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Movies Directed by Woody Allen 1966-2011
Midnight in Paris
You Will Meet a Tall Dark Stranger
Vicky Cristina Barcelona
Melinda and Melinda
The Curse of the Jade Scorpion
Small Time Crooks
Sweet and Lowdown
Everyone Says I Love You
Bullets over Broadway
Manhattan Murder Mystery
Husbands and Wives
Shadows and Fog
Crimes and Misdemeanors
Hannah and Her Sisters
The Purple Rose of Cairo
Broadway Danny Rose
A Midsummer’s Night Sex Comedy
Love and Death
Everything You Always Wanted to Know About Sex
Take the Money and Run
What’s Up, Tiger Lily?
Movies Directed by Terrence Malick 1973-2011
Days of Heaven
The Thin Red Line
The New World
Tree of Life
Nostalgia has always been a large component of Woody Allen’s films, but it takes center stage as the Woody iteration played by Owen Wilson gets to spend his nights in a name dropper’s dream of 1920′s Paris. This along with his two previous films (Whatever Works and You Will Meet a Tall Dark Stranger) complete a confessional trilogy of sorts, with Woody acknowledging his chief flaws. In Whatever Works you have a philosophical shoulder shrugging in contrast to his youthful intellectualism, in You Will Meet there’s a diffidence toward his past nihilistic tendencies, and in Midnight he confesses his overweening druthers for the past. It’s entertaining, though I have to add that Marion Cotillard continues to be criminally underutilized by American Filmmakers.
With Owen Wilson in Woody Allen’s new film Midnight in Paris and Jesse Eisenberg (along with Alec Baldwin, Roberto Benigni and Ellen Page) in Woody’s next film I began wondering who else needs to be in an Allen film. Here’s who I came up with:
I’d watch Joseph Gordon-Levitt in pretty much any blockbuster schlock…oh wait, I have. He could be in love with a professional woman (perhaps Woody alum Emily Mortimer) who is about to be imprisoned under the testimony of a former flame for insider trading. JGL, resisting his fiancée’s advise to get rough with the snitching schlub (perhaps Sean Astin or Patton Oswalt), he goes to request he let this fault -a one time slip up- slide. Things get out of hand and Joe clocks him one and ties him up in a private bathroom. He keeps him there until he can figure out what to do, kill him or face the consequences.
Paul Dano could be a chemical engineer that married into a family of such stratospheric wealth that he can’t help but feel shame over his economic status. His marriage (to Reese Witherspoon) is on the rocks and his mounting debt in trying to maintain the lifestyle his wife was accustomed to is about to ruin him. During this he discovers that he was adopted and that his aunt -a wealthy scion of society herself played by foulmouthed Meryl Streep- is the only remaining blood relative he has. He befriends her, but in hopes of hastening his newfound inheritance he poisons her. Assaulted with guilt from all sides what will he do when the one family member he loves finds out what he’s done?
Admittedly any number of funny men fits here; Luke Wilson, Rainn Wilson, Paul Rudd, even Johnny Depp would work in a Woody role. But if Paul Rudd were in a Woody film I would essential want the rest of the Apatow crew and if that’s the case then I should probably just watch an Apatow movie. I would like to see Jack Black play a character who is experiencing unprecedented success professionally, a novelist cum director who has landed the breakout actress of the year, Eva Mendez, for his Cannes lauded debut, but who is dealing with a shrew wife (Jenna Fischer) and his videogame guru designer son (Jason Schwartzman) who is suing him. Something like hijinx ensue.
Eh, scrap that, let’s just make it:
I think we all agree that the Woody personae requires a male actor, but it was a nice change of pace, albeit unsuccessful overall, to see a female play the Woody role as Scarlett Johansson did in Scoop. Gweneth’s turn as Pepper Potts in Iron Man gives a glimpse of her inner Woody and I think she’d be wildly entertaining as a struggling female detective whose big case ends up intertwined with her own life. Can she solve the case of a missing nanny (Amy Adams) while avoiding the ire of a possibly corrupt politician (Richard Jenkins) and still be home to rub the sore feet of her hypochondriac postman husband William H. Macy?
Another person I’d love to see in a Woody Allen film is Michael Keaton. Criminally underworked by his own choice and I don’t care what you think about Burton’s Batman, The Keats is imminently watchable. It’d be great to watch Keaton as a cabdriver taking Cate Blanchett in full meltdown mode to tie up some loose strings before her planned suicide off the Brooklyn Bridge. Her antics include a hair salon wrestling match with her estranged mother-in-law (Dame Judy Dench), a burning of the car of her husband’s mistress, and the cross town chase of her nefarious husband (played by Christian Bale) who is attempting to steal her Pekingese (named Gumption). At the end of it she and Keaton -who has pursued her affections the moment she entered her cab- decide to make a new life together. That might not be what Woody wants to see, but who asked him anyway.
You Will Meet a Tall Dark Stranger features many of the same tropes Woody’s previous films except that he never makes that final step into murder most foul. Beginning with a paraphrasing of Macbeth’s “Life…is a tale told by an idiot, full of sound and fury, signifying nothing” it proceeds to bring everyone to a point where they must choose murder or self abasement. The only exception that ends up happily or as happily as one can in a Woody Allen drama (and sometimes a Woody Allen comedy) is Helena Shebritch, the matriarch in the middle of the maelstrom. Her belief in eternal life, by way of reincarnation, separates her from the soft nihilism pedaled through most of the film and at least shows that Woody understands that the human conditions cannot abide life without meaning.
Match Point was the longest Woody Allen film to date and the only one since Hannah and Her Sisters to make a profit in the US. Remi Adefarasin did perhaps the best job ever in filming a Woody Allen script. Scar-Jo does an excellent job of acting like a terrible actress. It was a very natural performance.
I don’t want to achieve immortality through my work. I want to achieve it through not dying. – Woody Allen
[The following questions were culled from various movie surveys that I've come across. I've been filling it out for the last month]
- Earliest Movie Watching Memory: My first movie was Empire Strikes Back. My Dad and older brother went. I remember the Hoth sequence. There were some boys in the front row goofing that dad barked at to keep ‘em quiet.
- Last DVD purchased: I’m not sure. I don’t buy too many DVDs. Possibly Gus Van Sant’s Elephant ($2)
- If you were a guest programmer for TCM what three movies would you choose to best represent your tastes: Were talking classics, like, from the 80s right? Since I watched Ferris Bueller’s Day Off on TCM a couple of months ago I’m counting anything from the 80s and before. Casablanca (because it still holds up today as a compelling drama), Indiana Jones: Raiders of the Lost Ark (not just for nostalgic reasons), and The Jerk (for some nostalgic reasons, but also because it’s hilarious).