I don’t know exactly why, but I thoroughly enjoy Woody Allen movies. A few weeks ago (maybe a month?) I went out and saw Vicky Cristina Barcelona, which prompted a discussion with a few of my wife’s friends that they had not seen (m)any Allen movies. During this discussion I had a bit of an impulse buy and purchased the three woody allen collections from amazon as well as the four disc comedy collection. Unfortunately these collections left a gap which included most of the nineties and early 2000s as well as his most recent stuff, which I would have to say are my two favorite eras of Allen’s. So, off I went again over the course of the past few weeks acquiring some of these. Now, I have been subjecting those close to me to Woody Allen movies on a regular basis. Here are some brief thoughts on the movies I have watched recently.
Annie Hall follows around Allen as the main character and his obsession with Annie Hall, a somewhat unstable and flaky woman. Paul Simon has a bit part, and is pretty funny. There is a lot of humor revolving around the relationship of the two main characters, as well as Allen’s ex-wives, and a few moments of just odd humor (What is with the lobsters???). Anywho, this one is a classic. I had forgotten how funny it was, and was mildly surprised as I had remembered thinking that it was overrated when I saw it for the first time a little more than 10 years ago. Perhaps my sense of humor has changed a bit over time, who knows.
Vicky Cristina Barcelona
This movie just exuded sex. Scarlett Johansson, Rebecca Hall, Penelope Cruz, Javier Bardem. The premise of the story itself was ok, the music was great as was the cinematography. Peneolope Cruz was absolutely amazing. This film follows two American women who go to Barcelona for a summer vacation, staying with a distant relative. Here they meet Javier’s Character, an artist who is rumored to have tried to kill his ex-wife (or is it that his ex-wife tried to kill him?). He asks them to go with him on a weekend jaunt where they will drink wine, listen to great music, see great architecture, and make love. The rest of the film follows these three, as well as the ex-wife as they are all entangled in a love triangle (square?). I immediately bought the soundtrack when we got back from the theatre.
I would have to say that this is my favorite allen movie (perhaps this will change as I watch some of these for the first time, and rewatch others?). It follows around the central character, an author who uses his life experiences – thinly veiled – as the basis of his stories, as he attempts to deal with his family, including multiple ex-wives and girlfriends, accept an award from his alma matar and stop his love from marrying the wrong guy. Favorite moments include all scenes with Robin Williams (he’s kind of soft, he’s lost focus) and billy crystal. I particularly love the scene in hell and the scene at the lakehouse where his step-mother catches him cheating on his wife with his sister-in-law… kind of. Highly recommended.
The third of allen’s films about what it would take for an ordinary person to commit a horrendous crime, following crimes and misdemeanors and match point. This was not a typical Allen film, as a matter of fact, I had missed it in the theaters because I didn’t realize it was one of his. It has Ewen MacGregor and Collin Farrel, both of whom do a pretty good job on their characters (Surprising… I don’t really like Collin Farrel Usually). All in all, I don’t know how much I enjoyed this one. It seemed to drag a little towards the end, but it may be because I was in the mood for a comedy, and didn’t realize how much of a drama this one would be. At least with Match Point, there was a lot of really dark humor. Here, there was, but it was more… I don’t know, subtle?
This was the first time I had seen this movie, which was a film encompassing a number of stories told by a narrator describing his nostalgia for the days of old, his fascination with the old radio stories and how the radio was such an integral part of his families day to day life. There are stories of some of the radio personalities and their escapades as well as just stories of growing up in a house full of relatives. It was an endearing movie that had an effect on me, even though I have never really experienced anything remotely similar concerning the radio. This film kind of made me wish for simpler times, as I am sure was the intended effect. I think it was a movie that Allen did so that he would never forget how much all of these things meant to him as a small child…
This was also a first watch for me, and it was a strange one. A mockumentary about a man, Zelig, who was a human chameleon who would do anything he could to fit in, including changing how he looked, acted, talked, etc. If you saw this late at night on the history channel you would probably have to think twice about whether or not it was a true story. Very dry humor, but a few laugh out loud moments. It was done very well, although I would recommend most of Allen’s other films to those who have not seen many of his movies.
Celebrity (1/2 of it anyway)
I got about half way through Celebrity before I was interrupted by guests a few weeks back. I would have to say that I enjoyed this movie a bunch the first time I saw it and making it through a portion of the movie just reminded me of it enough to make me realize that I have to finish it. I love DeCapprio’s part in this movie (And at the time I saw this originally, I hated him with a passion… This film allowed me to watch his movies with a new light, and since then he has made a number of really good films). The movie follows a struggling writer / reviewer who is trying to figure out life. I am not sure how Allen did it, but he found yet another actor to play his Neurotic, Jewish persona who absolutely nailed it. It was a lot like Allen was on the screen for this one, even though he wasn’t.
Anyway, I’ll probably write more later as I continue to go through all the movies I just got.