Ever since I watching Midnight in Paris in late November 2011 I have fallen in love with the films of Woody Allen. Since then I regularly sought out his films, watched them, re-watched them and I still haven’t seen every movie the guy has directed. His catalogue is seriously amazing. I haven’t seen a Woody Allen film I disliked or wouldn’t revisit. Even in his weaker films there’s still plenty to enjoy. This past week I only watched three movies, again, and two of them were Woody Allen films.
Why only three films, again? This time it’s because I watched a television show, which I rarely do. I saw that the first season of Lilyhammer was out and the premise sounded intriguing enough to me for some reason. The show is only eight episodes and it’s about an Italian American gangster who testifies against his new boss and then has to flee the country. The guy’s wacky enough to pick a godforsaken town in Norway instead of some tropical paradise, but that’s exactly what makes the show so enjoyable. I felt this weird attraction to Scandinavia myself and their culture and people fascinate me (at least as far movies are concerned).
The show starts out pretty great, but then becomes just this mafioso being all macho and shit. I mean he’s all right, but there are just so many coincidences and he’s always right and everyone one else is dumb (according to the writers anyway). I don’t like when a character “becomes” morality. If you’ve seen one or two Bud Spencer movies you’ll know what I mean. It’s when everything a character does is right and everything he doesn’t do or dislikes is wrong and he has no flaws. It’s really annoying. The show finale however manages to tie up everything somewhat nicely and the so-so/bad episodes are entertaining enough to sit through. Recommended with a grain of salt. Now on to some films!
‘PICK OF THE WEEK’
Hollywood Ending (2002) – 7.5 (IMDb 6.4) – Comedy, Romance (USA)
Written, directed and starring Woody Allen Hollywood Ending is a charming romantic comedy about a Hollywood director (played by Woody Allen) who tried to transition into art house, but became irrelevant. His ex-wife, married to a big studio executive, feels guilty for leaving him and decides to offer him the opportunity to direct a mid-size budget film about Manhattan. Left with basically no choice Allen’s character agrees to do the movie, but feeling too much pressure and blocked by his anxieties he becomes temporarily blind.
I love the premise of this film and its execution is very funny. The film seems to be autobiographical to some degree, then again most of Woody’s films are, and I’m just a sucker for any film that is about film. There’s a lot of commentary on the film industry and a lot of jokes that are still poignant and spot on even over a decade later. I was in need for a lighter, romantic film with Woody’s distinct tone and atmosphere this week and this one came at just the right time. An underrated and overlooked gem in Allen’s filmography.
La Dolce Vita (1960) – 10 (IMDb 8) – Comedy, Drama (Italy)
Everyone Says I Love You (1996) – 7 (IMDb 6.8) – Comedy, Romance, Musical (USA)
Musicals are generally not my thing, but this one was pretty great. It also helps that it makes fun of musicals a little bit, but in a loving way. Everyone Says I Love you is about a New York family and every family member’s romantic pursuits, but the film mostly focusses on Woody Allen’s character who’s trying to get over his ex-wife. He meets a beautiful woman in Venice and his daughter helps him get into her pants, thanks to the fact that she casually listened to all of her shrink sessions. The film is filled with musical numbers and even some choreographed dances, which however never distract from the story. Oddly enough they also don’t ruin the pacing or atmosphere, but rather help the film overall. I was quite surprised actually.
Also surprising is how good everyone sings. This film has a great cast and some of the actors aren’t exactly known for their singing abilities, but it’s great to hear them try and they’re all quite impressive, even Woody himself. The themes of the film are of course familiar territory for Allen, but the ending in Paris and all of the romantic moments really make this one of the sweetest and endearing Woody Allen films. The musical aspect is also great because, the numbers are so purposely exaggerated that you don’t even try to take them seriously or as part of the real story, but accept them as the inner state of the characters, as an expression of how they feel, rather than as a plot device, like most genre films would do. And that’s precisely why it all works so well.