Auteur List: Woody Allen - Discussion and Defenses

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

#151 Post by knives » Wed Mar 20, 2019 2:19 pm

Though on my most recent rewatch I couldn't get The Lobster out of my head. The basic ideas of the film were done a lot better there as well as it being funnier.

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Re: Auteur List: Woody Allen - Discussion and Defenses

#152 Post by Rayon Vert » Wed Mar 20, 2019 10:33 pm

Wonder Wheel. I had really low expectations so that combined with how flatly this started made it hard to get into. It was hard to care about any of these characters but at the midway point the film got better, surprisingly. Winslet started getting interesting, maybe despite the writing, and Timberlake was to some degree as well. Knowing Allen’s predilection for crime stories and the elements set up early on, it was hard not to see where this was going though, which wasn't at all novel or intriguing. And the ending had no impact, so by and large this is forgettable, but it certainly wasn't as painful as Café Society.

Overall, though, I’d have to say since Blue Jasmine this is the director’s second worst period since the early 2000s.

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Re: Auteur List: Woody Allen - Discussion and Defenses

#153 Post by Rayon Vert » Thu Mar 21, 2019 11:20 pm

Vicky Cristina Barcelona. I agree with AWA’s earlier assessment of the film, especially on the quality of the writing, photography and acting (I quite like Rebecca Hall here, not just Bardem and Cruz), and his pertinent observation about what the use of the Spanish music brings to the film. Right from the start, the way the story gets going with Juan Antonio making his proposal to the ladies, this feels original and sharp, and subsequent narrative developments later in the movie are pleasingly unexpected. Like AWA also, the narration doesn’t give me any problems. It’s a light comedy that doesn’t have the depth of many of his other, especially earlier works, and it isn’t the funniest either, but it’s quirky, interesting and pleasurable throughout, and it has a high sustained quality that puts it very near the Blue Jasmine league. I haven’t finalized my top ten yet, but it looks like this will just miss the cut.

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Re: Auteur List: Woody Allen - Discussion and Defenses

#154 Post by AWA » Fri Mar 22, 2019 2:57 am

Rayon Vert wrote:
Thu Mar 21, 2019 11:20 pm
It’s a light comedy that doesn’t have the depth of many of his other, especially earlier works, and it isn’t the funniest either,
That's one thing I admire about this - it could've been quite easily a laugh fest considering the circumstances here, but Woody played it straight and took the emotions of his characters and their desires seriously, doesn't patronize them or make them into fools while they try to navigate their lust and love. As a result, this comes off as something unlike just about any other film in Woody's canon - a romantic drama. I mentioned it before somewhere but Woody's dramas can sometimes lean too heavily on the murder aspect, which is sometimes too easy a dramatic structural tool to artificially heighten drama in compensation for not having the characters or the story otherwise to do so. Adding a gun into the mix is something of a dramatic narrative deus a machina (or a reverse one I suppose?). Here he tells a story that is both serious and light hearted, romantic and playful, dramatic but never patronizing or stilted. Too often in the mid 2000's - present day, Woody has disdain for his characters and writes many of them just to make strawman arguments out of them for his own pleasure and self satisfaction (see Whatever Works for a major example and several comments made previously here). While he certainly has no sympathy at all for "Doug"*, but he plays that for light comic relief and allows him some legitimacy. He achieves a fine balance overall as a result. Of course, domino hates it. :D :roll: :-k Speaking of which - I'm about to watch Magic In The Moonlight finally, filling my end of the bargain with domino - now would be the time to fill my head with ideas to set the mental table for a reappraisal of that film which I recall being very disappointed in (other than the cinematography, of course, which was beautiful and outstanding).


* a Lemmy-esque footnote here, in my own circle of friends - completely outside of my own influence - have taken this character to imply a smarmy, insincere, philistine, khaki pants wearing, professional "bro" saying guy that everyone can't stand. They just say "Doug" in reference to this film and everyone knows exactly what that means. My apologies to anyone here actually named "Doug".

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Re: Auteur List: Woody Allen - Discussion and Defenses

#155 Post by Rayon Vert » Fri Mar 22, 2019 10:22 am

AWA wrote:
Fri Mar 22, 2019 2:57 am
That's one thing I admire about this - it could've been quite easily a laugh fest considering the circumstances here, but Woody played it straight and took the emotions of his characters and their desires seriously, doesn't patronize them or make them into fools while they try to navigate their lust and love. As a result, this comes off as something unlike just about any other film in Woody's canon - a romantic drama. I mentioned it before somewhere but Woody's dramas can sometimes lean too heavily on the murder aspect, which is sometimes too easy a dramatic structural tool to artificially heighten drama in compensation for not having the characters or the story otherwise to do so. Adding a gun into the mix is something of a dramatic narrative deus a machina (or a reverse one I suppose?). Here he tells a story that is both serious and light hearted, romantic and playful, dramatic but never patronizing or stilted.
Good observations.

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Re: Auteur List: Woody Allen - Discussion and Defenses

#156 Post by knives » Fri Mar 22, 2019 3:43 pm

Going through the early ones again I feel the need to take back my Mel Brooks comparison. In superficial and real ways outside of Sleeper and Everything You Wanted to Know they are about as unlike as possible. Bananas, for example, is a lot smuttier and adult than Brooks would ever allow. On a greater aesthetic point the editing in the opening is totally unlike Brooks. The editing and framing is much quicker and is pointedly political in a way that Brooks wouldn't. Brooks tended toward more social criticism while this is specifically about the way Americans treat regime change as a horserace. Even something more Brooks friendly like the various silent film scenes come from a place a violence and self interest that Brooks didn't allow.

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Re: Auteur List: Woody Allen - Discussion and Defenses

#157 Post by AWA » Fri Mar 22, 2019 7:56 pm

Rayon Vert wrote:
Fri Mar 22, 2019 10:22 am
AWA wrote:
Fri Mar 22, 2019 2:57 am
That's one thing I admire about this - it could've been quite easily a laugh fest considering the circumstances here, but Woody played it straight and took the emotions of his characters and their desires seriously, doesn't patronize them or make them into fools while they try to navigate their lust and love. As a result, this comes off as something unlike just about any other film in Woody's canon - a romantic drama. I mentioned it before somewhere but Woody's dramas can sometimes lean too heavily on the murder aspect, which is sometimes too easy a dramatic structural tool to artificially heighten drama in compensation for not having the characters or the story otherwise to do so. Adding a gun into the mix is something of a dramatic narrative deus a machina (or a reverse one I suppose?). Here he tells a story that is both serious and light hearted, romantic and playful, dramatic but never patronizing or stilted.
Good observations.
Thank you. I appreciate the kind words. I should take the time in turn here to note I appreciate and look forward to your own observations on his films, even though we sometimes have very different views and differ quite a bit on our takeaways from these films. But I always enjoy reading everyone's comments here and thinking of new ways to look at things, both in a positive and negative fashion, that I might not have considered before. It's why I enjoy this board so much.

Another thought on VCB - probably the closest and most directly influenced he's come to an Eric Rohmer film. Woody certainly shares a lot in common with Rohmer and bears a definite influence from him (and, I believe, having read some comments, in the 80's onward vice versa) and this film reminds me of the tone of a Rohmer much more often - a little more "polished" perhaps, but the way the director/writer approaches complex emotions of his characters with genuine interest and affection is very Rohmer-esque to my senses. Others may disagree :D

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Re: Auteur List: Woody Allen - Discussion and Defenses

#158 Post by Rayon Vert » Fri Mar 22, 2019 8:16 pm

Allen and Rohmer usually pair up automatically in my mind as they were both at top of their form in the 80s, sharing an expertise in comedy, with an intellectual bent, and being both very prolific and consistent - in that regard I can't think offhand of any other directors that match up with them in that decade (though my appreciation of the former in comparison to the latter over the years has quite diminished).

I will take away from your comments in this project what you've written in a few posts about the difference it makes when Allen takes his characters' emotions seriously - if I watched them all again, especially those in this century (which unfortunately I'm not likely to do for a long, long while, if ever), I would pay special attention to this. I've a hunch you've got something there as the role that plays in his coming up with winners vs. pleasant but disposable trifles.

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Re: Auteur List: Woody Allen - Discussion and Defenses

#159 Post by AWA » Fri Mar 22, 2019 8:26 pm

Rayon Vert wrote:
Fri Mar 22, 2019 8:16 pm
I will take away from your comments in this project what you've written in a few posts about the difference it makes when Allen takes his characters' emotions seriously - if I watched them all again, especially those in this century (which unfortunately I'm not likely to do for a long, long while, if ever), I would pay special attention to this. I've a hunch you've got something there as the role that plays in his coming up with winners vs. pleasant but disposable trifles.

I think you'll find there is a definite correlation for sure. That, and when Woody is writing characters that challenge his world view and personal philosophy (Annie Hall, Manhattan, C&M, H&W, Hannah, etc etc). When Woody wants to write strawman arguments for characters representing his own views, very often they fail because of it.

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Re: Auteur List: Woody Allen - Discussion and Defenses

#160 Post by AWA » Sat Mar 23, 2019 12:36 am

domino harvey wrote:
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

I finally have made it to Magic In The Moonlight and watched it (oddly enough with a very bright moon shining down on me through the barren branches of a tree outside my window tonight). I will say it has moved up slightly on my overall list of his filmography, but not very much and due to two primary reasons: 1)Colin Firth's delivery of his character and 2)the dragged out ending that drifts without much motivating after the plot balloon has popped of the primary "mystery" of the film.

As anyone with a working pair of eyes can tell you, Darius Khondji's cinematography is absolutely gorgeous. Dare I say he even surpasses Gordon Willis' colour work in A Midsummer's Night's Sex Comedy (which this film is closely related to). Stunning to look at in some places - my only beef is that the photography is broken up by more cut aways, as per usual for more recent Woody films (at least one cinematographer has noted that's due to the need for editing around a flawed acting performance, but it could be also Lepselter not willing to let a master shot play out as well?). Southern France being the location in question of course aides him - some of this you just have to point a camera at something and beauty will be in great abundance. But still - some terrific frames here and it goes a long way to try and seduce you into engaging with this story.

Anne Seibel's production design is every bit as worthy as anything Santo Loquasto has done for Woody as well. Gorgeous 1920's period piece sets and rooms throughout the film. When Woody says he makes films to distract himself from the ugly realities of the world as it is more pleasurable to get to live inside the worlds being created for his films, surely this is most definitely first on his list when thinking about that. No detail too small.

Soundtrack is terrific as well (although we don't need to hear so much of the ukulele songs, which are many miles away from good). Some unnecessary repetition here and there, nothing along the lines of Irrational Man though, mixed in well throughout.

The plot / story / premise isn't so much a problem either - I'm down for a charming chat in the french countryside about if there is more to life than what we know. Sure, take me there, let's have at all the wine and french deco and gardens and period costumes and Bix on the soundtrack and all night summer lawn parties with dancing and reverie. Lovely.

But... like Colin Firth's character who performs in disguise, this is just Boris from Whatever Works in a series of well tailored 20's suits and an English accent. He's a smug, self-assured obnoxious bore with no charm and whose sole pleasure in life is seemingly complimenting his own intellect or insulting everyone else (and we definitely don't see much evidence of the former outside of the spitting out of how ridiculous the notion of religion or spirituality is and we see a great abundance of the latter). The character is absolutely insufferably smug and smarmy it just aggressively eats away at all the charm and beauty the rest of the film tries to offer in great quantity. And in the end, the asshole wins the day and by the end I just want it to be over so I don't have to see or listen to this jerk anymore.

Oddly enough, I would say it's not even so much what he has to say but rather how he says it - there are many lines Firth delivers that, on paper, read quite funny and delivered by someone else taking a completely different approach to the character actually *would* be funny. But out of his mouth, it is barely a chuckle - you just don't want to laugh with this guy in his observations even if he is right. Light Humour (which this film could definitely use more of and likely was designed to have) is no match for Boris The Englishman. What did occur to me throughout - and this is probably the first time someone would actually say this? - but that character ****should have been a Woody Allen surrogate of some kind****. John Cusack ala Bullets let's say. Woody circa late 70's / early 80's. It would've at least lightened it up a bit, played the jokes that were there, possibly forced him to tone down the vitriol towards everything in existence other than himself, and, most importantly, *made a convincing argument that Emma Stone's character could ever possibly fall in love with this guy*. About the only time it could be possible for her to see something nice in him was when he was asleep on the bench in the observatory because he wasn't talking.

Some more first draft issues - the "abandoned observatory" is spotlessly clean, unlocked, fully furnished and every single light in the place is not only working with apparently free electricity but they enter with every single light in the place, including the desk lamps - turned on. And the roof dome opening not only still works, it is so well greased it barely makes a sound! For a guy who prides himself on being logical, Stanley sure didn't apply much of it there.
Elderly Aunt Vanessa gets into a car crash that nearly kills her and requires emergency life saving surgery - to which she walks out of the hospital later that day (or the next? whatever, close enough) a bit gingerly with a cane? Good thing she didn't break any bones in the car crash that nearly killed her? And could walk so well so soon? And then we see her again a few scenes later at the end and she's... fit as a fiddle and just as she was when we first encountered her, fussing over this and that around the house, having a cup of tea, witty, charming, playful again, etc. Clearly this needed fixing.

The ending drags on long after the central point of the film gets addressed
SpoilerShow
(surprise - Boris/Stanley the self proclaimed and uncontested genius wins and is right and no one can ever better him!)
and we're left with
SpoilerShow
being asked to care for and wonder if Stanley and Sophie's affection for one another is real or not, but we don't care because we have no reason to because aside from having a nice face, haircut and choice of clothing, Firth's character is outrageously narcissistic and can't help but compliment himself even when trying to charm someone else.
Making this the "Woody role" would've helped - Alvy Singer / Isaac Davis type character here with plenty of conviction in his ideas but with enough anxiety and self doubt to take the edge of it (and admit mistakes) and make others around him laugh (and us) and maybe bring in some personal religious background to add context / personal meaning to his atheism. Being Jewish in the 1920's certainly would've added a layer of extra meaning to holding an atheist viewpoint - prevailing anti-Semitism was being allowed to run amuck at the time unchecked, especially in the city / nation where the film starts - that was the first thing on my mind when the opening title placed the opening magician performance in Berlin 1928. What does it mean to be an atheist if you're a Jew in the 20's and much of the rest of the world hates you just because you were born, regardless of what you believe? Even in small doses, asking questions like that could've really questioned the value of those convictions and challenged them in different ways (again - getting properly challenged at all is something there needed to be way more of here, somehow). This kind of airtight arrogance is what makes a great fascist who can convince everyone else with their great bravado to invade Poland and get the trains to run on time to load your local Jewish community into boxcars. That would've helped so much and the vulnerability of a "Woody Allen role" character would've added to his desire to want to believe in more, added to the idea that Sophie could see that vulnerability and care for him as a result. Instead we're left with a a blitzkrieg of Boris.

Emma Stone does a good job and looks charming in her off-beat doe-eyed way, delivers her speeches well enough. Firth isn't bad at his delivery, he's just aggressively pushing on the wrong buttons. Supporting cast is good, Eileen Atkins as Aunt Vanessa is great and I wish would could have seen more of Simon McBurney as Howard Burkan, considering the reveal. If anything, I can't help but wonder if the film would've been better with McBurney as Stanley and Colin Firth's aggressively smug character applied to the jealous rival of Howard. Would've made more sense to me, then we don't *have* to find a way to like Firth's character and it would be far easier to be agreeable with the Stanley character. Much like in To Rome With Love where it was painfully obvious Ellen Page and Greta Gerwig should've switched roles.

All the ingredients for a good to great Woody Allen film are firmly in place. But like a car engine that just won't turn over, there is no spark in the lead's spark plug and polished and shiny as this vintage car may be, it just can't get anywhere. It keeps trying, but Firth keeps feeding us reasons to have to start over next time something nice comes along. With apologies to domino, it just doesn't add up to a great film. Kind of good, but again, Woody admires everything he has Stanley say way too much to ever poke some holes in his relentless tirade of misanthropic narcissism.
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Re: Auteur List: Woody Allen - Discussion and Defenses

#161 Post by domino harvey » Sat Mar 23, 2019 1:07 am

Great post AWA— obv I don’t agree with large parts of it but I can hardly claim you didn’t explain your position and attempt to (re)engage with the film. I can see your points with Firth, and contextualizing him within a recurring character problem you identify running through some of Allen’s work makes sense why he doesn’t work for you, but I guess my defense is if I can buy Henry Higgins in those movies, I can buy Firth here!

I’ll second the earlier praise for your writing here AWA, as you’re contributing a great body of work in this thread. I hope some of the other future List Projects inspire you to weigh in apart from Allen!

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Re: Auteur List: Woody Allen - Discussion and Defenses

#162 Post by AWA » Sat Mar 23, 2019 1:28 am

domino harvey wrote:
Sat Mar 23, 2019 1:07 am
Great post AWA— obv I don’t agree with large parts of it but I can hardly claim you didn’t explain your position and attempt to (re)engage with the film. I can see your points with Firth, and contextualizing him within a recurring character problem you identify running through some of Allen’s work makes sense why he doesn’t work for you, but I guess my defense is if I can buy Henry Higgins in those movies, I can buy Firth here!
I think the difference is the "Henry Higgins" type characters from before were flawed and Woody *allowed* them to be flawed, even if they were representing versions of himself to whatever degree - they were assured in their ways and often a character (usually a female love interest, Annie Hall or Tracy or whomever) made them see that their worldview maybe wasn't so airtight and that they did in fact have vulnerabilities. Later in life, Woody too often won't allow that to happen with his characters, even if it damages or destroys the basic core of his films in doing so, and certainly Stanley in MITM is one of them.

I agree with Stanley - I too am an atheist. I agree with Boris a lot of the time too - the rest of the world can be an incredibly disheartening, ugly, empty, awful place. But I know enough to know to keep learning and listening and know damn well I might know some of the questions but I sure as hell don't have all the answers. Alvy Singer isn't so different from either of them in terms of world view, but a few laughs along the way that remind you he doesn't take himself too seriously and knows his place in all of this goes a LONG way to making the rest of the film inviting.
domino harvey wrote:
Sat Mar 23, 2019 1:07 am
I’ll second the earlier praise for your writing here AWA, as you’re contributing a great body of work in this thread. I hope some of the other future List Projects inspire you to weigh in apart from Allen!
I might be / am long winded at the keyboard but I also (usually) know when to shut up and read and listen to others and know my opinion and observations aren't worth as much. Woody Allen is someone I've studied since I was a teenager, so I have a lot of opinions formed on some background knowledge and have context, so I allow myself to spout off about it (of course, it has literally been *years* since I engaged in any kind of lengthy discussion about Woody or anyone else on any other forum, but as I've said many times this List Project just lined up at the right time, so here I am). I'll definitely be visiting the forum here more often going forward - oddly enough most forums of my interests faded away with the influx of social media - but now I find this refreshing and enjoy reading many of the comments here in this thread and in other parts of the forum. I look forward to possibly doing another chronological filmography rewatching in line with this forum and posting my thoughts here too.

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Re: Auteur List: Woody Allen - Discussion and Defenses

#163 Post by AWA » Sat Mar 23, 2019 3:19 pm

AWA wrote:
Sat Mar 23, 2019 12:36 am
Some more first draft issues - the "abandoned observatory" is spotlessly clean, unlocked, fully furnished and every single light in the place is not only working with apparently free electricity but they enter with every single light in the place, including the desk lamps - turned on. And the roof dome opening not only still works, it is so well greased it barely makes a sound! For a guy who prides himself on being logical, Stanley sure didn't apply much of it there.
Should add here a simple enough fix that would've kept that scene and the spectacle of the dome and the moonlight in place would be to have them show up to find an old man burning the midnight lamp on a study of some stars, a Professor Levi type guy (from C&M) who has a great scientific mind and is in total awe of the breadth and scope of the infinite universe and is exicted to share his observations and knowledge with them - and believes in some kind of God, based on his nightly observations of the universe, like Einstein's reasoning for that. At least that would've put Stanley in a position where someone with a much more extensive knowledge and intellect than himself can make a convincing argument to at least suggest the reasonable possibility to the contrary of Stanley's self assured arguments. That, and, of course, it would've made finding and entering the old observatory at least plausible.
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Re: Auteur List: Woody Allen - Discussion and Defenses

#164 Post by Rayon Vert » Sat Mar 23, 2019 9:00 pm

Image

Hannah and Her Sisters. This does feel unique in the filmography in terms of how richly novelistic it is, with all of the storylines involving different characters and the interior monologues several of them engage in. It’s such an accomplished film in this respect, and it’s cast and played as well as it’s written. Caine and Wiest won Oscars, but Farrow and Hershey are just as good (meanwhile Von Sydow seems to play a less shattered version of the isolated character in the late 60s Bergman films). Farrow has more of a backseat at the beginning but her own character comes center stage near film’s end, and she delivers a subtle performance with terrific sensitivity and she is captured quite gorgeously, at once vulnerable and radiant, by the camera in some shots.

The music choices are extremely well chosen and help convey poignancy. The film is quite magical at times, with the Caine-Hershey romance especially pleasurable to watch, a piece of Allen’s filmmaking I’m always happy to revisit. In some ways, the Allen character’s philosophical anguish over death and finitude (perhaps the best he’s conveyed this theme) doesn’t really have much to do with the rest of the movie, but its comedy gives the film another dimension and somehow it doesn’t disrupt the dominant dramatic storylines. The film will obviously be high on my list.

(On a personal note, this was the second film I took a girl out on a date to see. The first was Police Academy 3, about a week before. She preferred the latter. Needless to say it didn't work out!)

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Re: Auteur List: Woody Allen - Discussion and Defenses

#165 Post by AWA » Sun Mar 24, 2019 3:59 pm

Irrational Man is a strange one to me - so many things that are good about it, so many things that are bad about it. In the end, it is a wasted opportunity to really hit a homerun, not unlike Magic In The Moonlight before it, as with that film and this one, some simple re-writes / editing of the script would've vastly improved everything. The ideas are good, the execution of them is sloppy.

Everything about Irrational Man's premise is likely what most would ask for out of a Woody Allen film, especially late in life - a philosophy professor with an existential crisis. Sounds good. A great cast with Joaquin Phoenix and his belly in the lead and Emma Stone returning as the leading female after doing good work in MITM. Parker Posey is excellent as a fellow prof having an affair with Phoenix's Abe Lucas (also Posey is absolutely smokin' here, just saying). There are no bad turns here in the casting and everyone does a great job working with what they have.

Much has been written about the music here - including by myself, which irritated me when I originally watched this when it was released - but in retrospect, it's not that bad. The use of the Ramsey Lewis Trio live record is good, at least initially - it gives it a bit of fresher feel. But... there needed to be a counter musical motif for the serious / darker turn the film would take at the end (and usually Woody does that with classical music, which he had ample opportunity to do so with here in that the Jill character is a classically trained pianist playing Bach pieces throughout the film). The RLT version of "In With The In Crowd" begins to wear out its welcome later in the film as it accompanies the darker stuff - it doesn't work plus it is beginning to get annoying by the reuse at that point. A slower integration of a secondary theme should've been slowly building and have it take over by the end of the film, matching the character's change. But initially it works well and is a good idea.

Darius Khondji's cinematography is, once again, excellent. Not only does Khondji's general photography work so well at capturing atmosphere in a very beautiful picturesque manner, but more than any cinematographer since the Willis / Di Palma / Nykvist days Khondji understands how Woody's films work and move and how they use surrounding environments as something of a character itself within the film. Lepselter's editing however keeps undermining Khondji's work (and Woody's direction) by cutting away during what should be long master shots that are working great, but again maybe there's a reason for that in the acting (although with this strong cast working so well with the material, I doubt it).

The dual voice over narration is probably the biggest dead weight pulling this film down below the surface. Nothing Jill or Abe's characters add in the narration add anything that we wouldn't get from watching whats on screen - absolutely nothing. It's pointless, it doesn't help fill in the gaps, it doesn't play with the narrative, it's just reading script direction and nothing more. I wonder how good this film would be if someone bootlegged a cut of it with the narration dropped out of the sound mix. Maybe in 50 years we'll get that opportunity?

Some of the dialogue is stilted here, but being on a college campus you can kind of get away with that a bit. But still - the "college party" scene is decidedly moldy - Woody has no idea what college kids look, act or sound like these days, nor is he that interested. A collaborator would've helped that out.

A lot of talk when this was released about how this isn't really a drama and it isn't really a comedy - it's neither completely, really, but I didn't laugh much. I didn't need to, really. It's fine as whatever drama with some comic relief on occasion, or it could've been.

A lot of editing problems here as well - too much of the same thing happens early on in the film - Jill's boyfriend explains to Jill a grand total of four different times in four different settings about being suspicious that Jill is falling for "Abe Lucas" (never just "Abe", always "Abe Lucas"). At least two of them could've been cut completely from the film, if not a third as we can clearly see what's happening here. Also
SpoilerShow
when Jill takes back her boyfriend, he's all happy she's back - as if he didn't learn that her steadfast lying and trying to tell him he was being paranoid all that time wouldn't have an impact on what he thinks of her and what she's capable of? Minor complaint but still - give his character some credit?
Similarly, the films spends way too much time early on with people discussing Abe before and just after he arrives - completely unnecessary exposition as we'll figure all of that out rather quickly just by watching him and just by looking at how Phoenix carries himself. Likewise, we see Jill make passes at Abe several times, all in different scenarios that could've been cut in favour of one or two of those scenes.
Scenes in the classroom could've been condensed or edited out completely - several times we return to the classroom to see a single line of dialogue about a philosopher. I get that in theory the classroom lectures would be where we can see Abe construct and make a case for himself and his idea(s), but it comes across as too expository once the ball is in motion and is completely unnecessary.

All of those cuts would've served the film much better and, in my opinion, made room for a slightly longer ending. What we get is a ridiculously quick ending off a little twist to the story and Woody just abandons the story with a brief bit of narration. In my opinion, a far better ending just begging to happen here is
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Instead of having Abe slip and fall to his death and Jill stroll around on the beach with a pathetic little bit of voice over narration about her thoughts about it, how about Jill is arrested for the death of Abe and is convicted of both his murder and the judge's after Rita realizes her theory of Abe killing the judge was true - except she suddenly realized it was Jill, not Abe, as she realizes Abe's talk of the judge's death was coming from Jill's interest in it. Jill has been asking questions of Rita's theory and of Abe's comments on the death of the judge, Rita concludes Jill has found out through her that Abe must have figured out she killed the judge and kills Abe by pushing him down the elevator shaft. And Jill will unjustly spend the rest of her life in prison as a result. Rita's Theory then makes more sense in the film - as it stands in the released version, nothing comes of it or her. And if you *have* to have narration in the film, set the film in the 50's or 60's and have the detached narrator's voice that of an old woman, which we realize at the end of the film is the voice of Jill in the present day, still rotting away in a jail cell in her 80's or 90's for two crimes she didn't commit.
I realize it is a bit rich to continuously offer my own ideas as ways to improve late period Woody films, but the writing of a decent idea but only using the first draft just begs for it. One could do an entire course on screenplay writing on using Woody's best work (Crimes & Misdemeanors, Husbands & Wives, Hannah & Her Sisters, etc as examples of how to write a perfect screenplay and you could screen late period "first draft" Woody films like Magic In The Moonlight, Irrational Man, etc as examples of good ideas weighed down by unpolished, unedited writing - and theorize ways to fix those problems. It is an endless parlour game for anyone with an inclination towards writing. While Woody certainly has no shortage of good ideas or premises to base a film on, the unpolished writing continues to grow as a problem ever since the mid 2000's (Scoop or Cassandra's Dream was really for me when it was most notable in my chronological re-viewing). And, with a few exceptions since then, it has gotten worse over time (and as I've noted in previous postings on Midnight In Paris and Blue Jasmine, even in those exceptions there are a few exceptions of "first draft" type problems). I'm nearly up to date with my re-viewing of the filmography but based on what at this point now is recent memory - spoiler alert! -
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the "first draft" criticism will be repeated here for the remaining films :D
.

I have to say that, like MITM before it, this reviewing did boost its ranking a bit in my overall filmography list I've been keeping tabs on during this chronological reviewing project. But not by much because the problems weigh it down. It's frustrating as with a few adjustments this could've been very good and ranked at minimum alongside Match Point, VCB, MIP and Blue Jasmine as some of the better late period Woody films.
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Re: Auteur List: Woody Allen - Discussion and Defenses

#166 Post by Rayon Vert » Sun Mar 24, 2019 11:23 pm

Annie Hall. This is my last viewing for the project. I’m pretty divided on this film, which means it ends up being more in my top 20 than top 10. I think it’s especially strong in its first half or so, and watching it again I was reminded of how at the time I first saw it, in my late teens, it was a revelation, in part because it provided a means of identification and validation for a precocious, more intellectually-minded, somewhat alienated kid - starting in fact with that early scene where the 6-year-old Alvy gets called out by his professor for kissing a girl in class. I had gone through pretty much that identical situation in Grade 1 – I also never had a latency period!

Lemmy wrote a great post earlier summarizing the film’s strengths. I agree especially on the points he makes about the manner of the storytelling, the editing, the humor (not all of it works, especially towards the end, like the sub-par crashing car parking scene, but most of it does, although I don’t necessarily think it’s his funniest) and especially the creativity. That really comes across in the back and forth in time with the constant flashbacks (which again occur mostly in the first half or two thirds), and the inventive and amusing use of the metafictional devices (the frequent breaking of the fourth wall, the characters appearing as observing doubles in some of the flashbacks, the brilliantly funny subtitle scene, the cartoon sequence).

As in my last viewing, though, as the film goes on after the mid-way point I seem to progressively become less enchanted, and the last reel or two for me are comparatively quite a let-down. (Although for some reason I seem to experience this with a lot of Allen’s films, even with some of the best ones that are making my list.) I think that may have to do with the fact that as much as I appreciate the playfulness in the form and most of the humor, which again are more forceful in the earlier parts, ultimately when the film settles and stabilizes in the story around the relationship, that story and relationship study doesn’t feel that deep or interesting. Content-wise I think Allen has written much more interesting films.

Going back to some points discussed earlier in this thread, Domino wrote that the idea gets a little old that a young woman would be attracted to such a negative character. I guess I would say I now find that’s the reaction I have in most films with the Woody persona, and I wouldn’t feel inclined to single out Alvy. Having watched Hannah and Her Sisters the night before, it does strike me that the Von Sydow-Hershey relationship is pretty much a rewriting of the one between Alvy and Annie, where the younger woman tires and ends up feeling suffocated (both films use the word) by the intellectually “superior” and ultimately somewhat controlling character.

Also relating to Hannah, one feeling you get is that Annie never seems completely in love with Alvy; from the beginning you sense more that she is motivated by the need to be validated in her self-esteem by Alvy’s love and interest in her, which is what I also sensed in the even more insecure character Wiest plays in Hannah, and to a lesser extent even the Hershey character in that film. Maybe that just reflects a belief in Allen that women need to feel loved more than they are able (or free because of self-esteem issues) to love, who knows. (I think Freud had a theory along those lines, I’m not sure). I guess that relates possibly to what was also brought up in an earlier discussion about how Allen seems only able to write women characters who are insecure. Here I would have to disagree with that generalization, because several easily come to mind where that isn’t the case (Another Woman, Mia in Crimes, and in Hannah to some extent).

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Re: Auteur List: Woody Allen - Discussion and Defenses

#167 Post by domino harvey » Mon Mar 25, 2019 3:49 pm

Reminder that lists are due by Sunday night!

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Re: Auteur List: Woody Allen - Discussion and Defenses

#168 Post by AWA » Tue Mar 26, 2019 2:20 am

Cafe Society has gotten mixed reviews here and elsewhere - to say nothing of how much Rayon Vert hated it in a review for this thread - but I recall enjoying it quite a bit more than the usual Woody release of the previous 10 years when it was released (as did the general public, considering it did quite well for a Woody film at the box office, pulling in $43K+ globally). I did see it in theatres a couple of times when it was released. Re-watching it now (granted, only 2 years of time having elapsed), my opinion on it remains the same - a good, not great, film and easily filling in the fifth spot for me of Top 5 films Woody has done since 2000 (behind Blue Jasmine, Midnight In Paris, Vicky Cristina Barcelona and Match Point). While that is a compliment, the bar in that 16 year time span is decidedly lower. Once upon a time we referred to the "early, funny films". Now I think, nearly two decades past the end of a definite era for Woody, we can equally refer to the "older, better films".

Cafe Society is not without a great many pleasures - starting with Vittorio Storaro's great cinematography. There is kind of a brightness to everything that might be due to this being the first digital film, but it is still a pleasure to look at it throughout. Storaro starts the film giving Hollywood a glowing sun bathed hue and paints New York with greys and blues. But as the film progresses he slowly switches the two. Storaro isn't afraid of some (for Woody) strange camera angles and using a wide lense to play with the depth of field ( that shot at the beach with Bobby and Vonnie, framed by a cave's rock opening, where they reposition themselves closer to the camera is a nice one). Santo Loquasto’s sets and Suzy Benzinger’s costumes are incredible to see throughout, as usual. If something can be said for the last 7 years or so in Woody's films is that they are consistently incredible just to see.

Hearing is another matter, of course. The dialogue, even in a period piece such as this, can be stilted and suffers from Woody's first draft problems and actors unwilling to change or simplify obvious wording issues. In this case - likely because it's a period piece - it's not as bad as previous films, but still a problem. Again, a collaborator would help (it is encouraging to see Douglas McGrath show up here and briefly next in Crisis In Six Scenes, which means they're still talking and hopefully Woody gets a bright idea to work with him on a script again).

Eisenberg is very good in the lead, which surprises me somewhat considering his schtick is something of a Woody Allen In Fast Forward thing anyhow. But he lands his lines here, comic timing is good and doesn't come off as a blatant imitation (the hooker scene is one of the funniest, classic Woody scenes I've seen in a while). Steve Carroll is funny as well ("Her sex is good... Vonnie's is fantastic") and plays his character well. The coat check scene is a great one, one of the many times this film rehashes some ideas from Radio Days (an extension of the radio host trying to talk Sally the cigarette girl into going some place for a quickie whilst greeting fellow radio celebs as they pass by). Kristen Stewart gives her character more genuine authenticity than perhaps what was written. It's nice to see Parker Posey back again but unfortunately there really isn't much to her character.

The Jewish family scenes are interesting and, while broadly recalling Radio Days, the comic notes are still better played than much of what we've seen Woody write in the last two decades. The problem is...
SpoilerShow
the gangster brother, played quite well by Corey Stoll coming back to a Woody film after his turn as Hemingway in MIP propelled him to greater things, doesn't go anywhere. It's a crisis for the family but it has no impact at all on the Bobby Dorfman / Hollywood / Vonnie story, and, really, it doesn't impact Bobby's character very much either. Maybe it would've been better to have some magic realism at the end, where his brother visits him at the New Year's party and has a clear view of his life, truth and problems, his buried love for Vonnie and could impart some practical wisdom to him about it or something.
The film also features one of the broadest character arches in a Woody film to date. While he has shown a character evolve over time before (obviously, most notably Annie in Annie Hall), this hits some new notes and the passage of time is smoothed over to reflect how quickly some things change but emotionally, sometimes, they never can. The lost chance at love between Bobby and Vonnie, both knowing what they really feel but both not being able for practical reasons to switch horses any longer. Unlike Rayon, I thought the New Year's ending was appropriate and very sad. Granted, on a personal note, I've gone through a very similar situation with a woman myself and this rings remarkably true to me. But that's what good art does - if you hear the notes it hits as true, it works and has worked. So for me, this works quite well. To be quite honest, I've never had such a strong and sad reaction to the ending of a Woody film ever. Perhaps that makes me some kind of sap or something, I don't know, but watching both characters miss the moment at new year's because of what they really felt and always will feel was poignant for me.

While there is plenty of first-draft problems poking holes here and there, they aren't as bad or as fatal as what he had done in the previous ten years. The narration is pointless again, even though delivered by Woody himself (sounding now like the typical senior who has lost their ability to fluidly enunciate through their new dentures). But the problems here aren't bad enough to make this terrible for me and it is one of the few films from the 2000-Present Day period that I'll seek out to rewatch again some day. It doesn't make my extended 20 Film list, but it's only a few notches away from threatening to.

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Re: Auteur List: Woody Allen - Discussion and Defenses

#169 Post by AWA » Thu Mar 28, 2019 12:33 am

Crisis In Six Scenes is the only Woody movie of any kind - features, shorts, etc - that I had not seen before this chronological viewing project. It was released on Amazon Prime, which I didn't have, and came about at a very tumultuous time in my life when I wasn't watching much of anything. So I missed this originally and it was part of the reasoning behind my idea in September 2018 to finally undertake the large task of rewatching every Woody film in chronological order.

And it's not bad. It's certainly not great nor anything significant, but it's not as bad as some of the feature films made in the last 10 years. Woody clearly doesn't understand anything at all about what makes a series - this is just slightly longer than a typical Woody feature film, 6 "episodes" running about 22 minutes each. But it is written just as any other movie except the credits keep reappearing every 22 minutes.

I watched it all in one sitting. The first two episodes - especially the first one - are quite bad - nothing going for them at all and I began to wonder if this was going to be incredibly painful to sit through as it not appeared nothing was going on but it had absolutely nothing to say at first. Even the ultra-rare treat of an on screen acting performance by Woody himself didn't seem to have any magic - none of his usual comic lines were there. It was just... nothing.

Once Miley Cyrus' Lonnie character enters, the movie gains some traction. Woody's character jumps to life and has something to complain about, Elaine May is delightfully funny as a marriage counsellor (who has talked one couple into the husband paying his wife for sex so he won't frequent hookers any more). The entire thing plays off the age-old divide in American politics on the left - everyone in the film agrees that the war is bad, Republicans are awful, Nixon is horrible and things need to change - but no one can agree on how to do it. And often times when trying to form nuanced opinions about such matters, they all become hypocrites (Cyrus' character quickly takes to calling anyone who disagrees with her radical views a "fascist" but then also informs Sidney that when the revolution comes that he will be "first up against the wall and shot".) Woody gets a lot of good lines out of playing the nervous conventional democrat against the home invasion of the leftist militant radical ("You say television is the opium of the masses - but you want opium to be the opium of the masses!").

The sets, as usual for his modern productions, are spectacularly accurate and detailed. Again - you could just look at this with the sound off and look around the many rooms of the house, the restaurants, the barber shop even. Just incredible attention to detail.

Of course, there are spots of messy modern Woody first draft writing again (eg - the scene of the briefcase hand off only to be handed off again makes no sense - it is as though he wrote two different scenarios, one where Sid & Kay are picking up a briefcase and another where they are handing one off - and he just used both despite it not making any sense to do so). Ironically it is set in the late 60's and the whole thing itself feels a bit like a 60's play or show or something. It doesn't have too much to say in the end about the politics it addresses, but the idea of comically looking at how the political left in America can't figure out how to work together - then and now - is a funny one.

In the grand scheme of things, it is a very minor work - it ends up ranking somewhere around, say, Small Time Crooks (also memorably with Elaine May - he should use her more often). If you thought that film was a fun comic jaunt, you'd like this similarly. If you're looking for the Woody that made Husbands & Wives, you won't find him here.

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Re: Auteur List: Woody Allen - Discussion and Defenses

#170 Post by domino harvey » Sat Mar 30, 2019 2:27 am

Of course it’s not eligible but I finally got around to watching my Blu of What’s New Pussycat? and it was about what I expected in terms of quality, which is to say I didn’t get my hopes up. Comedy’s subjective, but people who think Peter Sellers doing a different wacky voice every other movie is the height of comic genius are coming from a place I don’t get or want to get. O’Toole’s better suited to the sillier parts here than I expected, though. 95% of the meager laughs this movie elicited were thanks to the always dependable Paula Prentiss as the suicide-happy poetess. Between this and Last of the Red Hot Lovers, she certainly could do her damnedest to single-handedly save a bad movie. Allen’s okay here as an actor, I guess, but he gave all the “best” jokes/lines to the other actors. Also, it turns out I’d never heard the entire title Tom Jones tune beyond the popular chorus and I was shocked to discover it’s a really awful song!

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Re: Auteur List: Woody Allen - Discussion and Defenses

#171 Post by AWA » Sat Mar 30, 2019 3:06 pm

Wonder Wheel is an exercise in frustration. Like several recent efforts from Woody (Magic In The Moonlight, Irrational Man and to a lesser degree Cafe Society), the concept of the film sounds and is a good one and most of the execution is fantastic - the writing (and the editing of both the writing and the film itself) go a long way to sink the boat though.

Vitorrio Storaro expands on what he hinted at in Cafe Society and uses a bold colour scheme to emphasize dramatic turns in characters and scenes. They make full use of the proximity of the apartment beside the neon lights and rides and the lighting in this moves and acts like a stage play. Which, really, is what this is - Woody is attempting to make use of the tools of the cinema to better film a stage play, something previously attempted with September (which itself was something of an adaptation / re-write of Chekhov's The Seagull, whereas this is something of a collage of many Eugene O'Neill works). As a result, in addition to just plain great photography, we have easily the most boldest use of colour in a Woody Allen film ever, by a country mile. For starters, Woody is allowing himself to acknowledge that the colour blue actually does exist.

The cast turns in good to great performances - Winslet adds much to the character and does terrific work with such small gestures that mean so much more. James Belushi is supposed to be a low life louse, but his performance of this character actually gives you sympathy for this simple but still honest man. Juno Temple and Justin Timberlake do good enough work that they don't spoil the movie (it might be the first time in my life I've said anything good about Justin Timberlake?).

Santo Loqausto's sets are, once again, incredibly detailed, even if the apartment is really laid out better for a stage play. The restaurants, the boardwalk, etc are all exceptionally well detailed. And the use of CGI here is an example of how CGI can actually help a film like this - you don't notice any CGI at all despite this film using quite a bit of it in certain scenes.

I enjoyed the music - the Mills Bros' recording re-appears as a theme, maybe one or two times too many but nothing like the Ramsey Lewis Trio stuff in Irrational Man.

Once again, all the pieces are in place for a great film - but the first draft writing constantly torpedos all the above efforts. Just when a character is doing a good scene, they're forced to repeat some expositional dialogue (which re-occurs as the film goes on, restating plot points again and again). Woody either is writing this out in his first draft to make things clear to himself (as writers do in first drafts) or he doesn't give the audience any credit at all to be able to follow these characters (something he did with the narration in Irrational Man). Woody himself has said several times that the key to writing is that you have to assume the audience is smart and is going to be able to infer somethings. He needed to remind himself of his own advice here.

Even when he has something working - the post-coital chat between Ginny and Mickey under the boardwalk has Ginny give a monologue that is at first compelling and meaningful... then it just keeps going and descends quickly into restating character background and plot points we've already heard or seen at least once before in the film. And it just destroys what could've been a great, beautiful, meaningful scene.

The end hinges on the familiar theme of
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once again murder and the moral questions surrounding it. This time it is twisted around to be about Ginny having the opportunity to warn Carolina of the gangsters coming for her and deciding not to. By allowing her to get to a phone with that knowledge and then decides to hang up mid-phone call, now we know she's done a terrible thing and doesn't deserve to get what she wants - and Woody doesn't play with this at the end at all, that she's destroyed by the guilt of what she did or able to confidently move on. He just has her turn into Jasmine from Blue Jasmine and descend into total delusion, more so that she is stuck where she was before. Continuing my own theme of guessing how to improve these mistakes, why not have her phone call come too late, so she is inculpable in Carolina's death and then when Mickey accuses her, we feel terrible because we know she's telling the truth but Mickey doesn't believe her and leaves her, a real reason for her to have a breakdown. Or some new approach to that theme which we've seen many times before in Woody's films that would at least somewhat surprise us.
The dialogue is often very clunky ("I've become consumed with jealousy!" or "I found him very appealing" are some low points). And while some of that is just the writing itself, some of it is editing. For all the progress that Alicia Lepselter made in the last 10 years, moments like this show that when faced with large problems, she is just not up to the task of finding ways to fix them that Susan Morse and, before her, Ralph Rosenblum could. Or she's not willing to step on Woody's toes enough to do it, another problem of his later period filmmaking - no one around him is telling him when something isn't working or could be better.

I know that Rayon Vert said this is a comedy-drama, but I truly don't think so. Aside from maybe the kid setting fires (which is kind of funny because it's kind of ridiculous, but it is played straight) there are simply no jokes here to warrant that title. This is just a drama, a very dry drama at that (Woody has said one lesson he learned from Interiors is to not make a drama so dry, add humour here and there to lighten it a bit and make it easier on the audience. He had ample opportunity here to do that but refused his own advice again).

Like Cafe Society before it, this could've been a major highlight in the post2000 filmography, but too many completely preventable writing problems got in the way. Unlike Cafe Society, those problems ran deep here and sank this lower than Cafe Society did, which still had enough going for it to keep it in the mid-ranges of the filmography ranking for me. This one ends up on the threshold of good/bad films in my overall ranking.

And thus ends my chronological re-viewing of Woody's filmography, and with it my long winded review posts here. I've spent most of my efforts in this thread reviewing the late period Woody stuff and not the core of what makes him one of the great American filmmakers (IMO, 1977-1999), so maybe I'll write a couple things on that even though the deadline has passed.
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Re: Auteur List: Woody Allen - Discussion and Defenses

#172 Post by Shrew » Sun Mar 31, 2019 12:56 am

Wonder Wheel—Second most everything AWA said, down to bewilderment on how anyone could let “I found him very appealing” get off the page. Eugene O’Neill is the obvious, and name-dropped, influence, but it reminded me of Clifford Odets, especially Clash by Night. But the dialogue settles for late-Allen banality over Odets’s heights and groaning depths. At least the plot isn’t nearly as queasily autobiographical as it sounds on paper.

For me, Storarro delivers beautiful colors and deep-focus work, but it’s distractingly showy compared to Café Society: the way Winslet’s red wig glows in the scene where she finds her son in a movie theater goes beyond overheated melodrama and into the ridiculous. The camera work here is also far more ambitious than usual, like the panning sorta-POV shots of Winslet in the climax, but why? It all reads as empty noise, trying to embue poetry into something dead on the page. What nearly saves it is Winslet and especially Belushi, who are working on a high theatrical level that nearly sells the underbaked dialogue. But I think the real fatal flaw here is the decision to center the film around Timberlake’s insufferable I AM A WRITER, who refuses any culpability in the conclusion and attributes it all to the whims of fate. Which is the typical Allen take, but I found it particularly irksome coming from this character. What’s worse is the way several key scenes with Timberlake are edited in traditional coverage shot-reverse shot (the date with Temple in the pizza place, the meeting with the philosopher friend), which clashes with the elegant long tracking shots of Belushi and Winslet in the apartment set. I don’t if it was to cover up for Timberlake’s performance or if it was a limitation of some location shooting, but it’s jarring and boring.

Irrational Man—Another creepy May-December plot that’s not as bad as it initially looks. It helps that Phoenix doesn’t try to play his character as Woody Allen. Stone is charming, but her character motivation in the script has been abstractly planned (“middle-class” student attracted to the “rebellious”) rather than individually felt. It’s the same arc as Rebecca Hall in Vicky Cristina Barcelona, but there’s less conflict and less specifics. If there were only more scenes like Stone complaining that her choice of a flashlight for a carnival prize doesn’t make her practical. Meanwhile, the murder themes, while now rote in Allen’s work, are at least played more aggressively here, and the climax is appropriately disconcerting in its sloppiness. But in the end it comes down to first draft syndrome. I submit this exchange:
[JILL (narration)
…then I met my friend, X, that I sometimes go horseback riding with.
(scene plays)
FRIEND X
….hey, why don’t we go horseback riding again sometime?
(narration over scene of Jill and X horseback riding)

Café Society—My favorite of the late films, after Blue Jasmine. Yes, as everyone here points out, it’s a bit formless and doesn’t build to a strong climax. But I find the slow fizzle of an ending rather poignant, especially the shot of Eisenberg framed against the dark blue background. Storaro’s contributions cannot be overstated, bringing enough style to liven up the matter without overplaying it.

There is a feeling that this is just repeating Allen’s greatest hits and is thus overstuffed. But I think the film does have a coherent theme and is able to recontextualize some of the recycled tropes around that. It’s Allen’s most Jewish film since Crimes and Misdemeanors, and particularly interested in Jewish masculinity. This is where I think the seemingly random gangster brother comes in: you have Carrell’s self-denying Jew who’s found success, the “mensch” brother-in-law, the “tough Jew” brother without morals, and then Eisenberg, a schlemiel trying to find his own unique identity. There’s also the Jewish prostitute who also hides her background, Blake Lively’s ignorance of/problematic attraction to Jewishness, and the ongoing conversations about Jewish/masculine worth and merit in the parents. I’ll admit it’s still underbaked, and like every Allen script, needed at least another go through the typewriter, but at least it’s trying for something more ambitious. That, Storaro, and Eisenberg and Stewart’s easy chemistry makes this work for me.

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Re: Auteur List: Woody Allen - Discussion and Defenses

#173 Post by Calvin » Sun Mar 31, 2019 5:30 pm

I, too, caught up with Magic in the Moonlight, which passed me by at the time of release and now I'm sorely regretting that as it may well be Allen's most beautiful film. I certainly agree with AWA's assessment that it dragged on far too long after its climax, but I enjoyed it nevertheless. It never seemed to me that Allen was uncritical of Firth's character, in fact
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the scene where he proposes to Emma Stone seemed to me to be Woody showing us that, in hindsight, the success of the 'Woody character' with (particularly younger) women in his earlier works may have been asking a lot for his audience to believe. I've been debating with myself whether or not the fact that the Emma Stone character changes her mind and accepts Firth's proposal undermines what I've read into this or is itself an in-joke.
.

Another first-time watch, and the only one from its period that I hadn't seen, was A Midsummer Night's Sex Comedy which has much in common with Magic in the Moonlight thematically but I was surprised to find that I enjoyed far less.

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Re: Auteur List: Woody Allen - Discussion and Defenses

#174 Post by domino harvey » Sun Mar 31, 2019 8:11 pm

Lists are due tonight, which really means before I wake up (~11 AM EST) tomorrow morning

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Re: Auteur List: Woody Allen - Discussion and Defenses

#175 Post by domino harvey » Mon Apr 01, 2019 3:13 am

Wow, even if I get no more ballots, this still ended up being the most submissions received for a non-decade list since the Hitchcock List! It would take a whole lot more to top that one, but hey, maybe Allen would appreciate that he still edged out participation in the Bergman list!

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