Licorice Pizza (Paul Thomas Anderson, 2021)

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Matt
Joined: Tue Nov 02, 2004 12:58 pm

Licorice Pizza (Paul Thomas Anderson, 2021)

#276 Post by Matt » Mon Mar 21, 2022 10:37 pm

I love it (hate it) when people sign up, drop a few hot takes at once, and then are never heard from again.

Thanks for dropping by!

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Loved this movie by the way. Seems like what we might have expected PTA to make after Punch-Drunk Love but we got the wild left turn of There Will Be Blood instead (not that I’m complaining). This interview with co-DP Michael Bauman about the cinematography is super interesting.

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therewillbeblus
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Re: Licorice Pizza (Paul Thomas Anderson, 2021)

#277 Post by therewillbeblus » Mon Mar 21, 2022 11:00 pm

I think PTA needed to go through the more serious, brooding stages of life some of the in-between films implicitly reflect in order to arrive at this kind of peripheral worldview, which is far more expansive and optimistic in its vision of ‘possibility’ than Punch-Drunk Love. I love that it took him another twenty years to return to that star-eyed simplicity with even more layers stripped back, because it so effectively emulates the nonlinear yet progressive maturity (as occasionally inversely related to dense philosophical complexity) of adulthood’s development within self-actualization

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Matt
Joined: Tue Nov 02, 2004 12:58 pm

Re: Licorice Pizza (Paul Thomas Anderson, 2021)

#278 Post by Matt » Mon Mar 21, 2022 11:45 pm

I also thought it was very sweet that PTA cast Tim Conway, Jr. in the small role as the director in Gary’s Sears suit commercial audition. Tim Conway and Ernie Anderson (PTA’s dad aka Ghoulardi aka the Voice of ABC in the ‘70s and ‘80s) started out together in Cleveland TV in the ‘50s and worked together for years and years afterward. I would imagine Tim Jr. and PTA were childhood friends (and a lot of the kids in the movie are PTA’s kids and their friends). It’s great that he was able to make this movie about his hometown and include so many friends and family and actually not have it be a soppy, self-indulgent mess.

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therewillbeblus
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Re: Licorice Pizza (Paul Thomas Anderson, 2021)

#279 Post by therewillbeblus » Thu Apr 07, 2022 10:42 am

Blu-ray release May 17th, typically sparse special features. No UHD release, though the article mentions Phantom Thread received a 4K release a month post-blu

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MitchPerrywinkle
Joined: Thu Sep 16, 2010 1:26 am

Re: Licorice Pizza (Paul Thomas Anderson, 2021)

#280 Post by MitchPerrywinkle » Sat Apr 09, 2022 7:11 pm

I just rewatched this the other week, and it still ranks highly among my favorites of 2021. But I spent quite some time reflecting on how the film's tone compares to Anderson's earlier works, and while it certainly has more buoyancy than the other historical epics I was struck this time around by the film's latent darkness moreso than on my first viewing. The one scene that I find the most fascinating and tricky is the one featuring the Paul McCartney needle drop. My initial impression of Gary's (in)action was one where we see a young man make a conscious decision to not act in the same, lecherous manner the bevy of male figures perform to humiliating effect. But watching it with a friend of mine who's admired Anderson's work in the past, she opined that Gary's hesitation was influenced by a fear of facing potential consequences for his actions, a cynical reading albeit one that I don't think is wholly false. At its best, Licorice Pizza continues Anderson's penchant for seeking romantic rapture within a world that consistently operates to commodify, squelch, or (particularly in the case of There Will Be Blood) violently dominate that impulse. That blend of the romantic with the ambivalent is certainly a much tougher pill to swallow, and I admire how Anderson has consistently sought that balance while creating more well-developed women characters in his later period compared to the well-meaning but simplistic archetypes of his first three films (PDL is the first which consciously seems to be acknowledging the subjective limitations of its premise, even as Lena admittedly conforms to the mold of the Manic Pixie Dreamgirl).

I'd be curious to rewatch both The Master and Inherent Vice with my friend, specifically because both of them are her favorite works from Anderson and to see how she would compare the use of the male gaze in those films to Licorice Pizza in how or why they're either superior or any less problematic (I have a suspicion the answer will have to do with the age gap). But there's also a possessiveness pervading Gary's disposition toward Alana. He determines she's the girl he'll marry one day, objects to her performing nude scenes while not showing him her breasts, and even refers to her as "Mrs. Valentine" (while Alana's response to the latter deflates the authority of such a silly statement, Gary's proclamation is ostensibly sealed with a kiss that left each audience I saw it with in some form of uncomfortable, unresolved limbo). I think it's a little simplistic to paint the film as celebrating the male gaze, especially when practically all of the men in the film are impotent, bumbling boobs (save for Wachs and his partner Matthew, whose shared dinner scene remains the film's most devastating exposure of that greater societal darkness). But I can understand how the ending might, for some, nullify the film's purported critique of heteronormative male chauvinism and that Anderson's own privilege allows him to have his cake and eat it too.

In any case, I'm curious to hear the thoughts of other on here on how Anderson's deliberate problematization of male aggression either strengthens, dilutes, or complicates his satirical jabs toward those socially ordained tendencies.

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therewillbeblus
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Re: Licorice Pizza (Paul Thomas Anderson, 2021)

#281 Post by therewillbeblus » Sun May 29, 2022 1:48 am

The Elegant Dandy Fop wrote:
Sat Nov 27, 2021 2:51 pm
mfunk9786 wrote:
Sat Nov 27, 2021 1:47 pm
Agreed on all points, TWBB. No need to add. No notes. Best film of 2021, a Brewster McCloud for a new generation that will inspire more young filmmakers than old ones to tell exciting new stories. One of Anderson's very best.
Super astute comparison. It’s the closest Altman analog for sure.
After revisiting the film, it’s clear to me that O.C. and Stiggs is the most lucid Altman inspiration here, though it’s still an apt comparison since this is the closest Altman got to recapturing the magic of Brewster McCloud’s shaggy dog structure and eccentric energy compounded with verbal witticisms and subtly peripheral visual gags. Even the rounds of big name grownup side characters flowing in and out resembles the PTA’s use of adult actors orbiting around the emphasized youthful experience at the core. The similarities between these films are uncanny- highly recommended viewing if you like Licorice Pizza, though it’s tragically obscure in its availability to the public.

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Persona
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Re: Licorice Pizza (Paul Thomas Anderson, 2021)

#282 Post by Persona » Sun May 29, 2022 9:42 am

This one hasn't aged well for me. Beyond its obvious surface pleasures, I find it one of PTA's more self-indulgent films...and there's nothing wrong with that, but on a personal level the milieu, themes, characters (of which I found only Tom Waits' likable), and basic story are nothing that I connect with or even find interesting, so as a result I find the film fundamentally tedious and occasionally grating. For those who do have some sort of connection or at least share the film's wavelength, I can understand loving this as the details are exacted with PTA's typical thoroughness.

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MV88
Joined: Mon Jan 24, 2022 8:52 am

Re: Licorice Pizza (Paul Thomas Anderson, 2021)

#283 Post by MV88 » Sun May 29, 2022 4:02 pm

Persona wrote:
Sun May 29, 2022 9:42 am
This one hasn't aged well for me. Beyond its obvious surface pleasures, I find it one of PTA's more self-indulgent films...and there's nothing wrong with that, but on a personal level the milieu, themes, characters (of which I found only Tom Waits' likable), and basic story are nothing that I connect with or even find interesting, so as a result I find the film fundamentally tedious and occasionally grating. For those who do have some sort of connection or at least share the film's wavelength, I can understand loving this as the details are exacted with PTA's typical thoroughness.
I mostly agree, and I say that as a huge fan of most of PTA’s filmography. There has always been a certain level of ‘70s nostalgia in his style, but for the most part I always felt it was balanced with a more contemporary sense of introspective hindsight. Boogie Nights, to use the most obvious example, is not a film I would describe as being a full-fledged ‘70s (and early ‘80s) nostalgia fest, as even though it’s clear he has a deep affection for that time period, there’s so much more to it that it never succumbs to the “you had to be there” trap that a lot of other films of its type tend to fall into. Licorice Pizza feels like the first time in his career that he’s allowed himself to be completely carried away by his more nostalgic tendencies, to the point that — as you stated — it occasionally comes across as grating. It’s only been about 5 months since I saw it, and while my initial reaction was lukewarm with the hope that it would grow on me over time, I’m sorry to say I actually find myself liking it less the more time goes by.

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swo17
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Re: Licorice Pizza (Paul Thomas Anderson, 2021)

#284 Post by swo17 » Sun May 29, 2022 4:38 pm

I only just saw it for the first time, and didn't know what to think of it for a while, but it ended up really working for me, almost as a parody of or commentary on most coming-of-age films. I know it's based on Gary Goetzman's childhood, but everything about it will feel like a completely alien version of growing up to 99.9% of people, yet presented as though it should resonate universally.
SpoilerShow
Like the moment where this 15-year-old kid gets arrested for murder(!) in the middle of trying to pull a waterbed scam. We've all been there, right?
And yet, with some critical foregrounded details, he offers a corrective to so many films of this ilk. No one besides PTA would have cast these two people as his leads. They don't look like actors in a movie. They look like the characters they play. The 10-year age gap makes a lot of people uncomfortable. It's not something a studio executive would push for. But it makes the film more real. Their chemistry feels like the push/pull of Phantom Thread filtered through the whimsy of Punch-Drunk Love. That sort of dynamic, along with mysterious ellipses and making memorable setpieces out of randomly arbitrary moments are my favorite parts of PTA's skillset, and I think this film plays to his strengths.

Also, there's so much running in this film. Running that feels in the moment like it's running for your life, that you know in your head isn't, but you pretend it is anyway. I remember doing that a lot when I was younger

Harvest
Joined: Sun May 29, 2022 9:18 pm

Re: Licorice Pizza (Paul Thomas Anderson, 2021)

#285 Post by Harvest » Sun May 29, 2022 9:42 pm

Persona wrote:
Sun May 29, 2022 9:42 am
This one hasn't aged well for me. Beyond its obvious surface pleasures, I find it one of PTA's more self-indulgent films...and there's nothing wrong with that, but on a personal level the milieu, themes, characters (of which I found only Tom Waits' likable), and basic story are nothing that I connect with or even find interesting, so as a result I find the film fundamentally tedious and occasionally grating. For those who do have some sort of connection or at least share the film's wavelength, I can understand loving this as the details are exacted with PTA's typical thoroughness.
The problem for me is that Alana and Gary are by far the weakest and least interesting iteration of his toxic couple trope. Maybe if Gary had been a side character like Holden, Peters, etc. (i.e. another strange male interaction Alana has to navigate), it would've worked better. But by making this relationship the focus, there's only so far he can take it and thus he was stuck with this "sexual tension", which IMO was the least interesting avenue to explore.

It's interesting how montage heavy the last 2 films were. Sort of glossing over many moments and expecting that the audience was immediately going to be invested. It felt like he assumes that you find these stories as interesting as he does and that you love Haim as much as him. I don't know if that's what you meant about this being his most self-indulgent film in a while but that's how I saw it. It was a big gamble and this time it didn't work IMO.

I think Mike D'Angelo said that the film grinds to a halt with the Teen Fair sequence because that's when the Gary Goetzman stories start to take over and that they mostly feel shoehorned in. I agree with that.

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therewillbeblus
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Re: Licorice Pizza (Paul Thomas Anderson, 2021)

#286 Post by therewillbeblus » Sun May 29, 2022 10:01 pm

That's the central conceit tho, you're asking for an entirely different movie than not only the narrative vision, but the film's ethos

Anyways, while I'm glad some people took the thread's rejuvenation as an opportunity to disclose their (surprisingly predominantly negative) thoughts and feelings on the film, I hope some people will take the implicit advice to go locate and be dazzled by O.C. and Stiggs, arguably Altman's best film and certainly his most underrated

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swo17
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Re: Licorice Pizza (Paul Thomas Anderson, 2021)

#287 Post by swo17 » Wed Jun 15, 2022 2:39 am

The Elegant Dandy Fop wrote:
Tue Jun 14, 2022 2:22 pm
Can we get a seperate thread for O.C and Stiggs?
Done, and feces-free!

Harvest
Joined: Sun May 29, 2022 9:18 pm

Re: Licorice Pizza (Paul Thomas Anderson, 2021)

#288 Post by Harvest » Thu Jun 16, 2022 8:23 pm

therewillbeblus wrote:
Sun May 29, 2022 10:01 pm
That's the central conceit tho, you're asking for an entirely different movie
Well, now that you mention it...

Here's a really good piece by Leo Robson. i'm not sure if anyone here has read it.

https://newleftreview.org/sidecar/posts/something-mild

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