I haven't posted in a few years and wanted to jot down some more thoughts on things I've seen/read since then. No interest in discussing the 'allegations'.
- Apropos of Nothing: The childhood and early years stuff was fantastic, and as has been discussed previously in the thread, was the first time a lot of details have been mentioned publicly. However, once it got to his film career, you can basically stop reading. Remarkably little said about filmmaking or the films, and what is said is vague and/or nothing new. Then there's the 'allegations' section, which again, no interest. It seems like he enjoyed digging into the childhood he's nostalgic for, but lost interest after that. I have to say I was a little surprised at how 'rough' and potentially shady his dad was made out to be in the book.
I also caught up on a bunch of latter-day films I hadn't seen, but since they show up on streaming services regularly I gave them a try:
- Scoop: I have always had quite a crush on Scarlett Johansson, but she did not work in this for me. She's just not believable as a sort of awkward/nerdy character. Match Point and VCB play to her strengths. That said, it was fun to get some literal 'magic' in a Woody film - it's always been on the edges of his work but nice to see it be a big part of the story. Jackman was just fine. I actually like the story and with a different actress I think it could be something I revisited but I just found the overall feel to be not quite right. 5/10
- Cassandra's Dream: I have to say, I recall almost nothing specific about this film at all. It actually doesn't seem like his writing to me, which makes me think he was explicitly trying to write not-like-himself. Tom Wilkinson really laid a stinker in this one. I'm a fan of both Farrell and McGregor, but whatever's going on here didn't work. I might even say this is the worst Allen film I've ever seen as there was nothing redeeming about it. 1/10
- Cafe Society: Wow, what a delight. Jesse Eisenberg is a natural for Woody dialogue. The real gem of the film though, is Kristen Stewart. I admit I had a very low opinion of her before - my girlfriend is a big Twilight fan and I just could not stomach any of it. But she is truly wonderful here, I'd even say Oscar-worthy. There is a lot of subtlety to the performance, and I just found her magnetic. Was anyone else surprised by her here? The setting was right up my alley, and I could've watched another hour of that story. That is probably the only downside of the film to me - it ends abruptly and awkwardly. Besides that, I'm surprised it was rather overlooked on release. 9/10
- Magic in the Moonlight: Visually gorgeous but one of the lightest confections in the Woody oeuvre. I actually wouldn't mind having it in the background, I find the setting quite cozy. But there's not a whole lot going on, and the may-september romance is starting to be a retread of a retread at this point and just invites flippant critical and audience reactions. Colin Firth doesn't really fit any of the usual character templates you see in these films, so it was a nice change. 6/10
- Irrational Man: I'm the biggest fan of Joaquin Phoenix (his performance in Inherent Vice is perhaps my favorite of all time), but this felt a little phoned in on his part. I'm actually surprised he took the role because he doesn't do much with it and I wouldn't see what would draw him to it besides the 'actors want a woody film on their resume' factor. The story is one of the most ridiculous of any Woody film. This one just kind of sat there on the screen. Emma Stone doesn't help things. Not as utterly forgettable as Cassandra's Dream but might be bottom 5 for me. 3/10
- A Rainy Day in New York: I'm a sucker for any of the NYC-porn woody films, and this certainly delivers on that aspect. I'm neutral on Chalamet overall but he seemed right for the part. Fanning's ingenue sort of works in her physicality but her acting seemed very fake and not believable to me. I do not understand the appeal of Gomez at all. Her Daria-ish straight faced monotone buried Only Murders In The Building (which I might have otherwise enjoyed) and she adds nothing here. Her character is also extremely vague. Compare this part to someone like Blake Lively in Cafe Society who has little screen time as the 'other woman' but dazzles. Cherry Jones knocks her scene out of the park, clearly the best in the film - though I think it was a little weighty for what came before and not early earned. Overall I felt this was much better than I had read, but that's not saying much. 6/10
I'd like to try to see Wonder Wheel and Rifkin's Festival at some point soon.
Although he seems okay and hasn't disclosed any significant health issues, I am definitely starting to feel the 'uh oh, it's coming' feeling about Woody's impending death. I really wish he could just continue to make films forever even into my old age. I think I'd always seek them out even if the hit rate isn't what it was. So a sort of sad feeling overall. The debacle with the press and the HBO documentary has shaded my mood as well.