Over this past month, Film Club has been revisiting the films written and directed by Paul Thomas Anderson. It’s all been in anticipation of Anderson’s new movie, Licorice Pizza, which hits theaters this holiday weekend. On this special bonus episode of the podcast, we cap our four-part series with a conversation about his latest. Where does it rank in the filmography of American cinema’s most acclaimed contemporary filmmaker? Let’s discuss.
Here’s what A.A. Dowd had to say about Licorice Pizza in his written review:
Licorice Pizza is a woozy time-warp shuffle of a comedy: a California daydream of infatuation, aspiration, and protracted adolescence that seems to propel its celebrated writer-director, Paul Thomas Anderson, forward and backward at once. The film is set in the San Fernando Valley of the early 1970s, returning its maker to the time and place that made him, and also roughly to the same setting as his sprawling ensemble period pieces Boogie Nights and Inherent Vice. Yet if Licorice Pizza can be called a homecoming, it also paves new ground for the great American artist who plucked it from his memories and dreams: For better or worse, and especially on the heels of the refined, meticulous Phantom Thread, this looks like the shaggiest and most rambling movie of Anderson’s esteemed, ever-evolving career.
There’s an episodic quality here, almost a sense that the movie is making itself up as it goes along, across what feels like a single eventful summer of cameoing stars and breaking news pushed to the margins of fictional and fictionalized lives. At the center of its narrative, at once sprawling and incidental, is a love story—though, in the Andersonian tradition of romances punch-drunk and perverse, it’s an unconventional one.