Monday, February 23, 2009

Woody writes. Penelope soars.

Woody Allen is not the cinematic force that he used to be. Match Point, for example, is basically a copy of the far superior Crimes and Misdemeanors, released in 1989.

But Woody Allen had a run from 1977-1992 that I would put up against any filmmaker except maybe Martin Scorsese (Taxi Driver, Raging Bull, The King Of Comedy, After Hours, Color of Money, Goodfellas, Casino were released from 1976- 1995).

Here are the films:

Annie Hall 1977 (BEST PICTURE)
Interiors 1978
Manhattan 1979
Broadway Danny Rose 1984
The Purple Rose of Cairo 1985
Hannah and Her Sisters 1986
Radio Days 1987
Crimes and Misdemeanors 1989
Husbands and Wives 1992

I think the reason he was so successful is because he is such a gifted screenwriter. He knew how to compose an original story and write witty dialogue. The best actors all wanted to be “in a Woody” because he could flesh out such interesting characters.

He knew how to write women’s roles, how to write the angst of relationships and how to capture New York. He could do those three things better than anyone.

So far, five actors have won six Academy Awards in Allen films – Diane Keaton, Michael Caine, Diane Weist (twice), Mira Sorvino and last night, Penelope Cruz.

Woody Allen is a strong director, but it’s his words that make him special. I have great respect for Woody Allen the filmmaker. He transitioned from broad comedy in Take The Money and Run and Bananas to a deft mix of comedy and drama in movies Hannah and Her Sisters and Crimes and Misdemeanors.

As long as he keeps making movies, I’ll keep seeing them. Something in my gut tells me his best work is behind him.


Anonymous said...

Something in my gut tells me his best work is behind him.

I think you're right. Most directors only have a decade or perhaps two of top-flight work in them. Fellini once said only 10 years, then went on to prove it in his career.

Still, I'm like you in that I'll keep going to see Woody's films.

Ed Howard said...

I think Vicky Cristina Barcelona is one of Woody Allen's very best films. It's not a creative rejuvenation only because, unlike many, I don't think Woody has ever really lost his touch for any extended amount of time. I'd extend that 1977-1992 period much further than you to encompass such great 90s films as Manhattan Murder Mystery, Celebrity, Everyone Says I Love You, and Deconstructing Harry, at the very least.

PIPER said...

I myself am not such a "New" Woody fan. I long for the days of Sleeper and Love and Death. And I really couldn't stand Match Point.

But I have yet to see Vicky Christina Barcelona and am looking forward to it.

Anonymous said...


I stand by my list. He's done other good films but I believe his strongest were from 1977-1992.

But I do agree that Vicki Christina Barcelona is a very entertaining movie that got lost in the shuffle. Cruz deserves this Oscar.


Butch said...

Piper -- I'm back. I know you banished me because I walked out on Star Wars in 1970-whatever. But I am a film fan and I enjoy reading your blog.

Gotta say, I've never really enjoyed Woody Allen movies. I think I faked laughing at Banannas when I was in high school because everyone else was.

Scorsesee -- love 'em all.

Keep up the good work.

Butch said...

Brian -- Just noticed that you posted this. You keep up the good work too.


brian said...

Thanks, Butch.

I guess.

Fletch said...

Haha - how funny. I just got done slamming Allen in the previous posts' comments.

I really need to see more of his early work, 'cause I've seen (I think) all of his last five or so and I really don't know why I keep seeing them. I enjoyed VCB, but c'mon - Cassandra's Dream was brutal, Scoop was worse, Match Point was good.

Not terrible, but the batting average just ain't great. How 'bout making one every three years and making it really good instead?