Posts Tagged ‘Woody Allen’

Midnight in Paris – Woody Allen

(slightly spoiled)

Thank God! Woody Allen switched off the auto-pilot used partially in “Whatever Works” and full-time in “You’ll Meet a Tall Dark Stranger”. It is not his most original work but is definitely narrated with the freshness “You’ll Meet a Tall Dark Stranger” lacked so much.

“Midnight in Paris” is, as the title promises to be, an ode to Paris and all its charms. In addition it is also an ode to good ol’ times, not the ones we witnessed but the ones we read about in books, see in the movies and learn about in history class.

Midnight is a special hour when yesterday, today and tomorrow meet. It is the moment when the hero takes a leap in time, the moment Woody Allen chooses to feed us and his hero the magic of never-known but always longed-for better, cooler, more dynamic past.

We are offered what only cinema, of all arts, can offer, dreamlike time traveling. Cinema can curve time, we’re so rigidly and linearly trapped in, in the most natural way. It is science-fiction Woody Allen style, escapist style, using up all the possibilities and tricks a time travel in Paris of the Golden Age can offer. It is not a journey as unexpected as the one in “The Purple Rose of Cairo” but still an entertaining one.

The artistic milieu our hero lands in is astonishing, of course, and he has some revelatory encounters; the one with the surrealist group is probably the most intriguing and, in return, Luis Bunuel gets something very important out of this bizarre meeting but he is not yet aware of it. But we are and what a treat it is!

“Midnight in Paris” is well spent quality time with Woody Allen. We are not witnessing a chef d’oeuvre, but it’s definitely an enjoyable film and maybe even worth seeing twice. The cast, this time, is a success curing me, at least, of the “Tall Dark Stranger” cast trauma. Owen Wilson, Marion Cotillard, Kathy Bates, Corey Stoll are adorable, but Adrien Brody was the one who took me home.

The past, as glamorous as it is, as welcoming as it seems in the realm of cinema, was once the harsh present for the ones who lived it. The present is always too prosaic, no matter when or where, is what we all want to escape most of the time. That not being possible, maybe present is to be faced with gaiety and courage as Hemingway describes it. Use your dreams of perfection as the lance against quotidian dullness and indifference. Make present a past worth escaping to. Make present your Belle Epoque and never wait for the Future!

You Will Meet A Tall Dark Stranger – Woody Allen

The meaninglessness of human suffering, the embarrassment of weaknesses, cowardice, the delirium of a dream come true were and always will be perfect themes for perfect works of art or for humiliating artistic failures. This time the master of doubts, illusions and betrayals, Woody Allen, delivers a limp interpretation of what actually is the core of his entire work that can and it is expressed by a quote from Shakespeare: “Life’s (…) full of sound and fury, signifying nothing”.

This quote opens and ends Allen’s latest work: “You Will Meet a Tall Dark Stranger”. And it is an opening that makes us sit back and expect him, Allen, to tell us again the same story about hopelessness’, confusion, betrayal and illusion with his always refreshing cynical yet merciful approach.

The characters are treated with cruelty; the young ones are definitely the director’s favorite victims. Their destinies are left hanging on the edge of their nightmares’ cliff weather is about their professional life or their personal life. The old ones are treated with mercy, yet they’re not rendered happy in the end. They seem more like delusional and actually more connected to the afterlife than to real life. Anyway, all the characters have pretty interesting stories; all the conflicts are dramatic, absurd and filled with lessons for everybody.

But this bountiful screenplay chokes on its own bouquet of flavors. Somehow it is harder than ever to connect with any of Allen’s characters. Is it maybe because they’re too many? That shouldn’t be a problem for a director of his allure. Maybe it is because there is no real focus on anyone? That it is just another technical issue that shouldn’t necessarily kill a story.

I think the main problem is that this movie was meant to be a comedy but the ingredients that make a comedy were left out or not sufficiently used. There is no real opportunity for a good laugh and that’s the saddest thought I ever had about Woody Allen, ever.

Another horrifying feeling I had watching this film is that Woody Allen is tired of his own wit, that he has no patience to tell his own story, that he is in a hurry, that making this film he was rather fulfilling his needs as a workaholic than the urge of the artist.

This is junk entertainment and it is not even entertaining.

It’s junk when all the good scenes are in the trailer!

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Stardust Memories -Woody Allen

The artist sits in front of a white canvas, an empty piece of paper, a silent musical instrument. What to fill it with? Where do all those colours, sounds, words come from?

We have the sweating artists, who have the skills and not always the idea and they torment themselves in front of the empty surface. Then we have the artists with the ideas but not the skills to transform them in a work of art. Then there are some persons with love for art, with an extraordinary brain activity and probably with hearts broken too many times.

Well, these are the artists that cannot be anything else, but artists. They pour their life into their work and the result gives them back their life anew. It sounds like therapy.

What is the inner source of a work of art, which is just a surface open to the most hilarious misinterpretations? It may not be very important, maybe the hilarious interpretations are more interesting than the initial idea.

But here we have in Stardust Memories an ars poetica and it seems like Woody Allen’s whole process of creating and living is disclosed. It could be quite embarrassing to face the artist in such a cruel light. Woody Allen is merciless to himself but merciful to us, he keeps our smile active although his heart and brains are bleeding. The director gives us the inner sources off all his creation.

Haunting memories of past relations, misplaced feelings pour over the artist while he is confronting the world admiring his work. It really sounds like any other Woody Allen movie. But this time the hell of creation and dealing with personal problems blend in an almost nightmarish universe. There is a big resemblance between this confession and Fellini´s 8½. There is definitely no copying. In Fellini`s work we can feel the artist´s light heart towards all his haunting characters and ideas. This gives him the power not to make a comedy out of his confession. Allen cannot confess without being ironic and this is a proof of him being much more miserable.

A perfect work of art comes out of a perfect quest for equilibrium, comes out of perfect mistakes, and perfect illusions. Artistically he wants to take the express train, in life he accepts the cheapest one, he loathes as an artist and he calls that “not a compromise but getting lucky”. Oh, how much illusion in this too, and he knows it; the suffering will never end, but he also knows that his art will see him through the day.

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