Friday, 18 March 2011

Woody Allen - a sort of appreciation

I will not be going to see Woody Allen’s new movie You Will Meet A Tall Dark Stranger, which opened today in London where the film is set. Reviews have been patchy; it might even be the best of Allen’s London location movies according to one critic although that isn’t saying much.
I’ll wait until Allen makes a film I think there will be a half-chance of enjoying.
I still haven’t recovered from my disappointment with Vicky Cristina Barcelona. This was supposed to be a return to form and instead was a tired demonstration of national stereotypes.
For someone of my age watching a poor Allen movie is doubly disturbing. Added to the waste of time and money is the painful reminder that our powers wane with age.
It’s difficult to explain to young cinema goers the esteem in which Allen was once held by my generation. It would be better if they saw Annie Hall or Manhattan – or even Sleeper. The mature Allen – Hannah and Her Sisters, Bullets Over Broadway, Sweet and Lowdown - are also must-see gems. Whether comedy or drama – Allen’s films were often both – they dazzled.
At his peak when playing in his own movies, Allen was the patron saint of outsiders. A short, myopic, balding, nervy, Jewish heterosexual, he offered hope to every geek. Allen seemed to be saying don’t hide your intelligence or humanity but display both under the cover of a wisecrack. This way you could charm desirable women – in Allen’s case Louise Lasser, Mia Farrow, and above all, Annie herself, Diane Keaton – into your bed.
In reality there was only one Woody Allen and even he was never quite the same after his terrible domestic strife with Farrow, which still makes harrowing reading all these years later.
The fault may be mine. I’ve given up on him but he is still revered by many film fans especially in Europe. Top actors queue to be in his films, which I hope he will continue to make one a year for a long time to come.
There’s nothing I would like better than to settle back in a cinema seat and watch his late renaissance. If it never happens Woody Allen still has a body of work that places him among the masters of cinema.


  1. " I grew up in a rough neighborhood. The kids used to steal hubcaps from moving cars. " I agree with you, Grapefruitcrazy; my earlier work was better. I hear that you are also known for your tasty wisecracks. Regards, W.A.

  2. Yes GC. Age did come into the equation with Allen, because once he had to substitute another younger man for the lead role that in earlier times/films he might have played himself, then that changed the effect of the subsequent films.
    But much earlier he was a one of a number of very gifted stand-up comics, and it is for the parodied 'intellectual' wisecrack, that I think of him most fondly. MC.

  3. No one has succeeded as much as Woody in making neurosis the centre piece of his comedy. In Hollywood he may not have found financial backers to make so many films, but he proved that New York could also give a film maker backing, to produce a body of work. He has been a great inspiration to me, although my earliest formative influence was Tony Hancock. [Ricky G]

  4. As he got older the women got younger, one of whom he has married. What film was it GC where he introduced us to his parents and their home where the couch was covered with polythene to prevent it getting dirt on it?

  5. After Annie Hall parks Woody observes: "It's OK, I can walk to the kerb." It still makes me laugh. GC


What do you think? GC