Tagged: Woody Allen: A Documentary
Five Favorite Woody Allen Films
Allan Stewart Konigsberg alias Woody Allen is one of the most prolific and consistently interesting filmmakers. I can’t praise him enough. He’s one of my favorite filmmakers and he continues to surprise audiences, by putting out a new film every year since the 1970s. Even if critics don’t always like his efforts, he consistently makes the films he wants to make. Lately he proved that he still got it with Midnight in Paris and now it looks like his newest film, Blue Jasmine is getting mostly positive reviews as well, which makes me happy.
To celebrate the release of his new drama, coming out in theaters this very friday, I wanted to recommend my five favorite Woody Allen films. This list can be especially helpful if you’re looking to get into his sizable filmography. Since I am so in love with all of his films, and wouldn’t say he’s made one that I dislike, it’s hard for me to pick one over the other, but I’ll try my best.
5. Annie Hall (1977)
It’s Woody’s smash hit. This catapulted him into international stardom, and rightfully so. This is a great picture, it won Best Picture, again: Deservedly so. The film is a romantic comedy starring Woody Allen himself and his first muse Diane Keaton. It’s about Woody’s character trying to figure out why his relationship with Annie Hall didn’t work out. Some very innovating filming techniques and narrative styles. Woody breaks the “fourth wall” several times, speaking directly to the camera. How could you not like this film?
4. Interiors (1978)
A rather depressing film for a director known for his comedic chops, but I love Interiors. It’s as close as Woody will ever get to Michelangelo Antonioni, in fact he uses the same cinematographer that worked on Red Desert, but of course there’s a bit of an Ingmar Bergman feel too. The film is about three sisters dealing with the separation of their parents. This is Allen’s first foray into drama and I would say it’s his best “serious” film. Great nuanced performances by all the actors involved and I especially like Diane Keaton in this one.
3. The Purple Rose of Cairo (1985)
Aside from comedy, Woody has always had a passion for fantasy as well, but not that dragons and wizards shit. It’s always something grounded in “reality”. In The Purple Rose of Cairo Mia Farrow’s character falls in love with a movie character that literally comes out of the movie. Set in New York in the 1930s this is a nostalgic and romantic film, with a bittersweet ending. It’s one of my favorite films, because it comments on film as a storytelling medium and as a cultural phenomenon. It’s also one of the best instances of Woody mixing melancholic and comedic tones.
2. Whatever Works (2009)
I know I should be picking one of his classics, but I have to be honest here and I think this is one of his most underrated films. It looks as though the script is something he re-hashed, but I like it nonetheless. It’s not one of his best, but certainly one of Woody’s funniest and probably most ‘expositive’ of his “life philosophy” which is basically the title of the film itself. On a personal level this film reminded me a little bit of Lolita, and maybe he didn’t even intend to reference it. Larry David is good in this, but my favorite part is Evan Rachel Wood, she is just to die for and a good actress of course.
1. Midnight in Paris (2011)
I know I always talk about this one, but it’s probably my favorite of his at this point and the Woody Allen film that got me to watch almost all of his movies. I should however revisit his classics, because now that I know and understand his style better I’m sure I’ll appreciate them even more. Midnight in Paris is about a writer (Owen Wilson) who wants his work to be more respected. He is on holiday in Paris with his fiancé he finds a spot where every night at midnight a car stops by and he is transported to the 1920s, where he meets all of his literary heroes. Almost like an Alice in Wonderland, he is able to work out his real life problems in the fantasy world. Won best original screenplay, well deserved and certainly one I’ll keep re-watching.
If you want to know more about Woody Allen I also recommend the excellent Woody Allen: A Documentary. A documentary on Woody as a person and an artist. In conclusion: What are your favorite Woody Allen films?
‘Good’ Movies You Watched Last Week?
This past week I managed to watch mostly films I really enjoyed. Part of it had to do with me re-watching one of my favorites in Gregg Araki’s Kaboom (2010) and Jørgen Leth’s Det perfekte menneske (1967), so those were safe bets. Also, how could I dislike a documentary about one of my all time favorite filmmakers? Impossible. In The Realm of the Senses, was not a surprise either, because everything that is in the Criterion Collection is there for a reason and always worth checking out.
In the Realm of the Senses (1976) – 7.5 (IMDb 6.6) – Drama, Romance, History (Japan)
You know how some movies are described as “wall-to-wall action”? By that same token In the Realm of the Senses would fall in the category of “wall-to-wall sex”. Contrary to exploitation cinema, this film however is artfully shot and composed and never goes into sleazy territory, even if its subject matter would easily allow it to. Then again it is based on true events, so maybe that’s what’s grounds the film into some kind of reality and good taste.
The story about two lovers that are physically consumed by their lust and carnal desires succeeds, because it embraces its subject matter without being judgmental or condescending. If you’re starting to get excited about Lars von Trier’s Nymphomaniac, I can imagine this would make a great double-feature and approach some of the same themes. Much like Nagisa Ôshima’s Empire of Passion (1978) the climax of the film is pure poetry. Definitely recommended if you like movies that are less about plot and more about penetrating into the mind of its characters and exploring the madness that is our human nature.
‘PICK OF THE WEEK’
Woody Allen: A Documentary (2012) – 8 (IMDb 7.6) – Documentary, Biography (USA)
Kaboom (2010) – 9 (IMDb 5.7) – Comedy, Mystery, Sci-Fi (USA)
Det perfekte menneske (1967) – 9 (IMDb 7.2) – Drama, Short (Denmark)
Woody Allen: A Documentary (2012)
Woody Allen is one of the most important and prolific filmmakers working today. His movies mostly revolve around the grand subjects of Life, Love and Art. Even when he puts out a sub par film, he is still interesting to watch: “There’s always something about them”, like Martin Scorsese himself puts it.
The documentary opens with Woody Allen’s trademark title names; written in the iconic Windsor font, with playful jazz music in the background accompanying images of Brooklyn shot à la Midnight in Paris. Next up are a series of interviews, alternated to scenes from Woody’s films. The filmmakers managed to interview Woody’s mother, his sister and manager and of course Woody himself, while also showing us opinions from actresses and actors that starred in his movies, mainly Diane Keaton (his first muse). His long time collaborators and producers also voice their opinion, mostly praise, and there’s even a priest.