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Days after its premiere in local theaters, Licorice Pizza, the ninth film by Paul Thomas Anderson, was ranked fifth among the favorites of the Argentine public during the weekend. With screenings in 64 theaters, the film had just over 11,000 viewers from Thursday to Sunday, a modest figure that once again confirms the difficulties that movie theaters are going through that are already going beyond the consequences of the pandemic. But nevertheless, Due to its impact on social networks, everything seems to indicate that moviegoers from all over the world decided to fight for the film of the talented American author.

The dichotomy between supposed opposites had already been raised: the film set in the San Fernando Valley in the seventies and those produced by Marvel. A valuable proposition that, as Marcelo Stiletano recalled in his column, refers to Martin Scorsese and his criticism against the superhero factory and the reflection on the true essence of cinema. Of course, in the middle of the awards season – the nominees for the Oscars will be announced on February 8 -, beyond the analysis of the state of the film industry and the challenges it faces to attract the public back to the rooms, some elements inherent to Licorice Pizza fueled the spirit of rebellion in many viewers. And of the critics and members of the world of cinema, of course, who, in addition to giving it rave reviews, have already positioned the film as one of the great candidates for the awards to come.

Sean Penn and Alana Haim at Licorice Pizza
Sean Penn and Alana Haim at Licorice PizzaMelinda Sue Gordon – Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Pictures

To a large extent, the emotions aroused by the story of Alana (Alana Haim) and Gary (Cooper Hoffman) can be related to nostalgia for the known past, in the case of some, or the fantasized one for the youngest. But the enchantment Licorice Pizza it also derives from one of the themes that has always fascinated the film industry the most: itself. Year after year, especially when handing out its most prestigious awards, Hollywood tends to reserve a prominent place for those who tell or refer to their own story. And this season, of the two films that go down that road, Being The Ricardos (available on Amazon Prime Video) and Licorice Pizza, only the second found the balance between melancholy and vitality.

What in the film starring Nicole Kidman and Javier Bardem about the couple formed by Lucille Ball and Desi Arnaz seems too much like a wax museum, in Anderson’s film it results in some of his most exuberant moments of energy. Is that Licorice Pizza uses Hollywood and its stars as the backdrop for the relationship between its young leads who exist on the fringes of the industry they often cross paths with. According to the director in an interview with the magazine Variety, more or less made up, the references to old Hollywood are an essential part of his trip to the past. Thus, in the film, Lucille Doolittle, the actress who promises to ruin Gary’s career as a child star, is Lucille Ball, while Jack Holden, the seductive, alcoholic veteran actor played by Sean Penn, is essentially William Holden. In fact, the movie that the character constantly cites is based on The bridges of Toko-Ri, starring Holden and Grace Kelly. Tom Waits also appears there as the director Rex Blau, who is a combination of John Ford and Sam Peckinpah and Jon Peters, the famous film producer who plays Bradley Cooper and who, according to Anderson, gave his approval to use his name. and his story in the film, as long as he also included one of his famous phrases to seduce women that, of course, appears in the film.

Bradley Cooper en Licorice Pizza
Bradley Cooper en Licorice Pizza

It’s clear: there are plenty of reasons to see this extraordinary film on the big screen and it should be clarified that beyond the just defense of seeing movies in theaters, moreover, in this case, its arrival on streaming is still uncertain. Although the film was produced by MGM, owned by Amazon, the tangled international distribution agreements do not ensure which platform will finally have it when the established period expires. Therefore, for the undecided, there are still opportunities to see it a few more days in theaters, although it is very likely that as of Thursday it will have fewer functions in part due to the premiere of parallel mothers, by Pedro Almodóvar, an unfair zero-sum game in which the cinema always loses.

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