10 Paul Thomas Anderson Trademarks In Film

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Paul Thomas Anderson’s directing style isn’t as obvious as Tarantino’s or Scorsese’s. Instead of depicting pop culture references and gory violence, Anderson tends to tell human stories with a naturalistic tone, like Robert Altman or Hal Ashby. But there are still many recurring motifs and characteristics that define Anderson’s cinema.

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From needle drops on the soundtrack to long Steadicam takes in cinematography, many of these stylistic trademarks can be seen in all their glory in Anderson’s latest masterpiece, the coming-of-age romance adult. Licorice Pizza.

ten Needle-Drops Soundtrack


Alana Haim and Cooper Hoffman as Gary and Alana lying together on a waterbed in Licorice Pizza

Anderson sometimes uses original scores by composers like Jon Brion or Jonny Greenwood, but he is best known for his Scorsese-style needlework. His film soundtracks include such hits as Elvin Bishop’s “Fooled Around and Fell in Love” in boogie nights and Supertramp’s “Goodbye Stranger” in Magnolia.

Greenwood contributed to the Licorice Pizza soundtrack, but Anderson mostly uses licensed hits from the time the film is set, such as “Life on Mars?” by David Bowie, “Let Me Roll It” by Paul McCartney and “Peace Frog” by The Doors.

9 Steadicam Long Takes


Whether he’s stalking in a nightclub at boogie nights or follow Barry to his workplace in love stuffed with punch, Anderson is known for capturing sleek, fast-paced long takes with a Steadicam. Unsurprisingly, given that Anderson is considered his own cinematographer, Licorice Pizza contains many long Andersonian signature takes.

There’s a recurring motif of Gary and Alana running through the streets of Los Angeles and an iconic (and probably very expensive) photo that follows Bradley Cooper to a crowded gas station where he uses a lighter to steal a pump from a car. guys.


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8 Based on real people


Bradley Cooper as Jon Peters yelling at Gary in Licorice Pizza

Anderson’s characters are inspired by real people. boogie nights‘ tragic hero, Dirk Diggler, was inspired by adult film star John Holmes. The masterThe charming cult leader, Lancaster Dodd, is a satire of the founder of the Church of Scientology, L. Ron Hubbard.

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According to VarietyGary Valentine, the teenage actor turned entrepreneur at the heart of Licorice Pizza, was based on film producer and former child actor Gary Goetzman. Some supporting characters are taken directly from real-life characters – some with their real names left intact, like Jon Peters, and others with their names altered like “Jack Holden” (based on William Holden).


seven Human connection


Alana Haim Cooper Hoffman Licorice Pizza

Human connection is a common theme throughout Anderson’s filmography. All his films explore the joys and pitfalls of relationships between human beings. In Licorice Pizzaa 25-year-old photographer’s assistant finds a kindred spirit with a 15-year-old waterbed contractor.

Anderson’s stories about human relationships tend to revolve around a romance, like Licorice Pizza Where love stuffed with punchor a deeply dysfunctional father-son dynamic: a veteran player and the drifter he picks up (hard eight), a young porn star and the adult movie mogul who launched his career (boogie nights), an oil baron and the adopted son he abandons (there will be blood), a troubled war veteran and charismatic cult leader who takes him under his wing (The master), etc


6 San Fernando Valley


Sean Penn and Alana Haim on a motorcycle in Licorice Pizza

From boogie nights at Magnolia at love stuffed with punch, most of Anderson’s films are set in his hometown, Los Angeles’ San Fernando Valley. After a handful of large-scale historical dramas, Anderson is back in the valley for his latest film.

Licorice Pizza features valley hotspots like jazz club The Baked Potato (previously mentioned in The Earth) and Van Nuys Golf Course, where Sean Penn wows the crowds with a motorbike stunt.


5 Loose and episodic story structure


Alana talks to Gary in Licorice Pizza

Anderson’s screenplays are more character-driven than plot-driven. He tends to write loose, episodic narratives that reflect life more accurately than traditional three-act storytelling.

Licorice PizzaThe storyline of is comprised of vignettes like being wrongfully arrested for murder, infuriating a parody of Lucille Ball on stage, and being stranded in the hills in a truck without gas after delivering a waterbed to the house of Jon Peters.


4 Dysfunctional families


Gary Valentine makes the quiet sign in Licorice Pizza

Anderson’s characters rarely have healthy family lives. In love stuffed with punch, Barry Egan is ruthlessly harassed by his sisters. In there will be blood, Daniel Plainview adopts HW, then abandons him on a train when he’s fed up with fatherhood. In The masterFreddie Quell is traumatized by the abuse he suffered from his aunt.

RELATED: The 10 Best Licorice Pizza Performances

In Licorice PizzaGary and Alana both get along with their parents and siblings, but their family life is still unconventional: Alana feels trapped by her conservative father, and Gary and her mother are business partners.




3 The 1970s


Alana looks out of a car she is driving in Licorice Pizza

Anderson explored a lot of historical eras: the dawn of America in there will be bloodpost-war society The master1950s London ghost yarn. He also told some contemporary stories, like Magnolia and love stuffed with punch. But the period he keeps coming back to is the 1970s.

boogie nights took place during the “golden age of porn”, inherent vice transplanted the “black stoner” vibes from The great Lebowski in the early 1970s, and movie theater marquees indicate that Licorice Pizza takes place in 1973.


2 Ensemble Cast


Joel Wachs is running for election at Licorice Pizza

From boogie nights at Magnolia, Anderson’s films frequently include a sprawling ensemble cast. This Robert Altman-inspired style of “hyperlink cinema” allowed recurring actors like John C. Reilly and Philip Seymour Hoffman to appear in supporting roles.

While Licorice Pizza is undeniably anchored by Gary and Alana, the cast is filled with supporting players who steal the stage. Stars like Sean Penn and Bradley Cooper make extended cameos in small roles that leave a big impression.


1 foreigners


Alana Kane smiling softly in Licorice Pizza

Many of Anderson’s protagonists are quintessential outsiders: Dirk Diggler is a fish out of water in the porn industry; Barry Egan is an emotionally disturbed loner; Freddie Quell is a soldier struggling to return to civilian life.

Licorice PizzaThe main duo of Gary and Alana are a pair of strangers who discover an unlikely kinship with each other. Gary is a teenager in show business, surrounded by out-of-control divas and toxic personalities, and Alana is an aimless twenty-something trying to figure out what to do with her life.

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