Posts Tagged ‘Woody Allen’

Manhattan – Minute Movie Review

Sonntag, November 1st, 2009

Review:

Another Woody Allen comedy with dramatic elements, the film tries very hard to match the previous Annie Hall in both fun and poignancy, but ultimately fails. This time around, Woody Allen is dating a high school student before quitting his job and going after another woman, the (former) lover of his married best friend. Dealing once more with the “typical” New York or Manhattan mentality, the film has some great scenes, but lacks the coherence of the earlier work. Plus, it is shot in the worst black and white I have seen in a really long time, something that might have been necessary artistically, but was a completely failure aesthetically.

Random Observations:

Manhattan at the IMDb

Yes, Woody Allen plays himself once more. He actually dated a high school student when he was in his early 40s, right before the film was made.

The final scene is really nice and probably the best of the film.

Wallace Shawn, mostly known by me for his role in The Princess Bride, has a small cameo here.

Annie Hall – Minute Movie Review

Donnerstag, Oktober 29th, 2009

Review:

In this pinnacle of neurotic comedies, Woody Allen once more plays himself, as the neurotic comedian who can’t commit and struggles with the relationship with the titular Annie Hall. The film is maybe Allen’s funniest film, with a lot of poignant rambling that especially pays off if you know a little about philosophy and psychoanalysis, but also some physical lowbrow humour for the rest of us. The film also illustrates the superiority of New York over California, a point that can’t be made enough. After all, who doesn’t like a dying city?

Random Observations:

Annie Hall at the IMDb

Did you catch the great Jeff Goldblum cameo as the party guest (in California, naturally) who lost his mantra?

He might be credited as Christopher Wlaken, but that was another nice performance of one of the most underrated (comic) actors of all time.

The film is usually called a departure for Woody Allen from his earlier movies (read more reviews here), but I don’t personally see the big difference. This is not supposed to be a slight, I enjoyed the film immensely, just a statement.

Love and Death – Minute Movie Review

Dienstag, September 29th, 2009

Review:

Woody Allen takes on Czarist Russia in this film about a young man caught in the Napoleonic Wars, who would much rather stay home, write poetry and marry his cousin, but instead becomes a war hero by accident. It’s the usual early Allen mixture of slapstick, physical comedy, utter nonsense, silliness, smart comedy and insightful commentary that makes for very entertaining 90 minutes and out of all those films, this is easily the best. It is often absurd and hilariously funny, especially when Allen in the title role starts talking philosophy.

Random Observations:

Love and Death at the IMDb

Made shortly before the heyday of Woody Allen / Diane Keaton collaborations.

I really enjoyed the stereotypical black Drill Sergeant in the Russian army.

Boris Grishenko, the Russian hacker, in the James Bond film Goldeneye is certainly named for Boris Grushenko, the main character here.

Sleeper – Minute Movie Review

Sonntag, September 20th, 2009

Review:

A man frozen involuntarily in 1973 is unfrozen 200 years later in a totalitarian regime and asked to help out the underground. Of course, him being Woody Allen, this is not as easy as it may seem and hijinks ensue. The film has some funny scenes – especially when Allen impersonates a robot, successfully fooling everyone – much slapstick humour and a few interesting ideas about the future that actually make it worth watching. In the greater Allen oeuvre, however, it remains a footnote.

Random Observations:

Sleeper at the IMDb

Director Joel Schumacher, most famous for his contribution to the “Worst Movie of All Time” competition, Batman & Robin, was the costume designer for this film. I did not, however, see any nipples on the police uniforms.

First film collaboration between Allen and Diane Keaton, who would go on to co-star in all his best films.

Everything You Always Wanted to Know About Sex * But Were Afraid to Ask – Minute Movie Review

Freitag, September 18th, 2009

Review:

Based on the bestselling popular science book, this is a sketch comedy by and with Woody Allen, dealing humorously with such questions as “Are Transvestites Homosexual?” and “What is Sodomy?”. The results vary from extremely silly to plain boring, with very few laughs. The film may have been groundbreaking in 1972, but today it is nothing more than very light entertainment, bearable but not all that enjoyable.

Random Observations:

Everything You Always Wanted to Know About Sex * But Were Afraid to Ask at the IMDb

The other segments “answer” the questions “Do Aphrodisiacs Work?”, “Do Some Women Have Trouble Reaching Orgasm?”, “What Are Sex Perverts?”, “Are the Findings of Doctors and Clinics Who Do Sexual Research Accurate?” and “What Happens During Ejaculation?”, with the last being the consistently funniest one.

I’m slowly working my way through the Woody Allen canon to Annie Hall. Only two more films to go!

It is entirely possible that the film holds the record for longest title of a non-experimental film.

Bananas – Minute Movie Review

Mittwoch, September 16th, 2009

Review:

In small South American country San Marcos, the president gets assassinated (and ABC provides the play-by-play) while in New York, a neurotic product tester falls for a girl that cares about San Marcos, causing him to be involved in protests. And that is just the beginning of the early Woody Allen film that is a slap-dash combination of everything he could think of, with some really funny scenes, some truly poignant ones and a lot of silly filler. Some of it works, some of it doesn’t, but the overall result is certainly good enough to watch.

Random Observations:

Bananas at the IMDb

I really liked the beginning, with the sports-like coverage of the assassination.

Woody Allen, as usual, plays himself.

I’m not really well-versed in Allen’s oeuvre, but from what I have come to understand, his early films, i.e. those before the breakout success that was Annie Hall, are more sketch-comedy inspired and less story-driven. This film, one of his earliest, is a nice combination of both.

Minute Movie Review – Casino Royale (1967)

Donnerstag, Mai 7th, 2009

Review:

At the height of James Bond’s popularity, a large creative team set out to adapt a James Bond novel not owned by Eon Productions, the company behind the official series. They decided to turn it into a parody of James Bond and the spy film genre in general. And it somewhat worked. Quite a few of the scenes in the film are truly inspired, many are quite funny, but sadly, most are just stupid. Add to that the fact that the film severely lacks direction and a clear plot thread and you have an experiment, that didn’t quite work.

Random Observations:

Casino Royale at imdb.com

The film has five (credited) directors and at least ten writers worked on the script, though most of them are uncredited.

I wanted to rank this in the list of the other Bond films, but there is simply no way to compare the “serious” films to this.

Minute Movie Review – Tystnaden

Freitag, April 10th, 2009

Review:

Two sisters and the son of the younger are forced to stay in a fictional town in a fictional country on their way home to Sweden when the older gets sick. What follows was one of the most controversial films of the time with sexual escapades and a relationship that, ultimately, allows nothing but silence. I’m not quite sure what to think of the film, which, despite being nearly perfect technically, is, at best, a bit odd. The plot makes a lot more sense, however, if you adopt Woody Allen’s interpretation, that the two women are merely two sides of the same person, in which case the film becomes a brilliant character study between morality and lust for life.

Random Observations:

Tystnaden at imdb.com

Fourth of eight Ingmar Bergman movies reviewed this month.

This is the final piece of a trilogy of movies dealing with issues of faith, often called simply “The Trilogy” or “Trilogy of Faith” or, maybe worst of all, “God’s Silence Trilogy”. I have not seen the first two movies, Såsom i en spegel and Nattvardsgästerna.

The film is credited with starting the erosion of censorship in Sweden by passing the censoring board without demands for cuts due to its “artistic nature”. The board, in effect, made itself obsolete with that. By modern standards, the film is positively tame and it is strange to think that such scenes were controversial only 45 years ago.

The Oscars are today! Did you know?

Sonntag, Februar 22nd, 2009

Later tonight, the prestigious Academy Awards will be handed out at the 81st Oscar ceremony. After the dismal television ratings last year, the Academy promised to revamp the show this year, make it more interesting for “common” people. So they got rid of a comedia hosting, who would only crack inside jokes that nobody not obsessed with Hollywood would get. So they promised to reduce the running time from three and a half hours to under three hours. So they got rid of the ban for commercials for upcoming movies. And then they completely forgot to nominate the most popular movie of the year.

Ever since The Dark Knight was wrongfully overlooked by Academy members, the predictions have been that nobody would care about the Oscars anymore. And to some extent, that is true. Advertising rates in the US are significantly lower than last year and for every Oscar buffy predicting a better show you can find three predicting that nobody will see that show.

For my part, I have kept mostly quiet about the award season, which comes to a close today, this year. Not because I didn’t care, but because there are so many people writing about it on the internet that I didn’t feel a need to write more of the same. So this is just a quick note to offer some of my predictions for tonight – that the Oscars are all about politics and not about quality should be universally known already. How else would The Reader have gotten in?

I would also like to offer my thoughts on who *should* win, but I can’t. There is only one category where I have seen all nominees and I would consider it unfair, just for example, to Mickey Rourke if I said that Frank Langella should win Best Actor. So now, without any further ado, some predictions:

Slumdog Millionaire is going to sweep the awards. Best Picture, Best Director (Danny Boyle) and Best Adapted Screenplay(Simon Beaufoy) are sure to win – Cinematography, Score and Original Song also seem likely. Maybe they all deserve it, but I would bet my life that the movie wouldn’t have stood a chance of even being nominated without the current economic climate.

Mickey Rourke will win Best Actor for The Wrestler. The only other nominee given serious chances is Sean Penn for Milk, which didn’t impress me and hence will also not impress Academy voters. And besides, the comeback of the year wouldn’t be complete without this win. Golden Globes and Independent Spirit Awards be damned.

Kate Winslet will win Best Actress. And sadly, not for Revolutionary Road, but for “The Reader”. And even though I have seen neither film and thus can’t really judge the performances, I strongly feel that this is wrong on too many levels. But hey, at least Winslet finally gets an Oscar.

Heath Ledger will win Supporting Actor for The Dark Knight. I think if you were to bet on this, you would not make any money – everybody expects this. Heath Ledger was great in the film and the nomination is certainly deserved, but one cannot help to feel that it is also an award for all the movies he will never make.

Penelope Cruz will win Supporting Actress for Vicky Cristina Barcelona. Nothing to say here, except that this is apparently the consensus.

Man on Wire will win Best Documentary. It’s the only one I and the rest of the world have seen and this is one category, where Academy members have to see all five nominees to vote, so a surprise is not unlikely, but which film would win instead nobody can say.

WALL-E will win Best Animated Feature. For sure. They even tried to get it nominated as Best Picture. Almost as certain as Heath Ledger’s win.

Waltz with Bashir will win Best Foreign Language Film. Certainly better than The Class and The Baader Meinhof Complex. Better than the Italian entry Gomorra and not nearly as good as the Swedish film that wasn’t eligible, Let the Right One In.

I have no idea who will win in the technical and shorts categories. I’m not that obsessed…

The Introduction of Theme Months

Samstag, Juni 28th, 2008

When I announced some big changes at Fabricated Truth, I was only partly kidding. In fact, I actually want to change something. Writing a short review (see my previous post “What’s in a Name” for more information) (almost) whenever I see a movie is nice, but not enough. Occasionally I feel the need to stretch my writing muscles a bit and actually write something a bit deeper and more meaningful. But what about? Truth is, I may claim to be a movie expert sometimes, but I really am not. Sure, I’ve been to the cinema a couple of times and have seen the occasional film on TV or DVD, but when it comes to real knowledge of classic cinema or something similar, I quickly must admit my ignorance.

But ignorance is not only bliss but also a chance. Admitting it is not shameful, especially not when trying to overcome it. And thus we come to the introduction of theme months. Going back to the tight schedule of December, when the bilingual Adventskalender kept me posting regularly, I will once again submit myself to self-set deadlines and try to write something more on a recurring theme. And since December is still a long way away and I am frankly quite tired of Christmas movies, (Besides, are there even 24 more worth watching?) each month will now be a theme month at Fabricated Truth. Don’t worry, I will still write and post my Minute Movie Reviews, but in addition, each month will be dedicated to a theme and see some posts related to that – maybe not every day, but at least a couple of times each week.

Themes can be basically everything. A month may be dedicated to a film maker (e.g. Woody Allen), an actor (e.g. Christopher Walken), a genre (e.g. horror), a sub-genre (e.g. slasher horror), an era (e.g. The Golden Age of Cinema), a country (e.g. Iceland) or something else entirely. I will write a short introductory text on the first of each month, detailing the theme and also outlining which particular movies will be reviewed in depth during the course of the month – and yes, this will start in July.

For most months, this will be a kind of adventure for me – writing about something I know very little about, slowly dissolving my ignorance and learning about the theme. I hope that some readers will join me in those journeys and learn about these themes together with me. Occasionally I may pretend to know everything, but it’s all just for show. Even when admitting your own ignorance, you still have to keep some face. And readers will get to keep all of theirs, using my ignorance to displace their own.

Two last issues: I’m fairly certain that most articles in this endeavour will be better written than this one. Hopefully, having a deadline, even if it is self-imposed, will stop me from writing late at night when I should really be sleeping. Blame my tiredness for this badly written piece. And also, no, I don’t have any plans to write about Woody Allen, Christopher Walken, horror movies or even slasher horror movies (whatever those might be) and I’m not sure what The Golden Age of Cinema even is. I also have never seen an Icelandic film – but maybe I’ll get around to that eventually. For July, expect some light-hearted start with a not too serious theme about which I actually know a little. More on Tuesday – I hope to see you here (figuratively speaking).