Licorice Pizza (2021)

Licorice Pizza is a 2021 American coming-of-age comedy-drama film written and directed by Paul Thomas Anderson. The film stars Cooper Hoffman, Alana Haim, Sean Penn, Tom Waits, Bradley Cooper, Benny Safdie and John Michael Higgins.

The film takes place in the San Fernando Valley in 1973. 15-year old Gary Valentine prepares for his high school picture day, when he notices 25-year old Alana kane, a photographer’s assistant and starts a conversation with her. She rejects his advances, but then later meets him for dinner and the two begin a friendship. Gary goes to auditions and appears in a variety show with Lucy Doolittle, when Gary’s mother says she’ll be in Las Vegas when she is supposed to take him to New York, Alana chaperones him instead. On the plane, Alana meets Lance, one of Gary’s co-stars in a Doolittle film, and the two start dating. but they break up after an awkward dinner with Alana’s family.

Gary starts a waterbed business with Alana as an employee and assistant. While selling beds at an expo, he is arrested on the suspicion of murder but is released soon after. When Alana decides she wants to try acting, Gary introduces her to his agent, who gets her an audtion for a film starring Jack Holden, directed by Sam Harpoon. After her audtion, she goes with Holden to a local restaurant, which Gary and his friends as well as film director Rex Blau, are paying for. Blau convinces Holden, a motorcycle lover, to recreate a stunt on a local golf course involving a jump over a firey ramp. A wasted Holden brings along Alana but she falls off the bike during the stunt. Gary runs to her to make sure she isn’t hurt while Holden performs the stunt and wreck the motorcycle, though he is unharmed.

Gary, Alana, and Gary’s friends deliver a waterbed to Jon Peters’ house as a gas crisis starts to take over the country. An irritated Pters leaves ro see a movie, but not before threatening to murder Gary’s family, specfically his brother, if they ruin his house. After setting up the bed, an upset Gary floods the house before leaving with Alana. They’re later flagged down by a furious Peters, whose car has run out of gas. They drive him to a gas station but when they arrive, he threatens a customer. Alana and Gary leave him behind. Gary stops and attacks Peters’ car, but they end up running out of gas too. The waterbed company ultimately fails because of the gas crisis.

Alana starts to work on the Joel Wachs mayoral campaign. Gary briefly joins her, but after overhearing that pinball has ben legalized in California, he decides to open an arcade. The two cut ties after an argument, where Alana pretty much calls Gary immature and he calls old in revenge. As Gary prepares for the opening of his arcade, Alana is invited to have drinks with Wachs that night. She gets to the restaurant and learns Wachs is gay after being introduced to his partner Matthew. He asks her to take Matthew home as a beard, despite Matthew’s obviously hurt feelings. Afterwards, apologizes to Matthew and they share kind talk. She goes to Gary’s arcade, but finds him gone, as he has gone to look for her.

This film has a sweet story, but the age gap is beyond weird, him being fifteen and she being twenty-five, but at least Paul Thomas Anderson doesn’t make it pedophilic, unless you count him seeing her boobs and them kissing, but at least there is no sex between them. But the fact that she is a woman hanging out with immature teenage boys is also weird. It’s like you want to jump in the movie and tell her to get some friends her own age. At times, Alana seems like a mother figure to Gary and other times, she seems just as immature as him mand his pals. Gary does eventually become very mature and a businessman and you are proud of him. Alana, makes poor decisions throughout the film, like wearing a bikini and heels to sell waterbeds at the grand opening of Gary’s waterbed company. Cooper Hoffman (Philip Seymour Hoffman’s son) and Alana Haim (of the band Haim), both of whom have never acted before this film, do fantastic jobs in their rolls as Gary Valentine and Alana Kane, definitely Best Lead worthy.

There are some things about this film that have stirred controversy, like the age gap between Gary and Alana, the fake Asian accent used by Jerry Frick, John Michael Higgins’ character can be seen as racist, the fact she never wears a bra and you can tell and the fact a fifteen year old boy becomes a businessman.There is also a couple of scenes that deal with anti-semitism. All of this controversy might make some people uncomfortable and/or offended.

The acting is great and the story would’ve been better if several things had been changed like the ages of the two main characters, the underage-ness of Gary running businesses and slight racism. The soundtrack is great, although Bowie’s “Life on Mars” doesn’t fit. The costumes are spot on 70’s, although you get see Alana’s nipples a lot, same as the cars and decor. I just wish the band Haim would have recorded a song for the movie, since they do often have a sort of Fleetwood Mac sound to them.

Overall, a very good, not outstanding film. They focus too much on Gary and Alana’s relationship and Gary’s business ventures and not enough on each others lives outside of that. I thought it was going to be more about Gary trying to become an actor and win over Alana as well, so that was a disappointment. I like the indie feel of this film and the era. This is better than most Paul Thomas Anderson movies, but not his best. I was so excited to see this one and when I finally saw it, it was not nearly what I anticipated. Good cinematography, excellent acting and awesome soundtrack, but that is practically all. 18+ 3.5/5

Classic of the Week: Steamboat Bill Jr. (1928)

Steamboat Bill Jr. is a 1928 silent comedy film starring Buster Keaton and directed by Charles Reisner. The film is known for what may be Keaton’s most famous film stunt: The exterior of a whole house falls around him while he stands in the ideal spot to pass through the open attic window instead of being crushed. The film inspired Disney’s Steamboat Willie, Mickey Mouse’s 128 film debut.

The film follows William “Steamoat Bill” Canfield, who is the owner and captain of a paddle steamer that has seen better days. He impatiently awaits for his college student son to arrive, whom he hasn’t since the boy was a baby. Expecting a big man like himself to help him compete with businessman John James King and his brand new, expensive riverboat, William is sorely disappointed with his awkward son, who arrives with a beret, a pencil mustache and a ukulele. He gets enraged when he finds out that his son and King’s daughter Kitty, also visiting her father, are in love. Both business opponents are determined to break up the relationship.

When Canfield’s ship is said to be unsafe, he accuses King of plotting it. He beats him up and is put in jail. His son tries to set him free by bringing him a loaf of bread with tools hidden inside, but his plan is dicovered. The sheriff hits the son on the head, sending him to the hospital. A cyclone then hits, tearing down buildings and jeopardizing this ships. As Canfield Jr. is making his way through town, a build front falls around him.

Although this film was a box office failure and received mixed reviews upon its release, it has since gone down as one of Keaton’s best movies and one of the greatest films of all time. It has many laugh out moments, lots of slapstick and special effects that were ahead of its time and still impress to this day. It has romance, drama and a few heartwarming and instense scenes.

This iconic film has inspired so many movies and televisions shows, especially the house falling scene. This is a movie with a simple plot and that was so brilliantly executed in every way, I don’t understand how this did so poorly in theaters and had such mediocre reviews. It is a wonderful, fun-filled and very entertaining film from begining to end. There is not one dull moment and it is Keaton at his best.

There is no nudity, no profanity (of course) and no drinking or smoking. There is slapstick violence. The father’s rejection of his vain son and the cyclone scene may be disturbing to some children, but other than that this is a pretty family friendly film. This is one movie that can be watched over and over again. This film has definitely stood the test of time. Truly a masterpiece that will continue to entertain and inspire. 7+ 5/5

Top Feminist Films Part 2

60. Faces – 1968

61. A Smiling Madame Beudet – 1923

62. 3 Women – 1977

63. Drowning by Numbers – 1988

64. Street of Shame – 1956

65. Women Without Men – 2009

66. Entre Nous – 1983

67. The House of Sand – 2005

68. Sweetie – 1989

69. Girls Town – 1996

70. The Children’s Hour – 1961

71. Ukraine is Not a Brothel – 2013

72. Bhutto – 2010

73. Kadosh – 1999

74. Klute – 1971

75. Real Women Have Curves – 2002

76. Lovely & Amazing – 2001

77. A Taste of Honey – 1961

78. He Named Me Malala – 2015

79. It’s a Girl! – 2012

80. Medea – 1988

81. After Tiller – 2013

82. Mrs. Parker and the Vicious Circle – 1994

83. A Case of Rape – 1972

84. Girl Rising – 2013

85. The Apple – 1998

86. When We Leave – 2010

87. Everlasting Moments – 2008

88. Stella Dallas – 1937

89. Camille – 1936

90. Tangerine – 2015

91. The Sleeping Voice – 2011

92. The Invisible War – 2012

93. She’s Beautiful When She’s Angry – 2014

94. RBG – 2018

95. Adam’s Rib – 1949

96. Harper Valley PTA – 1978

97. The Burning Bed – 1984

98. Working Girls – 1986

99. The Watermelon Woman – 1996

100. Offside – 2006

Classic of the Week: Girl Shy (1924)

Girl Shy is a 1924 romantic comedy film starring Harold Lloyd and Jobyna Ralston and directed by Fred C. Newmeyer. In 2020 the film entered the public domain. The film is a bout a shy young man who is unable to talk to women, who sets out to publish a book, finding true love in the process.

This film is filled with laugh out loud moments, romance and slapstick humor. Harold writes a book called “The Secret of Making Love,” though he is terribly shy and awkward with ladies. He thinks that if the book gets published, it will bring him good money and a wife, but to his misfortune, he still stutters. He does end up finding love, but the road there isn’t an easy one.

Harold Meadows (Lloyd) is a tailor’s apprentice for his Uncle in Little Bend, California. He is so shy around females and can hardly talk around them. To stop his stuttering, his uncle blows a whistle. Despite this Harold writes a book about the secrets to making love, describing how to pursue different types of women, like “the flapper” and “the vampire.” He takes a train to a publisher in Los Angeles. He meets Mary Buckingham (Ralston), a rich young lady when she happens to board the same train after car breaks down and helps rescue and hide her Pomeranian that isn’t allowed on the train. Throughout the film, he both wins and loses her love, while trying to become a writer.

Though this is a romantic comedy film, it isn’t like many rom-coms that either super cutesy or super cheesy, it is the perfect balance of romance, comedy, slapstick humor and heartwarming moments. it makes you laugh out loud and smile. Harold is one of the original comedy guys and he is fantastic in this movie. This is a film that inspires you to not give on your dreams and that there is love for everyone. This is one that can always put a smile on your face and a glow in your heart.

There is a scene where the lead the character, (comically) spanks a woman, there is also violence (slapstick), sexual innuendos, kissing, car chases and bootleggers and in one particular scene, wine is consumed. So this isn’t a movie for young viewers, but older ones may enjoy it more. This is an adventurous, romantic and humorous story rolled into one wonderful film. One of Harold Lloyd’s best films, definitely in the top five. Not just one of the greatest silent films, but films of all time. One that can be over and over without getting old.

If you’re looking for a classic to watch, a movie for date night or just something to cheer you up, this is undoubtedly a perfect choice, or just for any time. Very entertaining, yet has it’s sweet scenes This may be a lesser known silent film, but it is one that should be on everyone’s “must watch” list. Nothing too silly or cheesy, it is lovely, funny and clever from start to finish. 10+ 4.5/5

Classic of the Week: The Odd Couple (1968)

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The Odd Couple is a 1968 American Technicolor buddy comedy film written by Neil Simon, based on his 1965 platypus of the same name. It was directed by Gene Saks and starred Jack Lemmon and Walter Matthau. The film follows the story of divorced men, neurotic neat freak Felix Unger and fun filled slob Oscar Madison, who decide to live together, despite their personality differences.

 

Felix Unger (Lemmon) checks into a roach motel near Times Square and attempts. To kill himself by jumping out the window, but fails to get it open and pulls a muscle in his back. He limps back on the street and tries to get drunk at a dance bar and ends up hurting his neck when throws down a shot. He contemplates jumping in to the river.

In the unkempt Upper West Side apartment of divorced sportswriter Oscar Madison (Matthau) on blistering hot summer evening, Oscar and his buddies are playing poker  and discussing their friend Felix Unger, who is unusually late for the game. They also complain about how messy the apartment is. A friend’s wife calls and tells them Felix is missing. Oscar calls Felix’s wife, who says they have split up. Worried Felix might commit suicide, he shows up not knowing his friends already know about his wife kicking him out of the house.

Felix starts crying and his friends comfort him. Oscar then suggests that Felix move in with him, since Oscar has lived alone since his split up with his own wife, Blanche, several months before. Felix agrees and tells Oscar to let him know is he gets on his nerves. Within only a week, Oscar is going crazy.

This is a hilarious movie that many can relate to. Living with someone who has different personality can be difficult, especially when one is tidy and the other isn’t. You both want things a certain way and they often causes chaos. Sometimes you either learn to compromise or just live it and sometimes that works and sometimes, it doesn’t, like in this film. Oscars grows fed up and kicks Felix out for his obsessive compulsive ways. Eventually Oscar lets Felix back in and two realize best friends should have each other’s backs.

This film is filled with laugh out loud humor, fighting and bickering, but it also at times, has heart when the two realize messiness and tidiness isn’t the end of the world, that friendship is more important.

This move will have you laughing at time, but also it will warm your heart at other moments. It teaches you family and friends are the most important thing in life. That despite all their hardships they had to endure living together, Felix and Oscar, remained best friends and vowed to always be there for each other, through thick and thin.

This not just a humorous film, but also one that teaches not just about friendship, but also about how to overcome  misfortune and to never be afraid to ask for help, especially when needed the most. Underneath all the confrontation, this story has true heart. A wonderful film that has inspired two television spin offs. Outstandingly written, directed and acted. A perfectly imperfect movie from beginning to end that never disappoints. 10+ 5/5

Classic of the Week: Animal Crackers (1930)

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Animal Crackers is a 1930 American pre-code comedy and musical film directed by Victor Heerman and stars the Marx Brothers, Groucho, Chico, Harpo and Zeppo with Lillian Roth and Margaret DuPont. It was based on their Broadway musical of the same name. The film follows the story of how a valuable painting goes missing during a party in honor of famous African explorer Captain Jeffrey T. Spaulding.

This is not only a Marx Brothers and comedy classic, but it is truly one of the funniest films of all time. It is clever and funny. There musical numbers and Groucho and Zeppo sing as well and Harpo and Chico both play the piano, Harpo also plays the harp. Like most of the Marx Brothers’ films, Groucho is the ringleader. There is lots of cheesy, yet fun songs (except for one love song), slapstick fighting, clever humor, tricks and flirting.

Groucho is fantastic as Captain Jeffrey T. Spaulding, Harpo is great as the professor, Chico is also great as Signor Emanuel Ravelli and Zeppo does a fine job as Horacio Jamison. Margaret Dumont does a fine job in her role as Mrs. Rittenhouse, owner of the house (on Long Island) and Lillian Roth does equally god as her daughter Arabella.

There are many fun musical numbers in this film such as, “Hello, I Must Be Going,” “Hooray For Captain Spaulding” and “He’s One of Those Men.” There’s also the love song, “Why. Am I So Romantic?” The songs give this film the right amount cheese and excitement.

There is also a lot of jokes, some that have become famous with the brothers like Groucho saying, “One morning I shot an elephant in my pajamas. How he got in my pajamas, I don’t know” and when the party guests are giving three cheers to Captain Spaulding, Harpo brings in three chairs. Harpo is the only Marx brother that doesn’t speak in their films, although he occasionally laughs and whistles, he is also very gullible and naive.

This movie will have you laughing, cheering and dancing. There is mild sexual innuendo and flirting and slapstick violence, but no one is seriously injured. There is drinking and smoking throughout, Groucho is seen with his trademark cigar. But other than that, it is very mild and okay for older children, as younger ones won’t understand the jokes.

Never once is this film boring. It is truly hilarious and entertaining and gets that way more and more after viewing. The Marx Brothers were and still are some of not just the funniest, but greatest actors and movie makers of all time. They, to this day, can put a smile on a person’s face and brighten a day with laughter. This is a wonderful movie that is just as quick-witted as it an enjoyment. With music, dancing, humor, peril and romance, this one will never disappoint. 8 & up 5/5

Classic of the Week: Diner (1982)

Diner is a 1982 American comedy drama film written and directed by Barry Levinson, in his film directorial debut. It stars Mickey Rourke, Steven Guttenberg, Daniel Stern, Paul Reiser, Kevin Bacon, Timothy Daly and Ellen Barkin.

The semi-autobiographical film is set in the northwest section of Baltimore, Maryland during the last week of 1959 and tells the story of a circle of friends, now in their twenties, who reunite for the wedding of one of the friends in the group and the title makes reference to their late night hang out, the fictional Fell’s Point Diner in Baltimore’s Fell’s Point neighborhood. The film follows the changing relationships among these friends as they become adults.

This is a film with a simple plot, that most group of friends can relate to. The friends in this movie share a celebration of one getting married. They reunite at the diner they hung out at as kids over food, coffee, music and laughs, they party, dance, drink until they’re drunk, talk about life growing up and as adults, go to the wedding, share tears, hugs and toasts and dance some more. They drink lots of coffee and smoke lots of cigarettes, but nearly everyone smoked back then.

Each character is unique one is getting married, one fears marriage, one has a semi-pregnant girlfriend and one has a high paying job he hates. This film might have inspired other movies as well as television shows featuring groups of friends at their favorite hangout like the films The Big Chill and Grosse Point Blank and television shows Seinfeld and Friends. There are laugh out loud and touching moments in this film.

For such a simple plot, with such simple, (yet relatable) characters, you’d think this film would be completely boring, but it is far from it. It shows a group of buddies getting together again to be there for a member of their circle’s wedding. After being apart, (though they kept in touch), for so long, they still shared a close bond, a brother type relationship that so many, even today, don’t have. It was great how they seemed like they hadn’t been apart for a long time.

Yes, this is pretty much a “guy” comedy, but me, being female, thoroughly enjoyed it. It is very entertaining for the most part, because several scenes are a bit slow, but I know that is for dramatic effect, so can’t really complain when it’s necessary to the plot. This is both a happy and not so happy film. There is a wedding for one character , but their is also the other character who is too afraid to propose to his longtime girlfriend and the one guy who complains about his job. You don’t have to be male, or even in your twenties to relate to any of the main dudes. You don’t have to like football, or even sports, or 50s music, to enjoy this movie, nor do you have to be a fella.

This both a happy and a not so happy film. Some parts are pretty slow, but that’s for dramatic effect, so can’t complain if it’s necessary to the plot. Although the guys are young, many times in the movie they seem much older, because the screenplay is smartly written, making each character have a sense of maturity, unlike most twenty something characters from today, who act more like wasted immature junior or high school students. The guys in Diner are wise beyond their years. A great motion picture from beginning to end. 18+ 4.5/5

Classic of the Week: American Graffiti (1973)

American Graffiti is a 1973 American coming of age comedy film directed by George Lucas starring Richard Dreyfuss, Ron HOward, Paul Le Mat, Harrison Ford, Charles Martin Smith, Cindy WIlliams, Candy Clark, Mackenzie Phillips, Bo Hopkins and Wolfman Jack. The film is set in Modesto, California in 1962 and follows the story of the early rock ‘n’ roll and crushing cultures that were poplar among teenagers at the time over the course of a single night.

This film shows how cars, music, friendship, cruising and hooking up were popular among teenagers during the early days of rock ‘n’ roll. You see the different types of vehicles, hear the popular songs, see the types of hangouts and the fashion from that era. This is fun filled film. The teenagers are out passed their curfews, cruising around with their buddies, and/or their boyfriend or girlfriend, or they’re looking for a hookup.

Some of the characters are supposed to be at a school dance, but have skipped out on it. Others are shown hanging out at Mel’s Drive-In. Other ones are shown making out, a few playing pranks on a car of bullies and few more in another scene steal a car from a dealership. There are a few slapstick type fights, lots of mischief, flirting, driving around and rock ‘n’ roll and Doo-wop music from the mid 50’s – to early 60’s.

Each character in this film is unique, yet several of the boys are trying to find a girlfriend, just like serval girls are looking for a boy. Some of the older characters try to flirt with the younger one. A couple of girls in particular are much younger and are inappropriately hanging out with ones much older, who try to kiss them, have sex with them, or get them to drink or smoke, in one scene, all that occurs.

This is a simple film, but not one that is so simple, it’s boring, it’s far from that. It is fantastic from the car chases, to the laugh out loud humor, the vehicles, the characters and the great soundtrack filled with golden oldies to sing along to. Though this film takes place in just one night, it seems so much longer, because so much goes on. Not one time in this movie is it slow. It takes you back in time on rockin’ and rollin’ rides from beginning too end

This movie is one that can make you laugh, cry, angry and sing and tap your foot. It’ll have you wishing you were at Mel’s in the days of soda fountains, checkered floors, jukeboxes and Doo-wop playing DJ’s. A fun, yet naughty and music filled film that didn’t need anymore than it had to be perfect, it was just aa it was. Lucas drew inspiration from his own youth during that era in California.

This film has become a cult classic in the U.S. as well as other countries like France. Fantastic, entertaining, hilarious and clever film with one of the greatest soundtracks of all time. 13 & up 5/5

Classic of the Week: The Big Chill (1983)

The Big Chill is a 1983 American drama and comedy film directed by Lawrence Kasdan, starring Tom Berenger, Glenn Close, Jeff Goldblum, William Hurt, Kevin Kline, Mary Kay Place, Meg Tilley and JoBeth Williams. The story follows a group of baby boomers who attended the University of Michigan, reuniting after 15 years when their friend Alex commits suicide. It was filmed in Beaufort, South Carolina.

Despite coming together for a funeral, the friends still manage to share, laughter, memories, tears, music, love, friendship, food and drinks, anger, happiness and sadness. They cook, they eat, drink, dance and still have a good time. Maybe they should be mourning more the loss of their friend who was like a brother to them in college. A suicide is not something to celebrate, but maybe they are celebrating the good things about Alex.

All the acting by every lead star is equally outstanding. Every single character is unique in their own ways, making this movie better with every viewing. The fantastic soundtrack features R&B, soul, pop and rock from the 1960s and 70s . This film is equal parts sad, dramatic, funny and moving. You want friends like these.

This film is about friendship, love, death, music, emotions and life. One character is recently divorced, another has never been married, but wants a baby, another talks about how much he hates his job, despite its high pay. Despite it being 15 years after their college graduation, they group had still kept in touch. A couple of characters fall in love. One female character asks her husband to have sex with the female character that wants a baby, because she doesn’t think she’ll ever get married. He does it. There is lots of drinking, conversation, a few scenes of fighting, some making out, some sex, but lots of music.

This film teaches that family and friends are important, suicide is a serious issue, and music and coming together can heal. This movie is as striking as it is comedic, without being over the top. Wonderful throughout. 18+ 4.5/5

Classic of the Week: When Harry Met Sally… (1989)

When Harry Met Sally… is a 1989 romantic comedy film written by Nora Ephron and directed by Rob Reiner. It stars Meg Ryan as Sally’s and Billy Crystal as Harry. The film follows the story of the title characters from the time they meet just before driving across the country and through twelve years of chance encounters in New York City.

This is a romantic comedy that isn’t cheesy or predictable. It has laugh out loud moments, as well as heartbreaking and heart warming times too. The main characters’ relationship is off and on, until they realize they were meant to be together. They fight and share laughs throughout. In the beginning, they can’t stand each other, then they warm up to each other and fall in and out of love, until the end, when can’t imagine life apart.

This is a clever film, unlike any other rom-com in history. You laugh, you get angry and you cry. You root for them to find true love. Both characters have become so iconic since this film came out. With some of the most iconic scenes in film history, like Sally’s delicatessen orgasm and the karaoke scene. They are both hilarious and priceless. Only Ryan and Crystal could have pulled off these characters so perfectly. They are goofy, yet have sweet sides as well.

This is the perfect date night movie, or if just need a good laugh, cry, or both. Not many romantic comedies today, come close to the greatness of this one. It is special in every way. Harry Connick Jr. singing popular classic jazz songs, is ideal for the storyline and mood.

This film will break your heart, then put it back together. It tugs on your heartstrings and pulls out every emotion. It is never dull, slow, or unoriginal. It is a movie that just gets better with age. It’s wonderful from beginning to end and makes you believe in true love and that sometimes, they were there all along. Don’t think this is a typical rom-com or chick flick, because it’s not, it is so much more. A delightful, fun and heartwarming movie. 18+ 5/5