once. (Christine Ebersole, Skyler Gisondo, Benny Safdie, Joseph Cross, and Tom Waits are among the many actors who enjoy standout moments within this packed cast.)

Peters' presence here is crucial to the through-line of Hollywood's prevalence in this time and place. Gary reminded me of so many kids I grew up with: They had agents and headshots, they got to leave school early for auditions, they had parents who would schlep them all over town to pursue their dreams of stardom. Gary merely takes that initiative and funnels it into a variety of endeavors, and Alana finds herself coming along for the ride. A long tracking shot in which Gary enters the Hollywood Palladium to launch his waterbed company (something Goetzman actually did) calls to mind both the beginning of "Boogie Nights" and the end of "Phantom Thread." Anderson, serving as his own cinematographer again (this time alongside Michael Bauman), infuses this moment and so many others with a mixture of wonder and melancholy.

And as always, he gets so much right about this location and era. The details are dead-on without ever devolving into kitschy caricature: a baby-blue rotary phone hanging on the kitchen wall, or a billboard for the rock radio station KMET perched above a gas station. Gary lives in Sherman Oaks, but in a modest, mid-century ranch-style house, rather than one of the fancier neighborhoods south of the boulevard. And the gas shortage that plagued this period is just one more source of tension for these characters as they try to make their way in the world. Anderson doesn't pummel us over the head with geopolitical reasons, but rather shows Gary running in slow motion past long lines of cars at the pumps, with David Bowie's "Life on Mars?" as a powerful choice of music in the background.

And yet, an achingly romantic tone returns by the end, as well as the sensation that while we may not have ended up anywhere in our wanderings, we just watched the best movie of the year.



As a counter-point (?), there are reviewers that are still put off by the "age difference" thing.  Is this still worthy of discussion--maybe not now, it feels pointless to debate something only a few of us have seen, but...  Maybe a separate thread in January?   Or are we all sick of it at this point?


I'll quote this interesting paragraph from the IGN review. It hints at the ending.

Spoiler: ShowHide
QuoteMaybe the broken, cynical playground that serves as the backdrop to their adventures is the canary in the coalmine for this whole seemingly “romantic” venture. I’d like to believe that’s Anderson's true intention, getting us to really think about how easily we’re persuaded to root for a messed-up dynamic because it’s so skillfully framed like a Hollywood ending. And if he’s not, there’s not enough “no thank you’s” in the world to be given to this slice of life.

The first sentence is the perfect summary of what I hope the movie ultimately conveys: look at this fucked-up world where this twenty-eight years is flirting with a kid and nobody is responsible enough to do anything about it.


The Zacharek/PTA is steadfastly turning into the new Kael/Welles.


Quote from: pynchonikon on November 24, 2021, 01:36:11 PM

The Zacharek/PTA is steadfastly turning into the new Kael/Welles.

I was just going to say. So predictable lol.


She loves Haim's performance so much that even her problems with the film are to do with that though. Can't wait to see Alana in this, it must be something really special.


Has Zacharek taken PTA to task in the past?  Frequently?  Consistently?


Quote from: Alma on November 24, 2021, 01:54:03 PM
She loves Haim's performance so much that even her problems with the film are to do with that though. Can't wait to see Alana in this, it must be something really special.

Her lisp in this flick ~  :inlove:


Quote from: wilberfan on November 24, 2021, 01:57:04 PM
Has Zacharek taken PTA to task in the past?  Frequently?  Consistently?

Yes. She doesn't like him.


Quote from: wilberfan on November 24, 2021, 01:57:04 PM
Has Zacharek taken PTA to task in the past?  Frequently?  Consistently?

As far as I know - Disliked TWBB, The Master, Phantom Thread. Raved Inherent Vice (!?!?!).


All of Paul Thomas Anderson's Movies, Ranked  |  TIME Magazine

by Matthew Jacobs

Your favorite Paul Thomas Anderson movie probably depends on whether you prefer his oddball comedies (Punch-Drunk Love, Inherent Vice, the new Licorice Pizza) or his operatic psychodramas (There Will Be Blood, The Master, Magnolia, Hard Eight). Sometimes, when you're lucky, you get both at once (Phantom Thread, Boogie Nights).

Anderson tends to change tempos from film to film, which makes him one of the most energizing directors working today. Even when his films are sprawling, his work remains intimate and character-driven, using hyper-specific backdrops—often the California of yesteryear, where he was born—to illuminate a particular moment in time. In some sense, every story he tells is one in which humans' desperate need for connection butts up against greed of one kind or another (usually a distinctly American kind).

But despite his headiness, Anderson is committed to entertaining the hell out of us. His soundtrack curation alone is exquisite—no surprise, as he is also a music enthusiast, having helmed slick videos for Fiona Apple, Radiohead and Haim. His plots are invigorating in their well-calculated unpredictability. Simply put, Anderson has never made a bad movie, and certainly never a dull one. If he ever does, it would probably still run circles around whatever else is playing at the multiplex that weekend.

Licorice Pizza marks Anderson's ninth movie, which is as good an occasion as any to reflect on his catalog thus far. Ahead of its release (Pizza opens in select theaters on Nov. 26 and nationwide on Dec. 25), TIME rewatched and ranked Anderson's era-defining oeuvre.

9. Inherent Vice (2014)
One viewing of Inherent Vice won't suffice. Even if you've read the Thomas Pynchon novel on which it's based, this rambling tangle about a perpetually stoned private investigator (a mutton-chopped Joaquin Phoenix) drifting through a Manson-paranoid Los Angeles can feel as hazy as a cloud of pot smoke. It is, as the kids say, a vibe—and a dense one at that, tackling the changing cultural mores of 1970 with deceptively layered humor. For many, Vice is a "like it or leave it" situation. When consumed like a Long Goodbye-esque parade of unified tableaux guided by a fashionable cast (Josh Brolin, Owen Wilson, Benicio del Toro, Reese Witherspoon, Hong Chau, a scene-stealing Martin Short), the movie offers a groovy secondhand buzz. But it's also a bit high on its own supply, lacking the emotional anchor needed to stay afloat.

8. Hard Eight (1996)
Anderson got a rude awakening about Hollywood egos when the production company behind Sydney, his directorial debut, recut the film and named it Hard Eight. He acquiesced on the title but not the edit, ultimately convincing the powers that be to release his version. Even with Anderson's thinnest plot, Hard Eight is pretty great. The movie has early traces of his signature flair: stylish tracking shots, piercing close-ups, expressive monologues, and a story that changes course around the midway point. A neo-noir about a down-on-his-luck stiff (John C. Reilly) and the mysterious gambler (Philip Baker Hall) who lends him a hand, this established Anderson's bona fides, even though it was only released in 29 theaters.

7. The Master (2012)
The first thing you notice in The Master is Jonny Greenwood's score, a propulsive ticktock that hypnotizes the audience before a single word has been spoken. The second is Joaquin Phoenix's hunched posture. The arch in his back, combined with his unwitting snarl, makes him at once diminutive and imposing, childlike and depraved. His Freddie Quell is a man of contradictions, beleaguered by the horrors of World War II and susceptible to the allure of a seductive charlatan (Philip Seymour Hoffman, playing an L. Ron Hubbard type in a film with pointed Scientology parallels). The final thing you notice in The Master is that it's somehow a love story between Freddie and his new guru, even if said guru's wife (Amy Adams) tends to call the shots, sometimes while giving hand jobs. That uneasy constellation of spiritual crises, like all of Anderson's films, rewards repeat viewings.

6. Licorice Pizza (2021)
Unfolding like a series of ebullient vignettes, Licorice Pizza roams through Los Angeles alongside a precocious 15-year-old showman (Cooper Hoffman, son of Philip Seymour Hoffman) and the slightly older apple of his eye (Alana Haim of the rock trio Haim). It's a coming-of-age frolic about a bunch of schemes taking place amid the encroaching chaos of 1973, bridging the rise and fall of waterbeds with an international oil crisis. This is Anderson at his freest. The plot zigs, zags and zips through the two young hopefuls' whimsical adventures. Their detours along the way, particularly one involving an unhinged Bradley Cooper as larger-than-life Hollywood producer Jon Peters, form a sweet ode to the ingenuity of youth. Licorice Pizza is one huge grin in movie form.

5. Magnolia (1999)
Following the success of Boogie Nights in 1997, the suits at New Line Cinema gave Anderson carte blanche. What resulted was a three-hour mosaic of psychological freak-outs inspired by his stint as a PA on Quiz Kids Challenge, Aimee Mann's music and the San Fernando Valley. Magnolia, with its feverish performances (Julianne Moore! Tom Cruise! Jason Robards! Melora Walters!) and where-the-hell-is-this-going velocity, is a movie about choices. Any choice a character makes sets off a chain reaction that spirals through the various narratives, which coalesce around a biblical squall in which frogs tumble from the heavens. Anderson milks the conventions of melodrama, assigning everyone's experiences—no matter how mudaneor misguided—near-epic scope. When asked what he would redo about the film during a Reddit AMA four years ago, he responded, "Chill the f-ck out and cut 20 minutes." Could it use a trim? Sure. But this is a rare behemoth unburdened by its running time, exemplifying Anderson's masterly control.

4. Punch-Drunk Love (2002)
After the unfettered sprawl of Magnolia, Anderson was determined to cap his next project at 90 minutes. Out of that came Punch-Drunk Love, at once, paradoxically, Anderson's most fantastical and most grounded movie. To label it a romantic comedy feels limiting, though it is technically a love story about a jittery neurotic named Barry (a career-best Adam Sandler) and the shy sweetheart (Emily Watson) who takes a liking to his idiosyncrasies. Punch-Drunk is better described as a manic lark, from the abandoned harmonium that kicks off the story to the phone-sex extortion ploy that threatens to disrupt Barry's newfound contentment. It's a testament to Anderson's peculiar dialogue and roving camerawork that he can make such a humanistic film that still manages to become an out-of-this-world fairy tale.

3. Boogie Nights (1997)
Boogie Nights established Anderson's sense of scale. It's a saga about family—the chosen kind, or at least the happened-upon kind—filtered through the disco-inflected California porn scene of the late '70s and early '80s. Anderson isn't interested in trite ideas like "growth," that gingerly Hollywood fixation that requires characters to change or mature by the time the plot expires. This menagerie of outcasts remain the same people they were when the film began, finding refuge in the employment of a demanding director (Burt Reynolds). Expanded from a short film Anderson made in high school, Nights is a master class in tone: dark, funny and oddly comforting, sometimes within the same scene. Alfred Molina's drugged-out climax alone belongs in some kind of pantheon. The movie can also claim credit for turning Mark Wahlberg, best known at the time as hip-hop upstart Marky Mark, into a viable movie star. (He can thank Leonardo DiCaprio, who recommended Wahlberg for the role of well-endowed dunce Dirk Diggler because he'd already signed on to do Titanic.)

2. Phantom Thread (2017)
Anderson came up with Phantom Thread while sick in bed. "My wife"—that's Maya Rudolph, though they aren't technically married—"looked at me with a love and affection that I hadn't seen in a long time," he said. "So I called Daniel [Day-Lewis] the next day and said, 'I think I have a good idea for a movie.'" That idea birthed one of the strangest and most rapturous romances of the last decade, in which tempestuous 1950s couturier Reynolds Woodcock (Day-Lewis) is mellowed by a soft-spoken muse (Vicky Krieps) who feeds him toxic mushrooms as a means of disarmament. It's surprising to say that a film about the sadomasochistic eccentricities of coupledom produced Anderson's wittiest script and prettiest cinematography, but Phantom Thread did exactly that. Just when you think Alma has set out to kill Reynolds, the film reveals itself to be a euphoric meditation on power, tenderness and the intimate negotiations that exist behind closed doors.

1. There Will Be Blood (2007)
There Will Be Blood is the moment Anderson went from an exciting director to an essential one. At the time of its release, antiheroes weren't as unusual in movies as they were on TV, with Tony Soprano's influence trickling its way through prestige programming, and yet Daniel Plainview (Day-Lewis) feels almost unmatched in his brand of hyper-articulate monstrosity. An early-1900s petroleum capitalist, Daniel has a misanthropic streak—to put it lightly—that reflects a quintessentially American nightmare. Tearing his way through the undeveloped West with a devilish poise, he strikes it rich through greed and manipulation, those all-too-human attributes that would come to define the 20th century and beyond. A masterpiece loosely inspired by Upton Sinclair's novel Oil!, this movie is at once a haunting psychodrama, a damning portrait of masculinity and a terrifyingly fun exercise in villainy.

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(Some minor shuffles and you've got my ranking at this point.)