Friday, January 28, 2022     Volume: 22, Issue: 48
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Santa Maria Sun / Film

This weeks review
A QUIET PLACE PART II
ANOTHER ROUND
BINGEABLE: 100 FOOT WAVE (2021-)
BINGEABLE: BARRY (2018-)
BINGEABLE: CASTLEVANIA (2017-2021)
BINGEABLE: FLEABAG (2016-2019)
BINGEABLE: KUNG FU (2021)
BINGEABLE: MAID (2021)
BINGEABLE: MIDNIGHT MASS (2021)
BINGEABLE: ONLY MURDERS IN THE BUILDING (2021)
BINGEABLE: SQUID GAME (2021)
BINGEABLE: STATION ELEVEN (2021)
BINGEABLE: SWEET TOOTH
BINGEABLE: TELL ME YOUR SECRETS (2021)
BINGEABLE: THE GREAT (2020-)
BINGEABLE: THE MURDERS AT STARVED ROCK (2021)
BINGEABLE: THE SHRINK NEXT DOOR (2021)
BLAST FROM THE PAST: COWBOY BEBOP (1998)
BLAST FROM THE PAST: THE MATRIX (1999)
BLAST FROM THE PAST: THE PRESTIGE (2006)
BLAST FROM THE PAST: WILD AT HEART (1990)
BOSS LEVEL
C’MON C’MON
GHOSTBUSTERS: AFTERLIFE
GUILTY PLEASURES: CHEER (2020)
GUILTY PLEASURES: GUNPOWDER MILKSHAKE
GUILTY PLEASURES: JOLT
HAVE A GOOD TRIP: ADVENTURES IN PSYCHEDELICS
HEARST CASTLE: BUILDING THE DREAM (1996)
I CARE A LOT
I’M THINKING OF ENDING THINGS
KING RICHARD
LIMBO
NEW FLICKS: ANTLERS
NEW FLICKS: ARMY OF THIEVES
NEW FLICKS: BEING THE RICARDOS
NEW FLICKS: CRUELLA
NEW FLICKS: DON’T LOOK UP
NEW FLICKS: FINCH
NEW FLICKS: HARRY POTTER 20TH ANNIVERSARY: RETURN TO HOGWARTS
NEW FLICKS: KATE
NEW FLICKS: RED NOTICE
NEW FLICKS: RIDERS OF JUSTICE
NEW FLICKS: SHANG-CHI AND THE LEGEND OF THE TEN RINGS
NEW FLICKS: THE UNFORGIVABLE
NIGHTMARE ALLEY
NINE DAYS
NINE PERFECT STRANGERS (2021)
PIG
SOUL
SPIDER-MAN: NO WAY HOME
THE BIGGEST LITTLE FARM (2019)
THE FRENCH DISPATCH
THE HARDER THEY FALL
THE MAP OF TINY PERFECT THINGS
THE NEW MUTANTS
THE PAPER TIGERS
THE POWER OF THE DOG
THE PROFESSOR AND THE MADMAN
THE SUNLIT NIGHT
THE TENDER BAR
THE TRAGEDY OF MACBETH
TV REVIEW: BATES MOTEL
TV REVIEW: DEFENDING JACOB
TV REVIEW: EXTERMINATE ALL THE BRUTES (2021)
TV REVIEW: HOMECOMING
TV REVIEW: HOW TO WITH JOHN WILSON
TV REVIEW: I KNOW THIS MUCH IS TRUE
TV REVIEW: I MAY DESTROY YOU
TV REVIEW: LENOX HILL
TV REVIEW: LITTLE AMERICA
TV REVIEW: MARE OF EASTTOWN
TV REVIEW: MRS. AMERICA
TV REVIEW: ONE MISSISSIPPI
TV REVIEW: PAINTING WITH JOHN (2021)
TV REVIEW: RAMY
TV REVIEW: RUN
TV REVIEW: SPACE FORCE
TV REVIEW: TABOO
TV REVIEW: TED LASSO (2020-)
TV REVIEW: THE BOYS
TV REVIEW: THE END OF THE F***ING WORLD
TV REVIEW: THE FLIGHT ATTENDANT
TV REVIEW: THE LAST KINGDOM
TV REVIEW: THE MIDNIGHT GOSPEL
TV REVIEW: THE PLOT AGAINST AMERICA
TV REVIEW: THE QUEEN’S GAMBIT
TV REVIEW: UNDONE
TV REVIEW: WARRIOR
TV REVIEW: WHAT WE DO IN THE SHADOWS
TV REVIEW: ZEROZEROZERO
UNDERRATED: BATMAN BEGINS (2005)
UNDERRATED: THE KINGDOM (2007)

‘Licorice Pizza’ is nostalgic joy

LICORICE PIZZA

PHOTO BY , COURTESY OF BRON STUDIOS AND FOCUS FEATURES

LICORICE PIZZA


Where is it playing?: Fair Oaks in Arroyo Grande, Downtown Centre in SLO

What's it rated?: R

What's it worth?: $Full price (Anna Starkey)

What's it worth?: $Full price (Glen Starkey)

User Rating: 0.00 (0 Votes)

Writer-director Paul Thomas Anderson (Hard Eight, Boogie Nights, Magnolia, Punch-Drunk Love, There Will Be Blood, The Master, Inherent Vice, Phantom Thread) helms this story about a first love between Alana (Alana Haim) and Gary (Cooper Hoffman), set in the San Fernando Valley circa 1973. (133 min.)

Glen: Paul Thomas Anderson is such a singular filmmaker. This is his ninth film, and he’s yet to make a bad one. He grew up in and still resides in the San Fernando Valley, and this film is his love letter to his home, the 1970s, adolescence, and first loves. Gary is an ambitious, confident hustler. At 15, he’s already a seasoned child star with a PR firm. His mom, Anita (Mary Elizabeth Ellis), is his sole employee. When Gary meets Alana on photo day at school, he’s immediately smitten. She’s there working with Tiny Toes Photography. At 25, she’s 10 years Gary’s senior, but Gary’s unbridled swagger disarms her. She’s directionless, going through her 20s on autopilot, and about to be inspired in ways she never dreamt of. It’s such a weird, unconventional story, and it’d be easy to judge it as disturbing, but their bumpy romance is chaste, and in almost every way Gary is more mature than the mercurial, slightly angry Alana, who still lives at home with her parents and two sisters (Haim’s actual siblings and parents, sisters Danielle and Este, father Moti, and mother Donna Haim). We watch as Gary and Alana race through the valley from one exciting moment to another, start a waterbed and beanbag chair company, run into a wild cast of eccentric characters, and make each other in turns exacerbated, jealous, or inspired. The plot is secondary—this is about possibilities and living in the moment.

Anna: Both characters have a lot of growing up to do, and while the idea of a 25-year-old leading on a 15-year-old definitely makes me feel all kinds of uncomfortable, these two characters are magnets you just can’t keep apart. Gary is both way beyond his years and still very much a teenager with all the typical problems like acne and girl troubles. He’s endearing, loving to his mother—a woman who seems a little lost herself—and his younger brother, Kirk (Will Angarola). Along comes Alana, pretty in an unassuming way, smart-alecky and witty, wanting more than her simple life but totally lost at what to change. Anderson is definitely a favorite. He’s so good at making mundane moments watchable, trusting his cast to tell a story, even if that story isn’t about a whole lot. He pulled quite the cast here, too, from Bradley Cooper as the creepy and cocky Jon Peters, to Sean Penn as movie star Jack Holden and Tom Waits as director Rex Blau. This hasn’t done as well with audiences as it has with critics. From what I’ve seen, some people found it a little too much about nothing. For me, a nothing story is just fine if it’s told well with a solid cast—and Licorice Pizza absolutely fits that bill.

Glen: Gary’s character is based on Gary Goetzman, a child actor turned producer who now works with Tom Hanks. Penn as Holden is clearly meant as a nod to William Holden. Cooper’s Jon Peters is also a real person, now a film producer who when this story is set was a hairdresser dating Barbra Streisand. There’s also a cameo by John C. Reilly playing Fred Gwynne, the Herman Munster actor. You see him during this amazing tracking shot of Gary moving through the Hollywood Palladium to set up a waterbed booth during a Teen Expo, which leads to the film’s weirdest tangent, which I won’t ruin for you. My favorite small moment is when Gary is helping Alana get into show business by setting her up with an interview with his talent agent, Mary Grady (Harriet Sansom Harris), another real-life character. Harris’ performance is so amazingly cringe-inducing. Wait’s Rex Blau was based on director Mark Robson, known for The Harder They Fall (1956), Peyton Place (1957), and Valley of the Dolls (1967). The sets, locations, costumes—it all screams 1970s. I really loved this film, and it will absolutely make stars of its two leads, with both making their feature film debuts. This is an ingenious, deeply entertaining film.

Anna: This film is certainly a nod to nostalgia and a love letter to Hollywood. It’s cleverly shot, too—that tracking shot was awesome, as was watching Alana navigate a runaway truck backwards down the winding hills of Southern California in order to avoid Jon Peters. It’s hilarious and poignant, and the characters are acutely aware of how delicate life, relationships, and friendships can be. At one point, Alana is having a smoke with her sister and she asks, “Is it weird that I hang out with Gary and his 15-year-old friends? Cuz I think it’s ****ing weird.” It’s a character seeing the absurdity of her own situation, but there’s just something there she can’t stay away from. The cameos in this were so much fun; you can tell stars want to work with Anderson. I’ll watch this one again and again. It hits a perfect sweet spot of nostalgia, friendship, and learning how to trust the people we’re becoming during those tumultuous first years of adulthood, love, and finding our path.

New Times Senior Staff Writer Glen Starkey and freelancer Anna Starkey write Sun Screen. Glen compiles streaming listings. Comment at gstarkey@newtimesslo.com.










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