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Interview: Michael Bauman Discusses the Look of ‘Licorice Pizza’

The look of a Paul Thomas Anderson project is always something worth talking about. They always vary, whether it’s his explorations of Southern California, or something seemingly totally out of the blue like Phantom Thread. Anderson is a master craftsman, so it stands to reason that his department heads and technical crew are masters as well. One such individual is Michael Bauman, a longtime gaffer who actually shares the cinematographer label with PTA on Licorice Pizza. As the flick is awaiting its Academy Award fate, I recently spoke to the artisan about this tremendous work. Previously, we chatted with costume designer Mark Bridges (here). Today, you all get to hear Bauman and I.

This is some of what I said in my Licorice Pizza rave review:

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.

Below, you can hear my conversation with Bauman. We talk a lot about how the look of various PTA films differs, especially in the case of Licorice Pizza. We also discuss his role, how it has evolved, and what his collaborations with Anderson are like. It’s a good chat, both fun and informative. Basically, it’s as pleasurable as the movie itself, as you’ll find out next…

United Artists Releasing

Here now is my interview with Licorice Pizza co-cinematographer Michael Bauman. Enjoy:

Licorice Pizza is in theaters now!


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Written by Joey Magidson

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