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March 24, 2005 7:14 AM   Subscribe

Vincent Canby never saw a Woody Allen [nyt reg. req.] movie he didn't greet with a superlative. The director's new Melinda and Melinda opened in Brooklyn yesterday. Critical reaction has ranged from lukewarm to quite negative. Alternet and n+1 call this a case of miscastration. Is the shark dead or has it been jumped? [n+1 and suicide girls interview via gawker.]
posted by oldleada (21 comments total)
Saw a screening on Tuesday night. Far better than Anything Else, IMHO. I thought the concept was clever and executed in an interesting way, if not as tightly as one could have expected.

I rather like the fact that Allen can still write a line like"I want to touch her and then I'm at Nuremberg" -- perhaps I'm being too forgiving of an artist whose career has spanned so many decades, but I prefer a certain aspect of his films that is frozen in a past time. Perhaps it's just my fantasy desire for a few more Annie Halls.

My girlfriend objected to "poor acting" and the very Chloƫ Sevigny-ness of Chloƫ Sevigny (including her outfit in the initial scene looking like something you'd normally see her photographed in on the red carpet).

I miss Woody Allen playing the lead in his own films. Kenneth Branagh was a disappointing Allen surrogate in Celebrity, as was Jason Biggs in Anything Else. Was there even a surrogate in Melinda? Was it Melinda? I couldn't tell.

I still like his films. I still see his characters as vehicles for his outlook and his humor, which is probably why the "bad acting" didn't bother me much. Am I the only one that watches Allen movies differently than other movies?
posted by VulcanMike at 8:20 AM on March 24, 2005

I walked out after half an hour because I was so terribly bored. Allen hasn't made a decent movie this century yet.
posted by muckster at 8:23 AM on March 24, 2005

You know, some of us like Woody Allen movies no matter how bad they are. I'm one of them. Even his painfully pathetic ones are better than 95% of Hollywood's glurge any day.
posted by Miko at 8:34 AM on March 24, 2005

Even his painfully pathetic ones are better than 95% of Hollywood's glurge any day.

Um. Even this one?
posted by grabbingsand at 9:06 AM on March 24, 2005

grabbingsand, you know perfectly well that's not a "Woody Allen movie" in the Miko's sense.

Just give Woody some time. I am confident that he'll get his "A" game back within the next six or eight movies.
posted by soyjoy at 9:28 AM on March 24, 2005

Actually, grabbingsand, Scenes From a Mall isn't a Woody Allen movie, he didn't write or direct. And if you really want a godawful movie that he only acts for, try this one. That's 86 minutes I'll never get back. Personally I like a lot of his 70's and 80's stuff, but the material's been pretty sparse since Crimes and Misdemeanors. I have no loyalty to any entertainer. If they stop being funny, I stop watching. That's why I haven't watched new Simpsons in years....
posted by Idiot Mittens at 9:32 AM on March 24, 2005

Amanda Peet? So is this the first Allen movie with nudity?
posted by PinkStainlessTail at 9:40 AM on March 24, 2005

VulcanMike: I think Will Farrell is the Woody surrogate in the new movie. From what I've read, anyway.

As for Woody's worst, I'd nominate Deconstructing Harry. Painful to watch.
posted by pmurray63 at 9:51 AM on March 24, 2005

I'd go with Celebrity myself. Awful film.
posted by PinkStainlessTail at 9:58 AM on March 24, 2005

Okay. So it wasn't his movie, but it was written as if it were, which is probably what keeps it in my mind as a horrible contribution to my movie memories courtesy of Mr Allen. Unfair of me, perhaps ...
posted by grabbingsand at 9:59 AM on March 24, 2005

Far better than Anything Else,

I strongly second that. worse Woody-directed film evar? I'd have to say September, and I am afraid that, in private, Allen himself agrees. anyway he's banging out a movie a year, fans can forgive him the occasional dud. the movie industry that turned creative geniuses such as McG and Brett Ratner into all-powerful, millionaire directors can certainly endure Allen's modest presence, I am quite sure.
posted by matteo at 10:17 AM on March 24, 2005

I miss Woody Allen playing the lead in his own films

I miss him too, a lot, but he's 70. suspension of disbelief has limits
posted by matteo at 10:18 AM on March 24, 2005

Speaking as a long time fan, from the time I saw my first Woody movie (The Purple Rose of Cairo, still my favorite)... Each and every year, without fail, for at least the past 10 years, a new Woody movie comes out, and most reviews point out that his previous few movies were bad, but this one is a return to form. So you go, hoping for the best, and getting more crap. Then next year, the cycle repeats. I'll go see Melinda & Melinda, wince at the variations on the same jokes he's been using for the past 30 years, and wonder if and when this cycle will ever end... I probably would not have remembered last year's crapfest, Anything Else, if I hadn't read it in a post above. Groan....
posted by Ben Grimm at 10:28 AM on March 24, 2005

The movie started a little jilting and slow, but it REALLY picked up and I enjoyed it. Granted I've only seen about 4 or 5 movies so It didn't come off as old to me. But don't write it off because it's woody allen... I still thought it was a good movie though.
posted by stratastar at 10:39 AM on March 24, 2005

I'm always surprised at the fact that lots of people in the US just seem to hate Woody Allen.

I mean, the guy directed around 40 movies, many of them publicly and critically acclaimed ; he's been a major influence on contemporary cinema ; he's a revered, American cultural icon all around the planet : in France, Everybody says I love you topped Batman and Robin and Liar, liar at the box office. Read that again: Woody Allen beat Arnold Schwarzenegger and Jim Carrey.

I can understand that Allen's movies are no longer in phase with the expectations of current US moviegoers. In fact I believe that it's not that Allen's movies are getting worse, but that the world they inhabit is getting more and more remote (this was particularly notable in Anything else, truly an artificial construction - and still enjoyable because of it). This could be less important to the European public, for whom Allen's America was always half-mythical anyway.

But still, why the hate?
posted by elgilito at 10:48 AM on March 24, 2005

For Woody Allen, making movies is like breathing. Yes, he seems to be putting less and less effort into them, but he's said in several venues that he continues making movies because he can. Sure, his humor is getting old, and he's stuck in a New York that no longer exists, but he's not hurting anyone.

Seeing his movies is like visiting an irritating uncle whom you still love -- you feel obligated to go, even though you won't totally enjoy it.
posted by Tin Man at 11:16 AM on March 24, 2005

in France, Everybody says I love you topped Batman and Robin and Liar, liar at the box office.

Yeah, but that's the French. Why do you hate America?
posted by graventy at 11:26 AM on March 24, 2005

they, you know, like Jerry Lewis too
posted by matteo at 1:02 PM on March 24, 2005

Critical reaction ranging from lukewarm to quite negative? Ebert gave it 3 1/2 stars!

Rotton tomatoes over gave it 59%, which is one percent shy of Fresh, but under Cream of the Crop it got 73%. Sounds like a cultural disconnect to me....
posted by JHarris at 2:40 PM on March 24, 2005

Uhm, yeah, everything I've read concerning this new film says it's a return to form after his dismal Dreamworks films. I'm honestly not under the impression that it's gotten a "lukewarm to quite negative" reaction.
posted by jimmy at 2:34 AM on March 25, 2005

Melinda and Melinda just opened in America? I saw it in Warsaw literaly months ago.
posted by jedrek at 6:22 AM on March 25, 2005

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