I really enjoyed our last movie thread, so I thought we’d try another. It comes to mind because there’s a documentary about Woody Allen on PBS tonight and because I read a great review of “Breathless” on Can’t Explain last night.
I know he’s an asshole but I loves me some Woodman. I grew up obsessively reading Pauline Kael and two of the first Pauline Kael-type movies I ever saw (I grew up in a town with one movie theater that only showed “Back to the Future” and stuff like that) were “Annie Hall” and “Broadway Danny Rose”. I loved them! I wanted to move to the Upper West Side and shop at Zabar’s and eat at the Carnegie Deli and talk to Diane Keaton-type women about literature. Of course, when I lived in New York, I learned that the Upper West Side was overrun with frat boy douches just like everywhere else and that Woody had never lived there at all anyway.
What are your favorite Woody Allen movies? I’ll go with Manhattan, then Crimes and Misdemeanors, then Take the Money and Run. Diane Keaton’s singing ruined Annie Hall a little bit for me in the end.
There are those who say we shouldn’t like Woody Allen because he married his step-daughter, so I’ll add some other topics into the mix. Apropos of “Breathless”, has any of you ever actually enjoyed a Godard movie? I have not. And finally: have you ever seen a truly obscure, only-in-a-film-festival type movie that you liked a lot but that most people here might not have heard of? I used to see a lot of those types of movies, and mostly I wasn’t that keen on them, but I once saw a Korean movie called “Murmur of Youth” that is one of my favorite movies ever.
Woody movie: Everything You Wanted to Know About Sex but Were Afraid to Ask
More obscure movie: Persepolis
My favorite Woody Allen film is “Love and Death” by a mile. Next to that I would go with “Bananas”.
Stardust Memories is my favorite, but Annie Hall is his best. I’ve actually seen four Goddard films & my favorite in Alphaville.
I doubt many people here will dispute “Annie Hall” as the man’s greatest work…”Purple Rose Of Cairo” would be my second choice, probably because I love “meta” stuff.
Godard’s films can often be quite annoying….”Pierrot Le Fou” is in my opinion fairly successful, though. Might want to check it out if you haven’t already.
Also, it’s by no means obscure, but I recently loved “Adventureland,” a Bildungsroman movie with Jesse Eisenberg and Kristin Stewart set in 1987. In my opinion, the truest movie about “Generation X” made so far.
My hatred for Woody Allen long predated l’affaire Soon-Yi, but in light of later developments we can really appreciate lovely moments like in Manhattan, where Mariel Hemingway lies in Allen’s bed flipping through a magazine and mocking the pictures of older women with about a million plastic surgeries. “Why can’t they just age naturally?“sneers the adorable 16-year-old. Yeah, Woody, we know how you feel about women who age naturally.
Agggghhhh, I just hate everything about that narcissistic, whiny, self-righteous, faux-intellectual putz.
“Annie Hall” and “Manhattan” of course. For sheer nostalgia and sweetness, nothing beats “Radio Days.” I think I laughed the most at “Take the Money and Run”.
Not much of a Woody Allen fan, but I did see this movie called “Latter Days” which was on the LGBT film circuit. I guess it counts as “obscure” right?
I’m not sure how I came to watch it, but somehow I did and I loved it. I rented it at first, then I decided to buy it. It’s essentially a romantic drama about the young gay guy who was very “social” dating-wise and was a bit of a slut actually, not a prostitute mind ya, but he was “easy” if ya know what I mean. Anyway, he and his roomate lived in an apartment and some LDS guys moved in the complex and threw a dare and a bet, the promiscous fella ends up trying to “entice” one of the LDS fellas, but what started as a bet becomes so much more.
Anyway, I thought and still do think it’s one of the better LGBT romantic dramas in a long time. It was actually a sweet, enticing and endearing love story, IMHO. I recommend it to anyone gay or not and I dare them not to like it…
My favorite filmmaker ever, no question. Less so in recent years, but the amount of brilliant movies he’s made is something to behold. Last night I watched Take The Money And Run and the underrated Interiorsback to back, and talk about contrast. Comedy and drama, he handles both superbly.
Radio Days is a sentimental favorite. Zelig, Purple Rose, Hannah, Love and Death, Manhattan, Annie Hall..just too many to choose, happily.
Ha!, “overrun with Frat-Boy Douches, just like everywhere else”.
NEW BJ Tag-Line……………….
Love and Death and Annie Hall.
I finally saw Take the Money and Run and have to say I was severely disappointed.
Of course, Woody Allen’s movies would not prepare you for the realization that New York also contains its share of, ahem, you know…minorities ‘n’ shit. Or did.
I kind of enjoyed Band a Part, but I think only because of peer pressure. Le Weekend is the stupidest thing I’ve ever seen and I suspect that, as in many things, I just don’t get it.
As his reputation has dwindled, Woody Allen has moved more into the realm of “guilty pleasure” for me, but I still like a bunch of his stuff a lot: Annie Hall, Manhattan, Hannah and Her Sisters, Love and Death, and Another Woman are my top 5. I just saw an obscure Les Blank documentary about Leon Russell at a recent film festival that was great.
“Angi Vera” – Czech flick
I agree with Keith about “Love and Death” – for the music and the wheat and the herring and because objectivity is subjective, or maybe it’s vice versa.
Of course, Woody Allen’s movies would not prepare you for the realization that New York also contains its share of, ahem, you know…minorities ‘n’ shit.
Complaining that Woody Allen’s films are marred by a lack of social realism is a lot like complaining that Hitchcock’s films were marred by an undercurrent of dysfunctional sexuality. I.e., missing the point entirely.
I grew up on Woody Allen movies, and I’ve got a soft spot for his early, gag-a-minute films (the scene in Love and Death where he walks in with a four-foot long box and says “I got you those long earrings you wanted” gets me every time). Those early films are a lot like his humorous essays/stories, which I also love.
But I also like him when he gets into the later, character-based stuff, like Annie Hall and Deconstructing Harry.
As for obscure films, I don’t really know how to answer that. One college friend really wanted to watch everything put out by Criterion, so I’ve seen many foreign films (I’ve seen Salo three or four times, and it still makes me nauseated). But these days, a lot of those are on Netflix streaming. At the risk of sounding like a “Cat and Girl” cartoon, what’s obscure these days?
Natural Born Killers and The People Vs Larry Flynt. Oh, wait …
Breathless bored the living shit out of me. On the other hand, it’s vastly superior to Sympathy for the Devil, one of two contenders for Worst Movie Ever Made. (The other, as it happens, is by Woody Allen: Interiors.)
I like the Golden Age of Woody Allen movies: Sleeper, Bananas, etc. He can be pretty funny when he doesn’t weight his movies down with a lot of tiresome pseudo-profundity.
Edit: and you want obscure? Try Alex Cox’s adaptation of the Revenger’s Tragedy (Christopher Eccleston was born to play Vindici). Or even more obscure, his adaptation of Death & the Compass (Borges). Both are combinations of self-indulgence & pure genius on a shoestring budget; YMMV on where the balance lies.
Radio Days and Sleeper and probably Crimes & Misdemeanors. I’ve never understood the appeal of watching him act.
@marv: And also for “No, you must be Don Francisco’s sister.”
It’s not my main criticism of his movies, but I thought people loved the likes of Annie Hall and Manhattan because they seemed very “real” to them. But of course they depart from realism–I don’t think women are all either cute and bubbly or ball-cutting harpies, do you?
I always have liked Weekend, but I also have liked Ici et Allieurs, JLG/JLG, and King Lear. I haven’t been interested in a lot of other Godard. The great New Wave guy is Rivette….Everybody should sit through Celine and Julie Go Boating and Duelle.
As far as the unknown go, I would highly recommend anything you can find by Raul Ruiz. Some movies are highly difficult to locate, eg. Treasure Island and On Top of the Whale. Other films, like Time Regained, are on Netflix.
Pedro Costa is fantastic as well, and is or is not obscure. I have no way of knowing. But Casa de Lava is great.
If you have six hours, give or take, try Bela Tarr’s Satantango.
Crimes and Misdemeanors is an amazing movie.
Play it Again Sam is quite good – but I just like anything with footage of NYC in the 70’s.
I liked Crimes and Misdemeanors a lot. I haven’t seen it since it was in theaters, I’ll have to watch that one again. As far as art house stuff I’ve seen recently I enjoyed Guy Maddin’s Brand Upon the Brain. And his Saddest Music in the World was a hoot.
Great line about the the overrunning of… well, why limit it to the Upper West Side? The salad days of Wall Street brought those same douches to most all corners of our fair isle of Manhattan… but I have to nitpick slightly, and say that ‘Murmur of Youth’, which I’ve not seen and will look forward to watching on your recommendation, appears to be Chinese, likely from Taiwan, not Korean. Though there are lots of brilliant movies from Korea… I’d mention Spring, Summer, Fall, Winter, by Kim Ki-Duk, for one!
It isn’t really obscure, but I saw Sansho the Bailiff on TCM recently, and really enjoyed it.
When I think of Fratboys, I’m think young men behaving like the folks on Jersey Shore…I’ve never experienced them on the UWS. Is it another word for the despised “toursits” (who do go to the Carnegie Deli)?
I love Leon Russell.
Annie Hall has always been my favorite, and I just assumed it was everyone’s. Love and Death a close second.
Not very obscure, but my two favorite “seen at art houses” movies are Children of Paradise and Jean Renoir’s Beauty and the Beast. Least favorite, but unforgettable, is the ultra-bloody Mexican movie, El Topo, although Warhol’s Sleep also ranks near the bottom.
The Diving Bell and Butterfly was good. It’s a foreign film so I’m not sure that it qualifies.
A quirky buy sweet movie was Lars and the Real Girl.
Are you familiar with the words “Jake’s Dilemma”, “Dublin House” etc.? I say that as someone who loves Dublin House modulo the occasional influx of frat boy douchebags.
The last Allen movie I saw was Crimes and Misdemeanors; I liked Jerry Orbach’s performance. But the movie over all made me sad. After that, it didn’t seem like any of Allen’s movies peaked my interest.
A somewhat obscure movie that I liked is Desert Hearts, loosely based on Jane Rule’s novel Hearts of the Desert. Although it is a lesbian love story, I saw a broader exposition on women’s friendship. I read the book after seeing the movie, and I’ve seen the movie several times.
Another good movie was Word Wars, about competitive Scrabble.
I’m not sure what “real” means in this context…to me, the central relationships in “Annie Hall” and “Manhattan” just beautifully depict the impossibility of ever truly connecting with another person, and I don’t think the main female characters in either film were either cute and bubbly or ball-cutting harpies.
I’m not going to deny that Allen’s phoned it in on numerous occasions, but at his best I think his films do actually show some fairly subtle and profound insight into human behavior. The fact that they’re very stylized doesn’t really bother me…obviously you are free to differ.
Broadway Danny Rose and Love And Death
@TOP123: 2nd on the Spring…Spring. It is a very beautiful film.
For completely different kind of Korean fun, I liked Save the Green Planet and The Good, the Bad and the Weird. Not all of the film festival films need to be so serious, or do they?
English apparently wasn’t your first language.
I’ll come back when I can read the threads.
I’m not a huge fan of Breathless, but I’ve pretty much everything else I’ve seen by Godard so far, especially: La Femme Est La Femme, Masculin/Feminine, and Band of Outsiders.
Contempt, I’m more ambivalent about — most of it is great, but the section where Bardot and Piccoli are arguing by themselves at the apartment (villa?) just felt interminable. I think I need to watch it again, though, and see if I still feel the same way about it after a second viewing.
I suspect “fratboys” here is more intended to mean “rich preppy a**sholes.” They seem to be congregating more on the East Side of Manhattan these days, though. Brooklynite that I am, I don’t make it up to the Upper West Side much, but when I do, I’m always surprised at how the character of the place has persevered through the influx of 1%er money of the last few years.
Contempt…most of it is great, but the section where Bardot and Piccoli are arguing by themselves at the apartment (villa?) just felt interminable.
Yeah, that’s the point. The idea is that the viewer starts to really feel, on a gut level, the frustration of those two people stuck in an unhappy relationship. You might not enjoy it (I personally have no desire to see the film a second time) but it was a deliberate choice on the director’s part, not a flaw per se.
I think the only Woody Allen movie I have ever seen was “Everything you wanted to know about sex” cause my dad was watching it once when I was home on leave and he was laughing like a drain. I tend to like small, in the sense that it wasn’t a blockbuster movies. I still say that “Don’t look now” is the scariest movie ever, I literally slept with the light on for a week, that fucking dwarf scared me so much. The original “The Haunting” also had me sleeping with the light on and my hands firmly stuffed inside my blankets. “The Sentinal” came out about the same time as “The Exorcist” and was therefore overshadowed by it, but to my mind “Sentinal” was much more scary than the Exorcist which was just a bunch of pea soup and silly spinning heads. I adored “Brazil” for its sheer weirdness, and surreal “the air conditioning man is a hero” line, I mean who but Gilliam could have come up with that? I can recite about every single line from “The Labyrinth” having watched it so often, and lets face it David Bowie as the Goblin King was a touch of sheer casting genius. X-Files “Fight the Future” is also another one of my favorites, simply because it put Mulder and Scully on the big screen with all of the resultant “wow” moments. I suppose the end result is, don’t ask me about movies, I am damn lame.
“There are those who say we shouldn’t like Woody Allen because he married his step-daughter…”
I hate having to point this out, but I’ll do it anyway. Soon-Yi was never his step-daughter.
We get sick of hearing that Al Gore invented the internet, right?
Then why are you using the completely false charge that Woody married his stepdaughter?
Man, that is one big fat tired lie.
Oh, and also, he doesn’t have minorities in his movies.
Yeah, we know. Times a million.
This is a pet peeve of mine, there are certain people that, no matter the subject, these tired, scolding memes make their way into every single article. Calista Flockhart is skinny! Paul Simon is a cultural music thief!
Come on. Many of Allen’s films are excellent, he did not marry his stepdaughter, he’s not a drunk, not on the dole, he’s not a racist or an asshole or a child molester. Give it a rest. How about just debate the movies and leave the scolding about his personal life out of it?
It’s not like he’s asking for it, like that fat tub of crap Newt Gingrich.
Suck on this, idiot.
Oh and I forgot that Branaugh’s “Much Ado About Nothing” is one of the most kick ass pieces of film making ever. Shakespere as it was meant to be, for the masses, I would gay marry Emma Thompson for her “eat his heart in the market place” speech.
I ADORE Breathless but have pretty much hated or been bored by every other Godard film…except Alphaville, which plays more like poetry than film. Even when I know it’s not that good, I still find it charming.
As for Allen, Love and Death, Sweet and Lowdown, Crimes and Misdemeanors, and my personal favorite, Manhattan Murder Mystery are the ones I go to over and over again.
Another vote for Love and Death and Annie Hall.
Like many parents I have tried to share movies that I enjoyed with my kids, I think “Love and Death” was the only one of the comedies that they actually found funny. Hmmm. Think that the GOP candidates field should hurry up and get to the Village Idiot’s convention?
And just last night as we were talking about my yearly torment over hosting Thanksgiving for 20 people with 2,000 food “allergies” and weird likes and dislikes — we managed to crack each other up over the family dinner scene in Annie Hall. That one is for the ages.
Damn, you picked out pretty much the same Woody Allen list I would choose. The only difference would be that I’d add Zelig, and I wouldn’t include Another Woman only because I haven’t seen it. Guess I’ll have to, now that it’s recommended by someone with such impeccable taste in Woody Allen films.
Also, I like-not-love Manhattan, but the scene where he turns to a Neanderthal skeleton, points to it and says, “This was probably one of the Beautiful People,” never fails to make me laugh like hell. I don’t if Allen knew that was a Neanderthal skeleton or not, but the raised brow ridge and stupid, vacant expression on the skeleton totally upstages the rest of that scene.
Back in the day, I loved Woodie Allen movies. I haven’t seen any in a while, but, still have some scenes in memory that I chuckle over from time to time.
As for obscure movies. I loved Mad Hot Ballroom, about a dance competition amongst NYC elementary schools. Lots of fun, life-affirming, sweet…all that good stuff.
One of my favorite foreign films is Belle Epoque. Objectively, I know it isn’t really THAT good a movie, but, it just hits me right.
I’m surprised no one has mentioned a couple of my favorite Woody Allen films: Match Point and Vicky Christina Barcelona. OK, admittedly, they’re not the New-York-centric “Woody Allen films” he is most famous for: but they are good films regardless. And directed by Woody Allen.
@Marcelo: I think Manhattan Murder Mystery is underrated and really showcases how good Keaton is as a comic actor. She makes it.
L&D was great but hasn’t aged well. Annie Hall would have been his best if he hadn’t remade fifteen times.
Sleeper remains my all-time fav. It’s clunky and episodic, but a great hommage to Keaton (Buster) and Chaplin. The orgasmatron, gay robots, giant banana peels… And so many great lines. “I’m what you would call a teleological, existential atheist. I believe that there’s an intelligence to the universe, with the exception of certain parts of New Jersey.”
favorite Woody Allen movie is Annie Hall but I also like Sweet and Lowdown, curious to see what others thought of that film. Also, too I really liked Breathless but that is the only Godard film I have seen
I don’t care about Woody Allen so shall immediately pass on to two obscure films:
They Might Be Giants starring Joanne Woodward and George C. Scott. A 1971 film that came out and immediately sank. Has THE most hilarious scene ever shot in a supermarket, including the one in Raising Arizona.
What’s So Bad About Feeling Good with George Peppard and Mary Tyler Moore – but don’t let her put you off if you get a chance.
Now, off to finish the cooking of the dinner.
@JGabriel: Manhattan used to be my favorite but the Mariel Hemingway thread has been harder to take post-scandal. I still think it has a lot of his best comedy, and the look and sound of it are amazing.
Many years ago, when they were still showing afternoon movies on the TV, I saw a beautiful British film from 1956 called “The Divided Heart,” about a Hungarian “war orphan” who is adopted by a German couple during the war, and whose real mother shows up after the war to reclaim him. The action is set in an American Sector court with flashbacks to the stories of the two couples. The American judge is faced with a Solomic choice as to who the boy really belongs to. It’s a weeper, made with the sort of elegant emotional restraint that typifies the best English films from that period. I’ve never seen it again, on TV or DVD or anything, and I’ve never run across any other film buffs who know of it.
@James Gary: it’s probably because when i was a lad going out, I never really liked to go to crowded places unless I was planning to dance, so I didn’t run into obnoxious wealthy people all that much. If there were too many straight folk standing out on the street in front of the place, also a sign that I should avoid the place. (Straight people can be so erratic and disorderly when drunk. Sometimes I wish the mayor would run their gathering places out of the better neighborhoods in the city. It would probably raise the property values, which could use a much needed boost.)
Favorite Woody Allen films: Love and Death and Bananas.
Favorite obscure film: The Draughtsman’s Contract.
favorite Woody Allen movie is Annie Hall but I also like Sweet and Lowdown, curious to see what others thought of that film.
It’s an excellent movie. I probably would’ve cited it above as my second-favorite after “Annie Hall,” but for some reason “Purple Rose Of Cairo” came to mind first. (Really, I need to keep a list of these things so I don’t keep making mistakes like that. :P)
My favorite Woody Allen is Match Point by a long shot.
I haven’t liked any Godard films I’ve seen, but I think I’ve only watched Breathless.
My film festival gem (though there are many) is Piggies, a Polish film from a couple years ago that has never gotten a release.
WA: Manhattan or Sleeper.
Obscure: Police, Adjective. Not necessarily a favorite, but interesting and unlikely to be seen in mainstream cinemas.
Loved (at the time) “Hannah and her Sisters”.
“Manhattan” also, too, if only for the line, “Not everybody gets corrupted.”
Not so off the beaten path, but a pretty poignant war film, Jean Renior’s “Grand Illusion”.
And one more thing re Woody Allen, “I happen to have Marshall McLuhan right here.” Priceless.
@Bondo: I like Breathless.
Thinking back on the French New Wave, I was going to say yes, and then I realized I was thinking of Truffaut, whose movies I actually have liked. Duh.
I haven’t seen very many obscure movies, and even the not-very-obscure ones I’ve liked are probably more for personal reasons than any other. I liked Jan Švankmajer’s Alice (1988), a creepy stop-motion version of Alice in Wonderland, which I saw in Northampton, MA; I saw the premiere of Jesus Christ Vampire Hunter (2001) while visiting Ottawa, and chatted with the parents of the director who were standing behind us in line (this is not a movie I’d recommend except for camp value); last there’s a short animated film from Germany called Balance (1989). I find, checking online, that some of these movies have actually won awards (an Oscar for Balance)–but they were obscure at the time I saw them, I think. :-)
Breathless and les quatre cent coups are two of my faves. Unlike Marcelo I like most Goddard I’ve seen, like Marcelo, I lurve Alphaville.
Anybody have favorite translations for the last exchange in Breathless? My favorite, if least literal, is:
Michel: Life’s a bitch
Patricia: What did he say?
Cop: He said you’re a bitch.
Midnight in Paris is slight in many ways, but is a fairly charming, somewhat “classic” Allen film, with Owen Wilson as one of the more engaging mouthpieces for a Woody point-of-view character.
I guess I’m the only one who enjoyed Bullets Over Broadway. Also, too, Manhattan the opening of which deserved a special Oscar if only for Gordon Willis’ cinematography and the Gershwin.
Great obscure film: Christopher Nolan’s Following.
@xian: I meant to see that, but missed it window in the the first run theaters. Now I must wait.
Woody’s stuff is hit or miss for me, I tend to like his earlier stuff, Sleepers, Take The Money and Run and What’s Up, Tiger Lily? (because who doesn’t want a bit of Lovin’ Spoonful on their soundtrack?)
Movies are a complex subject, are you talking about one viewing and it changed who you are as a person leaving an indelible impression and you’ve never felt the need or desire to see it again or something that is almost like a warm snugly blanket with characters that make you, laugh, smile or cry as needed? Perhaps movies that you simply enjoy because the storytelling is so fascinating that you can become ensnared each time you revisit it….
As for the movie that helped shape who I am and solidify my moral and ethical compass… it has to be 12 Angry Men.
My favorite director. I’d say “the early funny ones” like Bananas, Sleeper and Love and Death, and also Annie Hall of course, but my favorite Woody movie of all is Stardust Memories, which was hated by the critics.Of course it’s self-indulgent and autobiographical, and that’s why I like it. The music in that movie alone makes it special.
Weird. For me, it was Young Frankenstein.
Love and Death, Interiors, Hannah and Her Sisters, September, Crimes and Misdeamenors–Annie Hall, of course, Sleepers, Bananas.
He’s great when he’s not trying too hard to be funny. Interiors is an amazing film — dark dark dark.
Agreed on both counts.
Bananas, Sleeper, Deconstructing Harry.
For “obscure” movies I have to plug the great actor Oleg Menshikov: “Prisoner of the Mountains,” “Burnt by the Sun” (original, not the sequels), and “East-West.”
You are technically correct, in that Farrow and Allen never married. Soon-Yi was his son’s sister, though. And his girlfriend/baby-momma’s daughter from the age of 10 until he got caught taking naked pictures of her at 21. So I’d say “step-daughter” is close enough to correct for the practical purpose of conveying exactly how squick-inducing Allen is.
@Omnes Omnibus: obviously you’re a descendant of that great individual…. Abby Normal ;-)
@Litlebritdifrnt2: “I still say that “Don’t look now” is the scariest movie ever, I literally slept with the light on for a week, that fucking dwarf scared me so much.” Ooh, yes! That movie stayed with me like a vaguely remembered nightmare for months. I was driving down a dirt road one Kentucky night many years after I saw “Don’t Look Now” and saw a piece of red cloth fluttering on a tree on the side of the road. I about peed myself. The scariest movie I’ve ever seen- and one of the best sex scenes, too.
@piratedan: The Monster’s speech on tolerance to the angry villagers was quite meaningful.
ETA: Inga’s speech about rolling in the hay has stayed with me as well.
This might not be my FAVORITE obscure film, but “Experience Preferred but not Essential” immediately came to mind. A charming little Britcom, well worth watching if you ever get the chance.
I have seen only 2 of Woody Allen’s films Annie Hall and Match Point. They were good not great. I don’t get the big fuss about Woody Allen.
Obscure movies, not obscure if you are a fan of Hindi films, movies by Guru Dutt, poetic and haunting. Especially Pyaasa, which is about a poet’s life and Sahib, Bibi or Gulam based on a Bengali novel set in British India.
@Omnes Omnibus: true…. Mel liked to get his points in, did a lot of work against racism in Blazing Saddles too…..
I have seen only 2 of Woody Allen’s films Annie Hall and Match Point. They were good not great. I don’t get the big fuss about Woody Allen.
Obscure movies, not obscure if you are a fan of Hindi films, movies by Guru Dutt, poetic and haunting. Especially Pyaasa, which is about a poet’s life and Sahib, Bibi or Gulam based on a Bengali novel set in British India.
@piratedan: My tongue was only slightly in cheek when I named the film.
Love that movie! It’s kind of a flawed masterpiece movie.
I can’t name a favorite- Purple Rose of Cairo, Broadway Danny Rose, Crimes and Misdemeanors, Sweet and Lowdown, Take the Money and Run, Bullets Over Broadway & Zelig are all films I can always watch again. The Front is a good non-Allen Allen film (his only contribution was as an actor).
I don’t know if it’s all that obscure, but I run into very few people who have seen In Bruges, which is one of my favorite films of the last decade.
Crimes and Misdemeanors is a fantastic movie, not least because Woody’s character is an ass and he’s not afraid to play him as an ass. My favorite is still Stardust Memories but I could name a dozen more that I love–Bullets Over Broadway is another — as well as a dozen more that didn’t work. I do think it’s a mistake to judge any artist’s output by his/her personal life.
Bob: In Bruges is GREAT!! You’re not alone!
I guess I’m the only one who enjoyed Bullets Over Broadway.
The only part I can remember from that movie is John Cusack throwing open the window and shouting “I’M A WHORE!” to the street below. The thing is, in appropriate circumstances I’ve thrown open a window and shouted “I’M A WHORE!” for comic effect probably a hundred times in the (fifteen?) years since that movie came out—and it has never failed to get a laugh.
Obscure, but shouldn’t be — The Sorrow and the Pity.
(It broke my romantic heart to learn that the French Resistance during WWII barely existed. There was resistance but a good deal more collaboration.)
@piratedan: I like Twelve Angry Men too. Great movie, it feels more like a play than a movie, though.
Obscure: The Devil’s Eye A bawdy comedy by Ingmar Bergman.
I’ll stay out of the Woody Allen conversation, skipping ahead to:
I don’t know how obscure they are:
King of Kong? Probably not so obscure, given that the movie absolutely blew up at SIFF a few years ago.
Scenes from a Marriage? The Dekalog? Neither especially obscure, nor are they really movies (miniseries, both) but they’ve probably been overlooked.
I’ll go with Raising Victor Vargas. It’s not mind-blowing by any means, but it was a good little love story. Eminently watchable.
@Beauzeaux: That’s obscure? I wouldn’t have thought so. But you could be right.
Sleeper if I could only have one.
Allen married Mia Farrow and had a child with her (acted as a father in the family in other words) and while married had an affair with the adopted child of Mia Farrow, who he later married once she was of legal age.
I don’t know what you’d call that if it’s not “marrying your stepdaughter.”
I adored The Stuntman from back when it was a festval favorite. Rather well known now.
I’m old enough to have followed the whole Woody progression in real time — stand-up, ragged comedies, full blown great movies, scandal, the humdrum recent decades. I think Annie Hall and Manhattan remain his twin towers, but the latter is by far my favorite — his best balance of funny and pathos. The shot of Mariel Hemingway through the building front door, surrounded by suitcases, while “They’re writing songs of love but not for me” plays…perfection.
I started seeing Godard films in the 70s/80s and hated them, but later caught up with (and loved) Breathless, and Weekend up until the characters started talking in the third person.
A fairly obscure movie I love: Dreamchild — a Dennis Potter effort about Alice Hargreaves, the inspiration for Alice in Wonderland, coming to NY in the 30s to celebrate the centennial of the book’s publication.
Hannah and her Sisters. I don’t know what it is about that film, but it’s stuck with me for years and I used to know the entire film by heart. There were all these perfect interpersonal vignettes that really resonated without making me hate the characters (which has always been my problem with his films).
And that’s what I really liked about Midnight in Paris – Woody Allen actually made me like Ernest Hemingway. Well, that, and because I did my senior thesis on surrealists in France in the 1920s and ’30s and it brought back a lot of memories. :)
I stand corrected about Farrow and Allen marrying.
I thought Woody Allen was highly overrated long before his marriage.
He’s just always escaped me.
I also have a big soft spot for Stardust Memories, despite/because of the Bergman Complex™ and also, too, in addition, as well I heart Charlotte Rampling.
Favorite obscure movie? Right now “The Loved One” comes to mind. A cast like that will never again occur in this universe, and the apocalyptic perversity still crackles 45 years later.
@Beauzeaux: The Sorrow and The Pity is discussed by Woody Allen and Diane Keaton in Annie Hall: Annie doesn’t care for it because “It makes me feel guilty”. Allen explains that it’s supposed to.
Those guys in the French Resistance were so brave, having to listen to Maurice Chevalier all the time.
(May not be 100% accurate, I didn’t google this one.)
Godard movies? Sure, 2 of ’em: Weekend and Hail Mary.
Obscure movies? Them too! My Winnipeg first, and after that, most anything else by Guy Maddin.
Obscure movie I loved: Twister. Not the Helen Hunt one, the Harry Dean Stanton one:
Check it out.
I was born in 1968, so Annie Hall was the first one I saw (unless you count The Front as a Woody Allen movie); and it holds up beautifully. But after I saw Crimes and Misdemeanors, I said, “He might as well retire: he’ll never do something this great again.” And I think I was right.
An obscure movie that’s on my faves list is The Hot Line, a kind of Blake Edwardsish 1960s farce about Cold War espionage written by Red Scare survivor Paul Jarrico and starring George Chakiris.
Favorite Woody — Casino Royale and Love and Death
Annie Hall, Love and Death, Radio Days and Hannah. One more. A Woody Allen film that is not a Woody Allen film. The Front. About the blacklist. He starred but did not direct. Also, contains my favorite last line of a film.
Annie Hall, Love and Death, Radio Days and Hannah. One more. A Woody Allen film that is not a Woody Allen film. The Front. About the blacklist. He starred but did not direct. Also, contains my favorite last line of a film.
David in NY
I watched funny/tragic (but some will think dated) Milos Forman movie, The Fireman’s Ball, Saturday night. Made in Czechoslovakia before his departure. I think though, that it helps to have been born before about 1955 and to have spent some time in Eastern Europe before 1989 to fully appreciate it. The inept fireman “organizing” their ball and the attendant beauty pageant (while, not incidentally, an old man’s house burns to the ground) are pretty obviously stand ins for — well, you know who.
Your mileage may vary, but in my opinion the whole “who’s the better of the French New Wave directors” debate has been firmly settled in Truffaut’s favor as the years have gone by. His films had so much more humanity to them, while Godard made “Breathless” and then immediately disappeared up his own ass for the remainder of his career.
As good as Crimes and Misdemeanors is, it’s been ruined for me when I consider that Mia Farrow play Woody’s sister, I believe, and Woody is fascinated by Mia’s young daughter and thus his niece. There’s not an overt display of sexuality there, but the main story is (spoilers) Martin Landau getting away with murder in every possible way. He dispenses with a shrill affair partner, his life gets better, and he feels no guilt. He sits with Woody at the end obliquely discussing the crime, saying that sometimes people get away with things like that.
Woody was two years away from the acknowledged start of the affair with Soon Yi. I just can’t get away from the thought that this was Woody reasoning out his eventual move, and I just find casting Mia in this movie as an incredibly dickish thing to do.
So I usually choose Annie Hall as my fave Allen movie, Manhattan Murder Mystery a close second. I haven’t seen a lot of Allen to really say, though.
I liked Breathless, but that may be because I first saw it sometime in the early ’70s, when it was practically “contemporary.” And I love Belmondo. I rhapsodized about his movie That Man from Rio in the previous movie thread.
I also liked Alphaville, Vivre Sa Vie–Anna Karina was killer in that—and Le Petit Soldat, but in general I don’t think Godard’s work has aged very well. And it is probably telling that I haven’t gone back to watch any of those in quite a while. Although when Breathless turns up on TCM I usually give it a look.
For obscure movies I’ll throw out Gillian Armstrong’s The Last Days of Chez Nous (1992), a really tight little domestic comedy/drama that always gets me using sappy clichés like “bittersweet.” It’s hard to describe, but it just has a great feel to it, and great acting from Lisa Harrow, Bruno Ganz (Downfall, Wings of Desire) and Kerry Fox. It occasionally shows up on IFC or Sundance.
And that reminds me of Edward Yang’s Yi Yi. Similar kind of movie in that it’s about family–a high-tech executive and his extended family in Taipei–and is very hard to describe. Trailer here, which unfortunately makes it seem kind of “precious.” But it’s a great movie. Even got the full Criterion treatment.
To butch it up a bit I’ll add Tsui Hark’s Time and Tide, a Hong Kong action flick that blew me away when I first (accidentally) saw it. Only movie I can remember with a gunfight rappelling down the face of a crowded tenement block. Which actually seemed plausible.
As for the Woodman, I’ll go with Manhattan, Sleeper and the cliché choice, Annie Hall. It’s hard to understate the impact of seeing those for the first time when they were first released.
And he has had some late-career gems. Vicky Cristina Barcelona is great, and I think he may be Oscar bait for Midnight in Paris.
Finally, there is a beautiful, excruciating scene with Charlotte Rampling in Stardust Memories that is sheer genius and has always haunted me. That’s filmmakin’ right there.
Is Bagdad Cafe obscure? I loved it.
Dead Calm freaked me the fuck out. The opera music and the bodies floating in the belly of the boat. Shudder.
@Grover Gardner Haven’t seen the Divided Heart, but am now eager to see it. Your mention of it reminded me of the hard to see film I’ll recommend, Time Stands Still, about the aftereffects of the 1956 uprising on a group Hungarian teenagers. I’d love to see it again.
First Woody Allen film I saw, when it came out as a thirteen year old I think, was Sleeper, which I adored. Annie Hall came out as I was preparing to leave High School for the wider world, and the picture of NY as a magical romantic place in it has never lost it’s allure for me.
I’ve found most of the–formidably didactic–Godard films I’ve seen interesting and compelling rather than enjoyable–they all have their longueurs; the exception is Band apart, which seemed to me to participate in some of the magic of the cinema which must got Godard excited about making movies in the first place.
Seconded on Spring, Summer . . .. Great movie.
Don’t Look Now is a really scary movie. But it also has my favorite movie sex scene in it: Donald Sutherland and Julie Christie making love intercut with pictures of them getting dressed to go out to dinner. Very “domestic,” “married love,” in the best sense.
@Librarian: i loved in in Stardust Memories when the aliens show up, and they’re fans of his films, especially “the earlier, funnier ones.”
@Steeplejack: I have a friend who is horror movie obsessed and he made me watch that. Creepy. Ever so creepy.
@Tehanu: I also love Crimes. One of his best, I think. A very complete film.
@MaryRC: As for peter greenaway films, i am a big fan of drowning by numbers though the cook, the thief, his wife, and her lover is his best known work.
Give me Woody Allen’s silly comedies: Sleeper, Bananas, Love & Death (its a comedy for me), and Everything You Want to Know About Sex
Another obscure (foreign) movie I love is The Fourth Man
I liked Sweet and Lowdown mostly for the music, and I liked Sean Penn in it, but somehow it never really caught fire for me. I put it somewhere in the middle.
oh, and on the obscure movie front, I was so excited to here that a friend of mine recently burned for me a DVD of the extremely hard to get 1998 film Black Cat, White Cat, one of my favorite movies ever.
Hell, Police, Adjective was on IFC or Sundance within the last couple of weeks. Good movie.
obscure film festival movie I love more than chocolate:
Beau Travail, Claire Denis’ take on Billy Budd.
If I were dictator it would be required viewing for all citizens.
@Steeplejack: We went to see it at the Madison Film Festival because it was the only Romanian film being shown. It was far less depressing than most Eastern European movies.
Speaking of Truffaut, TCM is showing Stolen Kisses (1968) at 2:15 a.m. EST tonight, right between Raoul Walsh’s silent movie What Price Glory? (1926) at midnight and the sex comedy Bob and Carol and Ted and Alice (1969) at 4:00 a.m. Weird programming.
Farrow played Allen’s love interest in “Crimes and Misdemeanors” not his sister.
I haven’t seen many of Allen’s films, but “Crimes and Misdemeanors” is my favorite bay far of those I have seen. That said, that movie and “Match Point”, filtered through the lens of “Deconstructing Harry”, makes me wonder if he’s trying to confess to something.
Manhattan, Crimes and Misdemeanors, Bananas and Sweet and Lowdown are probably my favorite Woody Allen films. As for Godard, I’ve generally liked his movies — although I haven’t seen anything he’s made in the last 20 years — although I’m not all that keen on Pierrot le fou and have deliberately avoided Vivre sa vie. But I always found Week End to be a hoot, and I’ve always liked À bout de souffle. As for festival-type movies, a couple I saw at the Hong Kong festival 15 years or so ago come to mind: Akumulátor 1, a Czech comedy about vampiric TV sets and Peculiarities of the National Hunt (Особенности национальной охоты), a Russian comedy that largely defies explanation.
The Castle is a great movie! “What does he want for it? . . . Tell ’im he’s dreamin’.”
The same director (Rob Sitch) also did The Dish, also a great little comedy.
@Steeplejack: Loved “The Dish.”
And of course The Sorrow and the Pity is referenced in Annie Hall. It’s either the movie that Allen’s character can’t go into because it has already started or the one outside of which he sees Annie Hall after they have ended their relationship. (It might be the same movie in both scenes.)
@forked tongue: I was living in the Midwest when Manhattan came out, and I simply could not explain to my Midwestern-born friends how much the ‘clean, pure, minimalist’ black-and-white opening of Manhattan was a giant fucking untruth to the great city of New York (I was born in Manhattan & grew up in the Bronx). Also, the ‘heartwarming’ scene near the end, where this-movies-version-of-Woody-Allen is telling his shrink about things that make him feel good, and he doesn’t mention his supposedly-adored son, but he realizes that young p***y is his idea of a Peak Experience — creepy at the time, even creepier in retrospect.
I think Manhattan stands as the tidal mark where Allen realized, hey, I’m HUGE with the right people now, I can be the
perverted narcissistic dick“auteur” I always dreamed of being! Since then, his go-to excuse for every one of his many flaws… weak plots, vanity casting, fillum-stoodent ‘imagery’ laid on with a trowel… always rings the Ultimate Holden Caulfield Hipster-Douche “Well, of course, you peasants wouldn’t understand me” chimes. But they’re hand-engraved, carefully personalized Baccarat chimes! cry his supporters.
@Kd Bart: A better last line than these two from the great Lee Marvin?
Although to understand the first one, you need to have seen the rest of the movie.
@J–The problem is, how to see it? It’s never been reissued in any format that I can find. Which is odd, given that it was very well received at the time. Maybe TCM will air it someday. I would love to see it again…
Wait! Stop the presses! A film didn’t reflect the reality of New York as one particular person perceives it. The horror.
@Steeplejack: Don’t Look Now is referenced repeatedly in the film In Bruges ( Bruges, Belgium is known as “The Venice of the North”), which I suggested earlier as an obscure movie I liked a whole lot. In fact, it’s referenced overtly in a fictional film that’s being made in the actual film that’s supposed to be an homage to Don’t Look Now.
And I agree about the sex scene in Don’t Look Now- maybe the best in any mainstream movie.
Hands Down ‘husbands and Wives’
He totally savages Mia Farrow and pre-shadows his future marriage to his daughter
@BobS: “In Bruges” was awesome.
…he realizes that young p***y is his idea of a Peak Experience…
Y’know, I’ll stick my neck out here and say that Allen was maybe being frank and honest. It’s good to be a family man and care for one’s kids, and it’s good to appreciate women for characteristics other than their nubility–but for a 40-ish male character to lust after a willing 17-year-old doesn’t seem “creepy” to me, it seems real.
Also, what Omnes Omnibus said. Also also: “In Bruges” was pretty good. “Don’t Look Now” was great—although now it’s been pretty much ruined for any casual readers of this thread who watch it for the first time and wait for the dwarf to appear.
[Warning: spoiler alert!]
I liked In Bruges, with the single (big!) objection that I thought there was no way that one character (Ken?) would survive the fall at all, let alone long enough, or in good enough shape, to have a conversation with Colin Farrell’s character. My willing suspension of disbelief apparently didn’t suspend far enough. It almost ruined the whole movie for me.
I had to watch Layer Cake, Sexy Beast and Get Carter (the Michael Caine original, of course) to cleanse myself.
@Steeplejack: I have been in that square in Bruges. The stones are very soft.
Weekend and Alphaville are hilarious. Goddard is best appreciated sideways, in every way.
Bullets over Broadway was great, and Everyone Says I Love You ( love the gag that the so’s cinservative streak results from a brain condition). So too Bananas, Take the money & run , Love & Death, Danny Rose, and the obvious Annie Hall and Manhattan.
Great. Now you’re making me want to do a Woody Allen marathon. Gotta go with Annie Hall and Manhattan for the tie. Zelig for the honorable mention. And more recently…loved loved loved Midnight in Paris.
@Omnes Omnibus: [email protected]Steeplejack: I had the misfortune to see the remake of Get Carter with Sylvester Stallone a couple years ago (it was late, nothing on, I didn’t have the DVR yet, etc.). It’s one of the worst fucking movies I’ve ever seen- only slightly less painful than welding without a shield.
@BobS: I have adamantly refused to watch that movie.
Then you owe it to yourself to check out the Michael Caine version, if you haven’t already seen it. Not the greatest movie ever, by any means, but it’s a tight little noir with a good jazz score.
@Anne Laurie: My God, Thank you, Anne, for some validation at last. I’m kind of slackjawed at the rivers and rivers of posts here carrying on as if there were nothing wrong with the work of this shallow, sexist huckster. Can this many people really be deceived by movies designed to flatter their airiest self-perceptions? I guess they can.
I have no doubt that Newt would agree with you.
Fainting couch is to the left. Hope you brought your own pearls.
@Steeplejack: Where was it implied that I’d like to “faint”? I’d actually like to give this Allen creep a PLB. (Parking Lot Beating, if you didn’t know.)
@Steeplejack: I have seen the original- I think it’s a great movie. An equally good gangster film made around the same time is Point Blank, directed by John Boorman (who made another great crime film, The General) and starring Lee Marvin. Payback, starring Mel Gibson, was based on the same book (The Hunter)- it wasn’t very good, but it wasn’t nearly as bad as the Stallone version of Get Carter.
By the way, speaking of Stallone, Cop Land was one movie he was in that was both obscure and good.
I was going to suggest Point Blank as a good bookend to Get Carter!
Cop Land: Yeah, who’da thunk Stallone and Janeane Garofalo would be in the same good movie?!
Put me in the pure comedy movie camp. Sleeper and, particularly, Love and Death are wonderfully funny movies. I get annoyed by people calling those types of movies lightweight – the ability to pull pure unadulterated laughter out of people is a seriously underrated skill.
I’m kind of between the extremes of Woody Allen views here, in that I actually agree to some extent with both sides.
For example, I GET what folks are saying when they defend Woody’s version of New York against attacks on its realism and defend the fact that there are never any black people in his movies on the ground that well, every film isn’t about social justice. I get those things.
OTOH, it’s not exactly true that there are NO black people in his movies — just that the ones who do show up are invariably liveried servants at upscale events in penthouses overlooking Central Park — exactly like something out of the 1950s. It’s not a huge deal, I guess, but it kind of rubs me the wrong way.
And as for his larger “vision” of New York — as another born and bred New Yorker I totally agree with Anne Laurie’s perspective. The point is not, as some of you seem to think, that everyone has to share our ideas about the city, or that everyone is required to do justice to all the its vast complexities. The point, to me at least, is that his idea of New York happens to be limited to the world of Central Park penthouses, exclusive restaurants and gorgeous photography — and he idealizes is just as though that IS all there is to NY.
I also have a few more critical comments on his movies — including the ones I like — that I have evolved over the years but maybe I’ll just pause a moment and let the above sink in first. : )
Last but not least, don’t give a shit about Soon-Yi.
@forked tongue: @forked tongue: I look forward to your insights on Chinatown, Rosemary’s Baby, The Pianist, The Ghost Writer, etc., inasmuch as your criticism of Allen is clearly fueled by something other than his filmmaking.
So someone guilty of making bad movies deserves a PLB? You’ve got a really, uh, rigorous aesthetic going on there.
wtf? I don’t have PERMISSION to edit the comment and fix the typos?? Sheeyit.
Obviously, his movies aren’t realistic, I agree, they’re nothing like New York at all. I see that as a plus.
If I wanted real life, I’d leave my house.
I have no doubt that Newt would agree with you.
Maybe. But the thing is–unlike Newt Gingrich–Woody Allen as writer and director of “Annie Hall” or “Manhattan” doesn’t even try, not even slightly, to justify his surrogate’s behavior…in fact, the Allen stand-ins in both movies end up abandoned by women who’ve gotten wise to them.
With that in mind, I’m not really sure why “Manhattan” is seen by some as an advertisement for male chauvinism. I guess such people need male piggishness to be depicted as uniformly destructive and all characters exhibiting it to have no positive characteristics at all. Whatever.
I like all those movies. Polanski is a bad man who makes good movies not designed to justify his skewed vision of things. If Jake Gittes had thought Mrs. Mulwray’s daughter was pretty hot, then we could talk about the parallels with Allen’s work.
@Steeplejack: No, not anyone. Just this creep. The point is, your “fainting couch” crack was an enormous, misdirected flop.
@James Gary: Are you kidding? You don’t think we’re supposed to think the Allen character in those movies is flawed but basically sort of adorable and the women who left him weren’t missing out on something great? You saw different movies than I did.
By the way, Anne Laurie agreed with me. Why are none of your criticisms coming her way?
Oh my, I’m really going to be in the minority here. Very possibly a minority of one.
Jean-Luc Godard revolutionized narrative cinema in the 1960s. He is to cinema what Jackson Pollock was to painting, Samuel Beckett to theater, Merce Cunningham to dance. Godard is among the titans of the creative arts over the past fifty years.
I have the utmost regard, if not always affection, for his cinematic accomplishments. I believe I’ve seen all his films (all but a handful multiple times) and most of his videos. Of these my favorite is Sauve qui peut (la vie), followed in no particular order by Masculin feminin, Breathless, Vivre sa vie, Made in U.S.A.. As for Breathless, I don’t trust any man who has seen the film and not been madly smitten by Jean Seberg.
As for Woody Allen, I hope I live long enough to observe the critical reappraisal that will bring to an end the collective hysteria that his films have long engendered. In the “Academy of the Overrated”, from that screechingly self-defensive scene in Manhattan, Mr. Allen’s bust should appear prominently.
While in my undergraduate and early adult years I was certainly part of the cult, for quite a while now I’ve struggled to grasp what I could have possibly been seeing. Movies that I once immensely enjoyed, such as Annie Hall, Stardust Memories, Sleeper, Hannah and her Sisters, Love and Death, seem now to be either borscht-belt routines or exercises in class envy. Many of his films are simply un-rewatchable for their bathos, their preening self-regard, their misogyny, their recycled jokes.
Zelig, Crimes and Misdemeanors, and Match Point still hold an appeal, the latter two because they are so atypical for Allen. A good friend and I believe (jokingly but not entirely) that it will someday be revealed that he did not write or direct either. Manhattanexerts a cynical fascination in that its non-judgmental, even tender, depiction of a sexual relationship between a middle-aged man and a teenager could not possibly be released by a film studio today. (In the same way that Nabokov’s Lolita would never be published today.)
Now as for obscurity, my top three favorite films are Andrei Rublev (Andrei Tarkovsky), The American Friend (Wim Wenders), and La Belle Noiseuse (Jacques Rivette). Does it help at all if I mention that Miller’s Crossing, Chinatown, and The Adventures of Buckaroo Banzai are likely in the top ten as well?
You don’t think we’re supposed to think the Allen character in those movies is flawed but basically sort of adorable and the women who left him weren’t missing out on something great? You saw different movies than I did.
You don’t think we’re supposed to think the Allen character in those movies is a self-absorbed jerk who ended up sadder but wiser? You saw different movies than I did.
What’s wrong with borscht-belt routines?
@James Gary: Guess we did. See Crimes and Misdemeanors, where Mia Farrow’s character is pretty much morally deficient for preferring a guy who actually might be some fun (the Alda character) to a whiny, self-righteous nerd who we know is deep because he’s working on a documentary about a wise man. (We know he’s wise because he says things like “After the holocaust we know there is no God and yet somehow man finds a way to muddle through”–that’s right up there with “we need the eggs” for profundity.)
I think that Allen is America’s best second tier film director. The compromise that I made is not to pay to see any of his movies while he is still alive, which also holds for Roman Polanski, the director of the “Powder” films, and other morally reprehensible artists. I think that Allen’s last truly interesting film was “Mighty Aphrodite.”
Too bad for you. Other posters have pointed out any number of wonderful Godard films, and ways to approach his work. Although I tend to prefer Truffaut over Godard, the only movies that I cannot get into are those where the director is incompetent, with no control of the tools of filmmaking, or indifferent.
A quick example of a director in full command. In Sidney Lumet’s “The Verdict,” the viewer learns about an act of betrayal by one of the characters. Later, we see Paul Newman being approached and told of this by the wonderful character actor, Jack Warden. The scene is done in long shot, and no dialog can be heard, because it is not necessary. The emphasis is on Newman’s reaction, and how his entire body recoils at the awful revelation. I think that Lumet picked this up from Hitchcock, who often included in his films a scene without dialog, knowing that the editing and visuals could convey all that you need to know.
I love Children of Paradise, available as a beautifully rendered Criterion Collection DVD. Barnes and Noble has put Criterion Collection DVDs on sale, and it may even be available on Netflix or elsewhere.
A Guardian critic recently noted that she was so moved by Children of Paradise that she named her daughter after one of the characters in the film.
Another thing of beauty, and of heart warming humanism, is the work of the late Polish director Kristof Kieslowski. There is the wry, Double Life of Veronique, and his series of short films, Decalogue, inspired by the ten commandments. A Short Film About Killing is a devastating take on “Thou Shalt Not Murder,” and is said to have influenced the abolition of the death penalty in Poland.
But Kieslowski is not all heavy and serious. His last work, the Three Colors Trilogy, a series of films loosely inspired by the colors of the French flag, and the motto, “liberty, equality, and fraternity,” range from the tragic to comic to deeply humane, and can be intensely moving and enjoyable.
All of the Criterion titles are 50% off at B&N now, but the sale ends tomorrow.
Children of Paradise is a masterpiece, but I don’t consider it obscure.
@forked tongue: I’ve read some scathing film reviews, but never one that mentioned beating the shit out of the director. Suggests that you’re letting that other thing guide your judgement a little too much.
In case you were not aware of it, the Guardian published a series of articles last week on Kieslowski’s Three Colors Trilogy. A not entirely sympathetic reappraisal, but one well worth reading. For myself, Blue has remained the most affecting of the trio.
I share your appreciation of Kieslowski and am glad you introduced him to this thread.
Haven’t seen “Crimes and Misdemeanors,” and in fact I confess that I haven’t tracked the man’s oeuvre closely since his “high period” (1977-87 or thereabouts)–“Husbands & Wives” was so excruciatingly awful that for many years thereafter I generally only saw the films of his that critics absolutely gushed over (“Sweet & Lowdown,” (which was pretty good) and “Bullets Over Broadway.”) So we can agree that his post-1991 output contains a lot of self-justifying crap.
But it still burns me up to see “Annie Hall” and “Manhattan” dismissed as chauvinist. I mean, Allen depicts himself as a complete creep in those films–other than somehow having his character killed for his sins at the end, it’s harder to imagine denouements more harshly self-critical than those two. It’s just my opinion, but I don’t think his later backpedaling mitigates the greatness of those two movies.
@James Gary: Well, I just don’t see it–not in any honest way, anyway. Yeah, the Allen character in those films is flawed, but he’s basically holding an ace, which is that all the other male characters are worse, but not deep like he is. The female characters are worst of all, because they show the gravest moral failure there is in a Woody Allen film–they prefer less taxing, less neurotic, in other words, more shallow guys. They’d actually like to have some fun, if you can imagine faith so bad. Woody Allen’s character in those films epitomized Amanda Marcotte’s “Nice Guy” avant la lettre.
@Brachiator: Calling him the best of the second tier of American directors is possibly fair, depending on how big the first tier is. 5 directors? 10? 20?
@Grover Gardner: I wonder if there is some mysterious question about the ownership of Time Stands Still. I grew up hearing about what a wonderful film Rear Window was, but had to wait until I was an adult to see because, if I remember correctly, there was an unresolved question about the rights. I’ll mention another relatively obscure film that it might just be possible to see. Song of the Exile, directed by, Anne Hui (of Taiwan), with a very young Maggie Cheung, who plays–splendidly– the daughter of a Japanese woman who married a Chinese man in the closing days of the war and is now a widow in Hong Kong. It’s a simple story of how mother and daughter gradually overcome their estrangement–rather wonderful in a quiet, unassuming way.
And from the same part of the world, The Goddess of Shanghai with the tragically short-lived, Ruan Ling-yu as a woman who goes on the streets to earn enough money to feed and educate her son. It’s silent, though sound was the rule elsewhere in the world at this time. To judge by this one film, the prewar cinema of Shanghai was second to none. The film looks a little like a Griffith melodrama. But it’s much sparer and more restrained, and to my way of thinking infinitely better and more affecting for it.
@Steeplejack: Alas I found this note about the Criterion Collection Sale moments after midnight, when it must have expired. Much Wailing and Gnashing of teeth.
No, the sale goes through Monday. So you can still get your Criterion on.
Yeah, the Allen character in those films is flawed, but he’s basically holding an ace, which is that all the other male characters are worse, but not deep like he is.
We can waltz around the dance floor on this point all night, but in Annie Hall, at least, Allen takes a few shots at his character’s supposed “depth” with the whole “California” sequence (“the only advantage to the West Coast is that you can make a right turn on a red light” and c*ck-blocking Annie’s attempt to network with Paul Simon.) To me at least, if Allen’s character in “Annie Hall” was more conventionally virtuous, the film would be as boring as a boilerplate 2011 Hollywood rom-com.
I agree that it is not obscure, but I am not sure how well known it is among contemporary film goers or Balloon Juice posters.
This is also a film that I have grown with. When I was a student, I was all for the characters who loved freely and flouted convention. As I got older, I could see the perspectives of all the characters, and had sympathy for those I previously thought were rigidly old fashioned.
Thanks for the heads up on the Kieslowski reappraisal. I love Blue, but there are parts of Red that for me recall Shakespeare’s Tempest, in its wisdom and affection for its characters. And the Judge in the film has echoes of Prospero.
@James Gary: Yes, we did see different films. Those “few shots” were aimed at the Paul Simon character individually and California culture generally, and were definitely received that way. Nothing made a New Yorker feel better back then than painting California as full of shallow cretins. Allen wasn’t exactly bucking a tide there.
And I’m not suggesting he should have been more “conventionally virtuous.” Just that if he’s going to make gestures toward self-criticism, they should have had an ounce of good faith.
Reading this thread I was trying to think of WA film not mentioned and remembered Celebrity.
Kenneth Branagh is perhaps the oddest actor of all Allen’s films to inhabit the anxious humper but I’d argue that the ending of that film rivals Manhattan.
Also, Leonardo DiCaprio is in it, which is also weird.
I find it fascinating the people object to Allen’s films because of racism/sexism/classism. Mostly because if I started to avoid movies because of those issues, I can honestly say–without a hint of exaggeration–that I would probably never see another movie again. Whether Allen’s films are any worse than others on those grounds is hard to say, because in most other movies, society is less the subject of the movie than its setting. So, it’s far more easily ignored.
And if you’re watching a Woody Allen movie thinking that he’s the hero of it, well, then, you’re not watching the same movie I’m watching.
Funny, I would say you’re not watching the same movie he wrote and directed.
Racism/sexism/classism are one thing. Making your point-of-view character embody them and making him sympathetic by flattering your demographic’s most flattering self-conceptions are another.
@forked tongue: Yeah. Well. That’s just like your opinion, man.
But seriously though…Aren’t you being just a little too pretentious to be complaining about others’ “flattering self-conceptions”?
Let’s see, among American directors, Kubrick, Buster Keaton, Scorsese, Spielberg and Preston Sturgess would be in my first tier. Also, John Ford.
Michael Mann (Heat, Last of the Mohicans) and Terence Malick (Badlands, Days of Heaven), would be in my second tier, along with Woody.
Wow! I didn’t realize that the Guardian UK recently streamed the Three Colors Trilogy, with live blogging by its film critics. It also included on the site useful background and interviews, and the original reviews that accompanied the original release of the films.
Does anything like this happen at any US media site?
@Brachiator: So the first tier includes six directors then.
I guess I’d have to say Welles, Kubrick, Scorsese, Coppola, Ford, and Hawks. Chaplin, Hitchcock, and Wilder weren’t American born, but most of their greatest films were made in the US- would you consider them American directors (because if you do, three of those others get bumped, and Allen isn’t close to the top of that second tier)?
I love Double Life of Veronique.
My favorite obscure movie is A Summer at Grandpa’s by Hou Hsiao Hsien. My first real exposure to Hou Hsiao Hsien films was a retrospective at Museum of Fine Arts, Boston many years ago and this was one of the films I saw along with The Puppetmaster and A City of Sadness. I don’t understand why Hou is not more widely known in this country because he is revered in Asia.
Another favorite of mine is a Spanish film called The Spirit of the Beefive.
Loads of great films mentioned, thanks BJers.
I adore Woody Allen and Roman Polanski, so this makes me worser than Hitler I guess.
I tend to think of Woody much like the way I feel about Paul in The Beatles: damn he was a genius but sometimes I could just throttle the bastard!
Sleeper is my early fave. Annie Hall, VPLicious. Manhattan is sumptuous in black and white.
Godard’s Breathless is fun but I’ve always been an arthouse masochist like that. Hail Mary, I got prayed at by Occupy Arthouse Catholics when I went to see that, fun fun.
Dunno about Renoir, but Jean Cocteau’s Beauty and the Beast is fucking incredible. I sat my daughter in front of that when she was 10…she’s seen To Be or Not To Be and Bringing Up Baby too.
It’s the least I could do for her turning me on to Shrek!
From Radio Days, never got the roller coaster outside the living room window scene out of my head. Only Woody could think that one up.
Love me some Woody; I’m quite fond of Hannah & Her Sisters, as well as Radio Days. I also think Sweet & Lowdown is a gem, even if it hits you over the head with its message. Oh, and Play it again, Sam, because it always felt like it was about me.
Of Godard’s stuff, I rather enjoyed both Alphaville and Bande a part, but then again, it was during those days I made more of an effort when watching movies.
Of the more obscure stuff, Bela Tarr’s Werckmeister Harmonies is up there.
Yeah, it gets tough when you consider foreign born directors who made great films in America. Hawks would be in my top tier. Welles, probably, although he squandered his gifts after a few towering films. Coppola, I don’t know. He lost his way, and loses points for the dull, pointless Godfather 3.
Chaplin, Hitchcock and Wilder are in my All All Time All World, along with Kurosawa, Truffaut, and Michael Powell.
A man who inspired Billy Wilder is Lubitsch, another foreign born director who did great work in America. Get the sparkling comedy, Trouble in Paradise if you have not seen it. Thank me later.
Roman Polanski is a great film director who drugged, raped, and sodomized a thirteen year old girl. As I mentioned earlier, my feeble protest is never to pay to see his work until after his death.
Allen is not, by any means, as bad here as Polanski, but I still find his decisions with respect to his step daughter troubling.
Incidentally, Allen’s son with Mia Farrow just won a Rhodes Scholarship. He works in the State Department for Clinton.
@slag: oh snap!
@handsmile: Lots of food for thought, thanks! I disagree about Lolita, as it does not romanticize the Humbert/Delores relationship at all.
Thanks in return!
While I agree that the novel does not “romanticize” the relationship between the middle-aged M. Humbert and the teenaged (13? 14?) Miss Haze, it does not explicitly moralize, much less condemn, it or the adult participant.
Moreover, [SPOILER ALERT !?] while Humbert cold-bloodily murders the vulgarian Clare Quilty for stealing away his Lolita, the act is portrayed sympathetically, committed in defense of a more honorable, Old World love.
Ah, would that every morning begin with an exchange on literature. Cheers!
@Steeplejack: Many thanks! Do you have a line; When I googled I got a B&N page that said ‘this offer expirede’.
@HI: I love Hou Hsiao Hsien, but don’t know that one. Thanks for the tip. And I second your praise for Spirit of the Beehive.
Screw Google. I just went to the B&N Web site and looked up Kieslowski’s Three Colors trilogy mentioned above, and it’s still $39.99, half off the $79.99 retail price.
Trust me. I work at B&N. The sale ends tonight. Full disclosure: I do not benefit from anything you purchase. :-) This is a great sale. Most Criterion titles are usually $39.99, so you can scoop them up for 20 bucks. And there are a number of Criterion “essentials” that you can get for $10 or $15.
Paul in KY
I think Sleeper & Annie Hall were the 2 funniest movies he ever made.
Paul in KY
@James Gary: I loved it when he sneezed into about $5,000 worth of blow.
Good Handsomesmile (blush), I think that book is one of the most brilliant in the English language, but the above is a bit oversimplified. It doesn’t “moralize” or “condemn” in conventional terms, of course, but the Humbert narrator is rife with self-loathing. Indeed it’s the combination of that self-loathing and his guilty joy in his passion that is a key element of the brilliance.
@handsmile: hmm, I think you are regarding HH as a more reliable narrator than he really is. There are many tells, I find it hard to read his perspective in a sympathetic light at all.
I am due for a re-read, though, so perhaps my recollection is clouding a more plain interpretation.
Only a cad would be so churlish as to dispute such a complimentary remark, dreemom. Let me reply instead that your observation of M. Humbert compels me to sit back from the keyboard and ponder.
My initial thoughts are that loathing by Humbert extends beyond the self to encompass a more general misanthropy or at least a resigned disappointment with his life’s circumstances. He is an exiled prince (thus linking him to Pale Fire‘s Charles Kinbote).
My reverence for Vladimir Nabokov cannot be adequately expressed. His impact upon my thinking about literature and my appreciation for prose styles is immeasurable and ever-fresh.
And just let me tell you that oversimplification was one of the principal objectives behind the invention of the Internet. Once blogs became too literate, Twitter came along.
I have enjoyed and am grateful for our exchange this morning on Lolita.
Rarely does too much time pass when I am not re-reading something by Nabokov or literary criticism of his work; at the moment, it’s his collected short stories.
I will be mindful of your critique when next reading the novel (which your comments have helped to push up in the queue.)
Yes, a general misanthrope he surely is. But there are some key passages I recall where self loathing for his abuse of Dolores is evident: there’s one in particular, where he describes the innocent, if mundane, experiences of childhood that he has denied to her (it includes a reference to “grinning dogs”), and another where he describes twisting her arm and adds “God rot my heart for it.” As I said, however, this is all interwoven with the guilty delight in his passion, and his exaggerated appeals to “gentlemen of the jury.”
It’s a masterpiece, I tellz ya — a masterpiece. And to think English wasn’t even his native language.
Regarding obscure “Festival” films, I greatly enjoyed Kontrol, a movie from Hungary by a first-time writer-director that combined drama, comedy, magical realism, thriller, and love story all in one. Oh, and it was shot and took place in the subways of Budapest, and focuses on the lives of the ticket inspectors.
As for Godard, I have fond memories of watching Alphaville, a science fiction movie with few SF traipings.
I knew that wasn’t right! Substitute “trappings” for “traipings” in the last sentence, please!
@Steeplejack: Don’t know if you’ll look at this thread again, but followed your advice with success! Thanks!
I would love for the trio to make a “Before” film every 9 years until all of them are old and gray. Being close to the same age as the characters, it is like watching snippets of your life unfold on screen, from being young and impressionable romantics to jaded grown-ups who realize some of your dreams and fantasies to do not come true and hw you deal with it.Add movie showtimes to iGoogle