Licorice Pizza

Viewed – 15 May 2022 online rental

This got quite a bit of buzz towards the end of last year and from director Paul Thomas Anderson (Boogie Nights, There Will Be Blood) and a setting of seventies America and young love, this sounded right up my alley. Gary is a child actor who becomes infatuated with an older woman, Alana who begins working at his school. With no end of confidence and charm he befriends her and soon brings her into his rather chaotic life.

This authentic recreation of seventies America is given a unique spin due to lead characters having an age gap. You could say it’s a unconventional love story. However as Gary leads Alana from one scheme to the next, for me he began to come off as a bit of an obnoxious dreamer. Alana fairs slightly better, seeming more level-headed and mature, even if she kept coming back to this guy. It made me think of La La Land at times with its pairing similarly not meant to be. However due to the movie jumping randomly from different events, such as Gary walking by a water bed shop, and next thing he’s staring up a water bed business (how’s he managed this, how’s he know anything about water beds?) …I began to feel a tad frustrated. Doesn’t help that none of his schemes are particularly engaging.

What the movie lacks in plot, it makes up for in two solid performances, especially singer turned actor Alana Haim (of the band ‘Haim’). I really liked her and she has many of the movie’s best scenes. There’s also two weird cameos, one by Sean Penn as a rather eccentric actor, and another by Bradley Cooper as one of Barbara Streisand’s husbands(?). Both of which come across like they’re in the wrong movie. Anderson’s direction is decent and atmospheric though, and the movie is often beautifully shot. However for a seventies set story, the music is mostly forgettable (apart from one scene using Bowie’s Life On Mars). Overall an interesting yet ultimately uninvolving comedy-drama that’s not as great as it thinks it is.

Verdict: Good

Scenes that make the movie

I’ve been thinking about this idea for a post.  Ten memorable scenes from some of my favourite movies of all time, or simply great moments that make a particular movie going experience stick in my head.  This may become a continuing series as I recall other great moments…but for now, here are ten stand out moments from great movies:  Minor spoilers.


Teddy bears & hallucinations.

Akira Gif

As a telepathic Kaneda post-brush with an infected child of the Akira experiment, recovers in hospital, he begins to experience terrifying hallucinations where teddy bears and toys comes to life as his powers start to manifest in horrifying ways.  One of the defining moments of this complex and ground-breaking Anime.

An America Werewolf In London

Stick to the road

AAWIL Moores

Two back packers after stumbling into local watering hole The Slaughtered Lamb are ushered back out into the night, with simply the warning of ‘stay on the road, keep clear of the moores’ – which they subsequently ignore and are soon stalked by a blood thirsty werewolf in John Landis’ still superb 1984 horror classic.

Blue Velvet

In Dreams

Blue Dean

Amateur detective Kyle MacLachlan gets a little too close to nut-job mobster Dennis Hopper who takes him for a visit to his cross-dressing neighbourhood friend Dean Stockwell, who lip-syncs to Roy Orbinson’s timeless classic in possibly one of David Lynch’s most freaky and brilliant scenes.

Boogie Nights

Disco montage

Boogie Nights

As former nobody Dirk Diggler (Mark Wahlberg) rises to infamy in the seventies porn movie industry, we are treated to this fabulous disco montage, cut seamlessly with various shots of Dirk ‘in action’ or receiving awards and culminating in a wonderfully choreographed dance number with fellow stars Reed Rothchild (John C Reilly) and Roller-girl (Heather Graham).

Eyes Wide Shut

The secret sex party

eyes wide shut

Only in a Stanley Kubrick movie can a high society sex orgy come across as creepy and surreal.  The master film maker in probably his most misunderstood work, presents the viewer with a secret society that Tom Cruise manages to sneak inside of and witness the debauchery of most-likely high profile dignitaries with various high class call girls.  All to a haunting, incredibly eerie score.


Paranoia, drugs and guns

goodfellas paranoid

In the final act of the movie an increasingly paranoid Ray Liotta, struggles to juggle family responsibilities with fencing guns for Robert DeNiro and avoiding what he thinks is an FBI helicopter during the day from hell.  Expertly edited for maximum tension and intensity by the grand master Martin Scorsese.

Monsters Inc.

A chase through the doors


After discovering the main villain’s evil scheme, Billy Crystal’s motor-mouthed Mike and John Goodman’s lovable Sully are chased by Steve Buscemi’s dastardly Randall into the inner workings of the Monsters Inc. facility and through a plethora of doors into the human world.  Exciting, inventive and visually stunning.

Pulp Fiction

Jack Rabbit Slims

pulp gif

In a mob movie with pop-culture quoting wise guys and a soundtrack to die for, who’d have thought one of the best scenes would be a night out between John Travolta’s mob hitman and gangsters-mol Uma Thurman?  Culminating in the world famous Twist Contest.  Sharp dialogue, a highly memorable setting, and an after-math that segway’s into probably the other best scene in this movie.

Saving Private Ryan

Omaha Beach Landing

After visiting the final resting place of hundreds of soldiers, an elderly veteran recalls his experience with tears in his eyes – switch to the shocking beach onslaught in Omaha in 1944 as thousands of troops fight against impossible odds.  A stunning opening to one of the greatest WWII movies ever made, with star (Tom Hanks) and director (Steven Spielberg) on blistering form.


Clubbing to Blondie.


Taking a break from ripping people off and doing drugs, Ewan McGregor’s Renton finds himself on a night out with friends, hitting the clubs and listening to Heaven 17 and Blondie (or Sleeper doing a marvellous version of Atomic), where he meets Diane (Kelly MacDonald) and leads to a montage of sex, alcohol and pulse-pounding music in Danny Boyle’s break-out gem.

Do you agree with my list?  Have favourite scenes of your own?  Leave your comments below or link to your own lists…

The Master

Viewed – 11 May 2013  Blu-ray

For some time I have been an admirer of the acting skills of Philip Seymour Hoffman, even though I haven’t seen that many of his movies.  He was a great villain in Mission Impossible 3 and also very good in movies like the 25th Hour and Boogie Nights, which brings me nicely to this latest  Oscar nominated offering from the same director as Nights, Paul Thomas Anderson, a man who has gained no small amount of acclaim for movies like There Will Be Blood and Magnolia.

The Master

Unmistakably inspired by the early days of Scientology, Hoffman plays Lancaster Dodd, a man who leads a gathering of people and teaches a philosophy on life, that some would call a cult.  After a chance encounter with a damaged, alcoholic drifter and former World War II navel officer (Joaquin Phoenix), Lancaster promises to turn this man’s life around, if he agrees to follow his teachings.  Co-starring Amy Adams as Lancaster’s straight talking wife and with a world-weary performance from an increasingly unhinged-looking Phoenix this was at first hard to get into, not helped by Phoenix’s muffled dialogue.  However once Hoffman turns up this became a lot more interesting.  I have always wondered about the background of Scientology, and although this isn’t based on fact, it certainly opened my mind to an alternative to religion and could see how it might appeal to people.  However the movie does show that such beliefs can be attacked or questioned, and each time this happens, Hoffman or Phoenix’s reaction is either abusive or violent, threatening to reveal the real danger behind such so-called cult followings.

Paul Thomas Anderson has crafted an intriguing, if lightweight story with classy direction and some eye-catching visuals, showing off the period attractively.  Performances are decent, especially Hoffman, manipulative and charming as Lancaster Dodd, although moments of explicit dialogue and nudity seemed out of place.  Considering the subject matter, I found the lack of depth disappointing, but despite this I still had a good time.

Verdict:  3 /5

Boogie Nights

Viewed – 27 February 2010 Blu-ray

This came out when the industry was still buzzing about Quentin Tarantino as the new hotshot wonder kid of Hollywood, and I admit to originally sitting down to this expecting another Pulp Fiction. Although the two movies have similarities, this is the more complex and rewarding of the two, even if on a personal taste level I still consider Pulp my all time favourite.

Mark Wahlberg, at the time still best known for his brief rap career and Calvin Cline ads, plays a kid frustrated with his own life, working in the kitchen of a local club, where he gets discovered by porn mogul Jack Horner (Burt Reynolds), having heard rumours of Mark’s oversized ‘appendage’. Before long he is whisked away from a dull life living with his parents, shouted at by his mother and admiring Bruce Lee to become Dirk Diggler, the new big name of the adult film industry. There he meets a colourful band of characters, all with their own problems, from Amber Waves’ failed mother turned porn actress to school girl Rollergirl (Heather Graham), who hides her adult film career behind a mask of school exams and cute innocence.

Paul Thomas Anderson’s second movie (loosely inspired by the life of porn actor John Holmes) is a revelation and a stunning showcase for his talent that would go on to win him much acclaim with Magnolia and There Will Be Blood. Here though we see someone delivering a boyhood fantasy of a movie, yet leaving behind much of the movie-geek self indulgence that has blighted Tarantino’s career after Pulp. With an obvious affection for his characters, we are treated to a movie that is about a lot more than the porn industry of the seventies / eighties as we explore these very complex people, with special mention for Julianne Moore as Amber Waves who’s tragic, uneasy performance balancing her life in a seedy world with that of the desire to be a mother to her estranged son, is heart breaking – considering that normally this actress bores me. There’s also an incredible comeback from Burt Reynolds as Jack Horner, the mentor / father figure to Wahlberg’s Dirk Diggler, which garnered him plenty of recognition, even if it will probably be his swansong. Wahlberg I must say is also brilliant, playing naive and inexperienced whilst also being someone you can’t help but like. He’s also uncomfortably funny, a tone this movie excels at throughout as you watch, cringing as each character goes through humiliation after humiliation, whilst at the same time blissfully ignorant. Add to this probably the most memorable soundtrack I have ever heard in a movie, and well, what more can I say?

I can count on the fingers of one hand movies that work on pretty much every level, and this is one of them. 

The Blu-ray from Newline is very pleasing, the picture looks like it was shot only recently not 13 years ago, and to complement an impressive visual performance, the DTS HD Master Audio fills the room, the iconic music grabbing you immediately. Extras-wise we have a very listenable commentary by the director, and another from most of the cast and the director again. Other than that we have a bunch of deleted scenes, a trailer and a couple of music videos. Not too shabby.

Verdict: 5 /5