Licorice Pizza

Director: Paul Thomas Anderson
Year Released: 2021
Rating: 3.5

Two "young" people in the early 70's, fifteen-year-old actor Gary (Cooper Hoffman, son of Philip Seymour) and much older Alana (Alana Haim, also a musician), navigate their way around chaotic Los Angeles: he starts a waterbed company, she flirts (jealousy is a running theme) with a several actors including Jack Holden (Sean Penn), they get into a bit of trouble with clearly insane producer Jon Peters (Bradley Cooper), she starts to work for closeted politician Joel Wachs (Benny Safdie) ... and, of course, they aren't in a relationship (at all ... totally not).  It's nice to see PTA move away from his middling "arthouse" phase (like with Phantom Thread and The Master) - where he struggled to make much out of his abstract ideas - and into an earthy (and sweaty) ode to both Hollywood and puppy love (both leads are magnetic).  He can still get self-indulgent with the best of them - his characters, like Forrest Gump, just so happen to get into colorful situations - but at its core it's really about two really likeable people just trying to figure themselves out and what they want to do with the rest of their lives (neither is built for the 9-to-5).  For those complaining the age gap is "problematic": trust me, worse things have happened in that city.