Like J I wasn’t really introduced to Woody Allen until my late 20’s. But I think that makes sense. I am not sure I would have been able to appreciate any of his work before then. That being said I only kind of get the whole Woody Allen thing.
I was gearing up to see Midnight in Paris and having only seen one other Woody Allen movie – Vicki Christina Barcelona – I thought it would be a good idea to catch up on some of his older works. So I had a Woody Allen marathon. Don’t ever do that. Don’t ever watch more than one Woody Allen movie in one sitting. Thank goodness I started with Annie Hall. At least I have good memories of that one. But by the time I got to Crimes and Misdemeanors I wasn’t laughing anymore.
I am being a bit harsh. But the truth is after just three of about 8,000 Woody Allen movies I was pretty much done. From his older works I enjoy Annie Hall and Hannah and Her Sisters. Mostly because he really knows how to capture the flavor of New York City. The people, the streets, the attitude, the colors…you can almost smell the 1970’s city streets while you’re watching. Delicious.
His modern work is a different story. Vicki Christina Barcelona was good for three reasons: 1, Penelope Cruz 2, Javier Bardem and 3, I got to see Barcelona for the first time. Everything else was terribly annoying. Midnight and Paris was great for 2 reasons: 1, Marion Cotillard 2, Paris at night. And To Rome With Love was watchable only because of, once again, Penelope and Rome. Just like with NYC he has a real knack for transporting his viewers into the magic of these cities. I won’t take that away from him.
What I will take away from him is his ability to capture the human spirit this late in his career. I think he lost it. For whatever reason I do not relate to any of his modern day American characters. I find them extremely irritating and would not befriend any of them in real life. I’d actually run the opposite direction. His European casts are a different story – I just love all of the Italian actors in To Rome With Love. They felt like real people with real problems. Plus they are all beautiful and who doesn’t like watching beautiful people. Unfortunately after seeing To Rome With Love I will never ever watch another Ellen Page movie ever again. I am sorry if that is harsh but holy crap I did not get her character AT ALL. And Scarlet Johansson’s character in Vicki Christina Barcelona? Really? Was I supposed to admire her “adventurous spirit” and therefore take up photography? Because I didn’t do either of those things.
Maybe I am missing the point. Maybe Woody Allen agrees with me and is trying to show us Americans what we look like and how awful we can be. That is why he continues to compare us to these fabulous European characters. Or maybe he thinks whining about every stupid trivial thing in your life is interesting and makes us (Americans) deep and funny. And thoughtful. hmm.
Whatever his reasons I will probably watch his next film on mute.
“I’m astounded by people who want to ‘know’ the universe when it’s hard enough to find your way around Chinatown.” – Woody Allen