Woody Allen

13 Nov

Today’s Sound Bite is dedicated to Woody Allen, Hollywood’s favorite neurotic Jew.  The man has a film and TV career spanning more than 50 years and has been one of the most influential directors and writers of the last 40 years.  Having directed 46 movies and written even more, it is safe to say that he has left and is still leaving an indelible mark on cinema.

Woody Allen
Cover of Woody Allen

Today I’ll be looking at four of his films, because there’s no way in hell I’m going to sit through all 46 of his movies just for a blog.

Annie Hall (1977)

The gist:

Woody Allen wrote, directed and starred in this movie as Alvy Singer, a comedian who spends just about all of his time worrying about the

important issues of life.  Specifically love, for the most part.  It tells the story of his romance with a girl named Annie Hall (hence the title).

My take:

This is probably one of Woody Allen’s best known films, because it combined many elements that defined his career, and it was also one of the most influential.  The storytelling is non-linear, meaning the scenes are out of order.  This was one of the first mainstream movies to do

Cover of
Cover of Annie Hall

that, paving the way for Pulp Fiction, Reservoir Dogs, (500) Days of Summer and any movie that feels like using a gimmick to compensate for lack of a coherent storyline.  He also breaks the fourth wall constantly, meaning he often talks directly to the camera.  Heck, the movie starts with him monologuing to the camera, as if to let you know “Hey, I’ll be doing this a lot.  Buckle up.”  This is quirky at first, but felt condescending by about the fourth time he did it.  It’s like he doesn’t trust the audience to figure out the point of the movie, so he stops the movie periodically to catch us up to speed.

That being said, this is an excellent movie, hilarious and influential.  I give it an 83 out of 100.

Love and Death (1975)

The gist:

Woody Allen again wrote, directed and starred (noticing a pattern yet?) in this tale of Boris, a Russian living during the Napoleonic Wars.

Shenanigans, slapstick and the no-pants-dance ensue.

My take:

The story goes in order this time, and the fourth wall is broken, but more so through narration than by talking directly to the camera, save for the final monologue.  This movie is usually overshadowed by Annie Hall, especially since Diane Keaton stars in both, but I personally like this one more than Annie Hall.  Part of it is the music, the humor got to me more and any movie that features the grim reaper in a comical manner gets 4 automatic bonus points.

Overall, I give Love and Death 91 out of 100.

Crimes and Misdemeanors

The gist, taken from IMDb: An ophthalmologist’s mistress threatens to reveal their affair to his wife, while a married documentary filmmaker is infatuated by another woman.

My take:

This movie is absolutely amazing.  The issues that it grapples with are very real and compelling.  From start to finish I was captivated by this movie and wanted to see how it played out.  It’s been a while since I’ve seen this one, so I’d be hard pressed to go into detail about it, but suffice it to say that I loved it.

And would rate it 82 out of 100.

Match Point

The gist:  John Rhys-Meyers plays a tennis instructor who makes a connection with (and then marries into) an extremely rich family.  An extremely seductive Scarlett Johansson shows up on the scene and drama ensues.

My take:

Match Point is an exploration into the role that luck plays in our lives.  It is told from a definitively atheistic point of view, which I respect even if I disagree with it.  Most films would pander to the middle and say “whether you call it luck or God’s will” but God received nary a mention through the course of this movie.  That being said, I loved this movie.  It is very deep, keeps you guessing, is extremely well written, has an excellent soundtrack and enough going for it to overshadow how horrible of an actor John Rhys-Meyers is.  Although to a certain extent, his general inability to emote lent itself rather well to the character.  I won’t go into why for sake of brevity and not ruining the movie, but the casting choice fit the role.  Kinda like needing an emotionless robot of a person to represent humanity in the Matrix, so you cast Keanu Reeves.  I digress.

I give Match Point an 87.

As a side note, some of Woody Allen’s later light-hearted comedies just didn’t resound with me for some reason.  Scoop, Vicky Christina Barcelona and Bullets Over Broadway were all popular movies, but I couldn’t get through the first 20 minutes of any of them.  For some reason his serious stuff is all that I can really get into.

For Attebiz Movie Reviews, I’m the J-Man.

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