Tag Archives: woody allen

Ancient Rome

Going to see To Rome with Love with the geriatric New York crowd is like going to an old age home where they laugh aloud at the corniest fucking two-bit Comedians who entertain their humdrum life. Sadly in this case the Comic in question is my dear Woody Allen (one of my personal heroes). Once long ago it was funny to watch the Woodman whine and complain, chalking it up to being just a neurotic New Yorker – where as now he just reminds me of my annoying Grandparents and every other condescending old fart who thinks by reading The Times and listening to NPR they are entitled some opinion on today’s modern society and pop culture trends. Combine those opiate of the masses with Woody’s latest inspiration, Giovanni Boccaccio’s The Decameron, and waste the price of a ticket at the dumpiest theater in New York City, The Angelika. (But what do you expect when most old fogey’s pay for HD TVs and Cable when they haven’t even a clue what the fuck an HDMI cable is?) I of course have never read the 14th-century medieval allegory and admit – never heard of it. Maybe it’s because I’m too busy analyzing and deconstructing Fifty Shades of Grey for a course I’m teaching together with Marshall McLuhan at Columbia called TV Media, and Culture.

Anyway, as usual the star studded cast waived their A-list fee to have a chance to work with Woody. But unfortunately their only consolation is kicking it in Rome for a few weeks on the company’s dime because their performances left for posterity are too painful to credit or watch. Specially the doomed fatal love story between architect student Jesse Eisenberg and name dropping freeloader Juno – whom is cast as a beguiling and intriguing tortured artist when all she’s really playing is her usual know-it-all skank-ass self. Still the most unbearable bit is Roberto Benigni who is reduced to being a symbol and commentary for Woody’s notion of the fickleness and vacuous of modern tabloid celebritydom, which is far from irreverent and instead just plain retarded.

The other unfunny story line is Woody’s – who, as a retired music agent, discovers a Mortician’s hidden talent to sing pitch perfect Opera in a shower!! Now isn’t that just a hoot? Well it was to the old fossils sitting behind me who were still laughing as Fabio Armiliato was sudsing it up well into the third act.

There are other vignettes to top off this shit show but if I told you the premise you wouldn’t believe me…like that Woman who gets lost in Rome looking for a hair salon…nevermind. As Woody makes a pathetic attempt to bookend the movie with a narrating Traffic Cop I only found myself wishing he’d be run over by a fucking Vespa! I know I should respect my elders but when in Rome these Geezers belong in the Catacombs.

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Melancholia Bites the Dunst

Melancholia Poster

“Don’t wake me for the end of the world unless it has very good special effects”-Roger Zelazny

To say that Lars von Trier’s latest, Melancholia, be labeled a disaster movie about a planetary collision should rather be categorized a waste of my Saturday afternoon. Though watching over 2 hours of a dead-face Kirsten Dunst is enough to wish the world’s end.

The first hour is comprised of her wedding (which was longer than The Deer Hunter‘s epic ceremony without the purgatorial undertones that lead to a cathartic game of Russian roulette) is a hand held study of a manic depressive bride and her dysfunctional family only to lead to a marriage shorter than Kim Kardashian’s. And we haven’t even got to the second fucking half!

At this point I wish I had a revolver handy because the second part is about Kirsten’s postpartum depression recovering from that sand trap wedding while staying with her sister Charlotte Gainsbourg, her husband Kiefer Sutherland, and child, that live on an estate looking over the sea somewhere out of a Bergman/Tarkovsky landscape or a Chanel No. 5 commercial where they have the luxury to gaze up at the sky and calculate their impending doom with the use of a wire hanger and a fucking stick. How about just turning on the Telly? At least they Wiki’ed it the day before.

The revelation is not how the world ends in a pow wow skinless teepee nor Kirsten’s moon tanned juggs but that Rex Reed’s flaming 0% rating on Metacritic was spot on and that I once again succumbed to the pretentious critics, the Frenchies who awarded Dunst with a best actress, and my hipster friends’ buzz about the movie.

My weekend is not all lost yet and I’m praying it can be salvaged by the 3 1/2 hour Woody Allen doc on PBS tonight since last weekend I saw J. Edgar Hoover which was even more of a waste of time considering I didn’t even bother to fucking review it because I can sum it up in one word-Gay!

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November 20, 2011 · 11:37 am

Dead Poets Society

  (Tender is the Night)

Way back in Woody’s 1979 Manhattan he played a writer who “longed to be an artist but balked at the necessary sacrifices” whereas now Owen Wilson has the aid of a 1920’s Peugeot equipped with a Flux Capacitor to gain artistic insight and inspiration from a bygone era. Charmed with it’s wit and fantasy the reality is that Woody’s gone soft in his latest 2011’s Midnight in Paris where renowned artists and writers are pontificating and spitting on Gil’s (Owen) neck leaving him pussy whipped not only in the past but in the present and future as well. Perhaps this is why Van Gogh never makes an appearance, an ear is too great a sacrifice as Owen won’t even consider a nose job.

The Woodman has often been criticized for rehashing his old bits and in his latest it is no different. Though I do enjoy the fresh cast and was reminded of the charming Owen pre Dupree and was surprised to find Rachel McAdams a likable bitch. Unlike The Purple Rose of Cairo, the bridge between reality vs. fantasy is blurred by the end of the picture and while McAdams and Sheen do hook up in real life, we leave the theater feeling nostalgic, not just for the city of lights of the 20’s or Belle Epoque, but for the whole tragic comedy of life. But I was feeling more nostalgic for his earlier funnier movies and was hoping that amongst Hemmingway, Zelda and Scott, that Zelig would drop by too.


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You Will Be Bored.

“It is a tale told by an idiot, full of sound and fury, signifying nothing.”-Shakespeare

So begins Woody Allen’s 5th European set film, You Will Meet a Tall Dark Stranger, narrated by some village idiot and leftover cast. And if that’s not a set up line open to ridicule and interpretation regarding this movie…Yes, I know that ultimately we are all idiots – I mean even Dostoyevsky and Greenday have come to that conclusion, and Tolstoy did say, “The only absolute knowledge attainable by man is that life is meaningless.” But how about having a few laughs before we check out, Woody? I mean I love your movies “especially your early funny ones”.

But Stardust Memories was many moons ago, and now we are reduced to a series of minor melodramas based on loosely formed, half-baked ideas with no real resolution. Such as Writer (Josh Brolin) with writer’s block who steals recently dead writers unread manuscript and falls in love with the rear window, lady in red Neighbor (Freida Pinto) or the rehashed tale of a viagra popping Old Man (Anthony Hopkins) who divorces his wife of decades and marries a young bombshell Hooker (Lucy Punch) realizing he’s made a mistake and wants to go back to his wrinkly saggy titted ex-wife (Gemma Jones) who since has resorted to following a quack fortune teller’s advice leaving her miserably married Daughter (Naomi Watts) hopeless who falls in love with her miserably married boss (Antonio Banderas). So much for the “sound and the fury”. Faulkner attributed the title to the decline and death of a traditional upper-class Southern family and whereas Woody to the foibles of a bunch of self-centered neurotic Brits who’s only hope of redemption or salvation at this point is to go to “Jazz Heaven”.

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Fiddler on the Roof

A Serious Man Poster

“How is it possible to find the meaning in a finite world, given my waist and shirt size?”  – Woody Allen

Scorsese had Mean Streets, Truffaut had The 400 Blows, Fellini – Amacord, and Woody Allen – Radio Days. Countless directors have paid homage to their childhoods as the Coen Brothers join the ranks keeping their quintessential absurdity and profundity but still resulting in probably their most sublime movie yet, A Serious Man. As it never presents itself as a personal nostalgic coming of age movie one can’t help that the world the Coen Brother’s create was not concocted out of their idiosyncratic imaginations but obviously from their own repressed childhood environment. Granted, Fargo was set in their beloved Minnesota and based on a “true story,” I doubt Joel or Ethan ever used a woodchipper or American Indian car mechanics like Shep Proudfoot and instead were more likely come across The Three Wise Rabbi’s.

A Serious Man Rabbi

After several decades of the Coens delving into every genre, what they have drawn from childhood they still retain enough fiction to keep it interesting. This too keeps that fiction by not having the protagonist as their alter egos. Instead we have Larry Gopnik (Michael Stuhlbarg) who is a physics professor struggling to raise his family in small town middle America, Minnesota within a Jewish insular community in 1967. But before we are introduced to this slice of Jewish-Americana the movie opens with a curious quote:

“Receive with simplicity everything that happens to you.” – Rashi.

After Googling Rashi I found out this dude was far from a simpleton but a medieval French Rabbi who had a thing or two to say about the Talmud.

This then is followed by what is seemingly an old yiddish cautionary folk tale that alludes to the possibility of evil reincarnation or just plain superstition shot in 4:3 aspect ratio for good measure until we go widescreen funneling out from 13 year old Danny Gopnik’s ear via a transistor radio. Soon to celebrate his Bar Mitzvah, this pot smoking, Jefferson Airplane loving boy, who steals money from his Dad’s wallet to feed his habits, is unquestionably and ironically the only reasonable person in the movie – for TV and weed are a lot more appealing than parking lots and waddling yentas hacking up last night’s matzoh ball soup.

A Serious Man Danny(The Coens sure know how to dress a set to regress. Go F-Troop!)

As jewy as it may be ultimately it’s about most American dysfunctional families. I mean, every family has a a promiscuous Wife, a backstabbing best friend, a crazy freeloading Uncle that scribbles the meaning of the universe in a notebook or a Sister that is preoccupied with her face and hair.

Serious Man Mom and Daughter

But given the structure of the jewish community it is the Rabbi’s that hold the position of power and the ones that they flock to for guidance only to part ironically with more questions about teeth cavities and how to be a good boy and with the uncertainty that the only truth being that mortality and mother nature are inevitable.

A Serious Man Gopnik

(I should stick with Mentaculus.)

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Woody’s Friendos in Barcelona

After the debacle of Scoop and Cassandra’s Dream, Woody Allen redeems himself with his fourth consecutive movie shot outside his beloved Manhattan. With a stellar cast, Vicky Cristina Barcelona erases the memory of Colin Farrell and Hugh Jackman. Unlike those posers, Javier Bardem tosses aside flipping coins and his captive bolt pistol from No Country for Old Men for a painters brush and an eye for beautiful American tourists (Scarlett Johansson and Rebecca Hall) vacationing in Spain for the summer, trying to coax them into a menage a trois by seducing them with their artistic notions of spanish guitar, architecture and wine. But just when you think this trio is wrought with erotic lesbian tension Scarlett finds she can’t hold her liquor, even with the additional weight of her huge ass melons, and Javier and newly engaged Rebecca end up in the dark unwittingly shagging in the bushes.

Yet this episode is just the setup for the introduction to Javier’s ex-suicidal wife, Penelope Cruz, who reveals what a true tortured romantic artist really is through her genuine latin passion, her flights of fancy and raw emotion juxtaposed to those self absorbed Americans. Rounding off this ensemble, Rebecca’s husband (Chris Messina) takes time off from his high powered, social climbing, Wall St. job with the intention of getting married in Barcelona where we see what a dweeb he is compared to Javier who makes out like a bandit by screwing all three girls before he even arrives.

However, with the standard love triangle scenario, Woody shows a different angle of clashing cultures through a brief summer love affair (shot in Spain’s gorgeous light) and how New Yorkers may be too preoccupied with their own neurotic issues of stability and identity and are out of touch with the kind of unadulterated passion and love like the Spaniards. On a sour note, what boggles me is not the use of a narration but that it’s narrated by some dude who reminded me of Bill Scott’s George of the Jungle and Super Chicken and not Woody himself, along with the repetitive one song latin soundtrack from it’s opening to closing credits by Giulia y los Tellarini to help remind you where the movie is set called, “Barcelona”.

Menage a Trois?

 

 

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