Arts

New to stream: Paul Thomas Anderson's Licorice Pizza and Gary Oldman spy series Slow Horses

Licorice Pizza: Cooper Hoffman as Gary Valentine, Alana Haim as Alana Kane and Milo Herschlag as Greg

LICORICE PIZZA (Cert 15, 133 mins, Universal Pictures (UK) Ltd, Comedy/Drama/Romance, available from April 1 on BT TV Store/iTunes/Prime Video/Sky Store/TalkTalk TV Store and other download and streaming services)

Starring: Alana Haim, Cooper Hoffman, Bradley Cooper, Sean Penn, Benny Safdie, Skyler Gisondo.

NO-NONSENSE 25-year-old photographer's assistant Alana Kane (Alana Haim) entertains romantic overtures from teenage star Gary Valentine (Cooper Hoffman).

She chaperones him to New York for a public appearance and then briefly dates his rival (Skyler Gisondo), to the dismay of her smitten ward.

The topsy-turvy relationship recalibrates when Gary starts a waterbed business and invites Alana to dip her toes into the shallow end of the showbusiness pool where he paddles.

Close encounters with gung-ho actor Jack Holden (Sean Penn), sexually voracious film producer Jon Peters (Bradley Cooper) – "I love tail. I love it so much it's going to kill me one day!" – and fresh-faced mayoral candidate Joel Wachs (Benny Safdie) give Alana bountiful food for thought.

Taking its title from a California music store chain and the slang term for a vinyl record, Licorice Pizza is a nostalgia-drenched coming-of-age yarn which chronicles pangs of first love in 1973 San Fernando Valley.

Haim – one-third of the Los Angeles-based pop rock trio comprising sisters Alana, Danielle and Este – delivers an endearing portrayal of a free spirit, who is California dreamin' of something better than the wandering hands of her boss.

Hoffman, son of Philip Seymour Hoffman, is almost as beguiling in his debut role, exuding optimism in every impeccably period-detailed scene.

Their first meeting is captured in the zinging dialogue of writer director Paul Thomas Anderson's script, where prideful boasts ("I'm a showman. It's my calling…") are offset by flashes of painful and piercing self-realisation ("I don't know how to do anything else.")

Licorice Pizza is scruffily charming and aimless like the characters.

Rating: 4/5

SLOW HORSES (6 episodes, starts streaming from April 1 exclusively on Apple TV+, Thriller)

ACADEMY Award winner Gary Oldman, who deservedly collected his golden statuette for a towering portrayal of Winston Churchill in Darkest Hour, leads a six-part espionage thriller based on the first book in award-winning author Mick Herron's series of novels.

MI5 agent River Cartwright (Jack Lowden) pays a heavy price for a bungled operation and is sidelined to Slough House, known as a dumping ground for operatives who have made career-ending mistakes.

River joins other agents, considered liabilities in the field, under misanthropic boss Jackson Lamb (Oldman), who expects team members to eventually resign through boredom.

The "slow horses", as they are known, unexpectedly gallop back into action when they become entangled in a dangerous plot.

Supporting cast includes Olivia Cooke, Jonathan Pryce and Kristin Scott Thomas.

The first two episodes premiere this week and subsequent instalments arrive every Friday.

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