A Double Feature Review! Read More!
Paul Thomas Anderson's Licorice Pizza is a film chock-full of dream-like wonder. His most pure and lighthearted work as a director. Cooper Hoffman and Alana Haim are born stars. We travel aimlessly through San Fernando Valley, almost like a fantasy of growing up. A joyous and romantic touch to cinema. PTA's Licorice Pizza is simply a wonderful picture. This coming-of-age dramedy will sweep you off your feet. I had a blast with this film from the beginning until the end. PTA is one of our greatest modern-day directors, making hard-hitting films like Boogie Nights (1997), There Will Be Blood (2007), The Master (2012), and Phantom Thread (2017). PTA's filmmaking style has always focused on deeply flawed characters dealing with regret, loneliness, and dysfunction. These types of themes are layered with dark undertones and a bold visual style. While Licorice Pizza still covers a lot of these themes, it's the director's lightest work to date. The aimless plotting might be a bit off-putting to some, but I was engrossed with every minute of it. You will fall in love with Licorice Pizza as we wander through the hills of San Fernando.
We follow the story of Alana Kane (newcomer Alana Haim) and Gary Valentine (newcomer Cooper Hoffman) as they grow up, run around, and navigate first love in 1973. Gary is a 15-year-old high schooler who notices 25-year-old Alana on picture day. Or is she 21 or 28? Alana's age varies on what setting she is currently in. It's a type of fake it until you make it mentality. Alana is currently working as a photographer's assistant but is curious about Gary's breezy lifestyle and inspiring actor chops. The story blossoms from here. Gary is also an entrepreneur and starts up his own waterbed company called Soggy Bottom. Alana helps Gary with his company and also pursues her own career in acting. Both Hoffman and Haim are brilliant in this movie, while their chemistry shines throughout. It was bitter-sweet seeing Hoffman be in a PTA film, knowing that his late father (the great Philip Seymour Hoffman) was in five PTA films. Haim is a born star in the movie. She is a natural actress, and will completely captivate you from the first to the final frame. Licorice Pizza also deals with the 1973 gas crisis that was sweeping the country, and we even meet the hot-headed film producer, Jon Peters (a hilarious Bradley Cooper). On top of PTA's coming-of-age storyline, we also get a killer soundtrack that vibes and gorgeous tracking shots that moves to the beat of a drum. There is a lot to love with Licorice Pizza, one slice at a time.
Licorice Pizza is rated R (Restricted) Some Drug Use | Sexual Material | Language.
Directed by PTA
Starring Alana Haim, Cooper Hoffman, Sean Penn, Tom Waits, Bradley Cooper, and Benny Safdie.
The Tragedy of Macbeth
By the pricking of my thumbs, something wicked this way comes...
“Behold! Cinema.” The Tragedy of Macbeth is so good that it's hard to find the right words to describe this Shakespearean film. Director Joel Coen’s gorgeous black-and-white picture is a work of art. Through the minimalist production design, gorgeous cinematography, striking visuals, and superb performances (Denzel Washington, Frances McDormand, and Kathryn Hunter): The Tragedy of Macbeth takes a very theatrical approach to the sourced material. One that you could lose your head for. The Tragedy of Macbeth is the first film where we sadly don't get the Coen brothers duo (Joel and Ethan). But it is exciting to see Joel Coen continue at the director's chair, and his newest picture doesn't disappoint. Based on the play Macbeth by William Shakespeare, Joel Coen's adaptation to the beloved sourced material is striking and gobsmacking to look at. Shot in beautiful black-and-white; this Shakespearean film is a feast for the eyes. While watching this movie in the theaters, I was completely captivated by the production design (Stefan Dechant). The production design is minimalistic and very theatrical throughout. By doing it this way, Dechant amplified its haunting and unique features.
Not only does the production design deserve some Oscar love, but so does the cinematography (Bruno Delbonnel). Delbonnel was also the DP for Wes Anderson's The French Dispatch (2021). All of the actors (Denzel Washington, Frances McDormand, Bertie Carvel, Alex Hassell, Corey Hawkins, Harry Melling, and Brendan Gleeson) bring their A-game to this film. Speaking old English is not an easy task, but if you do it correctly and gracefully, then it makes the viewing experience much purer. This group of actors does exactly that, making the viewing experience incredibly enjoyable. We all know the rise and fall of Macbeth, so I don't need to cover that. I will say that seeing Washington in another Shakespearean film (1993's Much Ado About Nothing) is a godsend. While McDormand layers the film with precision and heart. Lastly, Hunter gives a haunting portrayal as the three witches. Her performance will send chills down your spine. The Tragedy of Macbeth is a black-and-white beauty that needs to be seen. If you love Shakespeare and the theatre, then you will gobble up this film. A masterwork. It receives five-stars from me.
Want to hear more of my thoughts about The Tragedy of Macbeth? I spoke with my good friends, Matt and Ashley, on their podcast, Mashely at the Movies | Listen Here.
The Tragedy of Macbeth is rated R (Restricted) Violence.
The Tragedy of Macbeth is now streaming on Apple TV+
Directed by Joel Coen
Starring Denzel Washington, Frances McDormand, Bertie Carvel, Alex Hassell, Corey Hawkins, Harry Melling, and Brendan Gleeson.
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