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 Post subject: Re: Woody Allen
PostPosted: Sat Sep 23, 2017 5:47 pm 

Joined: Sat Jan 14, 2017 3:04 pm
With the Narrator Returns about Whatever Works. A few decent jokes during the first half, then it falls off a cliff from its plain of mediocrity.

Irrational Man was amusing to me. I thought the image of the idyllic college community and all the co-eds gushing over a philosophy professor was unintentionally hilarious. Phoenix's lectures on Kierkegaard, and imploring the students to study continental philosophy while they all look on amazed also made me laugh. I took the whole thing as a joke, sadly I don't think Allen did. To Rome with Love, however, perfect movie...


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 Post subject: Re: Woody Allen
PostPosted: Sat Oct 07, 2017 11:23 pm 
Dot Com Dom
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I revisited September for the first time since my initial (and less than enthused) viewing courtesy of Arrow's box, and while I'm not prepared to call it a great overlooked success, I did find my overall takeaway to be a positive one. The film is self-consciously modeled on the structure of a stage play, and while there are outward aesthetic choices that highlight this, it is far more apparent in the way information is meted out and the narrative structures of the film rather than in the set-bound staging and extended conversations between assorted pairings of characters. I enjoyed the rather selfish manner in which the characters pining away after characters who clearly do not return their romantic feelings nevertheless insist on selfishly making their advances known— I was reminded of the coterie of “shippers” who cheer on Jim from the Office’s rather sketchy behavior in the early seasons when really he’s not a good model for healthy emotional outlets! Allen’s film doesn’t demonize its subjects, but does it also doesn’t indulge the characters’ delusions— Allen doesn’t let them off or romanticize their behavior like the aforementioned sitcom. Everyone is just rather pathetic and mildly self-aggrandizing in their behaviors and Allen gives them all enough rope (or should that be sleeping pills?) to-- well, maybe not hang themselves, but at least trip over. By the end no lessons have been learned, no great changes have occurred (well, except perhaps for the death of Waterston’s writerly aspirations), and while I think this kind of ending is true to the material, it does highlight the somewhat pointless overall effect of the story here. It’s interesting that this material drove Allen to film it in full twice without ever quite figuring out that third act, which is too muted and fails to exploit either the Lana Turner-inspired ancient tragedy angle or the romantic dalliances for the right amount of heightened payoff. This is a short film and could easily have gained another twenty minutes in these later passages to double-down on the stakes for all involved.

I’m also not completely sold on Mia Farrow in her role. Farrow gets her scenes of despondency down cold, but I never bought her when it came to the moments of whiny patheticism the role calls for. As good as Dianne Wiest is here (and she is by a wide margin the best thing about the film apart from the Autumn Sonata lighting scheme), I think the film would have worked better with her and Farrow’s roles switched. Wiest’s role holds more dramatic weight in the film as we have it now anyways (perhaps due in part to Wiest's skillful perf), and while I understand Allen wanting to allow Wiest to not get typecast in his work via yet another passive character, Farrow surprisingly fails to rise (sink?) to the level needed. Farrow’s work highlights rather than conceals how underwritten the central role is. And I say this as a firm believer that she’s Allen’s greatest muse.

Regardless of my criticisms, I did appreciate the film and enjoyed Allen’s efforts here more than I did ~10 years ago as a college student. Perhaps I needed to be beaten down by the world a little more to really “get” this material at its level!


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 Post subject: Re: Woody Allen
PostPosted: Sun Oct 08, 2017 3:52 am 
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I wonder if the original version of September which was filmed with some different cast members (Maureen O'Sullivan replaced by Elaine Stritch, Sam Shepard replaced by Sam Waterston) is sitting in a studio vault somewhere.


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 Post subject: Re: Woody Allen
PostPosted: Sun Oct 08, 2017 7:57 am 
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I don’t remember where I read it, but I’m sure Allen has said it doesn’t exist anywhere any longer. Who knows if that’s true or not.

I love September, and I agree with Domino about Weist and Farrow. I don’t have much to add, although I would rank it quite high in his filmography.


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 Post subject: Re: Woody Allen
PostPosted: Sun Oct 08, 2017 10:38 am 
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Location: The Netherlands
There's a new book out, Start to Finish: Woody Allen and the Art of Moviemaking, in which Eric Lax describes the making of Irrational Man. From the introduction:
Eric Lax wrote:
While this book has as its spine the making of Irrational Man, in the eighteen months that bookended it he also made Magic in the Moonlight, helped transform Bullets over Broadway into a Broadway musical, wrote Café Society, and created Crisis in Six Scenes, a six-part series for Amazon that he later acted in and directed. We were in conversation throughout, talking in his home, in his screening room, on walks along Manhattan’s streets. I was with him all through the making of Irrational Man. He gave me access without restriction as he scouted locations, decided on costumes, and considered his casting. I sat by him as he worked and we talked between shots about what he was doing, was with him in the editing room for both Magic in the Moonlight and Irrational Man, and watched as he screened several versions of each. I was present for all I describe here, taking notes as he worked and of what he and others said. More than thirty hours of longer, more formal interviews were recorded.

Looks interesting.


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 Post subject: Re: Woody Allen
PostPosted: Tue Oct 31, 2017 11:59 am 

Joined: Tue Oct 31, 2017 10:46 am
I’m not sure if it’s considered bad form to just pontificate like this here instead of making a new thread but there are three semi-reviled WA films that are some of my favorites:

Alice (1990) - to me this is the perfect film for the Manhattan of that era. It was the start of the ‘bored rich women getting into alternative medicine’ that continues to this day with the anti-vaxxers, and the obsession with the school pathway from grade school to the ivy leagues. It’s the first film I ever saw people like that portrayed and Woody has said it was inspired by similar women he met on the Upper East Side. One good thing about making films quickly is that what you’re writing about doesn’t go out of fashion by the time the 5-10 years the thing was in development. Contrary to what someone in the the thread said about Joe Mantegna, I LOVE him in the role. Yeah it’s not juicy or showy and he can’t bite into it like his Mamet work, but I totally buy him in that sort of average New Yorker joe vibe and I also totally buy his affection for Farrow’s Alice. Tonally I think the film stands alone and is unlike anything else Woody made. Mia displays some great versatility in the role as well, far beyond most of her roles. It’s also very beautiful to look at, as far as costumes/sets/cinematography. I fail to understand why it’s not thought of as a classic.

Shadows and Fog (1992) - By far the most outlandish presentation choice of any of his films, but I feel like that level of daring should have been applauded. Sure there are some things taken from Murnau/Lang but you can’t watch it and tell me it reminds you of their films AT ALL beyond some minor surface details. The atmosphere of the film is unparalleled in his filmography, in my opinion. I love John Malkovich in the clown role, and I love John Cusack as the john. Madonna is perfect for her part (words I never thought I’d say). The framing device is effective and adds tension. Really my only complaint would be Woody’s role. It could have been removed completely without changing the film all that much. His relevance to the plot could have been shifted to other parts. His bits aren’t interesting and I think since he’s usually the main focal point of the films he’s in I wonder if that’s why people tend to be so unsatisifed with the film. I’m also a sucker for anything related to the circus and Kurt Weill music so I’m definitely the target audience.

Melinda and Melinda (2004) - I adore this film. The general overall concept (the dichotomy) does not work, as many critics have pointed out, but it also seems to not matter. The film is really just a showcase for Radha Mitchell and Chiwetel Ejiofor and they light up the screen with their talent. Also, may I make a shallow comment here - in my opinion few women have been more beautiful on screen than Mitchell here. It almost hurts to look at her. Their story in the film is unique for Allen, a breath of fresh air, not to mention that Ejiofor is perhaps the juiciest non-white role in his ouevre. Some of the supporting work isn’t great especially early on but their work together is beautiful and it’s an interesting story.


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 Post subject: Re: Woody Allen
PostPosted: Tue Oct 31, 2017 9:18 pm 
Dot Com Dom
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Great thoughts! I mostly agree with your assessments of all three films, and Mitchell is indeed quite the beauty here (and elsewhere). I would like to steal her line about looking like the Wreck of the Hesperus if I believed that it would get any play if received by anyone who isn't already a Woody Allen character, though! Certainly all three are worthy of mid to upper tier consideration, depending


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 Post subject: Re: Woody Allen
PostPosted: Tue Oct 31, 2017 9:33 pm 
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Honestly Shadows and Fog could be my favorite Allen on any given day. Though I suspect I saw it first at the right time as I was getting heavily into Yiddish literature at the time. The film really depends on that, particularly the outer breaches like Kafka (obviously) and Bruno Schulz. Actually this is the main reason I've been putting off seeing Straub and Huillet's Class Relations as Allen really highlights with the ending here how absurd it is to adapt Amerika with the sort of po faced seriousness that I expect (and usually love) from them.


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 Post subject: Re: Woody Allen
PostPosted: Wed Nov 01, 2017 11:19 am 
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That’s a mistake! Class Relations is an amazing film, probably one of the best of the ‘80s.


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 Post subject: Re: Woody Allen
PostPosted: Wed Nov 01, 2017 11:25 am 
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But is it funny? (also I think it should totally be in '70s ridiculous colors, but that is a separate argument)


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 Post subject: Re: Woody Allen
PostPosted: Wed Nov 01, 2017 12:56 pm 

Joined: Sat Jan 14, 2017 3:04 pm
Shadows and Fog is maybe the only Allen film I still haven't seen yet, and I've just been on something of a Kafka kick. I think during my initial surge I read some critic who was really opposed to the film; not sure why I still didn't just watch it anyway.

I'm with relaxok on Melinda, but for different reasons. For me it's the comedy section that's always worked well. Will Ferrell didn't get many good reviews (if I remember) for this; his scenes with Mitchell are pretty fun--I'm cheesy enough to like the bathrobe gag. I'm not sure if it's a cliche but this is a film that just exudes the word "warmth"--I never knew what critics meant by that before.


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 Post subject: Re: Woody Allen
PostPosted: Wed Nov 01, 2017 2:37 pm 

Joined: Tue May 28, 2013 1:43 pm
I adore Alice but am really a sucker for any of Woody's more magical realism leaning films (loved Midnight in Paris, Purple Rose of Cairo is my favorite, and despite general critical opinion to the contrary, I really enjoyed To Rome with Love). I also greatly enjoyed Shadows and Fog the first time but when I recently revisited it, it didn't seem to hold up as well though I can't put my finger on why.

Melinda and Melinda, on the other hand, is the only Woody film that I just outright disliked. I found it dull, lethargically paced and not nearly as clever as it thought it was. But then again, I felt similarly about Crimes and Misdemeanors the first time but upon subsequent viewings have found it a much more enjoyable experience. I have not yet gathered the courage to revisit Melinda and Melinda but I will.


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 Post subject: Re: Woody Allen
PostPosted: Wed Nov 01, 2017 3:59 pm 
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HitchcockLang wrote:
Melinda and Melinda, on the other hand, is the only Woody film that I just outright disliked. I found it dull, lethargically paced and not nearly as clever as it thought it was.

I think for me, both this and Anything Else had the distinction of being the first Allen films I saw in the theater in their initial run, and I can only chalk my initial positive impressions of both of those films up to that fact, because the appeal of both crumbled upon rewatch, with Melinda and Melinda being dull in the ways you described.


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 Post subject: Re: Woody Allen
PostPosted: Wed Nov 01, 2017 4:16 pm 

Joined: Tue May 28, 2013 1:43 pm
mfunk9786 wrote:
I think for me, both this and Anything Else had the distinction of being the first Allen films I saw in the theater in their initial run, and I can only chalk my initial positive impressions of both of those films up to that fact, because the appeal of both crumbled upon rewatch, with Melinda and Melinda being dull in the ways you described.


I actually really enjoyed Anything Else, particularly because of the bizarre character that Allen plays which I've seen interpreted as an magical realism touch (is he Jason Biggs' character from the future? or a Jiminy Cricket style figment of his conscience?) even though I first saw it on DVD. I completely get what you're saying though because Whatever Works was the first Woody film I saw in the theater and I still hold it dear despite the negative reviews.

Well, technically Match Point was the first I saw in the theater but I walked out in the middle, thinking it was terrible. The truth is I couldn't focus on it because I was there on a date that I really didn't want to be on. It's now one of my favorites. (Which could make for a fun thread here: Movies You Walked Out On But Have Since Grown to Love)


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 Post subject: Re: Woody Allen
PostPosted: Fri Nov 24, 2017 10:09 am 
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Location: East of Shanghai
1969 Woody Allen CBS TV Special
With Candice Bergen, Billy Graham and the 5th Dimension

The highlights for me were the silent film with Woody and Candace Bergen.
And the talk show segment with Rev Billy Graham.
Was surprised to note that Billy Graham is still alive at age 99.
I don't think he's wrestling anymore though (ha, Woody's infected my mind).

The 5th Dimension were riding high at that point, but it's too bad they didn't book a more interesting musical act.
Probably not Woody's choice.

I think Woody Allen hosted another Tv special as well.
Will have to look for that.


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 Post subject: Re: Woody Allen
PostPosted: Wed Nov 29, 2017 2:12 pm 
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New interview for the promotion of Wonder Wheel, which contains this little tidbit:

Quote:
Amazingly, while he is promoting Wonder Wheel Allen has almost finished his next film, A Rainy Day in New York, which stars Selena Gomez and Jude Law, and is already planning the one to follow it, which he thinks he will call American Blues.


Interesting how his titles are coming out much earlier now than before, assuming he sticks with calling the 2019 project American Blues.


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 Post subject: Re: Woody Allen
PostPosted: Wed Nov 29, 2017 2:28 pm 
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Wonder Wheel’s December release might be a fluke considering it doesn’t seem to have panned out and it will almost certainly perform poorly relative to Cafe Society (which made over $60 million worldwide, almost as much as the budget of Crisis in Six Scenes). It would not surprise me if this one is back to July.


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 Post subject: Re: Woody Allen
PostPosted: Wed Nov 29, 2017 2:37 pm 

Joined: Tue May 28, 2013 1:43 pm
Well color me excited. This has been on the Woody Allen wikipedia page for several years now:

Quote:
For many years, Allen wanted to make a film about the origins of jazz in New Orleans. The film, tentatively titled American Blues, would follow the vastly different careers of Louis Armstrong and Sidney Bechet. Allen stated that the film would cost between $80 and $100 million and is therefore unlikely to be made.


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 Post subject: Re: Woody Allen
PostPosted: Wed Nov 29, 2017 2:58 pm 
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Ribs wrote:
Wonder Wheel’s December release might be a fluke considering it doesn’t seem to have panned out and it will almost certainly perform poorly relative to Cafe Society (which made over $60 million worldwide, almost as much as the budget of Crisis in Six Scenes). It would not surprise me if this one is back to July.

Yes, it seems likely that A Rainy Day in New York and all subsequent Allen films will go back to being released in the summer. While the December release of Wonder Wheel may increase the chances of it receiving Best Actress and Best Cinematography nominations (seemingly the only two horses it has in the Oscar race), I think this will be the last Allen film to receive an awards season release date. While I personally love all of Allen's new films (yes, even Crisis in Six Scenes) this proves that a studio setting a new one up as the next Midnight in Paris before it has been seen by critics/audiences isn't a good idea. With Allen it has always been impossible to predict when the critics and general public will cotton to a new film by him, and Wonder Wheel is shaping up to be one of the worst-reviewed films of his career.

HitchcockLang wrote:
Well color me excited. This has been on the Woody Allen wikipedia page for several years now:

Quote:
For many years, Allen wanted to make a film about the origins of jazz in New Orleans. The film, tentatively titled American Blues, would follow the vastly different careers of Louis Armstrong and Sidney Bechet. Allen stated that the film would cost between $80 and $100 million and is therefore unlikely to be made.

This sounds amazing.


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