I have recently rediscovered Netflix which seems to have a better selection than when they first started. I watched a couple of Woody Allen movies on Netflix and while I have always enjoyed any Woody Allen movie I have ever seen (especially Midnight in Paris which I reviewed already on the blog), I realised that I hadn’t seen the majority of his work. This kickstarted the Woody Allen Fest 2012 in my house over the last few weeks.
There are many things I love about Woody Allen’s work; the music, the cast regulars especially Judy Davis and Julie Kavner (both talented actresses who we just don’t see enough of on film), the rapid fire scripts and magical surreal touches. Allen is one of the geniuses of modern cinema and his filmography contains gem after gem after gem. Having now seen pretty much everything from his filmography I reckon my favourites are as follows:
1. Husbands and Wives (1992) – This has a stellar cast including Allen regulars Judy Davis (who gives a truly hilarious performance) and Mia Farrow, and also starring Sydney Pollack, Juliette Lewis and Liam Neeson. The film is about two couples who encounter problems in their marriages and how they deal with it.
2. Alice (1990) – Mia Farrow stars as Alice, a bored rich housewife living in New York whose days are filled with facials and shopping and gossip. Alice realises she has an attraction to a man she sees at her children’s school (Joe Mantegna), and this combined with her frequent visits to a Chinese doctor specialising in herbal medicine throw her world into disarray.
3. Deconstructing Harry (1997) – This film stars Allen as a successful writer called Harry Block who often draws inspiration from his friends and family for his work, leading to disastrous consequences. Block is being honoured at his old university and the plot revolves around his attempts to find a guest to go with him and the journey thereafter.
4. Bullets Over Broadway (1994) – “Don’t speak! Don’t speak!” Dianne Weist’s catchphrase will be familiar to anyone who has seen this comedy-crime caper. Also starring John Cusack, Chazz Palminteri and Jennifer Tilly, this movie was nominated for 7 Academy Awards and tells the story of an ill fated Broadway production financed by gangsters.
5. Manhattan Murder Mystery (1993) – Diane Keaton and Woody Allen worked together often, most famously in Annie Hall, but Manhattan Murder Mystery is my favourite of their collaborations. Keaton and Allen play a couple, Carol and Larry Lipton, who meet their neighbours the night before the neighbour’s wife dies, fuelling Carol’s imagination and her belief that she was murdered.
Unfortunately to my mind, the one Allen film to avoid is Cassandra’s Dream, starring Colin Farrell and Ewan McGregor, both of whom are actors that I admire. From the outset the film seemed stagey, both actors seemed uncomfortable and certainly didn’t give their best performances and overall the film had an unrealistic feel which is unusual for an Allen film.
So what about you? Woody Allen fan or hater? And if a fan, what are your favourites?