From my movie review in Taki’s Magazine:
Licorice Pizza: Local Boy Makes Good
December 01, 2021
Paul Thomas Anderson’s critically acclaimed Licorice Pizza is his response to Quentin Tarantino’s similarly nostalgic Once Upon a Time…in Hollywood. As you may recall, I was a huge homer for Tarantino’s 2019 movie set in the Hollywood Hills and the adjoining suburban San Fernando Valley in 1969 because I was 11 then and thus appreciate Tarantino’s glamorized tour of old restaurants and drive-in movie theaters that I went to with my parents.
For sentimental reasons, I should be an even bigger fan of Anderson’s Licorice Pizza (named after a defunct Southern California record and video chain) because it’s about a 15-year-old Sherman Oaks boy in 1973, when I was a 15-year-old at school in Sherman Oaks. The movie even begins at Grant High School, the public school I would have attended if I’d not gone to a Catholic school.
Both Tarantino and Anderson grew up hanging around early SoCal video stores, QT in the South Bay, the seven-years-younger PTA in the North Hollywood region of the southeastern San Fernando Valley. …
The Valley back then offered many opportunities for go-getters, while still being a cheap place to raise a family. Anderson’s new film visually emphasizes the colossal number of white kids who were getting free educations in the Los Angeles Unified School District back in 1973. (Today, less than 9 percent are white. But even then, diversity was our strength: My recollection from high school scuttlebutt is that Grant H.S. had the first of its annual Mexican vs. Armenian race riots in 1975.)
Anderson’s hero Gary, a child actor turned precocious waterbed entrepreneur (played by novice actor Cooper Hoffman, the teenage son of the late Philip Seymour Hoffman, who made five movies with the director), decides at first sight that he’s going to marry a twentysomething woman (singer Alana Haim in her first acting role as well) who works for the photographer taking the yearbook portraits.
Reads the whole thing there.