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The best film of the year




Film critic

Duration: 133 minutes. R-rated (language, sexual material and certain drug uses). In theaters November 26.

It was always going to be a moving experience to see Philip Seymour Hoffman’s late son, Cooper Hoffman, make his acting debut. His father, an Oscar-winning genius, died in 2014.

What we could never have imagined, however, is that Coopers’ freshman performance (he’s so green, his IMDB page does not have a picture yet) would be one of the best of the year in what is easily the best film of 2021, Paul Thomas Anderson’s brilliant Licorice Pizza.

This wonderful kid should be in the Oscar race, but was too predictably infatuated with the big names. Let’s fix this.

Licorice Pizza is a movie that you will cherish for a long time once the lights are on. It’s a totally unique and endlessly surprising coming-of-age tale that’s carefully sentimental and overwhelming, dragging funny. The writing is flawless. Cinematography, rich and colorful. The film is a highlight of a fantastic acting game. By the time the credits rolled, I wanted to go back and watch it again.

The Boogie Nights director, who is deathly allergic to making bad movies, has found the perfect mix of role and actor with Hoffman. He gives a teenage ride tied with Tom Cruise in Risky Business or Matthew Broderick in Ferris Buellers Day Off, “but and I recognize that the weight of this comment is much deeper than they did as young men. .

Hoffman plays Gary Valentine, a 15-year-old Cyrano de Bergerac / Harold Hill / Doogie Howser mix in 1973 in California. He’s a lovely old soul who plays small movie roles and uses the money to start weird side businesses. For example, he runs a public relations company for local restaurants and opens a waterbed store.

Most nights Gary haunts the Tail o the Cock, the kind of old Hollywood-style restaurant you still see in Palm Springs and sits at the bar, chatting with the butler while having a coke like if it was a pure gin. Again, the speaker is only 15 years old.

One day at school, Gary meets Alana (Alana Haim), 25, a portrait photographer, talks to him and manages to get her number.

Alana Haim and Cooper Hoffman star in
Alana Haim and Cooper Hoffman star in “Licorice Pizza”.
Courtesy of MGM Studios

And so begins one of the most memorable and complex romances on screen in years. On paper, you raise your eyebrows at the age difference of the couple. However, it’s our mixed feelings about the gap and the incredible chemistry of the actors that make the film so fascinating and slyly powerful.

The other big question on the minds of viewers is: Can Haim act? She is famous for being a third of the Haim music group (her sisters and parents are also in the movie). Answer: oh, yes, she can. Alana is going through what millennials have called a quarter-life crisis. She is approaching 30, has no prospect of a career or a romantic relationship and still lives with her parents. Haim takes her character’s depressing life and makes her lovable, relatable, and human.

This Anderson is doing well where another Anderson (Wes) went wrong earlier this year in The French Dispatch. The film is full of stars in supporting roles: Sean Penn, Bradley Cooper (unattached and hysterical as Barbra Streisand’s ex Jon Peters), John C. Reilly, Maya Rudolph, Harriet Harris (you’ll scream when she says “you are a fighter !”). But the cast list is no gimmick, and no one cashes a check. They do two-minute cameo epics, unlike the A-list Dispatch actors, who each said a monotonous line and called an Uber.

The director’s work is also pleasing to the eyes. He comes back to the ’70s a lot in his films, and thanks God for that, because he’s one of the few directors who can describe this fascinating decade in the dirty, sinister, and decadent way it deserves.

Mostly, however, good on Anderson for betting on a newcomer to play his impeccably written lead man. It’s not free.




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