Licorice Pizza

Licorice Pizza ★★★★★

I have to see it again, but not in the way that his dense masterpieces like Inherent Vice, Phantom Thread, or The Master require a second viewing. This one just slapped a stupid grin on my face the whole time, laughing with two of my best friends for 130 minutes, on the verge of crying tears of joy, so I can't really go beyond scratching the surface in my initial evaluation.

I watched Boogie Nights for the umpteenth time last night, and it's so clear that Anderson's style and sensibility have matured tenfold in the two and a half decades since he last tackled youth in the San Fernando Valley of the 70s. This is like the opposite of his breakout porno classic — rather than an epic rise and fall that intercuts its protagonists highs and lows with those he surrounds himself with, it's an episodic sprawl dedicated to its incredibly animated characters passing through the lead couple's lives. The opening meet-cute is immediately intimate — hundreds of teens are in line for picture day, but these two feel like the only two people in the world while their chemistry is established. From there on, it branches out with every passing scene, as more supporting characters are introduced not just to shine in their own individual ways (to pick an MVP would be a fools errand, the ensemble all earn A+ marks), but to introduce new facets of Alana and Gary's beautifully complicated relationship.

I had to restrain myself from pointing like Rick Dalton when the Cupid's Hot Dogs in Northridge and the Van Nuys par 3 golf course were on screen. I'm never gonna leave the valley.

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