Monday, March 14, 2011


Apparently Woody Allen disliked this movie so much that he begged the studio not to release it. This I do not understand. It's not quite as good as Annie Hall, but very few movies are, and it's both a highly amusing and occasionally heartfelt look at romance as well as a love letter to New York. It's shot in black and white, and that along with the George Gershwin score lend the movie a great old fashioned sense of style, as the protagonist played by Allen worries in the opening narration that society is going to hell as we lose our values and get addicted to cheap pop culture. Of course the movie itself is guilty of numerous insider pop culture references, but I don't think the irony is lost on Allen.

He stars as a divorced TV writer in a questionable (and somewhat prescient) relationship with a seventeen year old high school student. He worries that he's told for her, though his concern becomes more acute when he finds out that his best friend is having an affair with a journalist played by Diane Keaton, and he begins to have feelings for her. Eventually he begins to see her as well, and everything turns into a big mess as people try to figure out what they really want to do and who they want to do it with, but it's done in a real way where the drama and controversy doesn't overwhelm the human feelings that drive all of it. People get hurt, but nobody is really a bad person. Although sleeping with an underage girl is pretty bad when you're in your 40s.

Still, the fact that the characters are sympathetic despite some of their actions is an accomplishment. The central actors are all very good, and Meryl Streep has a nice role in a side plot as Allen's lesbian ex-wife who's writing a book about the break up of their marriage. There are a few story elements that don't really go anywhere, but they add to the flavor of the movie and make it seem more genuine. It's a very funny movie, maybe not as original or creative as Hall, but it provokes a lot of laughs while it lasts, and the general Allen-style of a bunch of characters talking and going on tangents and interrupting each other is in full effect. It's more striking visually than Hall, obviously with the black and white photography at the center of that but there's a few other things that contribute to it as well. I really should have seen more movies by Allen by now, his movies are quick, to the point, and a lot of fun. Luckily, there are a bunch streaming on Netflix right now.

1 comment:

Eileen said...

Not sure how much of Woody's movies you've seen, but Hannah and her Sisters is a good one for you to check out!