Licorice Pizza

Licorice Pizza ★★★★★


Yet again, Paul Thomas Anderson proves why he's the greatest director working today.

From the opening frames of LICORICE PIZZA to the end, I had a smile of my face, thinking of why I love movies. The film is pure joy from beginning to end. PTA lets go of narrative structure to create something that feels more like a free-wheeling breeze. The film jumps from beat to beat, scene to scene. Characters, most clearly Jon Peters, enter the film and exit it almost as quickly. The structure works for the benefit here, and keep the film from getting dragged down by it having to focus too much on one storyline.

This contains some of the best performances in any of PTA's movies. Cooper Hoffman and Alana Haim are both magnetic in their debut roles, with Cooper living up to his father's legacy. Bradley Cooper is great in his short role as Jon Peters, stealing the show from Haim and Hoffman for a few minutes. Another standout is Benny Safdie as Joel Wachs, who gets the most meaningful moment of the film.

There's a youthfulness to LICORICE PIZZA, one very similar to the films that made me fall in love with Paul Thomas Anderson in the first place. In returning to the San Fernando Valley in the 70s, he's able to return to what made him who he was. Obviously I love his work that doesn't have the same youthful energy, but there's something truly special about him when he's able to fully tap in to that energy.

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