Licorice Pizza - SPOILERS!

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

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gaucho_marx

Interesting musical tidbit about this film: about the piece of music used in the teenage fair sequence, Blue Sands by Chico Hamilton, from his 1956 album Chico Hamilton Quintet, the VERY NEXT TRACK on the album is a piece called The Sage which was used in Boogie Nights when little Bill comes home to his wife fucking someone else. Side note that track, The Sage, has some cello that always reminds me of the piece used in TWBB as Daniel is dealing with HW's recent loss of hearing.

WorldForgot

From an interview on Inherent Vice for Wondering Sound:

Quote"A lot of the time we were shooting stuff that was silent. So there was a ton of stuff during dailies [where] there wasn't a lot of dialogue. So it was very easy to plug the iPod into the speakers and kind of navigate around, whether it was Chico Hamilton again, or weirder stuff. A lot of the songs I kept playing, like 'You Go To My Head,' or 'Two Blind Loves,' some of which ended up in the movie, some of which didn't. I remember particularly loving the feeling of 'Two Blind Loves,' and just having the knowledge of that song really was useful. There was one classical piece that I can't remember now, that I'd play during the rushes, and even though it didn't end up in the movie, it ended up informing how I shaped the mood of one of the beach scenes. So it's always useful to play with material even if it doesn't end up being used." (One song used to startling effect is "Slow Boat to China," sung in full by Philip Seymour Hoffman at the end of the film.) "What can I say? Nothing. Except maybe that I'd trade all my screenplays for a writing credit on that song. My ex-old lady Fiona [Apple] sings this song better than anyone."

jzakko

That's a great quote, I remember that interview but don't remember it well, but the original wondering sound link is dead.

Anyone know if it's archived somewhere?

Montclair

Saw this the weekend it first opened but didn't post my review in this thread yet:

Wow, this movie was so fun and it made me love going to the movies again(I made the mistake of seeing the awful "House of Gucci" the day before) and it made me want to be a teenager again, too! I saw this in NYC and I walked in 15 minutes early to 1970s period specific previews: "Life on Mars" music video, "Aloha Bobby and Rose" trailer, "Yours, Mine and Ours" trailer, "Adam-12" commercial for NBC that also talked about the NBC Thursday movie, ABC Sunday Night Movie commercial advertising the lineup for the year("The Longest Day", "Von Ryan's Express", "Cleopatra", "Day of the Evil Gun", etc), 1970s News clip about gas shortage with a Nixon address to the nation, "Star-Team" toy commercial with 2001: A Space Odyssey theme in it, A Barbie-like doll commercial where the doll has a pinball machine, A "Happy 1974 From Theater Management" clip, "Breezy" trailer, 1970s French music video where the man singing is superimposed into a pinball machine and so is a beautiful dancing girl in hot pants and knee high red patent leather boots and, finally, an animated commercial for "Country Boy Water Beds." These really got you into the mood of the film(and some of these clips would be featured in it as well), followed by trailers for movies coming soon('The Batman", "Red Rocket", "Nightmare Alley," etc). Plus an advertisement for a "Licorice Pizza Mixtape" with films programmed by Paul for the theater, including his own("Boogie Nights", "Inherent Vice") plus "Fast Times at Ridgemont High," "American Graffiti," "Car Wash" and a few others. It really makes you excited to go to the theater.

Okay, now to the actual movie! Seeing this in 70mm really made the start of the film feel like I was watching an actual artifact from the 1970s, in the best way. This started off really strong, with effortless tracking shots that almost had an invisible style(think of the dolly shots from "The Master" and "Inherent Vice") and helped establish how Gary and Alana have instant chemistry. Cooper plays "Gary" as a very confident, optimistic hustler and Alana Haim plays "Alana Kane" as a very moody, bratty 25 year old who I forgot was in her mid twenties and at times felt like she was a teenager herself. The pacing and slice-of-life aspect, plus all of the businesses Gary starts up and leads in his precocious manner seemed like Paul smashed together "Dazed and Confused" and "Rushmore" but in his own way. The needle drops were really nice, with a mixture of songs that you rarely hear and some classics as well. There's a scene where a song by Wings plays and it's a real standout(and is still stuck in my head to this very moment). The period perfect design with the art direction and costumes was flawless and no detail was overlooked. Not a single one. Nobody does period pieces like him. The scope of this film is bigger than the trailer leads you to believe, which was a nice surprise. Also, Benny Safdie doesn't get a lot of screen time, but when he does, his character's story is the most mature and touching moment in the film, which was another surprise. And, in a way, that points to some of the problems with the movie ...

So, I love, love, love "hangout" movies. "Everybody Wants Some" and the aforementioned "Dazed and Confused" are great examples of this(Linklater has perfected them throughout his career). Along with movies like "I Vitelloni", "American Graffiti", "Metropolitan", "Sideways" and all of Eric Rohmer's masterpieces. These are not plot driven films, they're character driven mood pieces and what makes them great is the cast and the director's ability to forego plot for sharp storytelling where the editing lets scenes play out for a while, when need be, and tightly cuts from scene-to-scene, when need be, as well. I like Cooper and Alana, but this was the first PTA film where the acting from the leads wasn't brilliant. In fact, there were many scenes where it sounded like an actor saying lines instead of just inhabiting the character and making you forget you're watching a movie. When they were in scenes with stars making cameos and even the unknown actors, the difference in skill level showed. They simply got upstaged. Also, the first half was paced really well and you're just along for a fun ride from amusing episode-to-episode, but once Bradley Cooper's Jon Peters shows up, it's funny, but this is where the film becomes self indulgent and then scene after scene plays out, seems to go on and on, but leading to nowhere. I like episodic movies, but when the episodes feel a little too long and don't really reveal anything new or interesting about the characters, it feels a little tiring. Benny Safdie and Joseph Cross have a scene towards the end that made me wish the movie starred them, because they were more natural in front of the camera than Cooper and Alana. So, just imagine how it feels when Sean Penn, Bradley Cooper and Harriet Sansom Harris(god I wish she was a bigger part of this movie, she stole the show again) are on the screen. I feel like Paul, for the first time, missed the mark with casting amateurs or unproven talent in the leads(Mark Wahlberg, Jeremy Blackman, Dillon Freasier, Madison Beaty, Katharine Waterston, and Vicky Krieps were all perfect and felt like they WERE the characters). Again, Alana and Cooper weren't mediocre, but they weren't great either. Alana had a few moments but it just felt like Paul let his love for his friends blind him to their limitations.

This movie was like a cameo overdose for film geeks. The Haim family and the Anderson family plus the Spielberg daughters, Jack Nicholson's son and Leonardo DiCaprio's dad really made it feel like I was watching a cinephile version of Family Feud(and I'm sure it made many struggling actors PISSED). I now know which actor played Sam Harpoon plus a familiar voice is dressed up as Frankenstein. Also, there are certain voices you hear that remind you of PTA's 90s movies and Tim Conway Jr has one of those voices. Plus, the up and coming supporting actors were really great, especially Skyler Gisondo and Nate Mann. Also, I have to say, it's refreshing to see a movie full of beautiful young women with natural faces and natural bodies who look like real, healthy people(if I see another actor with fillers and botox in a period piece that takes place 100 years ago or playing a real life character that never had any cosmetic work done, I'm gonna lose it). Interestingly enough, this movie makes several references to Jewishness in a way you rarely see in films or TV shows where being Jewish isn't what the story is about. Not sure if that's tied up in Paul's Freudian motivations for casting the daughter of his art teacher that he had a crush on in the 70s when he was a little kid, then having his late good friend's son play a 15 year old in love with the 25(or older?) character played by said daughter who looks just like her mom, or ... what? But, it was interesting. Also, the movie is clearly making fun of the idiot white guy with Yellow Fever who speaks English in an exaggerated "Asian" accent to the Japanese women in the story. It's not making fun of Asians and anyone who says it is, just wants to be offended so they can cheat their way to a Bronze medal in the Oppression Olympics. Now, as far as the age gap goes, I'll just say, there's a clear double standard at play when it comes to boys, something many of us probably already knew. If the genders were reversed, this movie doesn't get greenlit, at least not for more than a production budget of $5 million. I'll steer clear of spoilers, but when you see it, you can make up your own minds about what does or doesn't count as "innocent." Also, Alana's character being in her mid 20s and hanging out with and being possessive of a 15 year old isn't really explored, it just happens. I feel like that was a missed opportunity to write a really authentic female character. Also, the kiss at the end and her voiceover saying, "I love you Gary Valentine" made me feel uncomfortable.

All in all, though, this was a film I'd recommend for everybody to go out and see, especially if you're a fan of Paul's work. He went back to anamorphic and the 70s, but this didn't feel like a retread of "Boogie Nights" or even his style in "Magnolia." This is very much his own evolved style that he used to make his version of the hangout movies he loved. This was funny and sweet but surprisingly un-challenging for a PTA movie. What I love is when great movies leave you with a lot of questions to ponder after you see them and "There Will Be Blood", "The Master" and even "Phantom Thread" did that. This one was uncomplicated and felt like a light workout for Paul, in comparison to his other films, even "Punch Drunk Love", which was shorter but a lot more eccentric and much tighter, storytelling wise. But, Paul Thomas Anderson doing a light workout is still better than almost every other living director at the top of their game. It amazes me that the same filmmaker who did this, also made "Phantom Thread" a few years ago! That says a lot about his skill and integrity. But, there was some filler that should have been cut out(I wish Dylan Tichenor or someone like Jennifer Lame edited this) and the leads should've been actors who were much better at disappearing into the characters. "Lady Bird" isn't as artistic as this and doesn't have anywhere near the cinematography or attention to detail in production design, costumes and hair and makeup(seriously, I really felt like I was in 1973-74 via a time machine) but the performances from the young leads and the editing,(especially the editing)are much better. But, make no mistake, this was a really good movie and I can't wait to see it again. It made me want to visit the valley and run to the love of my life. If you can see it projected on film, you owe it to yourself to do so.

Pringle

Quote from: Montclair on December 29, 2021, 07:21:21 AM
Saw this the weekend it first opened but didn't post my review in this thread yet:

Wow, this movie was so fun and it made me love going to the movies again(I made the mistake of seeing the awful "House of Gucci" the day before) and it made me want to be a teenager again, too! I saw this in NYC and I walked in 15 minutes early to 1970s period specific previews: "Life on Mars" music video, "Aloha Bobby and Rose" trailer, "Yours, Mine and Ours" trailer, "Adam-12" commercial for NBC that also talked about the NBC Thursday movie, ABC Sunday Night Movie commercial advertising the lineup for the year("The Longest Day", "Von Ryan's Express", "Cleopatra", "Day of the Evil Gun", etc), 1970s News clip about gas shortage with a Nixon address to the nation, "Star-Team" toy commercial with 2001: A Space Odyssey theme in it, A Barbie-like doll commercial where the doll has a pinball machine, A "Happy 1974 From Theater Management" clip, "Breezy" trailer, 1970s French music video where the man singing is superimposed into a pinball machine and so is a beautiful dancing girl in hot pants and knee high red patent leather boots and, finally, an animated commercial for "Country Boy Water Beds." These really got you into the mood of the film(and some of these clips would be featured in it as well), followed by trailers for movies coming soon('The Batman", "Red Rocket", "Nightmare Alley," etc). Plus an advertisement for a "Licorice Pizza Mixtape" with films programmed by Paul for the theater, including his own("Boogie Nights", "Inherent Vice") plus "Fast Times at Ridgemont High," "American Graffiti," "Car Wash" and a few others. It really makes you excited to go to the theater.

Okay, now to the actual movie! Seeing this in 70mm really made the start of the film feel like I was watching an actual artifact from the 1970s, in the best way. This started off really strong, with effortless tracking shots that almost had an invisible style(think of the dolly shots from "The Master" and "Inherent Vice") and helped establish how Gary and Alana have instant chemistry. Cooper plays "Gary" as a very confident, optimistic hustler and Alana Haim plays "Alana Kane" as a very moody, bratty 25 year old who I forgot was in her mid twenties and at times felt like she was a teenager herself. The pacing and slice-of-life aspect, plus all of the businesses Gary starts up and leads in his precocious manner seemed like Paul smashed together "Dazed and Confused" and "Rushmore" but in his own way. The needle drops were really nice, with a mixture of songs that you rarely hear and some classics as well. There's a scene where a song by Wings plays and it's a real standout(and is still stuck in my head to this very moment). The period perfect design with the art direction and costumes was flawless and no detail was overlooked. Not a single one. Nobody does period pieces like him. The scope of this film is bigger than the trailer leads you to believe, which was a nice surprise. Also, Benny Safdie doesn't get a lot of screen time, but when he does, his character's story is the most mature and touching moment in the film, which was another surprise. And, in a way, that points to some of the problems with the movie ...

So, I love, love, love "hangout" movies. "Everybody Wants Some" and the aforementioned "Dazed and Confused" are great examples of this(Linklater has perfected them throughout his career). Along with movies like "I Vitelloni", "American Graffiti", "Metropolitan", "Sideways" and all of Eric Rohmer's masterpieces. These are not plot driven films, they're character driven mood pieces and what makes them great is the cast and the director's ability to forego plot for sharp storytelling where the editing lets scenes play out for a while, when need be, and tightly cuts from scene-to-scene, when need be, as well. I like Cooper and Alana, but this was the first PTA film where the acting from the leads wasn't brilliant. In fact, there were many scenes where it sounded like an actor saying lines instead of just inhabiting the character and making you forget you're watching a movie. When they were in scenes with stars making cameos and even the unknown actors, the difference in skill level showed. They simply got upstaged. Also, the first half was paced really well and you're just along for a fun ride from amusing episode-to-episode, but once Bradley Cooper's Jon Peters shows up, it's funny, but this is where the film becomes self indulgent and then scene after scene plays out, seems to go on and on, but leading to nowhere. I like episodic movies, but when the episodes feel a little too long and don't really reveal anything new or interesting about the characters, it feels a little tiring. Benny Safdie and Joseph Cross have a scene towards the end that made me wish the movie starred them, because they were more natural in front of the camera than Cooper and Alana. So, just imagine how it feels when Sean Penn, Bradley Cooper and Harriet Sansom Harris(god I wish she was a bigger part of this movie, she stole the show again) are on the screen. I feel like Paul, for the first time, missed the mark with casting amateurs or unproven talent in the leads(Mark Wahlberg, Jeremy Blackman, Dillon Freasier, Madison Beaty, Katharine Waterston, and Vicky Krieps were all perfect and felt like they WERE the characters). Again, Alana and Cooper weren't mediocre, but they weren't great either. Alana had a few moments but it just felt like Paul let his love for his friends blind him to their limitations.

This movie was like a cameo overdose for film geeks. The Haim family and the Anderson family plus the Spielberg daughters, Jack Nicholson's son and Leonardo DiCaprio's dad really made it feel like I was watching a cinephile version of Family Feud(and I'm sure it made many struggling actors PISSED). I now know which actor played Sam Harpoon plus a familiar voice is dressed up as Frankenstein. Also, there are certain voices you hear that remind you of PTA's 90s movies and Tim Conway Jr has one of those voices. Plus, the up and coming supporting actors were really great, especially Skyler Gisondo and Nate Mann. Also, I have to say, it's refreshing to see a movie full of beautiful young women with natural faces and natural bodies who look like real, healthy people(if I see another actor with fillers and botox in a period piece that takes place 100 years ago or playing a real life character that never had any cosmetic work done, I'm gonna lose it). Interestingly enough, this movie makes several references to Jewishness in a way you rarely see in films or TV shows where being Jewish isn't what the story is about. Not sure if that's tied up in Paul's Freudian motivations for casting the daughter of his art teacher that he had a crush on in the 70s when he was a little kid, then having his late good friend's son play a 15 year old in love with the 25(or older?) character played by said daughter who looks just like her mom, or ... what? But, it was interesting. Also, the movie is clearly making fun of the idiot white guy with Yellow Fever who speaks English in an exaggerated "Asian" accent to the Japanese women in the story. It's not making fun of Asians and anyone who says it is, just wants to be offended so they can cheat their way to a Bronze medal in the Oppression Olympics. Now, as far as the age gap goes, I'll just say, there's a clear double standard at play when it comes to boys, something many of us probably already knew. If the genders were reversed, this movie doesn't get greenlit, at least not for more than a production budget of $5 million. I'll steer clear of spoilers, but when you see it, you can make up your own minds about what does or doesn't count as "innocent." Also, Alana's character being in her mid 20s and hanging out with and being possessive of a 15 year old isn't really explored, it just happens. I feel like that was a missed opportunity to write a really authentic female character. Also, the kiss at the end and her voiceover saying, "I love you Gary Valentine" made me feel uncomfortable.

All in all, though, this was a film I'd recommend for everybody to go out and see, especially if you're a fan of Paul's work. He went back to anamorphic and the 70s, but this didn't feel like a retread of "Boogie Nights" or even his style in "Magnolia." This is very much his own evolved style that he used to make his version of the hangout movies he loved. This was funny and sweet but surprisingly un-challenging for a PTA movie. What I love is when great movies leave you with a lot of questions to ponder after you see them and "There Will Be Blood", "The Master" and even "Phantom Thread" did that. This one was uncomplicated and felt like a light workout for Paul, in comparison to his other films, even "Punch Drunk Love", which was shorter but a lot more eccentric and much tighter, storytelling wise. But, Paul Thomas Anderson doing a light workout is still better than almost every other living director at the top of their game. It amazes me that the same filmmaker who did this, also made "Phantom Thread" a few years ago! That says a lot about his skill and integrity. But, there was some filler that should have been cut out(I wish Dylan Tichenor or someone like Jennifer Lame edited this) and the leads should've been actors who were much better at disappearing into the characters. "Lady Bird" isn't as artistic as this and doesn't have anywhere near the cinematography or attention to detail in production design, costumes and hair and makeup(seriously, I really felt like I was in 1973-74 via a time machine) but the performances from the young leads and the editing,(especially the editing)are much better. But, make no mistake, this was a really good movie and I can't wait to see it again. It made me want to visit the valley and run to the love of my life. If you can see it projected on film, you owe it to yourself to do so.

Weren't you the one insisting that this was a minor movie and not worth seeing in a theater?

pynchonikon

https://www.thenation.com/article/culture/licorice-pizza/

Paul Thomas Anderson's Licorice Pizza by Vikram Murthi

In December 1999, the Los Angeles Times profiled director Paul Thomas Anderson ahead of his third feature, Magnolia, under the headline "The New New Wave." The article placed Anderson among an ascendant peer group of youngish white male directors like David O. Russell, Spike Jonze, and Darren Aronofsky, most of whom had recently released films. Crucially, however, it also positioned Anderson as the leader of this pack, someone whose talent was so widely recognized that he had the ear of Francis Ford Coppola and dined with Warren Beatty. The profile characterized him as a classic '70s New Hollywood auteur, à la Robert Altman or Martin Scorsese, someone with complete creative freedom and an exacting level of control over every aspect of the production and release of his films, down to editing the trailer himself.

The article's writer, Patrick Goldstein, goes to some lengths to depict Anderson as a brash kid caught up in the Hollywood scene that he had always orbited, having grown up in the San Fernando Valley with a showbiz father. The young director wants people to see him at dinner with his famous friends. He's slightly jealous that everyone recognizes Quentin Tarantino when they walk down the street together but not him. However, at age 29, he is self-aware enough to be wary of "the spotlight," despite wanting attention and acclaim. The piece ends with Anderson asking rhetorically, "Is it possible that when you get older you get a little more clarity on these things?"

That the answer to that question is yes has been borne out by his post-Magnolia output, as each of Anderson's subsequent films evince greater emotional maturity and formal control. They trade in the influence-laden hyperactivity of his '90s work for an understated spontaneity, and Anderson has slowly settled into a more confident, less needy register, which allows him to explore unfamiliar territory. His latest film, Licorice Pizza, returns to the San Fernando Valley setting of his youth and his early films: Boogie Nights, Magnolia, and Punch-Drunk Love. Yet despite the youth of the film's protagonists, Licorice Pizza doesn't display any juvenile tendencies. It's the work of a 51-year-old former wunderkind, now established as an American auteur, who might indeed have gained a little more clarity in the intervening decades.

Set in 1973, Licorice Pizza follows the extended flirtation between wayward twentysomething Alana Kane (Alana Haim, of the pop-rock group Haim) and 15-year-old Gary Valentine (Cooper Hoffman, son of the late Philip Seymour Hoffman), a child actor and hustling entrepreneur whose slick confidence affords him professional opportunities and the trust of many adults far beyond his years. Alana and Gary's passionate yet unconsummated romance makes up the spine of Licorice Pizza, but Anderson uses it to explore various liminal states of being, especially the trying, unpredictable period between childhood and adulthood. Gary uses his preternatural charm to move through adult spaces with a transparent desire to rid himself of his boyhood limitations. Alana, however, lives in the world that Gary desperately wants to conquer and sees how unfulfilling and dissatisfying it can be. Both are impulsive and reckless in their own ways, but they share an intriguingly lopsided attraction for each other. Gary falls for Alana because he sees a "mature" woman who can facilitate his entry into adulthood, whereas Alana falls for Gary because she envies his naive view of the grown-up world. The irony, of course, is that Alana is far less mature than she appears, and Gary (despite his relative inexperience) has savant-like street smarts that will inevitably take him far. The swooning romanticism, the twisted relationship dynamics, and the celluloid vision of Anderson's hometown during a time he never experienced all make for a syncretic and career-spanning work. In a way, it's a culmination of the director's interests and his most personal film yet.

Anderson structures Licorice Pizza as a series of anecdotes from Gary and Alana's lives, with each sequence resembling a story told second- or thirdhand. The pair meet when Alana, a photographer's assistant, shows up at Gary's high school for class picture day; he asks her out to dinner, an invitation she uneasily accepts. Sometime later, Alana acts as Gary's chaperone on a trip to New York so he can appear in a variety show with Lucy Doolittle (Christine Ebersole). Gary and Alana eventually start a waterbed business and deliver one to a volatile, lascivious Jon Peters (Bradley Cooper), the movie producer, boyfriend of Barbra Streisand, and suspected inspiration for Warren Beatty's character in Shampoo. At one point, Gary is falsely accused of murder; at another, Alana auditions for a film opposite a legendary actor named Jack Holden (Sean Penn). Later, she accompanies Holden on a risky motorcycle stunt at a local golf course. It's unclear how much time passes between any of these episodes. Licorice Pizza plays like a slideshow of memories, with each moment seamlessly progressing into the next.

Since Gary and Alana reside on the edges of Hollywood, their adventures are mostly rooted in actual showbiz tall tales that Anderson exaggerates for comedic or dramatic effect. Hoffman's character is based on the formative experiences of Gary Goetzman, a former child actor who became a music supervisor and producer for Tom Hanks and director Jonathan Demme, a hero and mentor of Anderson's. Goetzman really did start a waterbed company (and later an arcade) and actually delivered one to Jon Peters (Peters was reportedly much nicer in real life). Many of the characters in Licorice Pizza have real-life counterparts: The cantankerous Lucy Doolittle is a stand-in for Lucille Ball, with whom Goetzman acted in the film Yours, Mine and Ours; Jack Holden is William Holden, and the film Alana auditions for is Clint Eastwood's Breezy, about a romance between a middle-aged divorcé and a younger woman; the motorcycle stunt is based on a similar legend featuring a drunken Evel Knievel.

With Licorice Pizza, Anderson mines the space between fiction and reality to unearth an ineffable authenticity, one that's more concerned with lived experience than literal truth. It's not just that almost everything that occurs in the film feels ripped from someone's life; Anderson also populates Licorice Pizza with regular professional collaborators and trusted members of his personal life to lend the film an even more intimate atmosphere. Having directed roughly half of Haim's music videos, he not only cast Alana as the lead but included her entire family (two sister bandmates and their mother and father) in the production as well. Andy Jurgensen, the film's editor, previously cut Anderson's Haim videos as well as his documentary Junun and his music videos for Radiohead. Anderson's own family, including his four children and their friends, all play bit parts or appear as extras. Most poignantly, the presence of the young Hoffman casts a subtly spiritual effect over the film, reuniting the director with one of his most cherished actors via his son.

Anderson's choice of collaborators, combined with filming in the San Fernando Valley, creates a cozy, familial energy, as if he'd literally made Licorice Pizza in his own backyard. The film's palpable tenderness arises from an amalgamation of formal elements. The camera work emphasizes long takes and scenes, not unlike Anderson's Haim videos, especially the 14-minute short performance film "Valentine," which creates a fluidity of motion between the actors and their environments. Similarly, Anderson's use of '70s-era camera lenses lends a warm texture to the film's imagery, rendering it less artificially crisp. Licorice Pizza sports a wistful yet energetic soundtrack, contrasting cuts from well-known artists like Paul McCartney, David Bowie, and the Doors with tracks from more off-the-beaten-path artists, including Clarence Carter and Taj Mahal.

Of course, the film's most winning element, the one most easily perceived on the surface, is the chemistry between Haim and Hoffman, which feels natural and unaffected from the first moment they share the screen together. It helps tremendously that the two look and sound like real people instead of spotless models, but crucially, neither actor reaches for the big emotions and gestures most associated with on-screen romances. Instead, their relaxed rapport communicates bountiful, unexpressed desire. Much hay has been made on social media and in the entertainment press out of the characters' age disparity, and while Anderson recognizes that teenagers have sexual desires for adults ill-suited to them, the relationship here remains fairly chaste. (It's worth noting that the film acknowledges the discomfiting nature of Gary and Alana's relationship, along with the importance of consent and the historically lecherous behavior of older men toward younger women.) Yet Anderson conveys the obvious: These two have made an indelible impression on each other, and even if they're not meant to be together, they're still bonded for life.

Though its earnest appreciation for its early-'70s period setting might suggest otherwise, Licorice Pizza is hardly a hollow exercise in nostalgia. The film's affectionate tone and Gary and Alana's various high jinks thinly disguise an air of sexual menace that pervades a Hollywood environment crowded with creeps. Licorice Pizza opens with an innocent meet-cute between Gary and Alana, but it's punctuated by a photographer slapping Alana on the ass; she barely registers it, indicating its frequency. During her audition, Holden leers at Alana with the practice of a veteran, insisting on referring to her as "Breezy" rather than her real name. Later, when he liquors her up, Holden feeds her "war stories" from his life about the dangers of the jungle, but they're really just taken from his on-set experiences. Bradley Cooper's hilarious, show-stopping performance as the explosive Peters aside, the character is a walking sexual harassment lawsuit, such as the one filed against the real-life Peters in 2011, which resulted in a judge ordering him to pay $3.3 million to a former assistant. There is no moral editorializing from Anderson in these scenes; this behavior is simply expected in a culture of unchecked fame and considerable wealth.

Anderson depicts the Hollywood of Licorice Pizza as one in a state of flux: a time when the American film industry firmly moved out of the confines of the Production Code era into unmarked territory. But the scene is still filled with old-timers like Holden and director Rex Blau (Tom Waits, playing some kind of John Huston figure) who throw their weight around. A child actor with show business aspirations, Gary speaks the industry language and knows he still has to pay respect to the old guard. While he can move through their thicket of codes and traditions with ease, he also knows his verve will outlast the numerous aging authorities blocking his path.

Alana, however, remains stolid, a defiant young woman seeking purpose and identity, who nonetheless demands respect from the world Gary idolizes and she disdains. She admires Gary's can-do attitude, guile, and ingratiating nature, yet she constantly pursues men who represent his opposite. That list includes Lance (Skyler Gisondo), another child actor with more swagger and professional success than Gary; the older and supposedly wiser Jack Holden; and Joel Wachs (Ben Safdie), a mayoral candidate whom Alana begins to work with because she sees him as a man of honest conviction—someone who wants to give back to the community instead of profiting off it like Gary with his various businesses and con-man-like exterior.

All these men disappoint her, but especially Wachs, who invites Alana out for a drink but only to press her into service as an emergency beard for his wounded boyfriend, who's tired of being hidden away. Another real-life character, Wachs was a 30-year city councilman in Los Angeles who wasn't open about his sexuality until 1999; Safdie plays him as someone so committed to assimilating that he would thoughtlessly hurt his loved ones for a shot at mainstream recognition. It's after this dispiriting experience that Alana runs back into the arms of Gary, now the proprietor of a pinball emporium located in the same spot as his waterbed business, who's slowly learning that his dominion extends only to people close to his own age. Generous adults humor his ambitions, but when he tries to control a particularly aggressive older patron at the arcade, he's immediately belittled because, well, why would someone listen to a kid, even if he's in a suit?

This undermining of Gary's authority suggests Anderson's true intentions and indicates that Licorice Pizza, while generally exuberant and lush, isn't some uncritical fantasy. Alana and Gary's romance wears an innocent veneer of young, misguided love, but it reveals itself to be another of Anderson's explorations of codependency. The two share a mutual fantasy built around combativeness and dissatisfaction, one destined for collapse. Licorice Pizza's bright, luminous present inevitably conceals a cloudy future. Unlike in other, more typical coming-of-age films, neither Alana nor Gary learns any lessons from their time together. They only know what Anderson has been professing, from Boogie Nights through Phantom Thread: Love hurts, but that's what makes it fun.

pynchonikon

https://newsconcerns.com/we-need-to-talk-about-the-love-stories-in-licorice-pizza-and-red-rocket/

by Freddie Johnson

When does entertainment cross the line from fun and cheeky to problematic? That's the question that sprung to mind while watching two of the most lauded comedies this year, "Licorice Pizza" and "Red Rocket." On one hand, both films feature flawed protagonists striving for their versions of the American dream in ways that are irresistible to audiences. On the other hand, these stories involve romantic relationships with minors.

Amid the escapades of a young entrepreneur and former child actor (Cooper Hoffman) in "Licorice Pizza" and a washed-up porn star's (Simon Rex) devil-on-a-tightrope act in "Red Rocket," we see them pursue romances that are questionable, at best. And the critical discussion about this has been lackluster at best.

While no film should be tasked with presenting sanitized reflections of humanity with morally sound characters, viewers should still take it upon themselves to question the images they consume and not strictly leave it up to the film, or its characters, to address those conflicts.

After all, writer-director Paul Thomas Anderson waits about an hour into "Licorice Pizza" before he even broaches the question of decency when it comes to the budding romance between 15-year-old Gary (Hoffman) and 25-year-old photographer Alana (Alana Haim). "Do you think it's weird that I hang out with Gary and his friends all the time?" she asks her sister.

The obvious answer is: Uh, yes. Definitely. And to her credit, Alana at first repeatedly rejects Gary's incessant flirtations and proposals to be her significant other. But ultimately, she, like much of the audience apparently, can't refuse his charm and they begin a friendship. As we watch the two engage in shenanigans in the 1970s-era San Fernando Valley — like speeding backward in a moving van in an attempt to dodge Barbra Streisand's unhinged lover (Bradley Cooper) — it becomes clear that we're supposed to root for them to be together.

Their relationship has certainly won over a large swath of audiences. This is "the stuff that young love is made of," writes the Daily Beast. There's a lot to unpack here with both Alana and Gary being grouped as "young," even though she admittedly matures a lot in this film, when non-white minors are often treated as adults.

But it is equally hard to ignore not just an age gap but the reality that Alana is an adult and Gary is a child at the beginning of the film, no matter how enjoyable it might be to watch their love blossom over time, which is a strangely nebulous yet important concept in the film. That is further complicated when Gary walks away when Alana refuses to show him her breasts, so she caves in and does so. Because until that point, they could almost get away with being a passionately platonic pair.

Why doesn't she more vehemently decline this suggestion? That is one of many questions left unanswered in this nostalgia-soaked film that doesn't think about anything too deeply, least of all race and age. It simply exists on cool vibes and a paper-thin-yet-pleasant plot as we watch its central duo eventually seal the deal with a kiss.

"There's no line that's crossed, and there's nothing but the right intentions," Anderson told The New York Times in response to his protagonists' disparate ages. "That's not the story that we made, in any kind of way. There isn't a provocative bone in this film's body."

But just because the film — and its storyteller — doesn't take itself too seriously doesn't mean there's no space for open dialogue. While it's good, even necessary, to show disagreeable situations like the one at the core of "Licorice Pizza," it's also crucial to be discerning about it. We should ask: Should we really want this love to happen?

Yes

Film "journalists" are really down bad this year. A lot of bad faith writing. It's just contradictory to compare Licorice Pizza to Red Rocket.

Now I understand why others would have issues with this film. Not dismissing them. They're going to say what they want and have their opinions. Nothing will change. It's fine. Personally, I had no issues. The casual racism of the era is depicted as to showcase the film as non-nostalgic and romantic. The restaurant owner exploits culture and his partner for his business, which is in contrast to Gary's escapades. Gary and Alana's relationship is clearly given evidence that it's not sustaining (like every relationship in the film) and the attraction is a dependency based on manipulated validation. They're lost souls who can't help but intersect in various stages of growth in their stagnant lives. Yes, the boobs scene is inappropriate but I don't buy the sentiment the film doesn't take any of these moments or characters seriosuly. Danger is all around the corner when you're growing up. Sometimes it isn't obvious and you're hurt. What people should focus on is how the boobs scene is developed, the previous scene is Gary pestering her to show him her boobs. Yes, she's an adult and shouldn't. But it would be a less interesting film otherwise. She regrets all of her decisions and lives in a world of domineering men.

And Red Rocket is a much different, worse film. Although I liked many aspects of it, the film is very confused. There's blatant allusions to Trump with Simon Rex's behavior. He grooms a 17 year old girl with the purpose of personal exploitation and career gain. However,
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the young girl shifts the dynamic and is the one who gives into the grooming, being the one to sexually come onto him, etc. The film wants to test your sympathy and empathy in regards to these two characters. She is eventually interested and open to idea of a career in porn


So that's about the last I'll say of this. I don't take any of this material lightly

Pringle

It sure seems like the more seriously we take pop culture in America — the more fiercely we debate it, the more importance we place on it in relation to our society and our identity — the worse our actual lives get. Imagine if all of the energy expended on this shit was actually directed toward affecting material change toward the lives of Asian Americans or the lives of people who were victimized by older people when they were underage. Instead, we'll all just move on to the next movie and get outraged over that.

Drenk

Pringle, that's a comic-book view of the world.  :yabbse-grin: Because clickbait websites are drive like sharks to the most sensationalist nothing news possible doesn't mean that people aren't doing real work about these issues.
Ascension.

Yes

All you have to do is just ignore clickbait headlines and Twitter!

Trust me, it's soo easy to not engage

Montclair

Quote from: Pringle on December 29, 2021, 11:42:58 AM
Quote from: Montclair on December 29, 2021, 07:21:21 AM
Saw this the weekend it first opened but didn't post my review in this thread yet:

Wow, this movie was so fun and it made me love going to the movies again(I made the mistake of seeing the awful "House of Gucci" the day before) and it made me want to be a teenager again, too! I saw this in NYC and I walked in 15 minutes early to 1970s period specific previews: "Life on Mars" music video, "Aloha Bobby and Rose" trailer, "Yours, Mine and Ours" trailer, "Adam-12" commercial for NBC that also talked about the NBC Thursday movie, ABC Sunday Night Movie commercial advertising the lineup for the year("The Longest Day", "Von Ryan's Express", "Cleopatra", "Day of the Evil Gun", etc), 1970s News clip about gas shortage with a Nixon address to the nation, "Star-Team" toy commercial with 2001: A Space Odyssey theme in it, A Barbie-like doll commercial where the doll has a pinball machine, A "Happy 1974 From Theater Management" clip, "Breezy" trailer, 1970s French music video where the man singing is superimposed into a pinball machine and so is a beautiful dancing girl in hot pants and knee high red patent leather boots and, finally, an animated commercial for "Country Boy Water Beds." These really got you into the mood of the film(and some of these clips would be featured in it as well), followed by trailers for movies coming soon('The Batman", "Red Rocket", "Nightmare Alley," etc). Plus an advertisement for a "Licorice Pizza Mixtape" with films programmed by Paul for the theater, including his own("Boogie Nights", "Inherent Vice") plus "Fast Times at Ridgemont High," "American Graffiti," "Car Wash" and a few others. It really makes you excited to go to the theater.

Okay, now to the actual movie! Seeing this in 70mm really made the start of the film feel like I was watching an actual artifact from the 1970s, in the best way. This started off really strong, with effortless tracking shots that almost had an invisible style(think of the dolly shots from "The Master" and "Inherent Vice") and helped establish how Gary and Alana have instant chemistry. Cooper plays "Gary" as a very confident, optimistic hustler and Alana Haim plays "Alana Kane" as a very moody, bratty 25 year old who I forgot was in her mid twenties and at times felt like she was a teenager herself. The pacing and slice-of-life aspect, plus all of the businesses Gary starts up and leads in his precocious manner seemed like Paul smashed together "Dazed and Confused" and "Rushmore" but in his own way. The needle drops were really nice, with a mixture of songs that you rarely hear and some classics as well. There's a scene where a song by Wings plays and it's a real standout(and is still stuck in my head to this very moment). The period perfect design with the art direction and costumes was flawless and no detail was overlooked. Not a single one. Nobody does period pieces like him. The scope of this film is bigger than the trailer leads you to believe, which was a nice surprise. Also, Benny Safdie doesn't get a lot of screen time, but when he does, his character's story is the most mature and touching moment in the film, which was another surprise. And, in a way, that points to some of the problems with the movie ...

So, I love, love, love "hangout" movies. "Everybody Wants Some" and the aforementioned "Dazed and Confused" are great examples of this(Linklater has perfected them throughout his career). Along with movies like "I Vitelloni", "American Graffiti", "Metropolitan", "Sideways" and all of Eric Rohmer's masterpieces. These are not plot driven films, they're character driven mood pieces and what makes them great is the cast and the director's ability to forego plot for sharp storytelling where the editing lets scenes play out for a while, when need be, and tightly cuts from scene-to-scene, when need be, as well. I like Cooper and Alana, but this was the first PTA film where the acting from the leads wasn't brilliant. In fact, there were many scenes where it sounded like an actor saying lines instead of just inhabiting the character and making you forget you're watching a movie. When they were in scenes with stars making cameos and even the unknown actors, the difference in skill level showed. They simply got upstaged. Also, the first half was paced really well and you're just along for a fun ride from amusing episode-to-episode, but once Bradley Cooper's Jon Peters shows up, it's funny, but this is where the film becomes self indulgent and then scene after scene plays out, seems to go on and on, but leading to nowhere. I like episodic movies, but when the episodes feel a little too long and don't really reveal anything new or interesting about the characters, it feels a little tiring. Benny Safdie and Joseph Cross have a scene towards the end that made me wish the movie starred them, because they were more natural in front of the camera than Cooper and Alana. So, just imagine how it feels when Sean Penn, Bradley Cooper and Harriet Sansom Harris(god I wish she was a bigger part of this movie, she stole the show again) are on the screen. I feel like Paul, for the first time, missed the mark with casting amateurs or unproven talent in the leads(Mark Wahlberg, Jeremy Blackman, Dillon Freasier, Madison Beaty, Katharine Waterston, and Vicky Krieps were all perfect and felt like they WERE the characters). Again, Alana and Cooper weren't mediocre, but they weren't great either. Alana had a few moments but it just felt like Paul let his love for his friends blind him to their limitations.

This movie was like a cameo overdose for film geeks. The Haim family and the Anderson family plus the Spielberg daughters, Jack Nicholson's son and Leonardo DiCaprio's dad really made it feel like I was watching a cinephile version of Family Feud(and I'm sure it made many struggling actors PISSED). I now know which actor played Sam Harpoon plus a familiar voice is dressed up as Frankenstein. Also, there are certain voices you hear that remind you of PTA's 90s movies and Tim Conway Jr has one of those voices. Plus, the up and coming supporting actors were really great, especially Skyler Gisondo and Nate Mann. Also, I have to say, it's refreshing to see a movie full of beautiful young women with natural faces and natural bodies who look like real, healthy people(if I see another actor with fillers and botox in a period piece that takes place 100 years ago or playing a real life character that never had any cosmetic work done, I'm gonna lose it). Interestingly enough, this movie makes several references to Jewishness in a way you rarely see in films or TV shows where being Jewish isn't what the story is about. Not sure if that's tied up in Paul's Freudian motivations for casting the daughter of his art teacher that he had a crush on in the 70s when he was a little kid, then having his late good friend's son play a 15 year old in love with the 25(or older?) character played by said daughter who looks just like her mom, or ... what? But, it was interesting. Also, the movie is clearly making fun of the idiot white guy with Yellow Fever who speaks English in an exaggerated "Asian" accent to the Japanese women in the story. It's not making fun of Asians and anyone who says it is, just wants to be offended so they can cheat their way to a Bronze medal in the Oppression Olympics. Now, as far as the age gap goes, I'll just say, there's a clear double standard at play when it comes to boys, something many of us probably already knew. If the genders were reversed, this movie doesn't get greenlit, at least not for more than a production budget of $5 million. I'll steer clear of spoilers, but when you see it, you can make up your own minds about what does or doesn't count as "innocent." Also, Alana's character being in her mid 20s and hanging out with and being possessive of a 15 year old isn't really explored, it just happens. I feel like that was a missed opportunity to write a really authentic female character. Also, the kiss at the end and her voiceover saying, "I love you Gary Valentine" made me feel uncomfortable.

All in all, though, this was a film I'd recommend for everybody to go out and see, especially if you're a fan of Paul's work. He went back to anamorphic and the 70s, but this didn't feel like a retread of "Boogie Nights" or even his style in "Magnolia." This is very much his own evolved style that he used to make his version of the hangout movies he loved. This was funny and sweet but surprisingly un-challenging for a PTA movie. What I love is when great movies leave you with a lot of questions to ponder after you see them and "There Will Be Blood", "The Master" and even "Phantom Thread" did that. This one was uncomplicated and felt like a light workout for Paul, in comparison to his other films, even "Punch Drunk Love", which was shorter but a lot more eccentric and much tighter, storytelling wise. But, Paul Thomas Anderson doing a light workout is still better than almost every other living director at the top of their game. It amazes me that the same filmmaker who did this, also made "Phantom Thread" a few years ago! That says a lot about his skill and integrity. But, there was some filler that should have been cut out(I wish Dylan Tichenor or someone like Jennifer Lame edited this) and the leads should've been actors who were much better at disappearing into the characters. "Lady Bird" isn't as artistic as this and doesn't have anywhere near the cinematography or attention to detail in production design, costumes and hair and makeup(seriously, I really felt like I was in 1973-74 via a time machine) but the performances from the young leads and the editing,(especially the editing)are much better. But, make no mistake, this was a really good movie and I can't wait to see it again. It made me want to visit the valley and run to the love of my life. If you can see it projected on film, you owe it to yourself to do so.

Weren't you the one insisting that this was a minor movie and not worth seeing in a theater?

No, I said it looked and sounded like it was minor in comparison to PTA's past work, which is what I also said in this very review. I decided to see it anyway at the theater and I did like it a lot, but I'm still much more excited about that challenging, bigger script he was having trouble with before he decided to take a detour and make Licorice Pizza.

wilberfan

Probably Day 1 or 2 of shooting.

"When something doesn't resonate, it quickly becomes a tedious endurance test."

Drill

This is from a mixed review that brought down the Metacritic score to 89, but as someone else here who's struggling with the ending and what PTA is trying to say with it, it was interesting to me.

Spoiler: ShowHide
QuoteAnd while the film's central dynamic, for the most part, sticks with "besotted teenage boy and bemused woman", it does reach a point where Anderson simply gives up and gives in to Gary's own self-aggrandizing fantasy. Where exactly Alana stands from that point on doesn't seem to matter all that much – it's a good enough fate simply to be seen and adored, even if all that's really being perceived is a reflection.


The full review: https://www.independent.co.uk/arts-entertainment/films/reviews/licorice-pizza-review-paul-thomas-anderson-b1983850.html

Obviously,
Spoiler: ShowHide
they don't REALLY end up together in the end
but one of the main criticisms is that other than the
Spoiler: ShowHide
freak false arrest, Gary goes through the whole film basically doing whatever and getting everything he wants.
So, it makes me even more confused about the ending. Can we *really* say that this film is Alana's story? I think I agree with Drenk (can't remember if he said it here or in the shoutbox) the film would've been better if it had just been told fully from one of their points of view. And the ending strongly suggests that it should've been Gary's.

I've been critical of his writing/handling of female characters here before. I think he's genuinely made an effort with these last 2 films to get better in that department but I still don't think he's there yet. He's made them more prominent but not necessarily more three-dimensional IMO. Hopefully, he's working through it (even at the expense of the films having a few more glaring flaws/stumbles) to become an even better, more well-rounded writer/filmmaker.

ono

I saw it for the third time tonight. First time on the screen, finally. It's clear to me that this is Alana's story. After all the ending is her professing her love for Gary after having seen Joel and Matthew's love go stifled. One can argue whether it's right or wrong. It feels like a couple years have passed making Gary legal. But that's never outright said.

On this third time I had less of a problem with the mock Japanese scene. It's still sticks out like a sore thumb but I think if you take each line as it is especially in the first scene, it feels a little bit more innocuous. The first scene is punctuated by a ridiculous Japanese karate type sound. I go back and forth on this obviously but I think that's just because PTA has successfully walked a tightrope here. Did it need to be in the movie? No. Would it be disingenuous to have left it out for fears of cries of racism? Yes.