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Woody Allen 
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Post Woody Allen
I'm almost 30 years old now. I've been a "film buff" since before I can recall. I've had an appreciation of Woody Allen's films since I saw Sleeper as a teenager. As I've grown older my appreciation for his body of work has deepended considerably and would be more aptly referred to as adoration. I still have yet to see his entire body of work, though it is a goal of mine.

I'm surprised with how few of my acquaintances share my affection for his films (I'm lucky that my live-in girlfriend has become quite the Woody fan, and gave me 5 DVDs for V-day). Granted, there's an argument to be made that his recent work has left something to be desired ("Scoop" quickly comes to mind), but with films like Another Woman, Crimes & Misdemeanors, Manhattan and Annie Hall on his resume, why aren't more film buffs singing his praises? I've heard the argument that we take him for granted, and I could see that being the case as he averages about a film a year.

Where do you think Woody Allen stands among American film makers? Should he be considered among the greats?


Wed Feb 18, 2009 12:40 pm
Post Re: Woody Allen
A.M. wrote:
I'm almost 30 years old now. I've been a "film buff" since before I can recall. I've had an appreciation of Woody Allen's films since I saw Sleeper as a teenager. As I've grown older my appreciation for his body of work has deepended considerably and would be more aptly referred to as adoration. I still have yet to see his entire body of work, though it is a goal of mine.

I'm surprised with how few of my acquaintances share my affection for his films (I'm lucky that my live-in girlfriend has become quite the Woody fan, and gave me 5 DVDs for V-day). Granted, there's an argument to be made that his recent work has left something to be desired ("Scoop" quickly comes to mind), but with films like Another Woman, Crimes & Misdemeanors, Manhattan and Annie Hall on his resume, why aren't more film buffs singing his praises? I've heard the argument that we take him for granted, and I could see that being the case as he averages about a film a year.

Where do you think Woody Allen stands among American film makers? Should he be considered among the greats?



Hi there A.M and welcome to the forum.

I think that Woody Allen is considered by most to be a great film director and maybe an even better writer.

For me there is a certain sadness watching a guy who has produced so many wonderful films, now clearly past his prime, producing far too many misses in between the occasional hits. He is not misunderestimated, people have been singing the praises of Woody Allen since the seventies.

I don't know if he needs the money or is addicted to the work. His output is prodigious and I wish he'd make fewer and better films now that he is well into his seventies.

Of course everyone will recommend Annie Hall, Manhattan etc. Can I suggest Radio Days and The Purple Rose of Cairo as part of your festival?

Rob


Wed Feb 18, 2009 12:53 pm
Post Re: Woody Allen
I don't know about Americans, but here in Greece one of our top film critics said this a few years ago about Woody Allen: He is perhaps a better director than Bergman. But nobody is going to recognize it because he makes comedies.
I agree pretty much with that statement.

My personal favorites are ''The Purple Rose of Cairo'', "Crimes and Misdemeanors'', ''Broadway Danny Rose'', ''Bananas'', ''Match Point'', ''Manhattan Murder Mystery'' and ''Take the Money and Run''.
Though I can't say that I dislike any of his movies. Even his most weak efforts are miles ahead of what passes for contemporary high comedy.


Wed Feb 18, 2009 12:59 pm
Post Re: Woody Allen
It may be a masculinity thing..?

I'm not a fan of the anti-hero, man-as-mouse character that he plays in his own films over and over and over. Maybe too many critics view him as a woman without the anatomy and this, carried over into his non-on-screen work, loses him favor.


Wed Feb 18, 2009 1:00 pm
Post Re: Woody Allen
I'm in a similar situation. I'm 26 and have been an Allen fan for a while now. My girlfriend and I are the only people I know my age that are fans. If we want to discuss a Woody Allen film, we have to talk with her parents, who are in their 50s. To quote Seinfeld, "not that there's anything wrong with that." It would just be nice if more people my age would learn to appreciate his work. The only thing younger people seem to know about him is that he married is stepdaughter. That's sad to me. His work is some of the finest in film, to me. He certainly belongs in the discussion when it comes to great American filmmakers. I can't speak for how popular he was in the 60s and 70s, but today, he is very underappreciated. Maybe because he hasn't made a great film in over 10 years (I count Bullets Over Broadway as his last great movie-1994) He's one of the only filmmakers that can be alternately perceptive, hilarious, and heartbreaking, while still making a natural, entertaining movie. He has quite a few films that I dont care for, but even those are ambitious, and attempt something worthwhile. His highs are amongst the greatest we have in American cinema. For my money, there aren't too many movies better than Crimes and Misdemeanors. Annie Hall, Manhattan, and Hannah and her Sisters are all amazing as well. I could go on and on about how great he is. The point is, I completely agree with you, and think it's a shame that he isn't getting more attention in his later years.


Wed Feb 18, 2009 1:02 pm
Post Re: Woody Allen
Many people still can't see how Annie Hall beat Star Wars for Best Picture. I love Star Wars, but Annie Hall is an absolute masterpiece.


Wed Feb 18, 2009 2:07 pm
Post Re: Woody Allen
Robert Holloway wrote:
A.M. wrote:
I think that Woody Allen is considered by most to be a great film director and maybe an even better writer. Rob


Don't forget his breakup with Mia Farrow and all the issues that accompanied it. That has impacted his stature greatly.

That said, I think Woody Allen is all-timer.

The obvious ones like 'Annie Hall', 'Manhattan' and 'Hannah and Her Sisters' are every bit as good as advertised. I think 'Match Point' is close there too, as are 'Crimes and Misdemeanors', 'Husbands and Wives', 'The Purple Rose of Cairo' and maybe even 'Interiors.' I actually think 'Interiors' is a little overrated, if only because Woody Allen fans I know revere it so much, and I don't think it withstands the Bergman comparisons that well.

But really, it was some of the less obvious Woody Allen flicks that really make me smile:
Manhattan Murder Mystery (I think this flick is vastly underrated--from a comedic perspective, I honestly think he peaked here)
Love and Death (okay, silly, but funny)
Everyone Says I Love You (I liked it--sue me)
A Midsummer Night's Sex Comedy
Mighty Aphrodite

And even when he's not that good, there are still moments. I think he will, eventually, be looked back on as one of America's all-time great filmmakers.


Wed Feb 18, 2009 2:29 pm
Post Re: Woody Allen
Woody's movies -- and his standup comedy (see http://tinyurl.com/d7c7s9) -- have had a profound influence on my life.

My favorites among his movies (in no particular order):
Hannah and Her Sisters
Annie Hall
Crimes and Misdemeanors
Manhattan
Play It Again Sam (not directed by Woody if I recall correctly)
Radio Days
Broadway Danny Rose
Manhattan Murder Mystery
Anything Else


Wed Feb 18, 2009 3:09 pm
Post Re: Woody Allen
panos75 wrote:
I don't know about Americans, but here in Greece one of our top film critics said this a few years ago about Woody Allen: He is perhaps a better director than Bergman. But nobody is going to recognize it because he makes comedies.
I agree pretty much with that statement.


Allen owes his entire career to Bergman. He wouldn't be half the filmmaker he is if he never peeped a Swedish film.

That being said, I only slightly disagree with the statement. (And the statement is totally legitimate and arguable.) While I don't think Allen's a better director at all, him being a better writer can totally be argued. Allen can write the realistic pieces Bergman is known for, but I don't think Bergman can write a laugh-fest to the degree of what Allen can do.

At the very least, you have to admire Allen's work ethic. And don't get wrong: I love Woody Allen. I love Ingmar Bergman. Annie Hall and The Purple Rose of Cairo are my personal favorites of Allen's catalogue, while Scenes From a Marriage and The Seventh Seal are my personal favorites of Bergman's catalogue. Both should be admired; at the end of the day, they're pretty different in terms of accomplishing the purpose in their films. I just don't think Allen is a better filmmaker.


Wed Feb 18, 2009 3:39 pm
Post Re: Woody Allen
A.M. wrote:
I'm almost 30 years old now. I've been a "film buff" since before I can recall. I've had an appreciation of Woody Allen's films since I saw Sleeper as a teenager. As I've grown older my appreciation for his body of work has deepended considerably and would be more aptly referred to as adoration. I still have yet to see his entire body of work, though it is a goal of mine.

I'm surprised with how few of my acquaintances share my affection for his films (I'm lucky that my live-in girlfriend has become quite the Woody fan, and gave me 5 DVDs for V-day). Granted, there's an argument to be made that his recent work has left something to be desired ("Scoop" quickly comes to mind), but with films like Another Woman, Crimes & Misdemeanors, Manhattan and Annie Hall on his resume, why aren't more film buffs singing his praises? I've heard the argument that we take him for granted, and I could see that being the case as he averages about a film a year.

Where do you think Woody Allen stands among American film makers? Should he be considered among the greats?


It's no coincidence that during the latter part of his career when his work regressed a bit was also the same time he ruined his image somewhat by getting involved with his adopted daughter. He gave the lead role to to John Cusack in Bullets over Broadway b/c supposedly, he wanted to keep himself out of the camera for a bit. I figured that was the beginning of the end for him.

His early work, without a doubt, are masterpieces. Crimes and Misdemeanors is one of my all time favorites-I really loved the aspects over the sins and choices men constantly had to deal with. Even his mainstream fluff like Manhattan Murder Mystery are well written, well directed, and well acted.

Like I said-I've lost interest in his latter work since Bullets over Broadway-maybe his tainted public image has been a distraction to his work? I DID like Match Point quite a bit though.


Wed Feb 18, 2009 3:45 pm
Post Re: Woody Allen
TunaFanForever wrote:
A.M. wrote:
I'm almost 30 years old now. I've been a "film buff" since before I can recall. I've had an appreciation of Woody Allen's films since I saw Sleeper as a teenager. As I've grown older my appreciation for his body of work has deepended considerably and would be more aptly referred to as adoration. I still have yet to see his entire body of work, though it is a goal of mine.

I'm surprised with how few of my acquaintances share my affection for his films (I'm lucky that my live-in girlfriend has become quite the Woody fan, and gave me 5 DVDs for V-day). Granted, there's an argument to be made that his recent work has left something to be desired ("Scoop" quickly comes to mind), but with films like Another Woman, Crimes & Misdemeanors, Manhattan and Annie Hall on his resume, why aren't more film buffs singing his praises? I've heard the argument that we take him for granted, and I could see that being the case as he averages about a film a year.

Where do you think Woody Allen stands among American film makers? Should he be considered among the greats?


It's no coincidence that during the latter part of his career when his work regressed a bit was also the same time he ruined his image somewhat by getting involved with his adopted daughter. He gave the lead role to to John Cusack in Bullets over Broadway b/c supposedly, he wanted to keep himself out of the camera for a bit. I figured that was the beginning of the end for him.

His early work, without a doubt, are masterpieces. Crimes and Misdemeanors is one of my all time favorites-I really loved the aspects over the sins and choices men constantly had to deal with. Even his mainstream fluff like Manhattan Murder Mystery are well written, well directed, and well acted.

Like I said-I've lost interest in his latter work since Bullets over Broadway-maybe his tainted public image has been a distraction to his work? I DID like Match Point quite a bit though.


I think there is validity to the thought that he's had a steady decline in quality, with some noteable surprises. I, for one, think Match Point is as good as some of his most celebrated work. I also enjoyed Mighty Aphrodite, Deconstructing Henry, Manhattan Murder Mystery and others that make up his recent fare. I also think it's notable that his weakest films are much better, relatively speaking, than most of what Hollywood churns out. In comparison to his great work (Crimes and Misdemeanors is my favorite), his less significant films seem worse than perhaps they actually are.


Wed Feb 18, 2009 4:33 pm
Post Re: Woody Allen
Call me crazy, but I liked Scoop more than Vicky Cristina Barcelona. I love, love, love Woody Allen movies. I've only seen about 2/3 of his entire body of work but I never once hated any of them (of course, I didn't see most of his mid 90s-early 2000s ones that gave him the reputation as a film maker who is declining).

I'm 20 so I'm in the minority of my friends who love his films, but I only to a few fellow film buffs and they're all Woody fans.

There is a very valid argument that he should be slowing down, focusing more one a film every other year to ensure quality, but I look foward to seeing a movie of his every year. Most filmmakers or bands don't put out a film/record every year like they did in the 50s and 60s and I love that.


Wed Feb 18, 2009 5:14 pm
Post Re: Woody Allen
Although some of Woody's early movies were quite fine (I really liked Annie Hall and Manhattan), his latest stuff has been terrible. After avoiding a couple of his pictures, I gambled and saw his latest.

Vicky Cristina Barcelona (2008) is such a poor movie that it demands we consider or reconsider whether a voice-over narration can ruin a movie. It pains me to have to say it—but obviously someone as knowledgeable as Woody Allen does not remember it—but whereas novels largely tell, movies largely show. It is the unique power of movies that they are not black squiggles on white paper but rather seemingly real characters speaking and moving, very much like real life. If writers and directors such as Allen want to destroy this crucial feature of film, they should have good reason. There are a couple of good reasons, but they don’t apply to Vicky Cristina Barcelona. One of the best reasons for a narrator is that film has difficulty showing us the internal thoughts of a character, and a narrator can supply them. For example, in a P. D. James detective mystery I watched last week, Inspector Dalgleish’s thoughts were sometimes voiced over the action, and this, albeit startling, helped me keep track of a very complex plot. But in VCB, the narration simply tells the story from what fiction theorists call an omniscient point of view.

Another reason to have a voice-over narration is for commentary on the action, whether that is satirical, critical, or whatever. This can manifest the director’s or writer’s opinion when the action is ambiguous. But in VCB, the narrator is simply a crutch to move the action along.

If film makers insist on going against commonsense and employing a voice to narrate the story, the narration should at least not duplicate the action. But in VCB, the narration is sometimes superfluous. When Cristina goes into Juan Antonio’s charming artist’s house with its paintings everywhere, the narrator tells us that Juan Antonio’s house was charming and that Cristina thrilled to the wild colours on all the canvases. You might say this gives us a glimpse into Cristina, but by this time in the movie we know she loves art of all kinds, motion pictures, photographs, even architecture. Again, when Juan Antonio gets a late night call from his suicidal wife, he rushes out of the house and into his car, and the narrator tells us “Juan Antonio hurried out in the dead of night.” What do normally intelligent, sensitive viewers feel confronted with this superfluous narration? Maybe they are insulted to be told a guy is hurrying out in the night when they see a guy hurrying out in the night. Maybe they are distanced from the emotion of the supposedly serious situation. Just when they should be sensing Juan Antonio’s panic and worrying about his relationship with Cristina whom he left behind in bed, a voice booms from above to tell us that Juan is rushing and that all the black we see on screen is night.

The narrator’s tone of voice further distances us from the movie. The tone is difficult to describe. It is patronizing, trying to make the story interesting for us. It is also disrespectful of the characters, sounding remote and untouched by any pain and confusion they are suffering.

Although this heavy-handed narration pretty much destroys the movie, there are a few good points if you can make it through the film. Penelope Cruz, as the unstable ex-wife, is excellent. Not coincidentally, she is one of the few characters who does not sound like Woody Allen. When Patricia Clarkson, for example, talks about her longing to break out of her respectable marriage, she sounds like we’ve heard Woody so many times before, but when Penelope Cruz loses her temper, she sounds like the character she is. To her credit, Rebecca Hall, one of my favourite actresses (Starters for 10; The Prestige), handles with aplomb the sort-of intellectual lines that Woody might normally deliver. That said, the characters in the movie are not particularly unique or interesting—except maybe Cristina: She did not know what she wanted, only what she did not want. This is a fascinating insight for me, and a cautionary note that there are immature people like her out there screwing up lives, including their own. Trying valiantly to pull this movie along is a peppy and interesting sound track, the highlight of the movie.


Wed Feb 18, 2009 5:19 pm
Post Re: Woody Allen
Crimes and Misdemeanors is one of my Top Ten films of all time. I have never watched a film before or since that dealt with the aspect of guilt so well. Martin Landau is spellbinding and Angelica Huston (who I have always struggled with as an actress) is just wonderful here.

I was able to teach a film class a few a years back at a university and when I showed this film it split my class in two—and they were quite passionate on both sides. Many said it was the best film we watched all year and one of the best they had ever seen, while others said it was boring and that the ending was difficult to accept because it did not end like most Hollywood movies (if you haven’t seen it check it out).

I think the reaction of my class is the reaction of most people to Woody Allen. He is too “cerebral” sometimes (Stardust Memories and Another Woman), sometimes he dwells on the worst in people (Crimes & Misdemeanors and Match Point), and other times he is just plain silly (Bananas and Sleeper). But that right there is proof of his genius. How many others directors, writers and actors dare cover such a wide variety of emotions? Even the greatest directors of Hollywood (Spielberg, Coppola, Scorsese, Eastwood, etc…) usually dabble in one genre with occasional diversions outside of it. Allen has at least tried (and sometimes failed) to dabble in multiple genres and tap into many emotions.

He is one of the best film makers (director, writer and even actor in his own unique way) we have ever seen.


Wed Feb 18, 2009 6:38 pm
Post Re: Woody Allen
Isn't he on record as saying he regards Match Point to be his best film?


Wed Feb 18, 2009 7:05 pm
Post Re: Woody Allen
roastbeef_ajus wrote:
Isn't he on record as saying he regards Match Point to be his best film?


I think so, and he was very happy with its box office performance.


Thu Feb 19, 2009 12:38 pm
Post Re: Woody Allen
roastbeef_ajus wrote:
Isn't he on record as saying he regards Match Point to be his best film?



He is old and senile. That statement cannot be credited to a man of sound mind.


Thu Feb 19, 2009 12:57 pm
Post Re: Woody Allen
PeachyPete wrote:
roastbeef_ajus wrote:
Isn't he on record as saying he regards Match Point to be his best film?


He is old and senile. That statement cannot be credited to a man of sound mind.


While I don't agree that 'Match Point' is Allen's best film, I do think arguing that it is is defensible.

For my part, I thought it was a very good film, and in fact was a rare case of the direction actually exceeding the writing (I share the opinion that, on the whole, Allen is a better writer than director).

I wouldn't argue that 'Match Point' is even in Allen's top 5 films overall, but . . . I do think it stands with his best work as a director.


Thu Feb 19, 2009 2:18 pm
Post Re: Woody Allen
Funny no one mentions celebrity. Not that it's a good film, but boy it might be the best looking one he ever made


Thu Feb 19, 2009 11:33 pm
Post Re: Woody Allen
PeachyPete wrote:
roastbeef_ajus wrote:
Isn't he on record as saying he regards Match Point to be his best film?



He is old and senile. That statement cannot be credited to a man of sound mind.


Hi PeachyPete

Woody Allen is certainly old, if you class over 70 as old. But he is not senile.

Anyone who can write and direct a major movie is clearly not suffering from senility. By most directors standards Vicky Christina Barcelona is not a bad film at all.

Rob


Fri Feb 20, 2009 12:15 am
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