Licorice Pizza (2021)

This movie wallows in its character’s contradictions, and it loves and glorifies weirdness. So, if you’re weird, you can feel loved by this movie. (If you’re completely fucked up and your life is going down the drain, you can feel loved by Magnolia.) 

But if you’re a Japanese wife, no love for you, just laughter from the audience. Read Walter Chaw for further explanation: ”The problem isn’t that Frick is a fucking cunt, it’s that the two Mrs. Fricks are asked to be nothing more than Mr. Yunioshis.” These scenes reminded me of Til Schweiger and Matthias Schweighöfer (the leaders of German cinema) laughing at people being gay, fat or female. And if these scenes weren’t racist, they’d still be pointless. And if their point was to ”show it as it was,” they’d still align themselves with ”as it was” by not giving these Japanese women any kind of gravitas, effectively turning ”as it was” into ”as it is.” 

Another thing I didn’t like: The constant needle drops. Sometimes the movie turns into an ad for a Best Of 70s compilation with a choice of songs as common denominator as Guardians of the Galaxy. There’s even a Life On Mars scene with a lateral tracking shot of somebody walking. Wes Anderson did this eighteen years ago. Even Lars von Trier used this song (albeit very differently). Nothing against well done needle drops, but I think it’s enough. From now on, every superstar director is forbidden to use any song whatsoever. You superstar directors, you are the masters of cinema. You can do without exploiting songs to undull your scene about a guy walking down the street. Don’t steal all the great songs away from us. We need them for our own walking down the street moments.

However, there’s more to explore in this one movie than in X seasons of some random series. And it’s especially great to watch it in 70mm, all the shades of yellow and orange and the sun bursting through the windows. Movies that make daylight look like daylight and darkness look like darkness have become very rare (contrast is key, and I wanna know what kind of filters they used). I won’t watch it eight times theatrically though (as I did with Phantom Thread, enamoured by its beauty and its mysteries), but I will watch it again soon, just to take a closer look at the dialoge coverage, which makes every cinematography 101 teacher look like a total idiot (the same goes for every screenplay 101 teacher). And I need to watch it digitally some time, just to see how its extreme lighting schemes hold up.

And if you’re into Los Angeles films, watch Them Andersens Los Angeles Plays Itself.