Thursday, December 15, 2005

Understatement of the year.

Not to beat up on the old fucker, but...

"I felt I didn't do as good a job as I should have on The Curse of the Jade Scorpion."
--Woody Allen to the LA Weekly. (For the record, he doesn't understand why people hate Hollywood Ending: "I felt that I did a very good job on Hollywood Ending and for some reason that picture wasn't appreciated sufficiently; I felt it was a really wonderful comic idea and that I executed it just fine and it should have been very enjoyable." Should have being the key words, Woody.)


At 5:46 AM, Blogger girish said...

"I felt it was a really wonderful comic idea and that I executed it just fine and it should have been very enjoyable."

This shows how clueless he is about how abysmal his movies have become in the last dozen or so years.

Woody's trajectory saddens me: he was among the first American filmmakers who fired up my passion for movies. I have nostalgic memories of discovering Manhattan as a kid--an almost life-changing experience.

Too bad about Match Point. I've been hearing about it for so long that I think I'll find it impossible to resist the temptation to see it. But if I do, I'll make sure I go in with zero (or even negative) expectations. Maybe then it won't seem so disappointing.

At 9:26 AM, Blogger Joshua said...

Listen, I know I'm like some kind of obnoxious, shrill pro-Woody asshole, but this madness has to end!

Of course Hollywood Ending was awful. That's not the point. Even his not-so-good twenty-first century movies are much funnier, and far better-acted, than most American comedy.

Furthermore, what's with the ridiculous lengths of time people ahve begun to assign to the length of Woody's "decline." Girish, I adore you, but "the last dozen or so years"? In the last dozen or so years, Woody Allen has made his best film ( Deconstructing Harry) and his fourth best ( Manhattan Murder Mystery) and even his second, if we can extend the "or so" far enough to include Husbands and Wives. He also gave us some of his funniest, Bullets Over Broadway, Mighty Aphrodite and Everyone Says I Love You. The 90s are probably his best decade. Sweet And Lowdown was only six years ago. In the same dozen or so years David Lynch has given us only three full length movies and one of them is so terrible my rectum is still bleeding!

Sorry. I'm mad.

I love you guys!

At 9:45 AM, Blogger Dashiell said...

I agree with Joshua. I didn't get around to seeing Hollywood Ending, but i will see it one day. the rest of his releases for the past 10 years though i've seen in the theater. i was disappointed with Jade Scorpion, but there are great parts to it. The first half of Small Time Crooks is the funniest stuff he's done in years and there are great moments to many of his recent movies -- melinda and melinda being a very successful experiment.

this seems to be the same argument that can be made with the Coen Bros. (and i think we already had it). Ben's given up on them and thinks their future releases are going to be shit. which i guess is fine, it doesn't bother me none. there are things to enjoy in those movies and it saddens me that you just write them off, but oh well. I can't argue this stuff with you anymore and it really frustrates me and makes me a melancholy baby.

At 9:51 AM, Blogger Tim said...

That's not the point. Even his not-so-good twenty-first century movies are much funnier, and far better-acted, than most American comedy.

Sorry. No. Curse of the Jade Scorpion, Hollywood Ending, Anything Else, and Melinda and Melinda are embarassingly bad, no matter who is behind the camera. The acting in all four of them ranges from subpar to awful and a comparison to other comedies is unfair in itself, as each new Woody Allen film is still treated with much more regard than any comedy made by an filmmaker as if his "jokes" mean more or that he still has something to add. The significance is, in part, the problem. No one else could get Hollywood Ending made, considering that it's one scene (an unfunny one, at that) played over and over and over again until the credits mercifully roll. Woody has it easy. He gets to do whatever he wants whenever he wants, with a modest budget that will always be available to him. Some might thrive in this environment, but with age, he's become stunted. And it shows.

All of the films feel old and tired and so drenched in mind numbing cynicism that everything collapses under the weight of Woody's narrow mind and self loathing. And despite it being an improvement over the last few (all of which were zeros), it still falls flat, with some bizarre and ocassionally terrible acting, a script that grinds along, never once twisting itself towards anything even remotely surprising, unconventional, or revelatory, and, at times, contains some embarassing signs of Woody's myopia, which now sadly includes subjects he'd have skewered or least examined more thoroughly once upon a time.

Blah. It's over.

At 10:06 AM, Blogger Ben said...

What? When did I say that about the Coens? Did I? I still haven't seen The Ladykillers but am planning on it. True, I hated Intolerable Cruelty and think The Man Who Wasn't There is pretty dull, but I haven't written them off at all.

As for Woody... Uh, yeah, I've written him off. I'm curious, Dash, which parts of Jade Scorpion are "great"?

At 10:23 AM, Blogger Joshua said...

Small Time Crooks (the 'beginning of the end') is a marvelous little caper film. Jade Scorpion has a lot of problems, but it's lush and gorgeous, and is a cute little flirtation with/parody of old tymey crime pictures. And while Woody has been pairing himself with intimidating women for ages, Helen Hunt is the first one to actually look like a man. And that's funny! Plus, Elizabeth Berkeley!! Come on! This isn't fucking Doctor Zhivago. It's a goddamn light-hearted hypnosis movie. Anything Else is mostly great, minus a few poor casting choices. Melinda and Melinda isn't even a comedy, so I don't know what you're even talking about now, Tim. Though, Radha Mitchell does give one of the all-time Allen leading lady performances. Only Hollywood Ending is terrible, but I admitted that upfront so don't throw that in my face!

And even it's it's true and every single one of these movies is worse than Spanglish, I think the man deserves a little slack, don't you? From 1971 to 1999 he made one, exactly ONE, bad movie. And during that time he made, oh I don't know, thirty or so of the best comedies ever.

It's Christmas! Have a little faith my friends!

At 10:34 AM, Blogger Tim said...

Josh - Half of the film is a drama and half is a comedy. Wallace Shawn was gesticulating and spitting, explaining the film's 1/2 and 1/2 concept and you didn't even pay attention. For shame...

At 11:12 AM, Blogger Ben said...

Tim, you can't blame Josh for not noticing the comedy when the best Woody can do is have Will Ferrell say things like "That car ride made me so nauseous... I'm the color of guacamole...a-guh."

At 11:25 AM, Blogger girish said...

Oops. Johsua, I had no idea you were so into Woody. Apologies for the (grating) flipness!

There appears to be little overlap between our preferred-Woody periods though. The last Woody film I truly loved was Husbands & Wives. I enjoyed Everyone Says (kick-ass musical conceit too--all but Drew singing in their own voices; I love the soundtrack as well) , Bullets and Harry (and once again, the musical conceit of Sweet & Lowdown) and not sure why but all the others since Husbands left me pining for earlier Woody. IMHO: They seemed somehow less-than-fully baked, making me wish he'd make a movie every two or three years rather than every nine or ten months. Just my highly questionable opinion on that, but I'm being honest.

Manhattan and Annie Hall are my fave Woodies, and the 80s had many excellent ones (Hannah, Zelig, Purple Rose, Radio Days, Broadway Danny Rose) but after Husbands, he's just made me kinda sad and disappointed.

At 11:29 AM, Blogger girish said...

I haven't seen Melinda but harbor a giant-size Radha Mitchell crush (She was delicious in High Art).

At 11:33 AM, Blogger girish said...

And I'm with Ben on the Coens. :-)
Not written off or anything but kinda..skeptical about the future.

At 11:41 AM, Blogger girish said...

Now that you mention it, Joshua, Small Time Crooks was a lot of fun. Come to think of it, maybe the 90s wasn't such a disappointing decade after all.
But I still prefer the 80s and 70s!

At 11:58 AM, Blogger Joshua said...

I'm glad Girish, at least, is coming around.

I understand the half-and-half structure of Melinda and Melinda, but I maintain my previous argument that Woody himself dismisses the neat notions of comedy and tragedy Wallace Shawn sets up at the beginning. And, the drama part is clearly better than the comedy part. And since the film isn't a straight comedy, it has nothing at all to do with my original assertion about Woody's comedies, to which you were responding. So, I'm still right.

And, listen, I don't care if you like any of his movies specifically. I haven't seen Match Point and so who am I to judge? What bothers me so much about the endless, endless Woody debate is the myth of Woody's so-called "decline." This is a mass hallucination on the part of a dedicated cabal of film critics and millions of shallow-minded filmgoers with absolutely no basis in anything like reality. And you know how I know I'm right? Because it's happened before! Annie Hall and Manhattan left Woody's fans puzzled and upset that he'd abandoned his "real talents" for slapstick comedy. Woody got so much flack for his late 70s work that he made a whole movie about it, the deliriously scorching Stardust Memories. But by the end of the 80s, those films were heralded as two of the best of all time, and he'd added a couple more to the pantheon too. Just in time for Woody to "lose it" again with Husbands and Wives and the "bitter, hateful" Deconstructing Harry. Now, though, it's those movies we're looking back on as the "last masterpieces." So, should we surprised by the end of the decade when you guys are at it again, saying Woody's lost it and yearning for the wit and beauty of Anything Else? Of course not.

At 12:26 PM, Blogger Ben said...

Joshua, I have no problem with most of Woody's '70s - '90s output, but you are tripping balls if you can't see that there's been a precipitous decline in the '00s. The wit and beuaty of Anything Else? Joshua. Those words have meaning. Don't abuse them that way.

At 1:33 PM, Blogger Tim said...

I'm having a bad enough day as it is and now I find out I'm going be head injured by the end of the decade. Shit.

At 6:43 PM, Blogger Joshua said...

I want to give y'all such a punching! I'll give you head-injured!

Listen, the early 80s Woody output is all light and wacky comedy. It was 1986 before he made a Great Film. He's like syphillis, he's on an 11 year cycle.

If you people are satisfied living your life with no faith in anything, well then I'll be sad to attend your suicide funeral, but we can't say I didn't warn you!!!

At 6:44 PM, Blogger Joshua said...

PS: I promise I'm done now. Woody doesn't need my help. He has a smokin' wife.


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