Tag Archive: woody allen


mikewoody

The ‘Off the Wall’ vs ‘Thriller’ debate had a little traction this week, thus today’s song choice.

My favorite ‘underrated’ track off that album (if you consider any of those songs underrated).

Enjoy!

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‘Top Five’

 

topfive

Chris Rock’s best film so far.

The comparisons to Woody Allen’s most popular films are appropriate for the most part.  In this film, Chris plays an ‘alternate version of Chris Rock’: a hugely successful stand up comedian who’s successfully transitioned into mainstream Hollywood stardom.  But as ‘Top Five’ starts, ‘Andre Allen’ doesn’t want to be funny anymore; he wants the audience to take him seriously.  So what role is Andre promoting to get as far away from his comic persona? The leader of a Haitian slave revolt.  (Personally the character Rock is playing reminded me WAY more of Eddie Murphy’s career arc than Chris’.  Another conversation for another day.)

As every trailer and commercial implies, this film is loaded with stars and cameos.  I’ll just pick out a few of my favorites.  First, Cedric the Entertainer.  I’ve loved one of the Original Kings of Comedy long before he ever showed up in anybody’s movie.  And he KILLS his section of the film.  I can’t even remember the character’s name, but I know HE’S THE MF’N MAN IN HOUSTON DAWG!

Rosario Dawson.  Speaking of Top Fives… (shaking my head).  Off the top of my head, I don’t know who is the current title holder, but playing ‘the Girl’ in this film certainly is another notch in why Rosario is a First Ballot Hall of Famer for most Hip Hop Heads.  Others could have played this part but it really feels like it was written for Rosario.  My film geek pet peeve about ‘romantic movies where the leads aren’t selling it’ is well known at this point; I have to say, Rosario and Chris really vibed well to me.  Maybe a little surprisingly so.

Finally, out of all the cameos, the best one to me happens in the last 20 minutes or so of the film.  I can’t really say anymore without ruining it, but my father was one of many people in the audience who was howling in laughter.  Then after the film was over, he asked me if ‘That Guy’ was somebody famous.  Just a hilarious bit.

Anyway, if you haven’t seen it yet cause you don’t think ‘Chris Rock movies’ aren’t usually that good, trust me, this is the exception.

 

batmanmeditates

‘Editing is that moment when you give up every hope you have of making a great piece of art and you have to settle with what you have.’ – Woody Allen

To any of ‘the Commission’ reading this, don’t take that quote too literally.  ‘Holiday Project’ is in good shape.

But personally I’m starting the week dealing with stress.  It feels more stressful than normal because a) it’s disrupting my day to day operations and b) the overall picture is looking very bright.  And truth be told, c) it’s one of those times where you get pulled into drama that’s not your creation but it’s your responsibility to solve it.

I could easily get drowned by how pissed off I am at certain things happening but… the ‘secret’ to my productivity is getting back to the type of focus I had as a kid and tuning out all the distractions and concentrating on the task directly in front of me.  Can only fix one problem at a time, and my problem solving abilities are peaking right now, so all I can do is dial on and ride out the current wave.  Another lesson from being around as long as I have.  The good times don’t last forever, but neither do the bad ones.

Starting the week focusing on one issue at a time…

Deconstruction

 

anniehoofd1

Taking a quick break from reviewing films because I have to talk about this.

A few days ago, Ava DuVernay asked the question all film geeks have had to think about the past few weeks (paraphrasing): can we still love some of these artists if we believe they’ve committed these universally accepted wrongs?

My Twitter (i.e. 140 character) response was this:

Now let me elaborate…

I finally had time (and more importantly emotional space) to read Dylan Farrow’s letter today.  And it was everything I expected it to be. Shocking, and disgusting and sad.  Here’s the thing though.  This was one of the most public versions of that story I’ve heard.  But not the first time.  Or the second. Or the third, even.  I won’t go into further detail about who the women are who told me their stories, but I can tell you, like Dylan’s account, it’s not this Hollywood image of a stranger in a dark parking lot at 1 in the morning (that happens too of course), but in all the stories I’ve been trusted enough to hear about, it’s ALWAYS a male in the family.  So based on my own personal experience, it’s hard to complete dismiss Dylan’s account.

So does this change the way I look at Woody’s films?  At the moment that I write this…no.  The details are way more lurid and obscene than we’ve ever read, but if this is the first time you looked at Woody Allen’s personal life and said ‘He did WHAT?’, I think you missed some details on the way here.  And there is never a ‘good time’ for something like this to be brought to light or be talked about, so I’m trying real hard to not sound insensitive if you want to completely dismiss the man and the artist wholesale (which you have every right to feel).  Not to distract from the issue at hand, but I have in mind, ‘other’ artists, who ‘allegedly’ have similar sexual preferences, and have been unapologetically defiant about it (see interviews done by Toure, and songs like ‘Age Ain’t Nothin But a Number’, and ‘Seems Like You’re Ready’).  Woody Allen from what I’ve seen is defending his name against an unforgivable crime; he’s not saying ‘Yeah, so what, what’s the big deal?’

Timing wise, is this going to cost Cate Blanchett the Oscar?  I don’t know.  Does it matter?

 

‘Blue Jasmine’

 

blue-jasmine

Let me start by telling you (if you didn’t already know) that whenever I see the title card that says ‘Written and Directed by Woody Allen,’ that’s an automatic plus one on the review.

Blue Jasmine follows a middle aged woman (the always on point Cate Blanchett) who has to move in with her sister after her New York upper class life completely falls apart.  Definite allusions to A Streetcar Named Desire in this one.  The movie is told in both present day and flashback; we see Jasmine attempting to rebuild her life, and in flashback we see her living the high life with her husband (played by Alec Baldwin, who else?), and watch piece by piece how events from the past affect how the characters react to the world (and each other) in the present day.

Seinfeld had a great B-story about this in one of their episodes, but there really is a ‘cult’ of film geeks/comedians who I’m sure to this day will answer yes to ‘Do you want to be in a Woody Allen film?’ without asking what character they’re playing or what the story is about.  So to see Louie C.K. and Andrew Dice Clay pop up in this film wasn’t completely surprising. What was a little more surprising (kind of) was how both guys brought heart to their minor characters.

This film is definitely set in ‘the New York world’, so if you’re not a hardcore Woody Allen mark, you may not be into this one as much.  I enjoyed it though.

 

rashida-jones-1

A few years later, the feature length script for Lady In My Life is done.  Have I written my ‘Annie Hall’?  Am I entering my ‘Woody in his prime’ stage of my acting/writing life?  We will see, we will see.

My deadline for getting this done story written has been mostly self-imposed.  One thing I can definitely say though: being a capital a ‘Actor’ the past couple of years has GREATLY improved my craft as a writer.  My comedic timing is sharper, my sense for my own sense of humor and which parts of my silliness people respond to is much greater.  Most important I think, working with other actors really sharpened my sense for character and different types of comedic characters can fill out a story.  And hopefully as I continue to develop this story (as I slowly start to put my Producer hat back on), both the heart of the story and the silliness of it will tighten up.

My fondness for Rashida duly noted, I’m looking at an impressive list of actresses who, both as a writer and actor, I think could elevate and bring their own ideas into my story and make it better.  Some are names you all know (which the Producer agrees with in terms of financing), some names my fellow film nerds know (which the Writer agrees with in terms of comedy) and some names only I’m thinking of (as the Actor who knows other people on my level who are ‘ready’ to be ‘overnight successes’ in the right role on the right project). The Producer/Development Executive is saying not to publicize that list though.  As far as guys go though, since (like the short) this is a Kansas City based love story, I think it would be cool to try to get Paul (Rudd) or Jason (Sudeikis) to cameo as the story’s villain/foil.

So I’ll see what the feedback is while I focus on other things for a minute.  I already told a few people close to me, that like the short, this feels like the One I have to take all the way to the end.  I’m excited.

Have a good weekend!

 

Some quick thoughts on this morning’s nominations…

Best Picture – 9 films, wow.  I called 6.  Extremely Loud and War Horse haven’t been on my ‘must see’ list, but now I feel obligated…

Best Actor – Gary Oldman, it’s about damn time!!!!! (yes I’m biased, been a fan for decades before he played Commissioner Gordon).

Best Actress – The Globes have made this more interesting than we thought it would be. Viola or Streep?  I guess we’ll see…

Best Supporting Actor – Very eclectic list, I just got around to seeing Warrior last week so it’s nice to see people remembered this movie and Nick Nolte.

Best Supporting Actress – Pleasantly surprised for Melissa McCarthy, she really did steal Bridesmaids out from under a great cast of comediennes.

Best Director – What a list!!!!  And the crazy thing is the favorite is the only name who’s not already a Hall of Famer!

Best Screenplay – Combining the two categories to ask the question, will Woody show up for a group of his most loyal fans?

Actual predictions coming as we get closer…

Midnight in Paris

 

First off, hope everyone had a nice New Year.  Now let’s get back to business…

As I watched Midnight in Paris, I appreciated the irony of this particular story.  A writer who spends quite a bit of time daydreaming about his idols finds a time warp that allows him to hang out with Hemingway, Fitzgerald, Gertrude Stein and company.  Some people have been hyping this film as Woody Allen’s best film in years (I disagree).   But I will say this film more closely ‘feels’ like Woody’s most celebrated films (such as Annie Hall and Manhattan) than anything he’s made recently.  So I wonder how many of the critics who’ve fawned over the film are overly nostalgic themselves for the Woody Allen films of the 70s and 80s?  Is he making a comment about his own career arc and fan base?  I don’t think so actually but it’s a sign of respect for the man that I’m even thinking about it and throwing it out there.

Led by Owen Wilson in the ‘Woody’ role, and featuring a stacked supporting cast including Rachel McAdams, Marion Cotillard, Kathy Bates, and Adrien Brody, the thing I took away the most from Midnight is that Woody still has ‘it.’  I know a lot of film lovers, but I know very few (I think) who still plan to be active when they get to Woody’s age, let alone put out high quality work.  That statement alone makes the film worth watching.