Auteur List: Woody Allen - Discussion and Defenses

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

#201 Post by AWA » Mon Apr 01, 2019 10:04 pm

knives wrote:
Mon Apr 01, 2019 6:24 pm
Though Irrational Man would stay on regardless. My write-up in this thread clarifies some of my feelings, but overall this project has given me a new appreciation for how Allen has gone from a bifurcated view of the dramatic and the comedic to a fusion of the two in his last decade or so. Melinda and Melinda despite its mediocrity exemplifies how he's evolved in this way. Irrational Man strikes me as the most successful fusion yet tackling its subject with a full belly laugh as it treats its themes seriously.
Interesting, as I didn't find Irrational Man all that funny at all. But to each their own, really. I do get what you're saying about how he doesn't try to make a serious subject a totally dry subject any longer, and, in my opinion, had some adjustments been made it would've worked quite well. The narration (especially dual narration) is easily the biggest tripping point for me. Had that not been in there, it might've challenged for the 20th spot on my list. Or been several pegs higher on my list. My two cents of course.

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Re: Auteur List: Woody Allen - Discussion and Defenses

#202 Post by knives » Mon Apr 01, 2019 10:09 pm

Honestly the narration works for me in a Casino sort of way and works for the ending similarly.

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Re: Auteur List: Woody Allen - Discussion and Defenses

#203 Post by domino harvey » Mon Apr 01, 2019 10:13 pm

Honestly AWA, for all my prodding, I forgot to make my own list til very quickly this morning when getting ready to start tallying! So I didn’t give it too much thought beyond doing what felt right in the moment. Crimes could have ended up in my last few spots as easily as Manhattan Murder Mystery or Celebrity or Hannah and Her Sisters or Annie Hall— it just didn’t! As for Curse, well, it makes me laugh and almost no one likes it, so I threw it a bone. I’m much sadder Alice barely registered with our membership, if we’re calling out things that don’t add up!

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Re: Auteur List: Woody Allen - Discussion and Defenses

#204 Post by Rayon Vert » Mon Apr 01, 2019 10:15 pm

AWA wrote:
Mon Apr 01, 2019 5:55 pm
Slight surprise to see Match Point rank as highly as it does, even beating Midnight In Paris and Blue Jasmine.
I'm surprised you're surprised about this one. IMDB has it at no. 10.

I don't know if he still feels this way about it, but around the time it came out Allen counted it as among his very best films (for once I'm in agreement with him, because when he usually talks about his opinion on films, notably his view on Hitchcock, I am pretty much am not with him):
"Match Point is one of my A-films. It's arguably maybe the best film that I've made. This is strictly accidental, it just happened to come out right. You know, I try to make them all good, but some come out and some don't. With this one everything seemed to come out right. The actors fell in, the photography fell in and the story clicked. I caught a lot of breaks."

Another article stated:
“Conversations” reveals, happily, an Allen who’s game to range freely over his oeuvre. We learn that his favorites of his own films are “The Purple Rose of Cairo,” “Match Point” and “Husbands and Wives” (the last one a bit of a surprise), with “Stardust Memories” and “Zelig” ranking a notch below. Sometimes Allen’s assessments are bracingly contrarian. He expresses bafflement over the high regard in which “Annie Hall” and “Manhattan” continue to be held (“People really latched on to ‘Manhattan’ in a way that I thought was irrational,” he says) and makes a strong case for “Manhattan Murder Mystery,” his underappreciated 1993 reunion picture with Diane Keaton. In other moments, no less fascinating, he borders on the delusional. He can’t fathom, for example, how “Hollywood Ending,” a patchy, forgettable effort from 2002, “was not thought of as a first-rate, extraordinary comedy.”

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Re: Auteur List: Woody Allen - Discussion and Defenses

#205 Post by AWA » Mon Apr 01, 2019 10:19 pm

domino harvey wrote:
Mon Apr 01, 2019 10:13 pm
Honestly AWA, for all my prodding, I forgot to make my own list til very quickly this morning when getting ready to start tallying! So I didn’t give it too much thought beyond doing what felt right in the moment. Crimes could have ended up in my last few spots as easily as Manhattan Murder Mystery or Celebrity or Hannah and Her Sisters or Annie Hall— it just didn’t! As for Curse, well, it makes me laugh and almost no one likes it, so I threw it a bone. I’m much sadder Alice barely registered with our membership, if we’re calling out things that don’t add up!

I think Alice is a great film - just one of those that gets lost in the shuffle when you're restricted to only so many titles. A list of 25 might've allowed for that. It does have a lot of themes and elements that a "Woody Allen film" is known for - serious questions about life's meaning coupled with some clever comedy all wrapped up in a nice foil of conceptual magic realism. It just doesn't do it *as* well as some other examples of that (eg Purple Rose Of Cairo).

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Re: Auteur List: Woody Allen - Discussion and Defenses

#206 Post by AWA » Mon Apr 01, 2019 10:25 pm

Rayon Vert wrote:
Mon Apr 01, 2019 10:15 pm
AWA wrote:
Mon Apr 01, 2019 5:55 pm
Slight surprise to see Match Point rank as highly as it does, even beating Midnight In Paris and Blue Jasmine.
I'm surprised you're surprised about this one. IMDB has it at no. 10.

I don't know if he still feels this way about it, but around the time it came out Allen counted it as among his very best films (for once I'm in agreement with him, because when he usually talks about his opinion on films, notably his view on Hitchcock, I am pretty much am not with him):
"Match Point is one of my A-films. It's arguably maybe the best film that I've made. This is strictly accidental, it just happened to come out right. You know, I try to make them all good, but some come out and some don't. With this one everything seemed to come out right. The actors fell in, the photography fell in and the story clicked. I caught a lot of breaks."

Another article stated:
“Conversations” reveals, happily, an Allen who’s game to range freely over his oeuvre. We learn that his favorites of his own films are “The Purple Rose of Cairo,” “Match Point” and “Husbands and Wives” (the last one a bit of a surprise), with “Stardust Memories” and “Zelig” ranking a notch below. Sometimes Allen’s assessments are bracingly contrarian. He expresses bafflement over the high regard in which “Annie Hall” and “Manhattan” continue to be held (“People really latched on to ‘Manhattan’ in a way that I thought was irrational,” he says) and makes a strong case for “Manhattan Murder Mystery,” his underappreciated 1993 reunion picture with Diane Keaton. In other moments, no less fascinating, he borders on the delusional. He can’t fathom, for example, how “Hollywood Ending,” a patchy, forgettable effort from 2002, “was not thought of as a first-rate, extraordinary comedy.”
I'm not surprised it is in the top 10 at IMDB - it is a popular movie and still resonates with a fan base that is often outside of Woody's core base - I know people who love that movie but not because it was made by Woody or they don't even know that it was made by him. Or they do and that is one of 2 or 3 films of his they can name (the others being Midnight In Paris and then either one of Annie Hall, Vicky Cristina Barcelona or Blue Jasmine).

I know Woody loves Match Point as well - Conversations is a fantastic read btw - but he is rarely ever a judge of his own material. He hates Manhattan for instance and also thought Hollywood Ending was great (likely due to numerous inside jokes that do improve it if you learn about what he's was referencing specifically). Although that said, the ones of his own that he does think fondly of often align with my own take on his best (Stardust Memories, Purple Rose Of Cairo, C&M, H&W etc )

I guess I was a bit surprised to see it rank highly *here* in this forum, where the taste is different than the typical Woody fan page (similar list was conducted at the great WoodyAllenPages.com site a couple years ago with very different results) and certainly far different than the typical popularity poll. And Match Point, when I was here last (which is of course nearly 10 years ago) often was critized here as being too stiff, poorly acted and a pale imitation of C&M. So that's what makes it surprising for me.

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Re: Auteur List: Woody Allen - Discussion and Defenses

#207 Post by dustybooks » Tue Apr 02, 2019 12:10 am

Thanks again, Domino!

Alice is brilliant and is one of those that I think would be celebrated far and wide if it were directed by anyone else. It's such a winning, sweet little fantasy. Meanwhile, Crimes and Misdemeanors hasn't lost its luster for me; I think, for me, it's the most perfectly constructed of Allen's films. I laugh just thinking about Allen's responses to Alan Alda's tirades.

Also, after reading swo's post I wish I'd voted for You Will Meet a Tall Dark Stranger; I find it wickedly funny, especially the conclusion of Brolin's story and the whole of the Anthony Hopkins subplot.

Anyway, my list:
1. Manhattan
2. Crimes and Misdemeanors
3. Annie Hall
4. Hannah and Her Sisters
5. Husbands and Wives
6. Bullets Over Broadway
7. Bananas
8. Sleeper
9. Midnight in Paris
10. Radio Days
11. Stardust Memories
12. Match Point
13. Alice
14. Zelig
15. Take the Money and Run

More of the "older, funnier" films made it to my list than I expected. My top four is pretty clichéd, I suppose. Also, I feel like it's somewhat passé in the opinion of many of his fans, but the Duck Soup scene in Hannah never fails to make me cry, and the scene in which WA tries to ask a friend to be a sperm donor is uproariously funny. The whole movie's sheer generosity gets to me.

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Re: Auteur List: Woody Allen - Discussion and Defenses

#208 Post by Rayon Vert » Tue Apr 02, 2019 12:34 am

I'm surprised Manhattan did so well. The last time I saw it, for the All-Time List project, which explains why I didn't revisit it this time, I had a big problem with the last scene between Isaac and Tracy. I'll repost my write-up here just because I'm just very curious if anybody had a similar reaction if you've seen it recently. I hadn't had this reaction in umpteenth previous viewings, so I don't know if it was because I was watching it and analyzing it too closely or what, but anyway reading again what I wrote I tend to think this reading merits attention.
I don’t know if I’m the only one that has a problem with this film. Even putting down the 42- & 17-year-old pairing to the anything-goes tail end of the 60s-70s sexual revolution cultural mores, it strikes me how morally unappealing the Isaac character is. There’s a memorable, and funny, scene where, standing besides a skeleton in a classroom, he’s berating his friend Yale for his ethical failure in betraying their friendship and reengaging with Mary again behind his back, along with cheating on his wife and other lapses. And that scene can be used to ground an argument that behind the outward appearance of a film delighting in its witty upper-middle-class Manhattan intellectual characters and their complicated amorous entanglements, there’s a parallel critique of the moral emptiness of these characters’ lives and behaviors. But if that’s so, then the film doesn’t indicate an awareness of how reprehensible Isaac is in his treatment of Tracy –
SpoilerShow
first the complete lack of empathy of the blow he lands her when he dumps her for Mary, where he shows no recognition and validation of her painful feelings, and finally in the last scenes where he is again completely centered on his own needs in running to her and trying to make her stay in New York rather than go study abroad in London, and, worse, using blatant manipulation to do so. I say the film indicates no awareness because that scene ends with Tracy seeming to open up to Isaac’s overtures, some “cute” facial expressions/ smiles from Allen and lush romantic music again.
There’s something screwed up here that isn’t in any way cute or romantic. Yes Manhattan has many witty moments and it benefits strongly, like most or all of the films of the Gordon Willis years, from the motivation to make films that are as visually innovative as they are intelligent in the writing, a quality the Allen films of the later years sorely lack by contrast, but for me the failings described aren’t details and color negatively my whole appreciation of the film.

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Re: Auteur List: Woody Allen - Discussion and Defenses

#209 Post by dustybooks » Tue Apr 02, 2019 11:34 am

That's interesting, it's been a while to be honest but
SpoilerShow
I always thought that Tracy had clearly moved on and was letting him down easy at that point. I took Allen's expressions as being wistful but pessimistic. Then again, I see the end of City Lights in the same way.
the complete lack of empathy of the blow he lands her when he dumps her for Mary, where he shows no recognition and validation of her painful feelings
This to me was always the key scene on the film, because I believe Allen takes pains to depict Tracy's absolutely unmistakable and deep pain while Isaac is sitting around clowning as if it's a big joke and clearly considering her emotions less significant because she's a "kid," when of course he hadn't considered her youthful sexuality "lesser" enough not to sleep with her. In my view it gives the lie to the stock Allen persona and demonstrates how hurtful and spiteful such a person would be in the real world.
Still, again, it's been a few years since I revisited. I've always viewed Manhattan as kind of an argument with itself: the beauty of the cinematography versus the interpersonal ugliness, and Allen romanticizing a May-December romance while demonstrating how one-sided and cruel it is, even if he himself didn't necessarily realize that's what he was doing.
SpoilerShow
Isaac did the "right thing" by ending his relationship with Tracy, despite his consternation about it at the end, but the actual right thing would've been not to start it in the first place. Compared to his other romantic relationship in the film, he looks back fondly on Tracy at the finale because it was a much easier situation for him and let him be in a perverse position of authority with someone young, eager and easily manipulated. When we see Mariel Hemingway at the conclusion it's clear that once out from under his influence she has grown into a person with her own path, regardless of how she tries to comfort him out of a lingering affection.
But I may just be rationalizing my love for something deeply problematic.

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Re: Auteur List: Woody Allen - Discussion and Defenses

#210 Post by AWA » Tue Apr 02, 2019 12:09 pm

Rayon Vert wrote:
Tue Apr 02, 2019 12:34 am
I'm surprised Manhattan did so well. The last time I saw it, for the All-Time List project, which explains why I didn't revisit it this time, I had a big problem with the last scene between Isaac and Tracy. I'll repost my write-up here just because I'm just very curious if anybody had a similar reaction if you've seen it recently. I hadn't had this reaction in umpteenth previous viewings, so I don't know if it was because I was watching it and analyzing it too closely or what, but anyway reading again what I wrote I tend to think this reading merits attention.
I don’t know if I’m the only one that has a problem with this film. Even putting down the 42- & 17-year-old pairing to the anything-goes tail end of the 60s-70s sexual revolution cultural mores, it strikes me how morally unappealing the Isaac character is. There’s a memorable, and funny, scene where, standing besides a skeleton in a classroom, he’s berating his friend Yale for his ethical failure in betraying their friendship and reengaging with Mary again behind his back, along with cheating on his wife and other lapses. And that scene can be used to ground an argument that behind the outward appearance of a film delighting in its witty upper-middle-class Manhattan intellectual characters and their complicated amorous entanglements, there’s a parallel critique of the moral emptiness of these characters’ lives and behaviors. But if that’s so, then the film doesn’t indicate an awareness of how reprehensible Isaac is in his treatment of Tracy –
SpoilerShow
first the complete lack of empathy of the blow he lands her when he dumps her for Mary, where he shows no recognition and validation of her painful feelings, and finally in the last scenes where he is again completely centered on his own needs in running to her and trying to make her stay in New York rather than go study abroad in London, and, worse, using blatant manipulation to do so. I say the film indicates no awareness because that scene ends with Tracy seeming to open up to Isaac’s overtures, some “cute” facial expressions/ smiles from Allen and lush romantic music again.
There’s something screwed up here that isn’t in any way cute or romantic. Yes Manhattan has many witty moments and it benefits strongly, like most or all of the films of the Gordon Willis years, from the motivation to make films that are as visually innovative as they are intelligent in the writing, a quality the Allen films of the later years sorely lack by contrast, but for me the failings described aren’t details and color negatively my whole appreciation of the film.
I think interpreting the ending like that is totally and completely missing the point - he is saying basically what you're hoping he would - that scene *is* a critique of Isaac's behaviour and choices and how he has neglected and mistreated Tracy. And Tracy is the one with integrity - whether or not Isaac truly realizes it or not, the audience at this point does (or I guess should) - Tracy asks him to have a little more faith in people. Judging by Isaac's reaction to some small but sound advice, the viewer should know now Isaac is unlikely to take that advice to heart, he's too smart for his own good and will deconstruct it as simplistic, just like he does with everything else. It's an open ending - we know Isaac could be / probably is right in that Tracy is going to meet new people, change and come back a different person, if she comes back at all. But we also know Isaac blew it for the very reasons you mentioned. Tracy is open to Isaac's gestures because she still cares and is honest with her emotions, unlike everyone else in the film. The central point of the film is these characters' self-awareness continually gets in their way of being able to actually be aware of any personal truth. They're constantly second guessing themselves out of their own prior reasoning.

One of the main reasons that Manhattan is brilliant is that it isn't on the nose, it is as ambiguous as the characters that populate it. Scenes that are happy or romantic one moment suddenly don't seem that way the next in context of the constantly shifting decisions by all the characters. Specifically the audience is made to invest in Isaac's decisions in all of this, hyper-aware as he goes (and so too us) of all the decisions being made by the other characters. And the ending is just about as perfect as any ending in any movie, much less Woody's, for those very reasons. If the audience hadn't begun to second guess the central character's decisions by that point in a variety of different ways (making the viewers mirror the characters in the film in being faced with conflicting ways of feeling about these things), they certainly are left with a host of them then. The tables fully turned and those questions are now firmly in the viewer's lap, the film ends with one last look at Manhattan - another nod at the character that is the city itself in this film. The Gershwin tune at the ending is "But Not For Me". (Another reason to love the film - Woody's song choices throughout are messages and clues to anyone familiar with the music - as he does quite often in all of his movies but more so in this film than any other).

I guess my point is that I don't think Isaac is let off the narrative hook critique at all, and the ending is effective because the viewer is left to second guess him as well. It's also saying something about enjoying the moments regardless of it all, because everything ends, nothing lasts forever and those moments are all we'll ever have. One can walk away with a myriad of interpretations about those characters' choices - perfectly reflecting the central point of the film (you could call it a case study of existentialism, I suppose). That's the central core of that film and it is why it remains my favourite Woody film - the shifting layers and context constantly provide different ways of approaching these characters and their choices. It never gets old as a result. Repeated viewings over the years never cease to leave me impressed with how well done it is. And, despite all the bells and whistles of the photography, the music and even the great acting, it's a case study of powerful writing and directing that makes all of it work so well.

EDIT TO ADD: while typing up my response, dustybooks added their response and I would have to agree with much of what he said about the ending as well. And maybe that the film ends when it does leaving you to decide what could or will happen and who is right or wrong is a brilliant reflection of putting the viewer into the position of having to make those choices at the end of the film after watching all the characters (sans Tracy, basically) confront similar choices and fail.

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Re: Auteur List: Woody Allen - Discussion and Defenses

#211 Post by domino harvey » Tue Apr 02, 2019 12:17 pm

Funnily enough, I almost used a GIF from this now-contentious last scene for the results before deciding to go with the standard-issue bridge shot

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Re: Auteur List: Woody Allen - Discussion and Defenses

#212 Post by Lemmy Caution » Tue Apr 02, 2019 12:44 pm

I participated in the discussion a fair amount, for the 8-10 Woody Allen films I rewatched. But didn't submit a list since there were so many I would need to rewatch. I used to know exactly where my WA DVDs were, but the cats kept knocking them out of that particular cabinet, so maybe 2 years ago I moved them to some as yet undiscovered place. I'm the type who knows where things are amidst disorder and mess, and can't find a thing once everything is orderly. I should get an award for how much I searched for them. So the only films I rewatched were the loose ones I found that weren't with the main AW cache, and the 3 that were stashed in my favorite section -- Annie Hall, Sleeper, Zelig.

I did watch Manhattan and Stardust Memories again for this project. Probably my 4th viewing of each. And neither has ever really interested me much. They both look good and I think are two films where Woody Allen really achieved what he set out to do, and you don't have to make excuses for, or ignore certain failings. It might be the relationships and the way women are portrayed, but I don't engage with either film and find them largely forgettable (which at least lends itself rewatchings). I guess I can see why some might like these films, and I don't dislike them, they just elicit mostly shrugs from me.

Annie Hall is in my Top 5 all-time films, and I've probably seen it 15x or so. Fortuitously I found a copy of the screenplay in the old Shanghai Library, and a friend photocopied it for me and pressed it into book form. And I've probably read it 4 or 5 times until it hid in old boxes somewhere. Perhaps it's hanging out with the WA DVDs.

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Re: Auteur List: Woody Allen - Discussion and Defenses

#213 Post by Rayon Vert » Tue Apr 02, 2019 12:48 pm

Good answers dusty and AWA. Food for thought anyway!

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Re: Auteur List: Woody Allen - Discussion and Defenses

#214 Post by Lemmy Caution » Tue Apr 02, 2019 1:04 pm

I consider myself a Woody Allen fan, and had seen all of his films up until the last 5 years or so when I finally starting sitting a few out (Rome, Dark Stranger, Irrational Man). I agree with AWA and his frustration at Woody Allen 1st draftism. In many of the later films, imo, there are also first-take issues, where I think a scene should have been re-shot.

I always wished that Woody Allen prided himself on making a really good film every 2 years, instead of a sloppy or half-good film every year. I assume there are lots of reasons why WA has chosen to stick with the one a year pace, but I think it diminishes his output and legacy.

FWIW, my list would probably look like:
1. Annie Hall (1977)
2. Purple Rose of Cairo (1985)
3. Sleeper (1973)
4. Broadway Danny Rose (1984)
5. Zelig (1983)
6. Love and Death (1975)
7. Hannah and Her Sisters (1986)
8. Blue Jasmine (2013)

And for the next two slots, I'd need to rewatch:
Crimes and Misdemeanors (1989)
Bullets Over Broadway (1994)
Everyone Says I Love You (1996)
Sweet and Lowdown (1999)
and maybe Celebrity

Take the Money and Run and Bananas, both of which I know well, could be in or around the Top 10 as well. Blue Jasmine could easily get bumped out of 8th or even the Top 10, but I enjoyed it the first time I saw it, and again on rewatch. The only "later" WA film in my provisional Top 8, which is otherwise exclusively mid-70's and mid-80's Woody Allen films.

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Re: Auteur List: Woody Allen - Discussion and Defenses

#215 Post by therewillbeblus » Wed Apr 03, 2019 11:18 pm

Thanks domino! I appreciated reading all the discussions in this thread- especially since there are such varied opinions on many of his works, all well-argued.

My list:

1. Stardust Memories
2. Broadway Danny Rose
3. Crimes and Misdemeanors
4. The Purple Rose of Cairo
5. Annie Hall
6. Manhattan
7. Hannah and Her Sisters
8. Husbands and Wives
9. Deconstructing Harry
10. Midnight in Paris
11. Anything Else
12. Love and Death
13. Zelig
14. Sleeper
15. Magic in the Moonlight
16. Radio Days
17. Manhattan Murder Mystery
18. Alice
19. Irrational Man
20. Bullets Over Broadway

Although I had done a complete revisit of Allen’s filmography about a year and a half ago, I was pretty surprised by the shifting of my order for this project:

-Annie Hall was always far and away my favorite WA film since I was a kid, but while I still enjoyed it this go-round, I started to check out in the last half hour and was more irritated by the WA character (which I’m not typically, even when he plays a similar “character” throughout his career). It still placed high, but several films placed higher as new favorites.
-Unpopular opinions Irrational Man, Magic in the Moonlight, and Anything Else all placed in the 10-20 spots. I find all three incredibly fun and appealing despite comprehending their perceived flaws by others.
-I always loved Match Point, but this viewing left me cold. I still think it’s well made and well-realised, but I became oddly disinterested - or, dare I say, “bored”- a feeling I don’t really get, even when watching Allen’s “worst” films, and couldn’t bring myself to put it on my list.
-Broadway Danny Rose and Stardust Memories were the biggest pleasant surprises of this project. Neither of them used to crack the top 10 but I fell in love with both this time. I decided to rewatch my top 4 twice during this project, and during the last viewing of Broadway Danny Rose, I laughed so hard it was like discovering it fully for the first time despite having seen it 5 or 6 times by then. It probably could have taken the top spot had I taken more time to meditate on it.

I don’t know if I’ve ever seen a WA film that I thought was “bad” or didn’t have any merit. I feel like if we did this project again next year my list probably would look very different again -something I can’t say with as much confidence about many other directors I love.

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Re: Auteur List: Woody Allen - Discussion and Defenses

#216 Post by AWA » Thu Apr 04, 2019 12:54 am

therewillbeblus wrote:
Wed Apr 03, 2019 11:18 pm
-Unpopular opinions Irrational Man, Magic in the Moonlight, and Anything Else all placed in the 10-20 spots. I find all three incredibly fun and appealing despite comprehending their perceived flaws by others.
Just curious to know more about how Anything Else nearly cracked your top 10. I consider that a guilty pleasure - it is the first could've-been-great Woody film fromt he 2000's / 2010's for me (your other two, Irrational Man and MITM being two other ones where it was all lined up to be great but some sloppy mistakes sunk them).
therewillbeblus wrote:
Wed Apr 03, 2019 11:18 pm
-Broadway Danny Rose and Stardust Memories were the biggest pleasant surprises of this project. Neither of them used to crack the top 10 but I fell in love with both this time. I decided to rewatch my top 4 twice during this project, and during the last viewing of Broadway Danny Rose, I laughed so hard it was like discovering it fully for the first time despite having seen it 5 or 6 times by then. It probably could have taken the top spot had I taken more time to meditate on it.
For years, I'd mostly considering Stardust Memories and Deconstructing Harry as the only rival candidates to Manhattan as my favourite WA film. My re-watching (and age) convinced me that Husbands & Wives and Crimes & Misdemeanors are both overall better films. Nice to see Stardust Memories get a lot of love here.
Last edited by AWA on Thu Apr 04, 2019 12:45 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: Auteur List: Woody Allen - Discussion and Defenses

#217 Post by therewillbeblus » Thu Apr 04, 2019 12:33 pm

AWA wrote:
Thu Apr 04, 2019 12:54 am
therewillbeblus wrote:
Wed Apr 03, 2019 11:18 pm
-Unpopular opinions Irrational Man, Magic in the Moonlight, and Anything Else all placed in the 10-20 spots. I find all three incredibly fun and appealing despite comprehending their perceived flaws by others.
Just curious to know more about how Anything Else nearly cracked your top 10. I consider that a guilty pleasure - it is the first could've-been-great Woody film fromt he 2000's / 2010's for me (your other two, Irrational Man and MITM being two other ones where it was all lined up to be great but some sloppy mistakes sunk them).
I've actually always considered Anything Else to be a favorite, while the other two grew on me with rewatches. Biggs works well for me as the WA surrogate, and I find Allen's 'mentor' both hysterical and also more existentially piercing with his dialogue (wisdom?) than most WA films. It's not necessarily covering new ground, but for some reason the dialogue in their conversations affects me more deeply than similar dialogue in "better" films of his.

The film is also incredibly relatable in the dynamics of the relationship between Biggs and Ricci, for reasons I don't need to explain in depth, but save to say I've been in a similar relationship (and work professionally as a therapist, focusing often on deep-rooted relationship dynamics) and feel like Allen gets this dynamic, and a lot of details within, right. I'll admit that this dynamic, which I imagine could potentially be annoying and painful to sit through for some, retains a simultaneous duality of being triggering and cathartic for subjective reasons, but never anything but fascinating, alive, and real, even when it stings.

BrianB
Joined: Wed Feb 13, 2019 7:50 pm

Re: Auteur List: Woody Allen - Discussion and Defenses

#218 Post by BrianB » Thu Apr 04, 2019 5:43 pm

Many thanks to domino for putting this together. Very interesting list. Right off top there are five films in the top 25 I haven’t need and will have to check out soon.

My top 20:
1. Love and Death
2. Annie Hall
3. Manhattan
4. Hannah and Her Sisters
5. Match Point
6. Midnight in Paris
7. Stardust Memories
8. Radio Days
9. Crimes and Misdemeanors
10. Husbands and Wives
11. Broadway Danny Rose
12. Purple Rose of Cairo
13. Scoop
14. Everything You Always Wanted to Know About Sex
15. Blue Jasmine
16. Another Woman
17. Bullets Over Broadway
18. Vicky Cristina Barcelona
19. Alice
20. Interiors

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tarpilot
Joined: Thu Jan 20, 2011 10:48 am

Re: Auteur List: Woody Allen - Discussion and Defenses

#219 Post by tarpilot » Wed Apr 24, 2019 10:31 pm

Only managed two new-to-me, but liked 'em both and one made my top 5.

SMALL TIME CROOKS
It's okay if you don't quite buy Woody as a two-bit hood who confuses Treasure of the Sierra Madre with Treasure Island, neither does he--he can't even keep a straight face delivering that joke. But that's kind of the charm of it, and it seems somehow of a piece with the reveal that this time the Henry Higgins figure discussed previously in the thread is an amoral conman (Hugh Grant) who actually gives his mark a copy of Pygmalion! The first half almost has the not-unpleasant effect of one of the early comedies run at half-speed, and I enjoyed the visual gags and the chemistry among the heist crew (plus the forever-underused Brian Markinson in a small role as the crooked cop--Mad Men was a start but give this guy his Marty already. Or his Bug. Have you seen that X-Files episode when he takes Mulder hostage 'cause his boss is a brainwashing chameleonic moth-monster?). There's a clever switch when centre stage is ceded to Tracey Ullman's performance, perfectly calibrated for both the cracks about her desperation to be seen as worldly and literate, and the fallout when she discovers how her new "friends" actually see her. Even if some of the malapropism jokes are groaners (I'll take Little Carmine any day--there's no "the sacred and the propane" here). Finally, regarding first draft problems, this seems a good example of what people are talking about in the recent films, particularly in the conception and inconsistency of May's character, but she's of course funny enough to make it moot.

EVERYONE SAYS I LOVE YOU
Probably lots I could quibble with, nothing that I want to. Delighted me from beginning to end, even the "creepy" stuff with Natasha Lyonne playing Cyrano for dad Woody by eavesdropping on Julia Roberts' therapy sessions. The level it's pitched at, I think you really have to be trying to be put-off by it. The lengthiest stretch of Woody's wooing, by the water, really sells it--this time, him cracking up is the joke, giggling in apparent amusement at how easy it is to be manipulating this woman into falling for him. He's as young mentally as his daughter; they're playing a game together. And the payoff offers a welcome rebuke to that kind of behaviour as it's practiced by men, attempting to win a woman over by cynically appealing to what she holds most dear: love doesn't work that way. Performancewise I thought the only weak link was Lukas Haas, whose readings as the newly conservative son made me wince a little (and yet I like him a lot in Mars Attacks, filmed very soon afterward--guess he had a growth spurt of skill, too). I think I laughed at more or less every line and gesture by Tim Roth, playing an ex-con presumably inspired by Jack Abbott, the murderer-cum-prison-memoirist whose release Norman Mailer passionately advocated for, only for Abbott to murder someone else almost immediately after getting out. I thought the musical sequences were wonderfully staged and the unpolished singing as charming as intended, and also appreciated Woody hearkening back to the great musicals of yore by cramming the frame with visual interest even in dialogue scenes. I'm probably a rube for being tickled by background broom hockey, but there it is!

My list:
SpoilerShow
1. Love and Death
2. The Purple Rose of Cairo
3. Radio Days
4. Everyone Says I Love You
5. Crimes and Misdemeanors
6. Stardust Memories
7. Annie Hall
8. Sleeper
9. Deconstructing Harry
10. Manhattan
11. Hannah and Her Sisters
12. Husbands and Wives
13. Broadway Danny Rose
14. Blue Jasmine
15. Shadows and Fog
16. Manhattan Murder Mystery
17. Midnight in Paris
18. Magic in the Moonlight
19. Melinda and Melinda
20. Oedipus Wrecks

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