Review of ‘Licorice Pizza’ – The Hollywood Reporter

Paul Thomas Anderson returns to his native San Fernando Valley – the setting of Boogie night, Magnolia and Punch Say Love – find amazing generations of alchemy in the lead role of another famous kid of that urbanized Los Angeles County area, Alana Haim. The youngest of three sisters to form the pop-rock band Haim, she time-travels back to the Valley in 1973 to play Alana Kane, a 25-year-old too cool for a floating school through experiences in love affairs, retail. and politics in Licorice pizza. Casting a character whose warmth and humanity is tempered by hilarious humor and creepy squad, Haim has become one of the most enjoyable debuts in recent memory.

Drunk creates instant Alana swoops across the big screen – skating wobble and Cher’s silky straight hair in the center – giving Anderson’s much-anticipated film a drag-and-roll story. more or less over the first hour. But the more unrelenting focus extends to incorporating repeated plot touches and idiosyncratic vignettes, the wider and rougher it becomes. Licorice pizza begin to feel.

Licorice pizza

Key point

A star was born.

Release date: Friday, November 26
Cast: Alana Haim, Cooper Hoffman, Christine Ebersole, Harriet Sansom Harris, Sean Penn, Tom Waits, Bradley Cooper, Benny Safdie
Director and screenwriter: Paul Thomas Anderson

R-rated, 2 hours 13 minutes

Make no mistake, this is an entertaining, Altmanesque flashback of the past, crafted with contagious affection for the period and bursting with whimsical pleasures – not to mention a powerful soundtrack of late ’60s/early ’70s bangs (Sonny & Cher, Suzi Quatro, Paul McCartney and Wings, Bowie, etc.), which adds to the sexy and mischievous score of Johnny Greenwood. But unless you feel a kinship with clumsy teenage boys madly crushing young women out of their union, you can probably wish for a sturdier skeleton to hang a The movie is over two hours long.

Some comparisons with Once upon a time in Hollywood It seems inevitable with its fun, loose structure, and immersive nostalgia, even if Anderson’s rosy recreations don’t expand, like Quentin Tarantino’s, into triumphant revisionism of trauma national trade.

However, it also feels like a love letter to an era where Old Hollywood is making way for New. The feature’s frame incorporates such characters – veiled or otherwise – like Lucille Ball (Christine Ebersole), William Holden (Sean Penn) and Jon Peters, played by Bradley Cooper in one extreme incarnation. amazing feat of being a black-headed madman in a luxurious post-hippo white leather suit. (His 15 minutes of on-screen invigoration is sure to become one of the film’s talking points.) morale.

The loveliest teenager in this script is Gary Valentine (Cooper Hoffman), a child actor who is sometimes an adventurous and hustling businessman inspired by the boyhood adventures of his best friend. Anderson, Gary Goetzman, a one-time performer now better known as Tom Hanks’ producing partner.

Hoffman is the son of the late Philip Seymour Hoffman, who worked often and very memorably with Anderson – with particularly grueling performances in Magnolia and Master – and obviously his casting here is part of the love. Young Hoffman is attractive enough in the role, but those are big shoes that need filling, and he works hard to sell the unstubborn item necessary to make Gary believable. . Hoffman may turn out to be a stellar actor, but his on-screen presence is still too embryonic to make a movie, especially next to a natural-born actor like Haim. “I’m a performer,” Gary said early. “That’s my call.” I wish I could buy that.

Gary had a strong relationship with Alana when she was in his middle school with a yearbook photography company. She was unimpressed when he explained some of his acting credits: “What are you? Are you little Robert Goulet, Dean Martin or something? ‘ But, seemingly against her better judgment, she turned later at one of the watering holes he frequented and was immediately struck with a silly look and a labored breath. His is stunning. However, she found him funny at least.

When Gary was invited to New York for the 18-child talk show reunion with Lucy in Under one roof (a race in 1968 Yours, mine and ours, in which Goetzman appears), his mother agrees to let Alana come along as chaperone. But that backfires when teen star Lance (Skyler Gisondo) who is more handsome, older and smoother than usual steals Alana under Gary’s nose and they start dating. (The divine Ebersole is a gunner as Lucy, who holds a cigarette in one hand, sprays forcefully on the children until Gary overtakes her, unleashing the monster.)

The movie is a great chronicle of Gary’s impulsive entrepreneurial endeavors, from selling water beds – which causes amnesiac Jon Peters to interject during a delivery to his home, to Alana driving the truck – to the opening of the pinball palace.

Baffled by doubts about whether it’s weird for her to hang out with a group of 15-year-olds, Alana periodically walks away. Gary hooked her up with his agent, played by Harriet Sansom Harris in an inspired, larger-than-life character, and she auditioned for a project with Penn’s Holden (here it’s called “Penn’s Holden”). Jack). They finish with a martini at Chicken’s Tail in Studio City, where Jack’s friend Rex (Tom Waits) takes everyone out onto the golf course to recover Jack’s daring motorcycle jump from one of his movies. . Eventually, Alana loses patience with Gary’s indifference about everything that’s going on in the world, prompting her to volunteer for Joel Wachs (Benny Safdie’s) mayoral campaign, which disillusiones her in ways is different.

Some of these narrative detours are more interesting than others, and at times the humor feels forced – as in the scenes with John Michael Higgins as the owner of a Japanese restaurateur. It served as a comedic documentary that extensively outlined the insensitivity in the culture of the time. And while it’s nice to see Anderson back and happy after the manicured aesthetic Ghost theme, there is often a feeling that it is precisely the link that is the ghost here.

The attraction between Gary and Alana gradually became mutual, but it wasn’t until the end that their physical relationship went beyond the light touch of a finger or knee under the table. The imbalance between the two characters and the actors’ performances makes it difficult to discern many of the elements of sexual tension.

There will be no shortage of PTA worshipers, however, who will enjoy the film’s free-floating narrative. Even if a movie theater performs a dual feature of Live and let die and Charles Bronson in Mechanic At one point, slyly hinting at populist popcorn consumers lurking in the hearts of maverick auteurs, the unstructured act sometimes creates the illusion of spontaneity. stream of consciousness, as if dancing among random memories. The beautiful walk-and-talk footage of Gary and Alana’s initial meeting (Anderson shares cinematic credit with Michael Bauman) is particularly captivating.

His best, Licorice pizza showing a lightness to the touch that has not been so evident in Anderson’s work since Boogie night, nowhere more so than in the wonderful living scenes with Alana and her family, played by Haim’s real sisters and parents. But the thrilling impulse of Boogie night here just fit and start. The movie, especially during its winding second hour, often leaves you wondering where it’s going, more disappointing than curious.

In those moments, I feel gratitude every time Haim reappears. Alana is a dream goddess on earth in a halter top, hot pants, and a Peter Pan collar shirt (Mark Bridges made the classic outfit glorious); She’s smart, responsive, and often short-tempered, but also gentle and caring, a fiery presence that marks the arrival of a fully-formed screen star. More than Gary’s age, it’s Alana’s keen world-orientation that keeps you glued to your eyes. “You’re better than me, and don’t forget that,” she told him for a moment of exasperation. No one will disagree.

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