How many costumer designers do you actually know the name of? There’s only a small handful, which is a shame, but that’s just how it is for below the line craftspeople. Mark Bridges, however, is a notable exception. A four time Academy Award nominee, Bridges has two Oscars on his mantle, for The Artist and Phantom Thread. The latter win is part of his long collaboration with Paul Thomas Anderson, which has now extended to Licorice Pizza. The look of the films Anderson and Bridges team up for are always distinct, with this one being no exception. Recently, I was lucky enough to speak with him about the movie. Today, that conversation comes your way!
Below, you can hear my conversation with Bridges. We talk briefly about our shared alma mater, Stony Brook University, but it’s mostly about PTA and Licorice Pizza. Admittedly, I’m not especially knowledgable about costumes, but Bridges is able to break it down very simply for you. I’ve admired his work for years, whether with Anderson or others, and there’s a reason why you know his name. In a line of work where those whose names you know are few and far between, that’s really something…
This is some of my Licorice Pizza rave review:
Depending on who you are, you probably have a different type of Paul Thomas Anderson film that you gravitate towards. Those in one camp love his earlier work, evocative of the likes of Robert Altman and Martin Scorsese. Then, we have folks in another camp, who prefer the more recent and more formal offerings, where he’s experimenting with an almost Stanley Kubrick-like way of making movies. Of course, there’s also the camp that just loves anything Anderson does. Personally, I’m partial to the PTA who made arguably the greatest one-two-three punch in Boogie Nights, Magnolia, and Punch Drunk Love. For anyone who’s like me, Licorice Pizza is coming along like mana from cinematic heaven. Again set in California like those flicks, it’s also probably his most romantic and even silly work. Anderson is having fun here, with the result being one of the year’s most interesting and actually enjoyable movies.
Licorice Pizza might not quite be on the level of his early genius, but it shows PTA getting back to a shaggier style of storytelling. While not as epic in scope as Boogie Nights or especially Magnolia, Anderson seems to be strolling through his protagonists’ lives. He’s clearly enjoying himself, telling a story of young love that’s full of optimism and a belief in better things to come. Somehow, this oftentimes peculiar auteur has crafted a first rate crowdpleaser. Plus, he’s also made one hell of an acting discovery with Alana Haim.
Paul Thomas Anderson writes and directs this (as well as sharing cinematography duties with Michael Bauman) with a clear smile on his face. He’s pondering young love, as only he can do it. Not only is this about as funny as Anderson has ever been, it’s also as romantic. He’s not winking, either. PTA believes what he’s selling. There’s an earnestness we’ve never seen from him before. His portrait of young love is like a memory of a time gone by, with all the hazy recollections one might have. Truly, it works. As always, the technical aspects of his work is flawless, from his visuals with Bauman, to Mark Bridges‘ costumes, to the minimal yet effective Jonny Greenwood score. Meandering but always fun, 133 minutes flies by.
Here now is my interview with Oscar-winning Licorice Pizza costume designer Mark Bridges. Enjoy:
Licorice Pizza is in theaters now!