Tag Archives: 1970s

Licorice Pizsa

26 Dec

‘Licorice Pizza’: Head over heels for Alana Haim in the shaggiest of ’70s Southern California tales

By Tom Meek Thursday, December 23, 2021

Alana Haim and Cooper Hoffman in ‘Licorice Pizza’.

Fans of Paul Thomas Anderson’s early, quirky works – “Boogie Nights” (1997) and “Magnolia” (1999) – will delight in his latest. That’s not to say that “There Will Be Blood” (2007), “Phantom Thread” (2017) and “Inherent Vice” (2014) are not insignificant films, because they are; it’s just there’s a dark, cheeky breeziness to those earlier efforts and a style and a tone that propels “Licorice Pizza” from the first frame. The opening scene homes in on 15-year-old Gary (Cooper Hoffman, son of frequent Anderson collaborator Phillip Seymour Hoffman’) loquaciously prattling away to a young woman named Alana (Alana Haim), who’s clearly older (in her 20s). It’s a long, well-choreographed tracking shot that takes us from the long paths of a verdant courtyard to the innards of a school’s gym, where Gary is to get his high school photo. Gary, we learn, is a child actor of some notoriety but on the cusp of aging out, an epiphany that doesn’t put a damper on so much as free up an abundance of other ambitious ideas, including dating Alana. “I met the girl I’m going to marry one day,” he tells a friend. Alana, surprisingly, agrees to a date at a local steakhouse (the infamous Tail o’ the Cock) and later chaperones Gary to a hit TV show reunion in New York City, where one of Gary’s fellow child stars swoops in on her.

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Creem: America’s Only Rock ’n’ Roll Magazine’

14 Aug

‘Creem: America’s Only Rock ’n’ Roll Magazine’: In on the joke, and at least once on with the band

By Tom Meek

The original title to this nostalgic dial back was “Boy Howdy! The Story of Creem Magazine,” the “Boy Howdy” being the rock magazine’s identifying icon, conjured up by legendary cartoonist Robert Crumb (allegedly in exchange for the mag covering the costs of a medical treatment). The posted title of Scott Crawford’s documentary reflects the storied magazine’s sub-banner, an intentional eff-you to “Rolling Stone,” which launched a few months earlier. As the talking heads in the film have it – including former editors and writers there – “Rolling Stone” was a highbrow culture magazine, while “Creem,” named after the rock group Cream, was just about rock ’n’ roll and adoringly true to its Detroit roots throughout its 20-year existence. It was posture and pose versus edgy, raw ardor.

Interestingly, one of those talking heads recalling Creem with such zeal is film director Cameron Crowe (“Singles,” “Jerry McGuire”) whose experience as a Rolling Stone writer gave him the seeds for the bittersweet rock romance “Almost Famous” (2000). Another ardent fan, Chad Smith of the Red Hot Chili Peppers, grew up close enough to bike down to Creem’s offices (described as “aesthetic squalor”) and rues that he never made the pages of the mag. Other rewinds about drop-ins from Detroit rock royalty such as Iggy Pop, Ted Nugent and Alice Cooper dot the film; one time, a Creem journalist embedded with the band Kiss onstage for a show.

The Creem reflected in film feels much like the early days at the Boston Phoenix that I heard about when I joined back in the early 1990s – underground culture, alternative music and cult films, all done for peanuts by hustling journos who’d rather be at a late-night gig and write about it the next day than pull down big dollars as a stolid nine-to-fiver. It was about passion and the vibe, and Crawford gets his finger on that. The film would make a nice double bill with “Other Music,” which also played the Brattle’s Virtual Screening Room this year. The personalities at Creem – including publisher Barry Kramer and critic and editor Lester Bangs, who both died before the magazine flamed out – were clearly a strong and agitated olio. As one surviving commentator said of its legacy and embraced irreverence, “either you’re in on the joke or you were the joke.” Rock on.