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The Movies, Films and Flix Podcast -Episode 407: Drop Dead Gorgeous, Beer Cans and 1999 Comedies

January 14, 2022

You can download or stream the pod on Apple PodcastsTune In,  Podbean, or Spreaker (or wherever you listen to podcasts…..we’re almost everywhere).

If you get a chance please make sure to review, rate and share. You are awesome!

Mark and John (@MFFHorrorCorner) discuss the 1999 cult classic comedy Drop Dead Gorgeous. Directed by Michael Patrick Jann, and starring Kirsten Dunst, Denise Richards, Amy Adams, Allison Janney and a beer can that becomes infused to Ellen Barkin’s hand, the movie focuses on the insanity that occurs during the fictional Sarah Rose Cosmetics Mount Rose American Teen Princess Pageant. In this episode, they talk about step ladders, 1999 comedies, and the excellence of the all-star cast. Enjoy!

If you are a fan of the podcast, make sure to send in some random listener questions (we love random questions). We thank you for listening, and hope you enjoy the episode!

You can download the pod on Apple PodcastsTune In,  Podbean, or Spreaker.

MFF Data: Analyzing the Screams in the Scream Franchise

January 12, 2022

This morning, I woke up with this feeling, I didn’t know how to deal with, and so I just decided to myself that I’d count all the screams featured in the Scream franchise to see if there’s an ideal amount of screams, or whether they affect the Tomatometer/IMDb/Metacritic/Box Office results.

After some research, I found that there are a few infographics, lists and videos that attempted to count the screams, but they didn’t seem thorough enough to stop me from my quest. Thus, I felt like my idea to count the screams was justified (Hello Mickey from Scream 2). To prove I did the work, I’ve provided timestamps of all the screams I included in my count.

Here’s what I counted as a scream:

Scream – When a character belts out an “aaaaaaahhhh” or “eeeeeeeee” (you know the noise). I didn’t count when a character yells ‘Help me!” or “Oh, sh**!” No words, only primal screams.

I counted screams that occured during these instances:

  1. When a character is being chased or killed
  2. When a character screams in reaction to seeing someone being chased or killed
  3. When there’s a cheeky jump scare and people scream (think Scream 3)
  4. I didn’t include the screams featured in the Stab movie that played in Scream 2

Amount of screams per film

  1. Scream (1996) – 37
  2. Scream 2 (1997) – 51
  3. Scream 3 (2001) – 58
  4. Scream 4 (2011) – 43
  5. Total – 189

Results

Scream (1996)

  • Tomatometer – 79%
  • RT Audience Score – 79%
  • IMDb – 7.3
  • Metacritic – 65%
  • Average of all four – 74 (the 7.3 IMDb score became 73)
  • Worldwide box office – $175 million
  • How many people are killed by Ghostface(s) – 5

Scream features the least amount of screams and death. It also made the most money at the box office, when the audience/critic scores are averaged, it has the highest scores.

r/movies - I rewatched the Scream franchise and recorded every instance of screaming. Scream (1996) features the least amount of screaming (37) and it made the most money and has the highest averaged critical/audience scores. Scream 3 features the most screaming (58), and it has the lowest scores.

Scream 2 (1997)

  • Tomatometer – 81%
  • RT Audience Score – 57%
  • IMDb – 6.2
  • Metacritic – 63%
  • Average of all four – 65.75
  • Worldwide Box Office – $172 million
  • How many people were killed by Ghostface(s) – 8 (Mrs Loomis shoots Mickey, but he’s finished off by Gale and Sidney).

Scream 2 has the highest Tomatometer score of all the Scream films, but the drop off in IMDB and RT audience scores is notable. It’s an excellent horror sequel though. It successfully upped the amount of screams without leaning into self parody.

  • Best Scream – Best Scream – Maureen’s epic Scream is wonderful.
  • Worth Noting – the Scream movies (Scream, Scream 2) featuring a Loomis killing people are the most successful.

Scream 3 (2000)

  • Tomatometer – 41%
  • RT Audience Score – 37%
  • IMDb – 5.6
  • Metacritic – 56%
  • Average of all four – 47.5
  • Worldwide Box Office – $162 million
  • How many people were killed by Ghostface(s) – 9
  • I love Scream 3 (Parker Posey is hilarious), and I appreciate how hard they leaned into comedic screaming. However, critics and audiences did not. It’s the only Rotten film in the franchise and it has the lowest IMDb score.
  • Best Scream – The insane moment when Dewey keeps getting scared and screaming
  • Worth noting – it’s the only Scream movie with one killer.

Scream 4 (2011)

  • Tomatometer – 60%
  • RT Audience Score – 56%
  • IMDb – 6.2
  • Metacritic – 52%
  • Average of all four – 57.5
  • Worldwide Box Office – $96 million
  • How many people were killed by Ghostface(s) – 13

After the scream heavy Scream 3, the franchise took a break and came back with a less-screamy sequel. The franchise went back into Fresh territory, but it failed to restart the series at the box office. It shares almost identical IMDb and RT audience scores with Scream 2, so audiences must like screams in the 43-52 range more than 58+ screams.

r/movies - I rewatched the Scream franchise and recorded every instance of screaming. Scream (1996) features the least amount of screaming (37) and it made the most money and has the highest averaged critical/audience scores. Scream 3 features the most screaming (58), and it has the lowest scores.

Conclusion

  • Scream, the movie featuring the least amount of screams made the most money and has the highest critical/audience average.
  • Scream 2 has the highest Tomatometer score, but a big dropoff everywhere else.
  • Scream 3 is loaded with screaming people, which worked against it, and it has the lowest all around average
  • Scream 4 – Dropped the amount of screams and went back to Fresh territory. However, the huge kill count worked against it.

Conclusion – Scream features the least amount of screams and death, and it made the most money. Also, aside from it’s Tomatometer score, it has the highest Metacritic, IMDb, and RT Audience scores. Scream 3 has the most screams, and it has the lowest RT (critic and user), IMDb, and Metacritic scores. Scream 4 has the most kills, and it made the least amount of money.

Dawn Raid (2021) – Review: A Thrilling Documentary About Two Men Who Swung Big To Achieve Massive Success

January 10, 2022

Quick Thoughts – Grade – A: Dawn Raid is a thrilling documentary that chronicles the rise and fall of the New Zealand based record label Dawn Raid Entertainment. The energy and personalities of the particpants are infectious, and you will find yourself loving the Oscar Knightley directed documentary. Also, you’ll need to create a new Spotify playlist so you can listen to all the Dawn Raid artists (If you haven’t already).

Directed by Oscar Knightley, who says the documentary  is a “achievement of cultural empowerment, and a narrative of failure, or crushing defeat and devastating loss,” Dawn Raid is an excellently orchestrated experience that showcases the rise and fall, and rise again of the New Zealand based music label Dawn Raid Entertainment. What makes Dawn Raid such an engrossing experience are the cast of characters who are open and honest about the record label which started in 1999, and was liquidated in 2007 after poor choices, and minimal business experience closed down the South Auckland business. Founded by Brotha D” Leaosavai’i and Andy Murnane, who named the label after the infamous dawn raids that took place in New Zealand between the 1970s and 1980s, Dawn Raid Entertainment exploded in popularity in the early 2000s as artists such as Savage and Mareko achieve worldwide fame. 

What I really like about the documentary is how Brotha D and Murnanae are open and honest about their strengths and failures which lead to the rise and fall of the record label. While I’ve never created a record label that sold millions of albums and singles, I completely understand how two kids in their early twenties could succeed on sheer will and naivety. The two entrepreneurs built a business with provocative T-shirts, then expanded into producing music inside a makeshift studio, and then went on worldwide tours before realizing they were deep in debt after not adapting with the music industry, or paying attention to creditors who were about to eat them alive. To succeed, they needed to spend money, and for a while that worked as artists like Savage and Mareko traveled to New York City, and were able to record with artists from the Wu-Tang Clan and Akon. However, with illegal downloads, several expensive social programs, and a huge staff (add in big houses and very expensive weddings), the roof caved in on them, and they were forced to liquidate everything. What’s neat about Dawn Raid, is how Brotha D and Murnanae never gave up, and because of that, the company rose from the ashes, as several of their songs (Savage’s Swing was/is HUGE) blew up in popularity due to the movie Knocked Up and TikTok videos. 

Most importantly, the energy in Dawn Raid is electric because of Brotha D and Murnaneu, who make for wonderful narrators because they’re filled with enthusiasm and love for their company and South Auckland. The editing in the doc is excellent too, and a lot of credit needs to go to editor Tim Woodhouse for combing through endless footage to create a well-balanced and dynamic experience. While some of the participants have complained about their portrayals in the documentary, it’s clear that both men understand that in their quest to be millionaires, they dropped the ball, and let a thriving and audacious empire crumble. Their ambition worked against them, and it’s totally possible to think they’d still be operating their studio, store and barbershop in South Auckland if they hadn’t shot for the stars.

If you are looking for an enlightening and charming documentary about two men who dreamed big, and achieved success (and failure), you should definitely check out Dawn Raid.

The Movies, Films and Flix Podcast – Episode 406: Underworld: Awakening, Air Ducts, and Huge Werewolves

January 7, 2022

You can download or stream the pod on Apple PodcastsTune In,  Podbean, or Spreaker (or wherever you listen to podcasts…..we’re almost everywhere).

If you get a chance please make sure to review, rate and share. You are awesome!

The Underworld franchise conversation continues! Mark and David Cross (of the Award Wieners Movie Review Podcast) discuss Underworld: Awakening (2012), the fourth film in the Underworld franchise. Directed by Måns Mårlind and Björn Stein , and starring Kate Beckinsale, Charles Dance, and Michael Ealy, the movie focuses on what happens when werewolves are foolish enough to mess with a famous death dealer. In this episode, they discuss huge werewolves, frozen people, and crawling through air ducts. Enjoy!

If you are a fan of the podcast, make sure to send in some random listener questions (we love random questions). We thank you for listening, and hope you enjoy the episode!

You can download the pod on Apple PodcastsTune In,  Podbean, or Spreaker.

John’s Horror Corner: Tiki (2006), the killer doll movie that just might scratch your really bad movie itch.

January 5, 2022

MY CALL:  This is bad. Really bad. Like shot on “porn-video-quality” very, very bad. But if you’re looking for that, then I guess this works.  MORE MOVIES LIKE Tiki: Well, for more (and much better) killer doll movies go for Child’s Play (1988), and then I might skip all the way to Curse of Chucky (2013) and Cult of Chucky (2017)—not that I didn’t enjoy them all to some degree. There is also the excellent remake of Child’s Play (2019). Other quality evil doll films include The Boy (2016), Annabelle: Creation (2017), Dolly Dearest (1991), Dolls (1987) and Puppet Master (1989).

From scene #1 writer and director Ron Ford (Witchcraft XI) really wants us to understand his cruise business owner’s villainous motives, which are far more elaborate than we need in a movie about a killer Tiki doll shot on porn-quality video… especially when we consider that this villain is only in this first scene! I keep watching, and this keeps feeling like a stale-acted adult movie that just never leads to a sex scene. But yeah, there eventually is nudity. You don’t get a low budget killer doll movie without nudity. So fear not, if that matters. Truly, among bad movies, the nudity is kind of phoned-in.

Thankfully, the effects are exactly the kind of “so bad it’s good” effects we needed: a skittering puppet literally moved across the screen by someone’s hand just below out of frame, clunking shadows of shaky doll figures “running” without limb movements, and little goblinoid snarls, babbles and laughs as the miniature fiend is running among the clutter of the set avoiding any efforts to find him or whack him with whatever object a soon-to-be-victim had at hand. This little demon toodles around the screen like a sprayed roach.

The gore might be better than I deserved when I bought this movie with this deplorable DVD sleeve and poster image. Fingers are sliced off (off-screen) but spew delightfully (on-screen). When this little monster appears behind a guy’s head and jimmies his eyeball out with his itty bitty spear, I knew I had a winner. And then this little tiny doll uses a wire to strangle a dude, murders a girl by jamming a shampoo bottle in her mouth and Mario-jumping on it to pound it deeper, and sloppily and brutally scalps a girl… pure incredulous nonsense. This movie is terrible, but I had my share of bad movie giggles.

Let’s be clear, there’s nothing “good” about any of this. But it’s so bad it’s fun, and they did the best they could executing some of these deaths considering the obviously tiny budget. I appreciate the effort and the chuckles that this clunky little killer doll afforded me.

All told, this was bad, as expected. But it was so bad it was enjoyable, for which I hoped it would be! I’ll call that a in.

The Worst Person in the World (2021) – Review: Joachim Trier’s Anti-Romantic Romantic Comedy Is Worth a Watch

January 3, 2022

Quick Thoughts – Grade – A – With a 100% Tomatometer score (as of 01/03/2022), and an 8.1 IMDb score, The Worst Person in the World, is getting some of the best reviews of 2021. Which makes sense, considering it’s loaded with excellent performances, standout setpieces, and assured direction from Joachim Trier. It’s one of my favorite movies of 2021, and that’s because it has lingered in my memory, and proved itself to be a film with lasting appeal that tackles big themes through small events

Told in 12 chapters, with a prologue and an epilogue, The Worst Person in the World focuses on the journey of Julie (Renate Reinsve – who won Cannes Film Festival Award for Best Actress), a restless medical student who lives in Oslo, Norway, and leaves medical school to dabble in psychology, photography and writing in her quest for self-actualization. With so many options, a lot of intelligence, and not much pressure, Julie is able to move from interests and lovers with ease, as she’s able to burn bridges in her journey to evolve and remain curious. The Worst Person in the World is more about the journey than the destination, which proves to be its biggest strength as Julie’s decisions, indecisions, and adventures create an unhurried and introspective look into what it means to an “adult” in 2021. 

Since it’s an “anti-romantic romantic comedy,” it’s a good thing that Reinsve has excellent chemistry with the two male leads played by Herbert Nordrum and Anders Danielsen Lie (who is also in the excellent IFC film Bergman Island, which you should watch), who couldn’t be more different. Danielsen Lie plays a famous graphic novelist writer named Aksel, who is 15 years older than Julie, but the two are clearly soulmates who understand each other on an intellectual level (I love how he handles her aloof and selfish father). The problem is, Aksel wants children while the younger Julie isn’t ready for such a commitment in her life. This leads her to Eivind, a barista with a big smile, who meets Julie when she crashes a wedding. After a dangerous night of flirting as much as possible without cheating on their partners, the two can’t help but wonder what would happen if they ditched their partners, and got together. This leads to a standout moment that has been much publicized because it features Julie running around Oslo as everyone around stands frozen in time, she eventually meets with an unfrozen Eivind, and the two have a romantic moment free of consequences (she also come across a kissing couple and places the woman’s hand on her boyfriends butt). The moment is delightful and plays whimsically without feeling overly cute or out of place. 

The Worst Person in the World also keeps you guessing as it’s funny, melancholic, dramatic and occasionally bursting with life. When making the movie, Trier wanted to have fun, and take himself less seriously as he’s evolved as a filmmaker with several popular films (Reprise, Oslo August 31st) under his belt. He and co-writer Eskil Vogt wanted to “remember contrasts,” and create an experience that makes you laugh, cry, and want to avoid nights fueled by psychedelic drugs. Trier and Vogt wrote the movie with Reinsve in mind, and their long conversations with her about the character helped Reinsve play to her strengths and bring life to Julie. The end result is a modern romantic comedy that will build a dedicated cult following, and be a major player during the upcoming awards season. 

The Movies, Films and Flix Podcast – Episode 405: WandaVision, The Falcon and the Winter Soldier, Loki and Hawkeye

January 1, 2022

You can download or stream the pod on Apple PodcastsTune In,  Podbean, or Spreaker (or wherever you listen to podcasts…..we’re almost everywhere).

If you get a chance please make sure to review, rate and share. You are awesome!

Mark and Norbert talk about their favorite moments from WandaVision, The Falcon and the Winter Soldier, Loki, and Hawkeye. It’s a Marvel Cinematic Universe themed episode that also features discussions about Tommy Lee Jones, card tricks, and boat repair. Enjoy!

If you are a fan of the podcast, make sure to send in some random listener questions (we love random questions). We thank you for listening, and hope you enjoy the episode!

You can download the pod on Apple PodcastsTune In,  Podbean, or Spreaker.

The Movies, Films and Flix 2021 Movie List: Celebrating a Fun Year for Movies.

December 26, 2021

2021 was an excellent year for cinema, and we here at MFF wanted to share the movies we enjoyed the most. I (Mark) asked fellow MFF website/podcast contributors to send me their 2021 lists, and we’ve come up with a fun selection. Enjoy, and let us know which 2021 movies you loved the most.

Quick Links

  1. The 2021 Mid-Year Random Awards
  2. The 2021 Mid-Year Random Awards Podcast Episode
  3. The MFF Horror List Podcast Episode
  4. The 2021 Random Awards
  5. The 2021 Random Awards Podcast Episode

Mark Hofmeyer (@Mhofmeyer on Twitter)

  1. Barb and Star Go to Vista Del Mar – Barb and Star Go to Vista Del Mar is wonderful. It’s inventive, daring and beautifully odd. Writers/stars Kristen Wiig and Annie Mumolo have created a cult classic that hopefully will amass a large following. Also, I really hope that it somehow, someway, gets nominated for about 40 Academy Awards (they can make up the awards, it’s cool). It deserves it.
  2. Malignant – Malignant is insane. James Wan has created one of the oddest horror films I’ve ever seen, and I love it.
  3. Pig –  Pig is a beautiful film that will definitely be included in my year end “best of” lists. I can’t think of the last time I was so engrossed in a movie. Also, Nicolas Cage is excellent, and between Pig, Joe, Mandy, and Color Out of Space, he’s been putting in some great work in movies that place him in a wooded area.
  4. Undine – Undine puts a sensitive and thoughtful spin on Undine mythology. Director Christian Petzold (Phoenix – watch it) has crafted another solid film that features an award winning performance from Paula Beer (Silver Bear for Best Actress at the 70th Berlin International Film Festival).
  5. The Suicide Squad – The James Gunn directed The Suicide Squad is pure delight. If you are looking for a bloody, brutal and hilarious superhero movie, it doesn’t get any better.
  6. The Worst Person in the World – If you are looking for a film that puts a brilliant spin on the romantic comedy, you need to watch The Worst Person in the World.
  7. Petit Maman – Absolutely delightful. Director Celine Sciamma has done it again. 
  8. Dune – I’ve never said “whoa” more times in my life while watching a movie. Dune is big, beautiful, and bold.
  9. Bergman Island – Give Mia Wasikowska an Oscar. She’s great. 
  10. Benedetta – Benedetta is what happens when Paul Verhoeven is given complete creative control. It’s funny, incendiary, dramatic and totally committed to achieving a singular vision. The cast is game, and you can tell they trusted Verhoeven to make something unique and memorable.

David Cross (@ItsMeDavidCross on Twitter)

  1. Pig
  2. Barb and Star Go to Vista Del Mar
  3. Dune
  4. Shadow in the Cloud
  5. Godzilla vs Kong

Megan Hofmeyer 

  1. Barb and Star Go to Vista Del Mar
  2. Petite Maman
  3. Bergman Island
  4. Cyrano
  5. The Sparks Brothers

John Leavengood (@MFFHorrorCorner on Twitter)

  1. The Suicide Squad–I had such an unexpectedly fun time yelling at the screen in glee and with such high frequency. When you are shouting at your screen alone in your living room, you know the movie is hitting the right mark for you.
  2. Pig--Such a beautiful yet tortured, emotionally brutal story; and yet so incredibly tactful. The quiet patience of this film will cast a loud strike upon a heartstring that will deafen the once quiet room in your mind.
  3. Dune–I was reminded again and again of all the things I love about Gladiator (2000) and Star Wars. Operatic scores that transcend mood, a truly magnificent sense of scale, and a brutally political world were good struggles to keep its place at the Darwinian table.
  4. Nobody–Of all the attempts to recreate John Wick or Taken in a new skin, this felt the most successfully different while retaining its grip on relentless, jaw-dropping violence.
  5. Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings–Just. Plain. Fun. I think I was smiling for two straight hours between the scintillating colors dancing on the screen; the creatures of Chinese mythology I recognized from my Dungeons & Dragons books; and the grounded, heartfelt characters. This is the visually captivating and light-hearted “feel good” iteration of Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon (2000) for our generation.
  6. The Hitman’s Wife’s Bodyguard--Not as good as the first, but still overflowing with loud laughs from R-rated humor and holy crap’ly unexpected violence.
  7. Free Guy--After a slower than expected start in delivering the out loud laughter we expect from Reynolds, this movie served an inspiring dose of warmth that I never saw coming. Come for the silly humor and wild action, stay for all the warm fuzzies that juuuust might water your eyes for a moment when you think of your own special someone out there…. whether they know it or not.
  8. F9–Was this good for a FF movie? Not necessarily. But did I still love it? Yeah, I still love it even if less than FF5-8. I wonder if in F10 they’ll face off against The Avengers or The Deviants.
  9. Godzilla vs Kong–Giant monsters fighting giant monsters and even fighting giant robot monsters…? If you know me, you know I loved this. Even if the writing was a bit comicbook-wonky with a heaping dose of childish Journey to the Center of the Earth, it’s still so much fun.
  10. Malignant--Wild. This was wild. And I watch so much wild stuff that wild things seldom feel wild to me at all! You start out watching one kind of movie, and finish in a completely different aisle of Blockbuster Video. “Wow, what a difference!”

Honorable mentions go out to the surprisingly sentimental The Tomorrow War, thrashingly violent Wrath of Man, as well as Candyman, King Richard, The Green Knight, The Harder They Fall, and Werewolves Within.

Zanandi Botes (@ZaNandi on Twitter)

  1. Riders of Justice
  2. Werewolves Within
  3. Pig
  4. The Harder They Fall
  5. The Night House
  6. The Suicide Squad
  7. Barb and Star
  8. Dune
  9. Willy’s Wonderland
  10. The Matrix Resurrections

Nick Rehak (@TheRehak on Twitter)

  1. Dune
  2. Inside
  3. Summer of Soul
  4. Judas and the Black Messiah
  5. Pig

Jonny Numb (@JonnyNumb on Twitter – Be on the lookout for his 2021 horror list)

  1. Kurt Vonnegut: Unstuck in Time
  2. Pig
  3. The Suicide Squad
  4. Barb & Star Go to Vista Del Mar
  5. Bad Girls

Lisa Leaheey (LisaPas220 on Twitter)

  1. The Green Knight tops the list because it’s brilliant – visuals, narrative, acting… the whole thing is divine.
  2. Ghostbusters: Afterlife comes next because of sentimental reasons (I cried through the whole darn thing) and because it’s just so enjoyable in general.
  3. Judas and the Black Messiah has two of the top performances of 2021 in Daniel Kaluuya and LaKeith Stanfield.
  4. Saint Maud also boasts a phenomenal performance from Morfydd Clark. Holy hell is she incredible. A24 knows what they’re doing in horror. I have yet to be disappointed.
  5. Candyman is one of the very few remakes I adore, let alone like!  Nia DaCosta and Jordan Peele are sharp with this update. Can’t wait to see what they’ve got coming next.
  6. Free Guy was my summer movie – super fun, lots of laughs and little Easter eggs for gamers and non-gamers alike. Ryan Reynolds’ charm shines in everything he does, but darn it – missed opportunity for not casting Blake Lively as the blonde in the bank!
  7. Profile slipped into, then out of the theaters far too silently. I love this “on the computer” found-footage format, and the story was really interesting to me. It’s not an earth-shattering game-changer by any means, and it definitely has perception problems, but for a horror/psychological thriller fan, it’s worth a watch.
  8. The Night House was also pretty underseen this year; lovely to look at, incredible performance by Rebecca Hall, and solid writing.
  9. Yes, Mortal Kombat is in my top ten. I stand by it. Come at me. 🤓😂 Without a doubt, the most fun I had in movie-watching this year. 
  10. Val broke my heart – not only is it fascinating to journey into the past with Kilmer’s home movies, his spirit permeates the documentary despite his medical struggles with throat cancer. The fact that he’s LIVING so much more than many healthy people is staggering. He was a big favorite of mine in the 90s, and this movie just brought all of that admiration back to the forefront.

The Movies, Films and Flix Podcast – Episode 404 – The 2021 Random Movie Awards

December 24, 2021

You can download or stream the pod on Apple PodcastsTune In,  Podbean, or Spreaker (or wherever you listen to podcasts…..we’re almost everywhere).

If you get a chance please make sure to review, rate and share. You are awesome!

The MFF tradition continues! Mark and Megan hand out random movie awards to their favorite films of 2021. In this episode, they hand out cheeky awards to Petite Maman, The Worst Person in the World, Malignant, Benedetta, Cyrano, Licorice Pizza, and Bergman Island. Enjoy!

If you are a fan of the podcast, make sure to send in some random listener questions (we love random questions). We thank you for listening, and hope you enjoy the episode!

You can download the pod on Apple PodcastsTune In,  Podbean, or Spreaker.

Licorice Pizza (2021) – Review: Paul Thomas Anderson Has Crafted an Excellent Hangout Picture That Is Full of Life

December 23, 2021

Quick Thoughts – Grade A – Paul Thomas Anderson has crafted a perfect hangout picture that will put a smile on your face. Licorice Pizza explodes with life, and features one of the most likable and engaging casts of 2021.

After about 10 minutes of Licorice Pizza it becomes absolutely clear that director and writer Paul Thomas Anderson loved making this movie. He grew up in the San Fernando Valley in California, and that’s why this movie, set in1973, feels alive, vibrant and drenched with nostalgia. The California based film feels like a series of adventures from his life, and is loosely based on producer Gary Goetzman, who grew up as a child actor, and engaged in all sorts of shenanigans in the valley. The movie doesn’t have a traditional narrative, and instead has a story that showcases funny bits, wisps of memories, or stories Anderson heard while growing up. There’s a lack of urgency and feral energy, which is refreshing, because after Phantom Thread, There Will be Blood, Inherent Vice, and The Master, it’s nice that the biggest threats to the characters are an oil shortage, or being mistaken for a murderer and being dragged into a police station, where the police quickly learn they grabbed the wrong kid. 

Licorice Pizza focuses on the exploits of Gary Valentine (Cooper Hoffman), a 15-year old actor/hustler who spends his days opening waterbed stores, managing public relations for restaurants, and attempting to date the 25-year old Alana Kane (Alana Haim), whom he met during a yearbook photo session. Normally, a movie about a 25-year old and 15-year old engaging in a will-they-won’t-they relationship would feel exploitative (it is an odd choice), but, under the guidance of Anderson, the relationship feels palatable as they build towards something that’s more innocent than Lolita-esque. It’s a complicated relationship, but from the very first moment, when Haim and Hoffman meet at the photoshoot, you can tell the two actors enjoy each other’s company, and I can’t think of the last time I’ve seen such instant chemistry.

Since it’s a Paul Thomas Anderson film, Licorice Pizza feels totally immersed in the 1970s, and features some wildly memorable moments. Whether it’s Alana on a motorcycle with an old school A-list actor William Holden (Sean Penn), or Gary opening up a pinball arcade after he learns pinball will be legalized again, there are countless memorable moments that also allow Bradley Cooper, Tom Waits, Benny Safdie, Skyler Gisondo and Maya Rudolph to shine. The funniest moment in the film centers around Alana being interviewed by an acting agent named Mary Grady (Harriet Sansorn Harris – she’s so good). The performance by Sansorn Harris is perfect, as she’s impressed that Alana can seemingly do everything, and the words that come out of Mary’s mouth are beautifully unfiltered and hilarious. The moment is absurd, and the scene had everyone in the theater laughing. 

The cinematography by Anderson and Michael Bauman (a longtime collaborator with PTA) is drenched with sunlight and the camera is almost always roaming as it follows the young and energetic cast around as they run around the valley. Also, the costume design by Mark Bridges (Magnolia, Phantom Thread, Deep Blue Sea) feels authentic and understated. You get the feeling that a lot of work and research went into making the costumes era appropriate, as they never feel too 70s or faux-retro (from the people who made Phantom Thread, this shouldn’t be surprising). To top off the behind-the-scenes excellence, production designer Florencia Martin (who has designed sets for Haim music videos) had a lot of work to do as she had to recreate famous restaurant landmarks (without green screen), transform entire street blocks, and find enough picture cars to load up the streets. The 1970s setting never feels distracting, and it’s neat seeing how they didn’t lean into era tropes, and instead focused on giving it a modern-esque feel. Most impressively, is that the title comes from a music store chain named Licorice Pizza, and the store doesn’t play any role at all. It’s a neat throwback that forces people to learn more about the store. 

Final thoughts: I can’t wait to watch Licorice Pizza again. 

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