Wednesday, March 18, 2009

In which Bill verbally fellates Woody Allen

Man, I'm behind on my movie-capsulizing, and my memory ain't what it used to be, but let's try to get these things straight.
So I liked Vicky Etc Barcelona enough to check out some other Allen works that were instantly streaming, and here is what I remember of those:

Manhattan Murder Mystery: This is the one that made me a believer. Made in the early 90s, it stars Allen, Alan Alda, Anjelica Huston, and, hey, Diane Keaton!  in a bizarre reunion with the Woody. It's about bored, older Manhattanites who stumble onto what might be a murder. It's rife with Hitchcockian suspense as well as Allenian hilarity-- I have never seen such tension on the screen at the same time as I was chuckling at the jokes. Absolutely brilliant. Also, there's a blink-and-you'll-miss-him cameo from teen Zach Braff.

Love & Death: So then I sought out this one, a comedic take on Russian literature. I've never read anything Allen's spoofing, but I majored in English, so I know how to fake it. A ludicrous farce, this movie out-Mel-Brooks-es Mel Brooks. It was made in the 70s, from Woody's "Diane Keaton period." I love how everyone speaks with a Russian accent except ol' Woody, playing the same guy he always does, in another ridiculous situation. Great stuff; loved it.

Alice: Here comes trouble. Now we're in the "Mia Farrow period;" Woody does not appear onscreen, and everything's a tinge more dramatic. This is apparently, the description tells me, a takeoff of Alice in Wonderland, but I didn't really notice; it is, however, a strange urban fantasy with appearances by every actor ever, as Chinese herbs cause bizarre transformations for Farrow's Alice; but the true transformation, by the end, must come from within. It was okay.

September: My three seconds of research informs me this is a Chekovian chamber piece, or "bottle episode," where a handful of people are thrown into a single setting and drama happens. We get unhappy people trying to be with each other and failing at it; the existentiality of the universe is revealed; and yet, they look forward to the titular month anyway, always pushing at the future. It was a bit boring, I have to admit; very stage-like and theatrical, in that way. Not bad; Allen movies are always written well, I've noticed, but it didn't thrill me. Apparently he filmed this at one point with actors like Maureen O'Sullivan and some scenes with Christopher Walken but then threw it out and started over with Sam Waterston and stuff. Hmm. Maybe the  original would've been kookier.

Regardless, my opinion of Woody Allen has skyrocketed now that I've actually taken in a decent sample of his stuff. Amazing dialogue and some neat little themes woven in from time to time. I shall seek out more, more, more!

1 comment:

Zom said...

Just to say carry on, really. Woody's standards might have dropped off a little in recent years, but the vast majority of his films are, without a doubt, absolutely superb. I love Allen's best movies in the way that I love the best films by the Coens or Lynch - they're just so rich and satisfying and original and surprising, and that's pretty much what I want from art fullstop.