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Licorice Pizza is a painfully romantic tale of a young love in the shadow of Hollywood

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Refuting the adage that you can’t come home anymore, Paul Thomas Anderson emotionally revisits the San Fernando Valley of his youth as well as the high-flying electricity of his 1997 sophomore epic. Boogie eveningswith Licorice Pizza, a coming of age celebration to determine who you are, where you want to be, what direction you want to go, and what rampant and irresistible inventiveness will help you make your dreams come true. The most purely optimistic movie Anderson has made since the years 2002 Punch drunk love, with whom he shares an undisciplined romanticism rocked by bursts of anger, not to mention a shaggy odyssey in the vein of the 2014s Inherent vice, it’s a nostalgic journey imbued with a spirit of reckless abandonment of the 70s and an unwavering affection for this moment when anything seems possible, and the wide open road that awaits us is something to which we rush furiously. .

Licorice Pizza (November 26, in theaters) is inundated with young men and women running at breakneck speed, none more savagely than 15-year-old high school student Gary Valentine (Cooper Hoffman, son of the late Philip Seymour Hoffman, an Anderson favorite) and 25-year-old assistant photographer Alana Kane (Alana Haim, from the Haim group). The two initially meet on Alumni Class Photo Day, in which Gary introduces himself to Alana with an arrogant measure of bravado that far exceeds his mundane experience. Gary brags about his career as a child actor and it is clear that his professional success is due to his confidence rather than the other way around. Alana is also confident and hard as nails, she introduced name calling to a child who accidentally bumps into her and spends the rest of the movie exuding a secular and imposing personality that is embodied by her knowledge of Krav Maga and she quickly lets it know. Gary she’s far too old for him. Nonetheless, she recognizes the arrogant child as a soul mate and accepts his invitation for a drink at a nearby restaurant, quickly cementing their bond.

Anderson was just a kid in the 1970s, pictured in Licorice Pizza, and he imagines the corridors of Encinos’ school, the dilapidated offices and storefronts, the streets and houses of the neighborhood with the warm gaze of someone evoking an era through the rose-tinted haze of memories childhood (his penchant for old-school Hollywood, on the other hand, is reminiscent of Once upon a time in hollywood). The footage of Anderson and co-director of photography Michael Baumans, whether it’s close-ups of Hoffman’s lightly buttoned face, or a panorama of a crowd on their way to a fine golf course lit at night, have a soft, grainy texture that further enhances the tender atmosphere of the proceedings, as does the regular contributor Jonny Greenwoods’ score, which swings and sway in tune with excerpts from Sonny and Cher’s original soundtracks, David Bowie and The Doors. The film feels like a piece of memory, exuding compassion and consideration for individuals frantically trying to hunt for the next big thing they think will bring them what they desire.

For Alana, that means finding a way out of her showbiz-steeped hometown and traditional Jewish family (played by Haim’s real father, mother, and sisters, the latest of whom are also her band mates). In Gary, Alana doesn’t just see herself, but a potential one-way trip to a better place. Since her aspiring lover isn’t even of legal drinking or driving age, she quickly switches to others, including Lance (Skyler Gisondo), Garys’ rival, movie star Jack Holden (Sean Penn) and mayoral candidate Joel Wachs. (Benny Safdie). When each of them doesn’t succeed, she returns to Gary, whose oversized plans fit perfectly with his own semi-defined ambitions.

Licorice Pizza is the story of two amorous peddlers, with Alana determined to catch a man or a job that will make her escape easier, and Gary pushed to get rich by hook or crook. First with a waterbed company, then as a pinball arcade tycoon, Gary proves to be a fearless entrepreneur whose guiding philosophy is embodied in a James Bond marquee (Live and Let Die), and he falls in love with Alana precisely because they are two crazy people. This similarity both attracts and repels, and it’s thanks to Haim and Hoffmans that they deal with the sparks that unite Alana and Gary, as well as the frustration and anger that frequently separates them. They share an untouched magnetic chemistry, expressing a skillful blend of swagger, ferocity, jealousy, stubbornness and vulnerability as their protagonists plunge headlong into one mishap after another.

Haim and Hoffman are the endearing centers of Licorice Pizza, and Anderson surrounds them with a cavalcade of scene-stealing luminaries. Penn is more fun than he’s been in years as Holden (a riff by William Holden), who ends up caring less about Alana than recreating a motorcycle stunt from one of his famous roles with the help of director Rex Blau (Tom Waits). John Michael Higgins chuckles as a clownishly racist Japanese restaurant owner. And Bradley Cooper is a hilarious, sleazy delight as real-life film producer Jon Peters, who buys one of the Garys waterbeds and, upon delivery, delivers a long, coked speech to Gary in which he clarifies the correct pronunciation of the name of his girlfriend (Barbra Strei-sand) and threatens to murder Gary’s younger brother with his bare hands.

Bradley Cooper is a hilarious, sleazy delight as real-life movie producer Jon Peters, who buys one of the Garys waterbeds and, upon delivery, delivers a long, coked-up speech to Gary …

The 1973 oil crisis was the catalyst for a panic at the Peters gas station, as well as what may be the most suspenseful empty and downhill streak in movie history. These, however, are just two of the many highlights of Anderson’s exuberant drama, which changes gears with aplomb. Each extended follow-up shot is seamlessly integrated into the action itself (the best being at a local convention featuring a John C. Reilly cameo, blink and miss it. The Munsters paterfamilias), and each slow-motion and needle drop passage is tailored to the volatile emotions and circumstances of its characters. Anderson hasn’t played so fast and freely since his early films, and yet, unlike those efforts, there are no frills to watch me here, only the overflowing enthusiasm of a master totally mastering the beat, energy and mood.

Gary and Alana rush into the future with carefree excitement and a bit of fear, the latter born out of their shared understanding that they may only have a limited number of chances of really forging a connection with each other. with the others. Their tumultuous mixture of hope and terror, unbridled daring and nagging insecurity, is the substance of which young love is made, and it is imagined in such precise and personal terms by Anderson, Haim and Hoffman that, by Licorice PizzaIn conclusion, it becomes exhilarating with universality.

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