Licorice Pizza is the latest film from author Paul Thomas Anderson and is a classic case of a film that is loved by critics but ends up with a more difficult to conquer a more mainstream audience. For the filmmakers, however, there’s a lot to enjoy about this ’70s nostalgic trip, from the way it’s shot, to the charming nature of its performances, to the series of quirky escapades that make up the unlikely romantic journey between Alana, 25 (played by Alana Haim) and Gary, 15, played by Cooper Hoffman.
Last week I was delighted to have the opportunity to see the film for the second time at the Prince Charles Cinema in Leicester Square, London, screened on 35mm film. For a movie shot on film, it felt like a perfect fit for the rich, warm hues of California in the early 1970s, and the occasional noticeable dust and shimmer only brought audiences back to those hazy days.
This was a special screening because after the film, the public was treated to a 25-minute question-and-answer session between British author, playwright and screenwriter Hanif Kureishi (My beautiful laundromat1996, and The Buddha of Suburbia, 1990), and film director Paul Thomas Anderson.
While the discussion never got into the technical side of making the film, it did delve a bit deeper into Anderson’s screenwriting process.
Kureishi recalled that as a writer, he found the one time he was called upon to be a director to be a horrible experience, and so asked Anderson if he would rather write or direct.
“I love them both equally and miss each of them when I’m not,” Anderson revealed. “Writing is a dark and lonely job, but someone has to do it.” However, when it comes to taking that script and bringing it to life, Anderson said he enjoys being around people and having to deal with thousands of questions a day on set – but only up to a point. certain point. “If you shoot for, say, 65 days, at day 50 or so, you’re absolutely sick of everyone, and you can’t wait to write another movie in your black hole again!” But, like a mother who literally swears never to have children during childbirth, he says, “it’s kind of like that and then you’re hungry to do it again.”
Anderson also revealed that he would be willing to do television if the opportunity presented itself, as it would be tempting to free him from the struggle of fitting a narrative vision to the constraints of a film’s length. Interestingly, however, Anderson said he also values the narrative rigor that a limited runtime imposes.
“What I fear is that more and more the optimal time to tell a film story is 90 minutes or probably two and a half hours, but preferably less than two hours, and that form is so difficult to achieve – we are also fighting for this and fighting for this. Woody Allen was one of the best at it and made some amazing movies – some better than others – but they were 90 minutes on the nose, and you’d be like, “how the hell did he do that? ” And I would hate to lose that.
I would certainly be intrigued to see PTA bring its intense, personal, and character-rich cinematic style to a smaller screen, even for a one-off project.
If you are in the London area and can get to the Prince Charles Cinema in London, do discover his series “Film on Film”which shows an intrusive list of films shown on 35 and 70mm, ranging from PTA The masterNolan classics such as Interstellarto lighter fare like Tom Hanks and Meg Ryan in Insomnia and Seattle and You’ve got mail.