Licorice Pizza

Licorice Pizza ★★★★★

PTA, in his characteristically deeply felt way, translates Gary Goetzman's overzealous anecdotes and spirit through his own insight into the 1970's (and beyond) San Fernando Valley, honed through his own nostalgia and cultural obsessions, in a period piece (maybe the period piece) perfectly optimized for emotional resonance.

Every sequence is so lean and lasts just long enough to find an evocative image, phrase, or feeling before flitting elsewhere, in a similar vein to a distant memory (a presentation fitting for a film conceived out of hazy recollections from Goetzman and Anderson himself from 50 years ago). This does come at the sacrifice of accepted "narrative cohesion" and forgoes the traditional techniques meant to establish broad audience understanding (which is why I would highly recommend some of the associated press for this movie to get a better understanding of PTA's approach and the real life basis of the film, particularly Alana Haim's conversation with John C Reilly, Benny Safdie's conversation with Joel Wachs, and some of the podcasts, such as the Bill Simmons and Increment Vice ones, on the excellently curated Xixax TV youtube channel), but in return is a bullseye specificity that I have seen rivaled by few films this side of the Safdie brothers in the past few years.

There are conceivably no other contemporary performers who could lead this piece the way Cooper Hoffman and especially Alana Haim (without a doubt the performance of the year) do, and PTA's aesthetic sensibility continues to surpass expectations with each film. He loves these people, these sounds, and this place, and if you're on the right wavelength he's damn sure by the end you will too.

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