Join 3,558 readers in helping fund MetaFilter (Hide)


Every Woody Allen Movie
November 4, 2012 1:19 PM   Subscribe

Every Woody Allen Movie
posted by Egg Shen (75 comments total) 28 users marked this as a favorite

 
Well, not including To Rome with Love - if that's going to upset anyone.
posted by Egg Shen at 1:20 PM on November 4, 2012 [1 favorite]


"For the first time in what feels like forever, Woody Allen fills the movie with like real dialogue."

Vicky Cristina Barcelona holds the distinction of probably being the worst movie i've ever seen (at least from movies that pretend to be serious). It's one huge, moronic, insulting, american-style lazy stereotype of europeans. Should i really continue to read anything else on this website?

I'm not a big connaisseur of film anyway.
posted by palbo at 1:34 PM on November 4, 2012 [1 favorite]


It's weird to find out that Woody Allen's still cranking out movies. They must be released straight to /dev/null or something.

I fully grasp and appreciate that at one point he was brilliant, but he made it perfectly clear that he was thoroughly depleted about 15 years ago. So I guess my question is: "Who the hell is still financing Woody Allen movies? And who the hell is still sitting through them?"
posted by Mayor Curley at 1:44 PM on November 4, 2012


They must be released straight to /dev/null or something.

Midnight in Paris is Woody Allen's highest-grossing film, with box-office returns of $151 million worldwide.

posted by roger ackroyd at 1:53 PM on November 4, 2012 [10 favorites]


He... won an academy award last year. Are you having a stroke right now?
posted by Potomac Avenue at 1:53 PM on November 4, 2012 [21 favorites]


The weird thing, is that his movies are making more money than they ever have before--he is making genuine hits...(the last good one was deconstructing harry, as far as i'm concerned)
posted by PinkMoose at 1:54 PM on November 4, 2012


In an supersaturated media environment "Known Names" play very well.
posted by The Whelk at 1:56 PM on November 4, 2012 [1 favorite]


Even a mediocre Woody Allen film is worth my time. I bet my wife and I will continue watching "Husbands and Wives" 2 or 3 time a year until death do us part.
posted by davebush at 1:58 PM on November 4, 2012 [3 favorites]


The links essay on Interiors is tight and beautifully written, btw.
posted by PinkMoose at 1:59 PM on November 4, 2012


The last Woody Allen film I saw was Vick Christina Barcelona, and while I'm not going to say it was good, I don't think it was bad either. Probably the last one I really enjoyed was Match Point.

He continues to get top shelf actors and actresses in his films. I wonder if it's mostly so they can just say they've been in one, whether it was good or not.

But now you guys are getting me in the mood again. One of the things I love about Woody Allen is that he's not afraid to let the bad guy win in his films. Or let the girl get away.
posted by sbutler at 2:00 PM on November 4, 2012


I think Woody is more popular now that he has been since the whole marrying-his-daughter thing went down. I didn't like Midnight in Paris, but I have liked quite a few of his recent movies as regular old movies (especially the thrillers of the mid-00s), rather than Woody movies. Whatever you may think of his films personally, I think three things are undeniable: A. The way he's beaten the studio system and managed to continue to make movies exactly his way for decades and decades is admirable and something to learn from for all artistic people. B. His movies always are at least attempting to get at something more than entertainment, to tell truths about human existence, even when they fail they raise the level of discourse about what movies can do, and that's a great thing. C. Movies for adults about adult situations can still be successful.

This is a great site for people that like Woody Allen! I'm going to check out that PBS doc that it describes.
posted by Potomac Avenue at 2:02 PM on November 4, 2012 [4 favorites]


... obscure but beloved character actors (Lily Tomlin ... ) ...

What the what?
posted by Sys Rq at 2:04 PM on November 4, 2012 [2 favorites]


The way he's beaten the studio system and managed to continue to make movies exactly his way for decades and decades is admirable and something to learn from for all artistic people.

Nicely put.

That said, when I stopped feeling the need to see every new Allen movie - after Celebrity - it felt like getting out of an abusive relationship.
posted by Egg Shen at 2:08 PM on November 4, 2012 [2 favorites]


That was the one for me too. It wasn't that bad, but he clearly had begun to repeat himself, and his obsession with blowjobs was getting pretty distasteful (yukkayukka).
posted by Potomac Avenue at 2:13 PM on November 4, 2012


He... won an academy award last year. Are you having a stroke right now?

No, just talking out my ass. I stopped caring about movies about 4 years ago. Does it look less embarrassing if I say I was trolling? I probably should have said "I tried to watch that movie he made with Colin Farrell a few years and it stunk, and I am so full of myself that I'm going to express distaste based on that. I looked at the list of movies after that and didn't recognize them because I put myself in a cultural isolation chamber. Also, I think the last time I was in a movie theater was to see '28 Days Later,' so you should probably ignore me."

Anyway, I'm dumb.
posted by Mayor Curley at 2:16 PM on November 4, 2012 [4 favorites]


Midnight In Paris was great, his best since who knows when.

To Rome With Love was actually decent, though some segments worked better than others. (The Roberto Bagnini one almost should have been the whole movie).

Also, am I the only one who actually likes Deconstructing Harry and Curse of the Jade Scorpion?
posted by drjimmy11 at 2:19 PM on November 4, 2012


Also, this seems like as good a place as any to drop this:

N**** in Paris At Midnight
posted by drjimmy11 at 2:20 PM on November 4, 2012 [3 favorites]


I was always partial to his early stuff. Bananas was great. I wonder if it holds up after all these years?
posted by AElfwine Evenstar at 2:21 PM on November 4, 2012


I loved Curse of the Jade Scorpion, for what it was. Don't recall Deconstructing Harry.
posted by sbutler at 2:22 PM on November 4, 2012


He made Manhattan and Annie Hall. He can do whatever he wants. (We can all ignore what he does, or deride it or whatever, but he made Manhattan and Annie Hall.)
posted by chavenet at 2:23 PM on November 4, 2012 [7 favorites]


Anyway, I'm dumb.

Nah, there really is just a lot of stuff going on in the world these days. I have been known to make statements like this about bands only to find out they still tour extensively and make millions of dollars.

Bananas is a little dated, but still reasonably funny. Zelig has gotten better somehow.
posted by Potomac Avenue at 2:24 PM on November 4, 2012 [2 favorites]


I'm nowhere close to having seen every Woody Allen movie, and I haven't liked every one I've seen, but I feel very different watching one of them rather than something else.

To me, a Woody Allen movie is less about the movie itself — here are the Characters and the Situation and the Story Hook — and more about filmmaking and life in general. Woody's movies span almost 40 years of film. They're a small part of American culture. They document the evolution of our ideas about what life looks like, what relationships are like, what's funny, what's sad, what's important.

So watching one of them is more like reading the last chapter in a history book, with a renewed sense of understanding how we got to where we are today. And that's just not something you get from every director.
posted by Nomyte at 2:26 PM on November 4, 2012 [4 favorites]


Also, am I the only one who actually likes Deconstructing Harry and Curse of the Jade Scorpion?

A. No
B. Yes
posted by DarkForest at 2:31 PM on November 4, 2012 [3 favorites]


The Purple Rose of Cairo was charming, as was Midnight in Paris. Maybe I was just in the right mood for them.
posted by Golden Eternity at 2:36 PM on November 4, 2012


I liked Midnight in Paris, but I just think it's unrealistic to time travel to 1920s Europe and not spend every moment there trying to kill Hitler.
posted by FJT at 2:38 PM on November 4, 2012 [4 favorites]


What's up, Tiger Lily? remains my personal favourite.
posted by Artw at 2:40 PM on November 4, 2012 [3 favorites]


Deconstructing Harry is no Crimes and Misdemeanors or Husbands and Wives (not even bothering to compare it to Annie Hall or Manhattan) but it is a wonderful film, and a really novel take on his nebbish-glasses-guy character.
posted by griphus at 2:42 PM on November 4, 2012 [1 favorite]


Here's the thing...Woody has become a reliable known-quantity. If you're browsing for something...anything...to watch with your spouse tonight, even a mediocre Woody Allen movie is always going to be better than 80% of the other crap staring you in the face, which you have no clue about.
posted by Thorzdad at 2:44 PM on November 4, 2012 [3 favorites]


Woody has become a reliable known-quantity.

So has AC/DC. The problem with that is: How many AC/DC records does anyone really need?

That said, before I broke free, there was something very comforting about seeing the same names appear in that same font at the start of a new movie every autumn. It gave one the sense that one would never die.
posted by Egg Shen at 2:48 PM on November 4, 2012 [3 favorites]


If you're browsing for something...anything...to watch with your spouse tonight, even a mediocre Woody Allen movie is always going to be better than 80% of the other crap staring you in the face, which you have no clue about.

That's terrible advice. Are you a divorce lawyer or something?
posted by Sys Rq at 2:50 PM on November 4, 2012 [4 favorites]


If you're browsing for something...anything...to watch with your spouse tonight, even a mediocre Woody Allen movie is always going to be better than 80% of the other crap staring you in the face, which you have no clue about.

I completely agree with this statement.
posted by davebush at 2:52 PM on November 4, 2012 [2 favorites]


Ok. You like or do not like director /producer/ACTOR WOODY ALLEN. Name another contemporary director whose body of work you can offer as better or of more interest or subject to serious discussion...and how many films has that director made in the last 5 years?

How does he fund his films? He gets Italy, Spain , France to put up the dough to film in their nations...and he and the country make money because of this approach.
posted by Postroad at 2:55 PM on November 4, 2012


How does he fund his films?

---

Allen says he's financing this next film privately, through "people that got into a conversation with me and never got out without donating some money." In a word, as Allen says, breaking into an unforced grin for the first and last time in my presence, "Suckers."
posted by Egg Shen at 2:57 PM on November 4, 2012 [1 favorite]


I love Woody Allen movies and I really, really wanted to see "Midnight in Paris", but I find Owen Wilson so unbelievably annoying that there is no way I could sit through an hour and a half of his smirking face and his whiny voice.
posted by The Sprout Queen at 3:02 PM on November 4, 2012 [1 favorite]


Annie Hall and particularly Hannah and Her Sisters are two of the most resonant descriptions of relationships I've ever seen. I've been every male character in the latter (except Daniel Stern's) over the course of my adult life and continue being Alvy Singer up to this writing.

Love and Death was the absolute perfect film for me to see as a smartass high school student who derived uncommon pleasure at "getting" the references.

I would also recommend Broadway Danny Rose, which is a mid-period classic. More times than I can count have I said, "I don't want to be didactic or facetious..." to someone in a terrible Woody Allen voice.

If he's even only batted .500 in his efforts, he is still, for me, on the Mount Rushmore of American filmmaking.
posted by the sobsister at 3:16 PM on November 4, 2012 [7 favorites]


The whole "I'm going to marry my daughter!" thing really turned me off of Woody Allen, and I haven't watched a movie of his since then, if you can believe it. Crimes and Misdemeanors remains a favourite, as does Hannah and Her Sisters, although in retrodpect the latter is a little too twee.
posted by KokuRyu at 3:19 PM on November 4, 2012


I love sites like this, Egg Shen, thanks. Even if I don't always agree with the reviews it's interesting to calibrate against them (totally disagree about Love and Death but maybe that's because I saw it on HBO as a kid before I saw Bananas. Still, decades later I think it's clearly the best of The 'Early, Funny' Films and holds up more consistently than any of the others in that first batch).

he clearly had begun to repeat himself

It's funny to see where folks draw that line; you and Egg Shen say Celebrity, the linked reviewer says Love and Death repeated a lot, too. My first wake-up call re: Allen's repetitiveness came while watching Hannah and Her Sisters in the theater and then I started noticing the ultra-whiteness, the pretty too-young actresses, the tameness of ambition and slightness of story...I mean, Shadows and Fog was well-shot but felt ridiculously derivative and didn't seem to be about anything, really. I couldn't bring myself to watch Husbands and Wives while the Soon-Yi scandal was still fresh, so I'll take Trevor's word that it was "his last great, personal drama prior to an increasingly uneven body of work plagued by disinterest." That period is what killed Woody Allen for me, and every time I've bothered to seek out one of his more recent films after that has been disappointing (granted, one of those was Curse of the Jade Scorpion). The overly praised Midnight in Paris is nothing more than cute cotton candy: slight, excessively sweet, quickly dissolving into nothing after the experience. Its praise is a perfect testament to how low our expectations of Woody Allen have plummeted.

I suppose if I decided he needed another chance I'd try Match Point, but there are so many other directors doing really great stuff I haven't seen that...well, you know. RIP, Woody. You had a great run for a while there.
posted by mediareport at 3:40 PM on November 4, 2012 [2 favorites]


First of all, she wasn't his daughter. She wasn't even Mia Farrow's birth daughter. She was the girl Farrow adopted in a previous relationship. You may say the age difference between Allen and Soon-yi makes the whole thing creepy enough on its own, but that's another argument altogether.

Also, on the the 1920s time travel point? If I were drinking with Hemingway and Fitzgerald, Pablo Picasso's mistress wanted to sleep with me, and the whole city around me was a dream of elegant, heady pleasure, then I think killing Hitler might slip down my list or priorities too. I'll do it tomorrow....
posted by Paul Slade at 3:43 PM on November 4, 2012 [1 favorite]


To attempt to fulfill my duties to look at the link before commenting, I checked the page for Casino Royale. I know that it's a mess of a movie, and not necessarily a Woody Allen picture in the way we think of them now, but I have a soft spot for these kinds of 60s madcap romps (especially CR and What's New Pussycat?). They're early markers in WHAT I FIND FUNNY, movies I thought hilarious when I first saw them on TV as a preteen. They were my first bite of adult humour, and preceded for me Monty Python coming to PBS, or Saturday Night Live, or Fernwood 2Night. So I was skimming the article and arrived at this line:

This film’s star, David Niven, is someone I’m not that familiar with.

And I suddenly felt so old that I almost stumbled off my walker. Wasn't David Niven once in everything? How can someone be dedicating this time to comprehensive articles on every movie Woody Allen has ever made and not seen a movie with David Niven?
posted by TimTypeZed at 3:50 PM on November 4, 2012 [9 favorites]


Eleven-year-old me would takes notes about "Take the Money and Run" whenever it was on television. I'm not sure what this says about me.
posted by AJaffe at 3:50 PM on November 4, 2012


I love Mighty Aphrodite. The movie has a Greek chrous (who at once point shout the memorable words Lenny don't be a schmuck). They beseech the gods for aid, but unfortunately only get through to Zeus' answering machine.
posted by JHarris at 4:07 PM on November 4, 2012 [1 favorite]


You may say the age difference between Allen and Soon-yi makes the whole thing creepy enough on its own, but that's another argument altogether.

Marrying young to much older men seems to run in the family.
posted by Sys Rq at 4:10 PM on November 4, 2012


If I were drinking with Hemingway and Fitzgerald, Pablo Picasso's mistress wanted to sleep with me, and the whole city around me was a dream of elegant, heady pleasure, then I think killing Hitler might slip down my list or priorities too. I'll do it tomorrow.

You can do both! Heck, with a couple of drinks, Hemingway would probably volunteer to drive you to Munich.
posted by FJT at 4:12 PM on November 4, 2012


Tough room.

I'm a huge huge huge fan of Woody's. Even the lesser works still are miles ahead of whatever else is playing, and at the very least, inform the other works, making those works new and fresh again. There's always more to discover. No matter how many rewatchings you've done, there's always more revealed.

Saying that he's repeating himself with the same character over and over, well, Cezanne repeated himself. Van Gogh repeated himself. That's his vision. That's what he knows. The richest vein in the mine is still yielding.

As for the Soon Yi thing -- Jeebus. She wasn't his daughter, legal or biological, and she was of age. Everyone was an adult and unrelated. And hey -- Woody can't be the easiest guy to live with, and seeing 'Wild Man Blues', they seem to do very well by each other. And they're still together, so whatever works. If that's your hangup about Woody's work, well, I guess you're more of a donatist than I am.

Regardless, I've only read a couple of the linked essays, but they seem like quite careful, thoughtful reflections. Thanks, OP!
posted by Capt. Renault at 4:18 PM on November 4, 2012 [2 favorites]


I have no trouble liking Woody Allen's movies and thinking that his relationship with Soon Yi is disturbing. It's not Roman Polanski level disturbing, just kinda: ugh/yikes.
posted by Potomac Avenue at 4:21 PM on November 4, 2012 [2 favorites]


Married 20 years now.
posted by Artw at 4:28 PM on November 4, 2012 [3 favorites]


I like Woody Allen and his movies but come on, the dude is married to his biological son's adopted sister! As Ronan tweeted "happy father's day- or as we call it in our family brother-in-law day". This is beyond fuck ta haterz Territory. People are going to talk.
posted by Ad hominem at 4:31 PM on November 4, 2012


My bday was a few days ago, and my husband got me a copy of Zelig, to replace my long defunct VHS copy. I haven't made time to watch it, but this reminded me how much I love it. Maybe I can make time tonight instead on nanowrimo.
posted by dejah420 at 4:36 PM on November 4, 2012


First of all, she wasn't his daughter. She wasn't even Mia Farrow's birth daughter. She was the girl Farrow adopted in a previous relationship.

For one thing, just because they are not related "by blood" doesn't make it any less disturbing - there is a parent-child dynamic at work, with issues of trust and authority.

I hate to create a derail, but I think the marriage to Soon Yi is relevant, because it really puts into perspective what Allen *really* thinks about women. During the 80's, he had a reputation for making films that "understood women", and that he was a woman's man.

However, the marriage seems to have survived the test of time, so there's that, and all I was really trying to say is that I stopped paying attention to him because of that, and maybe it's time to start watching his movies again! Besides Annie Hall and Manhattan, there's Radio Days, the Purple Rose of Cairo, September...
posted by KokuRyu at 4:46 PM on November 4, 2012


...there is a parent-child dynamic at work, with issues of trust and authority...

Soon-Yi has been quite clear in saying that she didn't consider Woody as her father, and that's probably the opinion that mattered most.

Of course the situation was a severe betrayal and an incredibly difficult dumping. One more example of a great artist showing lousy personal judgement -- nevermind it taking two to tango.
posted by Capt. Renault at 4:55 PM on November 4, 2012


I think part of the problem (for me, and why I stopped watching in disgust nearly 20 years ago) is that Woody Allen used his "Woody Allen" persona to market his movies back in the day, until he "married his daughter", so his public image was tied to his movies. I think now it would be a lot easier just to watch the movies and, like other directors, ignore whatever he does in his private life.
posted by KokuRyu at 5:06 PM on November 4, 2012


Jeez, really? The Soon-Yi thing? I have no idea what Preston Sturges was like IRL or George Cukor or Mark Sandrich or LLoyd Bacon, but they made some of my favorite films, and that's really all I care about as a film fan.

Pretty much everyone in the situation with the exception of Mia Farrow seems OK with it, and she, living in a house made entirely of glass, should've been the last person flinging rocks, right? So, as long as no laws were broken, I can really really not care about the dynamics of his household.
posted by the sobsister at 5:08 PM on November 4, 2012


Might just be me, but that one... Interiors? Not all that funny.
posted by hal9k at 5:23 PM on November 4, 2012 [1 favorite]


Pretty much everyone in the situation with the exception of Mia Farrow seems OK with it, and she, living in a house made entirely of glass, should've been the last person flinging rocks, right? So, as long as no laws were broken, I can really really not care about the dynamics of his household.

To be clear, it's just my opinion, and I did say a couple of times that maybe I should get over it and just watch his movies. But if you are going to say I am wrong because my opinion differs from yours, then I will happily say that you are wrong too.
posted by KokuRyu at 5:27 PM on November 4, 2012


"I fully grasp and appreciate that at one point he was brilliant, but he made it perfectly clear that he was thoroughly depleted about 15 years ago. So I guess my question is: "Who the hell is still financing Woody Allen movies? And who the hell is still sitting through them?"

Midnight in Paris is one of the greatest films ever made and I'll fight you.
posted by Lipstick Thespian at 5:33 PM on November 4, 2012


KokuRyu,

I'm not saying that you're wrong. I realize that you, like a number of others, had a negative reaction to it. I just wish it weren't an asterisk perennially stuck to his name in the record books.
posted by the sobsister at 5:34 PM on November 4, 2012


If anyone wants to try his most recent work, Cassandra's Dream was his best in the last decade+ as far as I'm concerned. Match Point was also good and bears some resemblance to Crimes and Misdemeanors. My biggest peeve is not the repetition, but that most of his recent films play out in an upper-class setting where money is either not an issue or something that flows from moneyed people. Meanwhile there's a lot of Old World cultural gawking and while I appreciate the latter, most of us arty people in Europe who are writing a book or appreciating sculpture and opera have other considerations than waiting for money from rich relations. Anyway, his older work felt more diverse, but he's doing great for his age* and I, for one, will be sad when there are no more annual Woody Allen films.

*anyone seen Antonioni's Eros in his 90s? Not his greatest moment, but working at that age is a triumph on its own.
posted by ersatz at 6:03 PM on November 4, 2012


Scoop is a fabulous film, even if you know nothing about who made it or his personal life.

Squarely placeable in the middle of Allen's work, it is neither laugh-out-loud funny all the way through nor insistently serious from beginning to end. It's just a good story well told, with some laughs, and with enough depth to it to make it eminently rewatchable, especially if you have some kind of handle on British politics (I'd tell you more about that but might have to kill you). And it's nowhere near his best film. Just what he did in 2006.

Full disclosure: am big Allen fan.
posted by motty at 7:18 PM on November 4, 2012 [1 favorite]


How can someone be dedicating this time to comprehensive articles on every movie Woody Allen has ever made and not seen a movie with David Niven?

I came in here to say the same thing. And the blogger in general seems like me, i.e., somewhat under-educated--not well-versed in some of the things which make any particular critic's analysis of a film interesting and credible.

When reading a Roger Ebert review, for example, I know not only has Ebert seen as many films as humanly possible and is able to catch references, homages and criticisms I lack the knowledge to grasp, he is also widely read and knows whether War and Peace is being parodied or has influenced the script.
posted by maxwelton at 7:23 PM on November 4, 2012 [2 favorites]


I like Woody Allen and his movies but come on, the dude is married to his biological son's adopted sister! . . .
posted by Ad hominem


Eponysterical.
posted by John Cohen at 7:46 PM on November 4, 2012 [3 favorites]


Eponysterical

Just pointing out that it is such a bizarre situation people are going to talk about it no matter what.
posted by Ad hominem at 8:53 PM on November 4, 2012


Manhattan is oner of my very favorite movies ever made. It's also impossible to watch without thinking about Allen's marriage to Soon-Yi, so let's get my thoughts about that out of the way.

Mia Farrow has a hell of a legitimate beef there, no doubt. The rest of us, I think, can back out of it. This is obviously a very stable relationship that they both seem happy in and it's not like Allen is famous for those. Moreover, it's not like the scandalous aspect of it would have come as a surprise to either of them, and they were willing toi say fuck it all and go through it anyway. She's not Sally Hemmings or Anne Boleyn or Jerry Lee Lewis' cousin. It started off from a fucked-up place but they make it work and good for them.

Anyway, Manhattan. Aside from the one scene between Isaac and Yale in the classroom (which bugs the hell out of me because it's shot and edited in such a way as to appear that the two were not in the scene at the same time - no two-shots, no over-the-shoulder, no dialogue overlap, just two talking heads cutting back and forth, gah... anyway) it's probably his most perfect work. THe article here (which is very good) mentions the scene of Yale and Mary reading Jill's book but it doesn't mention how the opening sequence sets up that sting.

We open on shots of New York, set to Gershwin, in perhaps Allen's most iconic few minutes, as Isaac writes and rewrites a paragraph about himself, notably in the third person, describing himself as a romantic hero of The City, and he can't make it work. In that later scene, Jill doesn't just insult him or cut too close to the bone - she shatters his professional worth as well, by nailing his character so succinctly in the way he couldn't, removing him from the context of the city he needs for self-justification.

I also read the final scene slightly differently than the article did. I feel like Isaac loses a slight bit of the self-consciousness that was holding him back, and sees that Tracy is worthy and that her qualities are more important than what he's been screwing around with this whole time. I think there is a bit of actual character growth for him there.

Of course, he is selfish and manipulative in his attempts to get her to stay, but it's not just that he needs her now and not six months from now - oh, there's some of that too - but more that he knows that six months in London with interesting people is all that Tracy will need to never again have any respect or love for Isaac. I think he'd be willing to wait the six months if he believed for a second there'd be anyone waiting for him on the other side of it, but he knows better.

Manhattan is like Woody Allen's Pinkerton. It doesn't surprise me that he didn't want MGM to release it - Rivers Cuomo spent a decade or more mortified about arguably his greatest album - but in both cases the artists in question went more raw and honest about themselves than they woke up feeling comfortable about, and couldn't accurately review their greatest works because of all the things those works revealed about themselves.
posted by Navelgazer at 10:49 PM on November 4, 2012 [6 favorites]


I imagine Woody Allen gets to make the movies he wants for the same reason Stanley Kubrik did – he's a reliable director, can work on a small budget, can stay within budget, and his movies are profitable (as well as critical award-winning successes)

Here's a BBC interview from 2001 where he talks about enjoying making small budget movies that do OK.
posted by zippy at 10:55 PM on November 4, 2012


I don't care about Woody Allen's personal life, just as I don't care about Movie starlet x's or super footballer y's. I get that people have a strong reaction to it and etc., but it's not why I go see his or anyone else's work. Just last weekend I went and saw a play/theater piece and afterwards the cast met with any audience members who wanted to, to talk about what they'd just seen. In the play I had thought this one character was really really well played. Witty and precise. Obviously when the actor opened his mouth he had not a single witty or precise thing to say. So it goes.

That said, I'll pretty much always go to see Allen movies because at times he is exceptional. Even if the bulk of the movie maybe doesn't hang together, there will often be one part that really works (There's a Lubitsch quote to that effect, something like "You need two good scenes and a pretty girl... the rest is just filler." or something...)

And I'll take that scene from Broadway Danny Rose, when they're lost out in the meadowlands of Jersey and the skyline is in the background... Or the triangle of Landau/Anjelica Huston/ Orbach in Crimes and Misdemeanors... or Sweet and Lowdown or the whole road trip in Deconstructing Harry which you sort of think should be madcap but is tinged ineluctably with the bitterness and weirdness of Harry and makes it all human and bare able.

Most importantly, for me, the movie's that I've liked I can go back and watch them again and they aren't stale or trite.
posted by From Bklyn at 1:22 AM on November 5, 2012 [1 favorite]


Cassandra's Dream is a hilariously bad film. First the idea that Ewan McGregor & Colin Farrell are brothers, then the idea that you get them, a Scotsman and an Irishman, to speak in really bad Estuary English accents... Then the whole set-up and plot. Terrible, terrible film.
posted by DanCall at 1:23 AM on November 5, 2012


Vicky Cristina Barcelona holds the distinction of probably being the worst movie i've ever seen

Huh. I thought it was his best film in 10 years, a glimmer of hope that he wasn't in an overall decline. I didn't like Match Point or Scoop at all, and I only liked Midnight in Paris for its gimmicky "red carpet" value ("Ha, that's Bunuel! That's Man Ray!").

Having said that, yeah--

even a mediocre Woody Allen movie is always going to be better than 80% of the other crap staring you in the face
posted by Rykey at 4:23 AM on November 5, 2012 [1 favorite]


Big Woody Allen fan. To answer those who asked about his early work, I watched Bananas, Sleeper, and the Russian one a while ago, and, apart from the Russian one, they were great. He really is very funny, and not afraid to try stuff (the Jewish Family Dinner scene in Sleeper, with Diane Keaton's truly awful "Oy Vey iz mir" is properly funny). And Bananas is amazing. The Gets-out-of-car-falls-down-hole and the monologue before it bit is class.

The beginning of Bananas should be compulsory viewing for schoolchildren, as it is pretty much exactly what happened in Chile and several other places. And he still makes you laugh. Genius.

Also, this:

"even a mediocre Woody Allen movie is always going to be better than 80% of the other crap staring you in the face"
posted by marienbad at 5:19 AM on November 5, 2012 [1 favorite]


Wow, nothing like scrutinizing something right down to the molecular level to wring all the fun out of it.

As far as I'm concerned, the guy made "Crimes and Misdemeanors," "Annie Hall," "Purple Rose of Cairo" and "Midnight in Paris," four of my favorite films of all time. If Allen does nothing else ever again, he will still have given me many, many hours of pleasure, and that's enough. I don't give a damn about his personal life. If I rated artists based on their life choices, I'd probably miss out on bucketloads of outstanding film, music and visuals.
posted by kinnakeet at 6:55 AM on November 5, 2012


The Europeans in Vicky Cristina Barcelona aren't the point. The point is Vicky, Cristina, and Barcelona, i.e., being out in Europe as a young person; the actual Europeans can safely be caricatures. (Maybe we're supposed to take it as a cinematic free indirect discourse—Europeans as our callow protagonists view them.)
posted by kenko at 7:30 AM on November 5, 2012


I wanted to plus one on the comment of Deconstructing Harry--one of the things that I always found really powerful about that movie is how the self-loathing stops being schtick, and therefore how the road trip becomes genuinely hellish---where not only is hell other people, but hell is not the demonic work that is depicted but in the everyday dealing with people. In a movie that features an actual literal hell, this means something, this souring (because up to that point, I never believed that Woody actually loathed people, and the movies he did after that show genuine affection)
posted by PinkMoose at 7:40 AM on November 5, 2012 [2 favorites]


One of the things that struck me about Stig Bjorkman's Woody Allen on Woody Allen, was how clearly an act much of the stock Woody Allen character is. In the interviews, he comes off as wholly confident (almost arrogant) and in tune with his abilities, and not the least bit self-deprecating. I guess I always knew, intellectually, that it wasn't Alvie Singer or Isaac Davis making the movies, but it never really hit me that the guy who makes these works of art knows full well what he was put on this earth to do, and that he's doing it to the best of his abilities.
posted by griphus at 8:15 AM on November 5, 2012 [1 favorite]


I showed Sleeper to my daughter, and she was likely too young. She hated it. I do not think that there was anything in Sleeper that would be too disturbing to a young person, but her reaction to the movie bordered on violent distaste. She hates Woody Allen's movies now, all of them, out of general principal.

My wife also hates Sleeper, so it has made for some fun banter over the years. I have always loved it.

Fast forward to daughter's freshman year in college. She signs up for a film appreciation class. The subject for the whole semester? The little neurotic school-bus-robbing dude himself. Now tell me again that there is no fucking justice in the world. . .
posted by Danf at 9:30 AM on November 5, 2012 [1 favorite]


Oh, and Deconstructing Harry is a great bridge between his movies and his fiction.
posted by griphus at 9:45 AM on November 5, 2012


"Do drop in again in the springtime. The oleander will be in bloom"
posted by shoepal at 2:08 PM on November 5, 2012


So, in addition to my treatise above, I've just finally watched Match Pint, inspired by this post.

It is both what I was hoping for and not at all what I expected. For anyone who has not seen it, this will contain spoilers and you really, REALLY don't want to be spoiled for this one. I say this as someone who never cares about spoilers usually. Don't read any further, just check it out now.

There are three or four other films which came to mind continually while watching Match Point. Two of them - The Player and Shattered Glass - are of the same fairly obscure sub-genre that I'll call "Tightening Noose" movies. This type of plot is much more common to noir than to any other style, but is essentially the plot where our protagonist is decidedly an anti-hero, who has done something stupid and entirely avoidable (and probably reprehensible) at the beginning of the action, and gains our empathy through increasing attempts to avoid detection/consequences while everything he does makes things worse for him. Our reaction is both to cringe in anxious anticipation, hoping he thinks of every detail we ourselves would think of when committing his ever-more-desperate crimes or transgressions, yet all the time waiting for the other shoe to drop, because it must.

Like The Player, Match Point subverts this ending, but more skillfully, I think. This isn't to criticize The Player - an excellent movie with different goals than Match Point - but the former doesn't ever reach the depths of amorality or anxiety that the latter does, and so the ending feels like a far more earned perfect sick joke than The Player's hollywood ending, perfect in its own right, does.

Griffin Mill's murder of Kahane is somewhat understandable to a normal person - Mill was threatened, tried to negotiate, etc. Chris Wilton's murder of his pregnant mistress (and her elderly neighbor, for set-dressing) is much tougher to rationalize, way more cold-blooded. And yet Allen's incredible slow-burn leads us there. Mill probably could have gotten off, even if truly caught, because of his wealth, the Hollywood system and his belief that Kahane was sending him death threats. Wilton's lifeline disappears if anyone gets wind of his deeds. Allen makes us sympathize with a man who kills a desperate woman carrying his child because he's too cowardly to tell his wife about the affair and risk losing his newfound social status. That's some talent.

More than that, the ending kills the empathy brilliantly, but accurately. Chris WIlton has gotten away with it, will have to worry about it no more, and the feeling is that he is now truly worthy of being among the untouchable, unknowable rich. Brilliant.

The movie also recalls Inside Man, in that it came out around the same time and was another slick, high-budget thriller from an acclaimed NY filmmaker unlike anything that filmmaker had done before. Inside Man and Match Point both show instances of their creators' DNA, but both serve mostly as proof that these directors are capable of far more than what is generally assumed of them.

Finally, I was reminded of Eyes Wide Shut. While I like that movie, I feel like Match Point accomplished most of what it was going for, with more subtlety and less plodding. Dreamy, uber-wealthy sex-guilt causing actual anxiety in the viewer? I'll take Match Point in a walk for effectiveness there.
posted by Navelgazer at 12:44 AM on November 6, 2012 [1 favorite]


« Older The International Ski Federation (FIS) has denied ...  |  CHRISTOPHER ALEXANDER: The thi... Newer »


This thread has been archived and is closed to new comments