LICORICE PIZZA is from acclaimed director Paul Thomas Anderson, a filmmaker known for dark, serious movies like THERE WILL BE BLOOD and THE MASTER. But his newest film is a sweet coming-of-age comedy set 1973 Los Angeles. It’s the warm hearted and humorous story of a slow developing romance between a pair of unlikely partners played by two actors who’ve never appeared in a feature film before. Cooper Hoffman (son of the actor Seymour Hoffman) plays Gary, a super confident 15 year old former child actor. Alana Haim (a member of an all girl band) is Alana, an immature, volatile 25 year old, working menial jobs and struggling to figure out what she wants to do with her life. There aren’t any sex scenes in LICORICE PIZZA, just lots of entertaining moments that add up to a very original crowd pleasing comedy. (“Licorice Pizza” was the name of a now defunct chain of record stores in Southern California.) (Only in Theaters)
DOWNTON ABBEY was a popular TV series on PBS for six seasons before a hit movie version continued the story in 2019. Now a new version called DOWNTON ABBEY: A NEW ERA opened in theaters this weekend. And for anyone who has enjoyed past versions of DOWNTON ABBEY, the new movie will be a real treat. Most of the much loved characters are back along with two new entertaining plot lines, the usual sweeping cinematography, soaring musical score, and lavish costumes. For me, watching DOWNTON ABBEY: A NEW ERA was pure pleasure. Nearly all of the characters get chances to grow and change in this film which offers plenty of laughs and a few tear jerking moments. It seems that creator and writer Julian Fellowes loves his characters at least as much as DOWNTON ABBEY fans do.
Streaming movie sites have been great for independent filmmakers. Twenty years ago a small, quality film like INBETWEEN GIRL would never have been seen in Hawaii. Now, it’s just a few clicks away. The film is a wise and realistic coming of age comedy/drama about a 16 year old girl who is the only Asian student in a private high school in Galveston Texas. This movie understands the messy complications of adolescence and racism and doesn’t shrink from dealing with them. The main character is Angie Chen, a talented artist and soccer player who is not part of her school’s in crowd. She’s played by newcomer Emma Galbraith. First time feature filmmaker Mei Makino wrote and directed. (Showing for $4.99 on Amazon, You Tube, Apple TV, Google Play) Note: The title really is “INBETWEEN GIRL” with no space between “in” and “between.” If you search for it online and include a space, you come up with nothing, so it’s important to leave the spelling the way it is with no space.
A new British comedy called THE DUKE, starring Oscar winners Jim Broadbent and Hellen Mirren is showing only at Kahala Theaters right now. The movie is a sweet, heart warming, and very enjoyable comedy based on the true story of an eccentric cab driver who in 1961 stole a portrait of the Duke of Wellington from the National Gallery in London. He didn’t take it for his own financial gain but, as he put it, for the “good of mankind.” Broadbent plays plays Kempton, a bumbling, would-be Robin Hood, whose goal is to give the ransom money he gets for the painting to poor senior citizens so they can pay the license fee required to watch BBC television. But, of course, nothing goes as planned. THE DUKE is evidence that true stories can be every bit as funny as fiction. (On Oahu at Kahala Theaters only)