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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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Joined: Wed Jan 11, 2006 2:42 pm
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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Joined: Fri Dec 21, 2012 5:30 am
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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Joined: Wed Nov 03, 2004 1:45 am
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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Joined: Fri Oct 20, 2006 3:08 pm
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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