Though it looked for a moment like the pesky pandemic that just refuses to end would preempt a lot of the cinema programming for the remainder of the year, many distributors are holding fast to their scheduling plans and moving forward with caution. A lot of the titles with fates in question have been trotted out over the past few weeks at Venice, Telluride, and Toronto, but one remains a mystery – as he’s preferred to play it with his last few features, Paul Thomas Anderson is keeping his new movie under wraps.
As best he can, that is. Though the first trailer has yet to appear online, Anderson sent prints on 35mm reels to the Prince Charles Cinema in London and the New Beverly, the American Cinematheque, and the Aero in his native Los Angeles, where the trailer has been playing prior to some of the director’s favorite films. (To name a few: Beavis and Butt-Head Do America, Repo Man, Kiss Me Deadly, and American Graffiti.)
Turns out that the film, once believed to be titled ‘Soggy Bottom’, has been mercifully announced as Licorice Pizza instead. The title refers to a chain of record stores popular in southern California during the ’70s, a big indicator as to the time and place of the setting. It’s there that the story of a child actor (Cooper Hoffman, son of Anderson’s constant muse Philip Seymour Hoffman) trying to hit the big time while juggling life as a high schooler will unfold.
While the specifics of plot remain unclear, it’s come out that Bradley Cooper appears in the trailer as the real-life Jon Peters, a hairdresser-turned-producer who supplements his income by dealing drugs on the side. Also figuring prominently into matters is rock star and past PTA collaborator Alana Haim, portraying the romantic opposite to Hoffman’s character, as well as filmmaker Benny Safdie, playing progressive politician Joel Wachs. The cast is also said to include John C Reilly, Sean Penn, Tom Waits, Maya Rudolph, and Booksmart breakout Skyler Gisondo.
Our own Hannah Strong has caught a glimpse of the trailer, and while she’s been sworn to secrecy for the most part, she’s let slip that David Bowie’s voice soundtracks the footage, and that the loose, lovelorn vibes most closely evoke Boogie Nights and Punch-Drunk Love. Situating another film in ’70s SoCal means that the comparisons to the former film are inevitable, but if we know anything about Anderson, he’s not one to repeat himself.
In the States, the public won’t have to wait long to drink in another PTA period piece: according to an official statement “MGM (via United Artists) will open Licorice Pizza in limited release November 26. The drama will reach its nationwide expansion December 25.” Hopefully, the UK won’t be kept waiting for too much longer.
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