Licorice Pizza

Alana Haim and Cooper Hoffman

Paul Thomas Anderson’s quest to make the perfect 1970s movie continues with Licorice Pizza, a living, breathing simulacrum of the sort of film that stalked the landscape before George Lucas came along with changed/ruined (according to taste) everything with Star Wars. Ironically, another Lucas film, American Graffiti, might have served as a moodboard for his attempt to outdo 2014’s Inherent Vice – itself an attempt to outdo 1999’s Magnolia – along with Robert Altman’s rambling, discursive Nashville, though the storyline deep down is actually A Star Is Born – guy on the way down meets gal on the way up – with a scrappy side order of What’s Up, Doc. The guy is … Read more

Flag Day

Jennifer and John

Parenting tips with Sean Penn? Flag Day continues the actor/director’s interest in movies circling around the idea of family. In 2001’s The Pledge, childless, edge-of-retirement cop Jack Nicholson sought redemption by bringing in a child murderer, out of a personal sense of duty to the parents. In 2007’s Into the Wild, graduating student Emile Hirsch rejected the fast track to the top enabled by his wealthy parents and headed into the wilderness to… also seek redemption. Even if you didn’t like them, both were full of interesting moments and performances. More tightly focused than either of those on the actual parent/child bond, Flag Day tracks the on/off, up/down journey down the decades of charming … Read more

This Must Be the Place

Sean Penn in This Must Be the Place

A movie for every day of the year – a good one 24 August The Mainz pogrom, 1349 In the 14th century, the bubonic plague – aka the Black Death – killed between 30 and 60 per cent of Europe’s population (20-30 million people) in the course of about six years. It arrived from Asia in 1346 and ran rampant. No one knew what the cause of it was, but one of the theories was that it was God’s way of showing his displeasure with humanity, either for waging war constantly (the 100 Years War was ten years in), failing to drive the Muslim out of the Holy Land, or, casting about for … Read more