Licorice Pizza

Licorice Pizza ★★★★½

This central relationship between a couple drawn to elusive features of each other’s oppositeness reminded me surprisingly of The Master more than any of PTA’s other films, in this case the tantalising appeal of a twenty-something woman to a precocious teenager navigating an early adulthood, and the exciting, confident freedom of his youth that breaks the afflictions of aimlessness and disappearing opportunity for her. It’s a great dynamic, unsurprising coming from a director who’s devoted a career to dramatising messy, impulsive, magnetic forms of attraction (I guess it’s less surprising that the transgressive nature of their age difference was so controversial - but more than anything it’s just an admission from some that they have no ability to deal with a film that refuses to moralise for them, or to grasp the nuances of romantic gesture, jealousy, confusion etc that accompany the fundamentally platonic connection entwining them). The silent phone call sequence is incredible. Goes without saying but great to see a movie that actually looks like a movie, not just the murky LED sludge that seems to have infested every modern televisual production. PTA’s style grows even more jazzy - this is a great fusion of an earlier, breezier genre style with his post Master aesthetic - again the interplay between minimalism and maximalism in his filmmaking grows, as does the strength of his collaboration with stars. You get the sense he’s writing with a lot of unknowns and working towards a fairly unique kind of collaborative cinema to realise them, in this case with the riskiest casting of his career. And he can’t resist ending on that ascending note! Here we go (but where)?

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