Auteur List: Woody Allen - Discussion and Defenses

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domino harvey
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Auteur List: Woody Allen - Discussion and Defenses

#1 Post by domino harvey » Tue Feb 12, 2019 12:38 pm

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AUTEUR LIST: WOODY ALLEN
February 18 - March 31


Woody Allen is a director of more than one film.

Any film with Woody Allen credited as director is eligible. TV movies, like the 90s Don’t Drink the Water, shorts, and series, like Crisis in Six Scenes, are eligible. Features for which Allen only starred or wrote the screenplay are not eligible.

Personal attacks on Allen will not be tolerated, period, the end. If you think he’s a “creep” or whatever else, feel free to not participate in this list or the discussion within this thread.

Resist the temptation to let us all know that Allen hasn’t made a good film since [insert arbitrary line of demarcation here]. Many of us would disagree, and the list is a good opportunity to reassess your own biases or predilections. However, your own list is of course more than welcome to consist entirely of Allen’s earlier work, if you so desire.

Lists should be PMed to me, domino harvey, by March 31st. No lists will be accepted before February 18.

The minimum and standard number of submitted films for each participating member is 10, in ranked order (With number one being the best and so on down the line). However, if you can’t bear to limit yourself to a mere ten titles, you may submit up to twenty ranked titles (ie 20 total max) or any variant number between ten and twenty (so yes, your list may contain thirteen films, but you assume your own unluckiness risks in doing so). Hopefully this sliding scale of voting slots will result in a multitude of ballots from members with varying degrees of exposure to and comfort with Allen’s oeuvre.

Members who submit only ten films and those who submit a maximum twenty titles will still be on even footing when it comes to the points assigned for the top ten (ie the film in their number one slot will be worth twenty points on everyone’s list). The final list will comprise of a Top 25, with supplemental recordings of also-rans and orphans, as in other list projects.

TL;DR: Submit a list of 10-20 films in ranked order to me, domino harvey, via PM by March 31st.

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Re: Auteur List: Woody Allen - Discussion and Defenses

#2 Post by GoodOldNeon » Mon Feb 18, 2019 4:38 pm

Can anyone recommend good DVD releases of Don't Drink the Water, Deconstructing Harry, and Sweet and Lowdown? These are the only Allens I've yet to see.

Could someone also comment on The Woody Allen Special (1969)? A segment from it titled Cupid's Shaft is now listed on Letterboxd as a short film directed by Allen, yet the Special itself is listed on IMDB as being directed by Alan Handley. So is Cupid's Shaft part of the Allen directorial filmography, or is it just a Letterboxd oddity?

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Re: Auteur List: Woody Allen - Discussion and Defenses

#3 Post by domino harvey » Mon Feb 18, 2019 4:45 pm

Sweet and Lowdown you’ll need to import from the UK or one of the Euro DVD releases, as it was reissued in the states as a cropped full frame disc even though the packaging indicates it contains both full frame and widescreen versions. I have the UK disc and it’ll do til someone puts it out on Blu. I have the US releases for Deconstructing Harry and Don’t Drink the Water and I don’t remember any issues, but haven’t watched them in a while

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Re: Auteur List: Woody Allen - Discussion and Defenses

#4 Post by knives » Mon Feb 18, 2019 4:53 pm

If anyone can could someone either link to or write a list of the ones that don't have good R1 discs? I'm mostly going to look back on some ones I haven't seen in a while, but I should get to some of the 15 I haven't seen.

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Re: Auteur List: Woody Allen - Discussion and Defenses

#5 Post by domino harvey » Mon Feb 18, 2019 4:59 pm

Non-US Blus Of US DVD-only titles:

Region free (I think) Nordic Blu-rays:
Bullets Over Broadway, Celebrity, Curse of the Jade Scorpion, Everyone Says I Love You, Hollywood Ending, Mighty Aphrodite, Small Time Crooks— I have all but Hollywood and Crooks

Spanish Blu-ray:
Cassandra’s Dream, Scoop

Match Point has a lot of Blu-ray releases, I can’t remember which one I have

Avoid the German blu-ray of Anything Else, as it’s cropped (not opened up) from Scope to 1.78

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Re: Auteur List: Woody Allen - Discussion and Defenses

#6 Post by knives » Mon Feb 18, 2019 5:08 pm

Was there something wrong with the DVDs of Hollywood and Aphrodite?

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Re: Auteur List: Woody Allen - Discussion and Defenses

#7 Post by domino harvey » Mon Feb 18, 2019 5:15 pm

Nothing wrong with Hollywood (I think? Not one I’ve ever felt compelled to revisit, but I have the US DVD), but pretty sure Aphrodite was non-anamorphic like a lot of early Miramax discs

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Re: Auteur List: Woody Allen - Discussion and Defenses

#8 Post by Godot » Mon Feb 18, 2019 5:43 pm

knives wrote:
Mon Feb 18, 2019 4:53 pm
If anyone can could someone either link to or write a list of the ones that don't have good R1 discs? I'm mostly going to look back on some ones I haven't seen in a while, but I should get to some of the 15 I haven't seen.
knives, this doesn't particularly answer your question, but I recently found this extensive survey of Woody Allen region releases valuable (I purchased the German blu-ray set with 5 movies). It's more focused on anamorphic vs. non-anamorphic releases, but it does have helpful comments about other features on the discs and includes some nice screen caps. I then looked up details of specific releases on dvdcompare, to confirm which had English subtitles (important for my household, even if my wife and in-laws hate Woody's movies).

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Re: Auteur List: Woody Allen - Discussion and Defenses

#9 Post by swo17 » Mon Feb 18, 2019 5:46 pm

I don't believe there's any other way to watch this than on the internet, so here's Men of Crisis: The Harvey Wallinger Story

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Re: Auteur List: Woody Allen - Discussion and Defenses

#10 Post by domino harvey » Mon Feb 18, 2019 6:06 pm

I’ve already seen every Woody Allen film, so I can’t offer a traditional swapsie. But I know for a science fact that I will not be able to revisit every Allen film in advance of the submission date, even though I own a copy of all of them. So. My highest placing modern Allen film is Magic in the Moonlight, and it’s a film that has only grown in my estimation in the short few years since I first saw it. My offer is this: I will revisit and write about any Allen film of your choosing, regardless of my initial thoughts, in return for any member who either watches or rewatches Magic in the Moonlight and considers/reconsiders it for their list. I will attempt a more in-depth defense of the film at some point as well

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Re: Auteur List: Woody Allen - Discussion and Defenses

#11 Post by The Narrator Returns » Mon Feb 18, 2019 6:31 pm

I rewatched Magic in the Moonlight two years ago hoping to discover what you see in it, and... I still don't really get it. It's fine, but not much more, and close to the bottom of my Allen ranking overall. I can usually roll with later-day Allen's more stilted dialogue, but it really clunks in Magic when it should be light on its feet. Some of Darius Khondji's best cinematography, though, that can't be denied.

My highest modern Allen is the "boring" pick, but I really do think Blue Jasmine is the one all-hands-on-deck masterpiece he's made since the 90s. I've seen it four times and I anticipate a fifth viewing for this project.

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Re: Auteur List: Woody Allen - Discussion and Defenses

#12 Post by diamonds » Mon Feb 18, 2019 7:03 pm

Anyone have strong feelings for Sweet and Lowdown? I saw it about two weeks ago and found it to be among the most uneven of the 11 films I've seen of his thus far. It's so difficult to watch Emmet abuse Hattie, who can only sit there and smile, and to watch him constantly make a mess of his life. These aren't necessarily problems in and of themselves, but I think what the film failed to do for me was really balance those scenes with scenes of his art that are, for lack of a better word, convincing. I don't know if it's the way Allen shoots the music scenes, but they lack a certain transcendent quality that would've offset Ray's overall unpleasantness. (Think of how Cecila's depressing life is counteracted by how magical the scenes are in the cinema / with Tom Baxter in The Purple Rose of Cairo). It doesn't help that the film maintains a pretty slow pace, or that only pockets of it are as funny as some of his other works.

That said, there were two aspects of the film that I really liked and that stood out to me even within his entire oeuvre. The film's final sequence figures heavily into both, so I'll stick the remainder of the post in a spoiler tag.
SpoilerShow
I liked that the film is bookended by near identical scenes of Ray physically destroying a symbol of his art: at the beginning he trashes and burns the moon he wanted to ride in on, and at the end he smashes his guitar against a telephone pole. The first scene is genuinely pitiful; he's embarrassed with himself simply because his idea – which was a fine idea, just needed refinement – failed to live up to his lofty ideals. It's a gesture that defines his character: he lacks self-confidence and as a result he gives up too easily. But it hurts to see someone throw away a dream like that because of one bad night.

The second scene then is utterly devastating because it represents really the first time Ray is truly cognizant of the consequences his behavior has wrought. Destroying the guitar is recognition that all the talent in the world has left him with nothing because it couldn't make him a better person (you could argue it even encouraged the opposite for a while). He hates his talent in that moment and completely rejects it. It's a pretty profound idea for an artist to grapple with, and Allen handles the scene with the appropriate emotional heft.

For reasons difficult to articulate, I find the final scene of the film very profound as an examination of the relationship between the artist and their art, as well as the one the audience has with the artist. It's the scene where the documentary subjects discuss how Ray's music finally "opens up" in his final years, how he never played more "beautifully" and "movingly" than in his final recordings. In pulling back to the faux-documentary framing device, Allen hits upon the ways we as followers of art and artists latch on to narratives about the artists that both mythologize and (more crucially) humanize them. Brief aside: My favorite jazz recording bar none is Bill Evans's 1977 album You Must Believe in Spring. It was recorded only three years before his death, and it contains two original compositions dedicated to Evans's loved ones: "B Minor Waltz" for his common law wife who had committed suicide four years prior after he fell in love with another woman, and "We Will Meet Again" for his schizophrenic brother Harry, who would also go on to commit suicide only two years later. Evans himself was addicted to drugs during this time, and a friend would describe his addiction as "the longest suicide in history." That the closing song on the album is a (stunning) reworking of the M*A*S*H theme, "Suicide Is Painless," is either a somewhat chilling coincidence or evidence that it was weighing heavily on Evans' mind.

I bring this up because there are obvious parallels between Evans and Ray, both well-regarded jazz musicians who self-destructed. But for all of the acclaim Evans's earlier albums receive, it's this one – nearer to Evans's twilight just as Ray's best recordings were – that for me contains his most beautiful playing. We'd think (and hope, but here they're perhaps one in the same) that these qualities are brought out by the artist's own maturity, a wiser perspective looking back on life. Sweet and Lowdown's ending hits upon this idea that transcendent art can be eked out of truly despairing personal circumstances, while reinforcing the idea that art is inextricably a reflection of the artist. We don't and won't know Ray (or factual artists like him) personally, so we don't know if he did truly learn from his mistakes. We can only speculate based on the music he created, but there may be a kind of knowing in that.

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Re: Auteur List: Woody Allen - Discussion and Defenses

#13 Post by Drawingoflamporstick » Mon Feb 18, 2019 7:52 pm

I thought Sweet and Lowdown was one of Allen's personal favorites along with Purple Rose and Match Point.

I have a Region 1 DVD of Sweet and Lowdown that is a flipper disc and it does have the widescreen version. I do remember there being some sort of issue with trying to get that particular version though so if you're picking up the R1 disc make sure to ask if it's the flipper disc copy or not.

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Re: Auteur List: Woody Allen - Discussion and Defenses

#14 Post by Rayon Vert » Mon Feb 18, 2019 10:27 pm

diamonds wrote:
Mon Feb 18, 2019 7:03 pm
Anyone have strong feelings for Sweet and Lowdown? I saw it about two weeks ago and found it to be among the most uneven of the 11 films I've seen of his thus far. It's so difficult to watch Emmet abuse Hattie, who can only sit there and smile, and to watch him constantly make a mess of his life. These aren't necessarily problems in and of themselves, but I think what the film failed to do for me was really balance those scenes with scenes of his art that are, for lack of a better word, convincing. I don't know if it's the way Allen shoots the music scenes, but they lack a certain transcendent quality that would've offset Ray's overall unpleasantness. (Think of how Cecila's depressing life is counteracted by how magical the scenes are in the cinema / with Tom Baxter in The Purple Rose of Cairo). It doesn't help that the film maintains a pretty slow pace, or that only pockets of it are as funny as some of his other works.
I think its unevenness is representative of his output in the 90s, by and large, especially in the second half of that decade. Samantha Morton has a sweet quality but even though we can see the sort of bittersweet feeling Allen is going for, it feels this has been a road traveled upon before by some of his other movies, and displaying a psychology that’s not very profound. Sean Penn isn’t as great as he’s sometimes said to have been in this role (though he’s more than adequate) and, with Morton, helps lift the script a little bit. But whatever small charm the film had for me fairly vanishes when the developments involving Uma Thurman come in.

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Re: Auteur List: Woody Allen - Discussion and Defenses

#15 Post by mfunk9786 » Mon Feb 18, 2019 10:32 pm

The Narrator Returns wrote:
Mon Feb 18, 2019 6:31 pm
I rewatched Magic in the Moonlight two years ago hoping to discover what you see in it, and... I still don't really get it. It's fine, but not much more, and close to the bottom of my Allen ranking overall. I can usually roll with later-day Allen's more stilted dialogue, but it really clunks in Magic when it should be light on its feet. Some of Darius Khondji's best cinematography, though, that can't be denied.

My highest modern Allen is the "boring" pick, but I really do think Blue Jasmine is the one all-hands-on-deck masterpiece he's made since the 90s. I've seen it four times and I anticipate a fifth viewing for this project.
My favorite of his since Midnight in Paris is... Wonder Wheel? I watched it last night and was really not plugging in for the first few minutes, but by the end I thought it felt like a really tight little morality play that was accompanied by some of the most stunning cinematography I've ever seen in a feature film - I mean, it just looks so fabulous. I wanted to spend more time in it. It's one of those films that I can completely understand everyone's dismissal of, that I'm a little embarrassed even recommending, but that stands out to me much more than something like Cafe Society or Magic in the Moonlight - I think I even like it more than Blue Jasmine. I say that knowing full well that I need to catch up with Irrational Man before I know for sure, though.

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Re: Auteur List: Woody Allen - Discussion and Defenses

#16 Post by domino harvey » Mon Feb 18, 2019 10:37 pm

Your enjoyment of Irrational Man will be proportional to how many times you want to hear an upbeat cover of “the In Crowd”

...though in all seriousness I think I may end up revisiting it anyways as I’m thinking back on it and admiring elements I know left me cold on first watch

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Re: Auteur List: Woody Allen - Discussion and Defenses

#17 Post by Rayon Vert » Mon Feb 18, 2019 11:03 pm

I saw Irrational Man after reading the mostly negative reviews here, and possibly my low expectations made it seem only half bad. This is a recurring problem I have with Allen in his later decades, but it felt this was once again revisiting old territory for him. The characters were fairly clichéd and the twists towards the end felt a little forced and strange. But on the positives the screenplay picked up despite the clichés we've presented with at the start and the two leads gave strong performances. So that it wasn't on the whole satisfying but it showed signs of life throughout.

I haven't seen Allen's last two, which I'll try to catch up with, but I've seen the rest of the oeuvre, in several cases many, many, many times! Although my last viewing of the output left me a lot colder overall, possibly a result of overviewing, sometimes even in the case of universally beloved classics like Annie Hall. I will revisit the candidates for this list that I haven't seen recently, though, and catch up on most of the Arrow blu releases.

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Re: Auteur List: Woody Allen - Discussion and Defenses

#18 Post by AWA » Tue Feb 19, 2019 12:21 am

It is a strange coincidence that I set out, for the first time, to rewatch all of Woody's films in chronological order. I've seen them all at least once, some many times more than that. But I had never watched them in order of release. And it is quite an experience to see it play it out that way.

It was that personal project that lead me to revisit this forum, re-reading some of the discussions that took place here about his career and these films, both in the forums and in my private messages. I was pleased to find this forum still online and, somewhat surprisingly, still quite active. And it just so happens domino has this List thread started and I'm already into the mid 00's of rewatching everything (and I've been keeping a ranked list as I go along, which I thought was just for my own amusement). So timing is everything, as they say.

I regard Sweet & Lowdown in very high regard, certainly in the upper half of Woody's films. Part of that might be as a musician there is a lot to love about that film, inside jokes as it were. I know a lot of Emmett Ray types in real life across multiple genres of music.

Generally speaking, the 90's (or more specifically the second half of the 90's) is underrated. Deconstructing Harry was disliked by critics upon it's release but has since seen major reappraisal in opinion (similar to Stardust Memories). For me, the period of 1977-1999 is Woody's best - even the low points (like Celebrity) still have a standard and a quality about them. A 22 year run of great filmmaking is remarkable - including that stretch in the 80's where he cranked out 5 masterpieces in a row in as many years.

Where I do need a refresher is the 2008-present day output. Aside from Blue Jasmine, Midnight In Paris and Cafe Society, most of the rest I've only seen 1x - 3x and all of them within the year after they came out. So in some cases, that's a decade or so since I've last seen them. I'm not exactly looking forward to rewatching You Will Meet A Tall Dark Stranger, which I thought was his lowest point. As he has proven from time to time, he can still produce greatness or at least something ranking in the upper half of his filmography.

As much as I often agree (or should I say agreed?) with domino about many things film and Woody Allen films in general, I can't say I agree with Magic In The Moonlight, which I thought was a totally unnecessary strike out when he could have dipped into his magic realism bag and played around with reality and the fact that he had a magician as his central character. Instead it just sort of didn't try to be anything more than just a straw-man debate / discussion with beautiful photography...? Anyways, domino, I'll take you up on your challenge (since I'm close to getting there already in the filmography) and rewatch it. Name some Woody films that you don't have a high opinion of and I'll see if I can pick out one I hold in a bit higher regard and will make a case of why you should rewatch it.

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Re: Auteur List: Woody Allen - Discussion and Defenses

#19 Post by swo17 » Tue Feb 19, 2019 12:28 am

Hey, I remember really liking You Will Meet a Tall Dark Stranger! (And I don't see how anything could be a lower point than Whatever Works.)

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Re: Auteur List: Woody Allen - Discussion and Defenses

#20 Post by domino harvey » Tue Feb 19, 2019 12:41 am

I've been mulling it over and I think if this is a good excuse for me to likewise revisit all of Allen's films in chronological order as well. Science be damned, I guess. That's over fifty films, of course, so I won't be writing in-depth about them all, but I will do so for any film from the Magic in the Moonlight challenge (though there’s prob no real incentive to seek Magic out if I’m going to watch whatever movie you’d pick either way!). As of right now, I remember Hollywood Ending being the worst by a country mile, followed by What's Up Tiger Lily? (and that one's up first-- gulp!), To Rome With Love, Oedipus Wrecks, A Midsummer Night's Sex Comedy, and Another Woman. September used to be in this company, but I've upgraded my esteem for it after revisiting it a few years back. It's also been 10+ years for me to see a lot of these (Allen was the first director I saw every film by when I was just getting started in my film studies journey), so for instance i found myself unable to participate in this Sweet and Lowdown debate, even though my overall memory of it is positive, since i couldn't remember enough substantive things about it do weigh in! So this will at least allow me to be a better contributor of commentary, and I'm heartened that there's already so many people weighing in here on the first day of discussion.

As for Magic in the Moonlight, I think I connect with it on a level most don't because I recognize and deeply feel what Allen is saying about his atheism. I suspect most atheists look for reasons not to believe, but this is a film that argues the opposite and shows the skeptic's secret desire to believe. Allen, like all cynics, is of course also the most romantic (they have the highest expectations, which is why they're always complaining), and he ties a love affair in with the larger issues he's playing with in a way that feels natural and complimentary to his larger question. I can understand disappointment that the film isn't in the Alice mode, but I think what Allen is saying with regards to belief is profound and beautiful and deeply touching to me personally.

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Re: Auteur List: Woody Allen - Discussion and Defenses

#21 Post by Rayon Vert » Tue Feb 19, 2019 1:06 am

Lowest points for me, which I definitely will not be revisiting!: Small Time Crooks and Scoop. The latter felt like a slightly above-par television movie. On my last going through the filmography not too many years ago, which was also chronological, this was the personal write-up I did for Crooks:

It had been uncertain up to then but with this film, it’s definitely official – Woody Allen is off his game, and in a serious way. The ambition is small from the get-go in this part-caper film that’s really about parvenus moving up the social ladder. Somewhere in here there is a continuing theme of the seeking of real values vs. shallowness but this is just one too many Allen Lite films in a row. What’s sad is how badly it contrasts to the generally similar broad comedy terrain he was mining early in his career – there is none of the originality or flashes of brilliance. In the first real instance up to now, Allen’s own acting here actually brings the film down, with the jarring effect created by the association of his usual mannerisms with a character without any of the depth or intelligence of his usual “Allen persona”, while Tracy Ullman and Hugh Grant actually lift the material up a bit. It’s not all bad but it’s largely incoherent and unsatisfying in its development, with little laughs and frequent moments of awkwardness for the viewer accustomed to the director’s great films. A highly disappointing situation, because it doesn’t feel he just doesn’t know what to say anymore, but that, at least as evidenced by this film, he's lost the skill in how to say it. D+

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Re: Auteur List: Woody Allen - Discussion and Defenses

#22 Post by domino harvey » Tue Feb 19, 2019 1:10 am

Both of those would be pretty close to where I stopped listing (as would Vicky Cristina Barcelona— now there’s a widely beloved Allen film that completely passed me by), but I have to say Small Time Crooks’ jokes about the lack of taste in the lower classes have remained fresh in my mind and I know I’ve referenced it a lot on the forum, so I have a soft spot for it. I’m kind of excited to see how much my vague memories of many of these films, positive and negative, match up to the reality of a revisit, especially after September

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Re: Auteur List: Woody Allen - Discussion and Defenses

#23 Post by AWA » Tue Feb 19, 2019 1:18 am

domino harvey wrote:
Tue Feb 19, 2019 12:41 am
I've been mulling it over and I think if this is a good excuse for me to likewise revisit all of Allen's films in chronological order as well. Science be damned, I guess. That's over fifty films, of course, so I won't be writing in-depth about them all, but I will do so for any film from the Magic in the Moonlight challenge. As of right now, I remember Hollywood Ending being the worst by a country mile, followed by What's Up Tiger Lily? (and that one's up first-- gulp!), To Rome With Love, Oedipus Wrecks, A Midsummer Night's Sex Comedy, and Another Woman. September used to be in this company, but I've upgraded my esteem for it after revisiting it a few years back. It's also been 10+ years for me to see a lot of these (Allen was the first director I saw every film by when I was just getting started in my film studies journey), so for instance i found myself unable to participate in this Sweet and Lowdown debate, even though my overall memory of it is positive, since i couldn't remember enough substantive things about it do weigh in! So this will at least allow me to be a better contributor of commentary, and I'm heartened that there's already so many people weighing in here on the first day of discussion.
Ah yes, I remember now - you didn't think highly of Another Woman. I would place that in Woody's top 10 (10th, but still top 10). It's a beautiful piece of work, deeply personal (Woody had just turned 50 himself and is one of the few films he himself admits is autobiographical in many ways for him in the Marion Post character). Rowlands is extraordinary, Nykvist's cinematography is evocative and beautiful and Woody's script deftly blends in a magic realism slowly to pace the character's descent into re-examining their life and where true meaning exists in it. While some of the dialogue can be stiff at times, it is generally a model of shrewd restraint and, IMO, his most success straight drama to date (though Blue Jasmine did give it a run for its money I will admit - oddly enough they share many themes and attributes). When I first watched it, I must have been 22 and thought it was by far the worst Woody film I had seen. With each subsequent viewing, I have grown to appreciate it more and more (undoubtedly in part because I'm creeping ever closer in age to the characters portrayed in the film and can relate to the themes of regret, missed opportunities, the passage of time, memory of lost loves, family issues, etc etc as my life moves on through time).

A Midsummer's Night's Sex Comedy is also criminally underrated. It is a light project, but it is still plenty of fun, funny, some great lines (comedic and serious) throughout and the cinematography is the best overall colour photography Gordon Willis did with Woody, which is saying something. It's overshadowed by the gigantic achievements that proceeded it and the run of 5 perfect films that Woody produced to follow it, but it is still a very good film. If it came out today to that level of quality, it would be celebrated as a major return to form or the best Woody film since ___________ (80's or 90's Woody film that critics like to think is the cutoff point but are always wrong). It is the Magic In The Moonlight of it's day? :-k

Hollywood Ending is underrated too, it's a funny movie that goes on for too long. Alicia Lepselter's inexperience as an editor showed up there in spades for the first time (Small Time Crooks could have used some better editing as well, but nowhere near as noticeable as HE). Out of the many regular crew members that Woody lost in Jean Doumanian's late 90's purge, Susan Morse might've been the biggest loss. Lepselter's editing was also one of the problems in Anything Else. Not that Hollywood Ending is a great film - it isn't - but if you appreciate it for what it is, it is still funny and isn't *as* bad as some have made it out to be.
domino harvey wrote:
Tue Feb 19, 2019 12:41 am
As for Magic in the Moonlight, I think I connect with it on a level most don't because I recognize and deeply feel what Allen is saying about his atheism. I suspect most atheists look for reasons not to believe, but this is a film that argues the opposite and shows the skeptic's secret desire to believe. Allen, like all cynics, is of course also the most romantic (they have the highest expectations, which is why they're always complaining), and he ties a love affair in with the larger issues he's playing with in a way that feels natural and complimentary to his larger question. I can understand disappointment that the film isn't in the Alice mode, but I think what Allen is saying with regards to belief is profound and beautiful and deeply touching to me personally.
Ok... something to keep in mind when I rewatch it. I can't say if I totally agree yet or not, but I'll approach it with that in mind when I rewatch it. I didn't have an issue with the theme so much as I previously mentioned, Woody had an opportunity to play with the story in a way that he can do so well and just didn't bother. He never bothered to try and write / dream of a compelling argument against his own opinion like he has done in the past successfully (like AMSNSC!). And it felt just like a first draft, as often has been the case for Woody films in the last 10-15 years. Without getting into the current events surrounding his current break, I am at least hopefully that the time off has provided him to take a pass or two or three on some scripts he's undoubtedly working on (although apparently he has been hard at work on a collection of short stories, but that's neither here nor there for this thread). Darius Khondji though to me is one of the few cinematographers to work with Woody in the 00's and 10's that understands how and why Woody's process works. And for all the failings Moonlight had, the photography (and how he shot the long takes) was certainly not one of them - beautiful work.

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The Narrator Returns
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Re: Auteur List: Woody Allen - Discussion and Defenses

#24 Post by The Narrator Returns » Tue Feb 19, 2019 1:20 am

I concur with swo on Whatever Works being his nadir. Wonder Wheel, which is probably in second- or third-to-last place, at least looks stunning; Whatever Works is pretty blandly-shot (all the more surprising considering Harris Savides was behind the lens) and astonishingly unfunny from beginning to end. Finding out that was a scramble to make a movie during the writers strike made a lot of sense.

That being said, I quite like a lot of the ones already cited as low points. Small Time Crooks, To Rome With Love, and Scoop are very fun trifles, You Will Meet a Tall Dark Stranger at least has a great, stinging ending, and Another Woman is a near-lock to make my list.

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AWA
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Re: Auteur List: Woody Allen - Discussion and Defenses

#25 Post by AWA » Tue Feb 19, 2019 1:27 am

Rayon Vert wrote:
Tue Feb 19, 2019 1:06 am
Lowest points for me, which I definitely will not be revisiting!: Small Time Crooks and Scoop
Scoop isn't great, but it is fun / funny. I had little regard for it and hadn't rewatched it for years. For some reason (I think I read something about it saying it was a maligned Woody film that was far better than people gave it credit for) I decided to rewatch it last summer - and I laughed quite a bit (out loud, "Lol" as the kids say on the internets). Granted, it's no profound masterpiece of cinema, but it's funny and sometimes that's a triumph unto itself. It was what prompted me to convince myself to finally undertake the monumental challenge of rewatching his entire filmography in chronological order when I realized my opinions and reactions could be very different after so much time passing since my initial, younger reactions to his films, both older and newer.

All we are saying is give Scoop a chance! :D

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