Woody Allen


Ike Barinholtz, the very cute comedian who used to be on Mad TV, recently tweeted: “’Midnight in Paris’ is Woody Allen’s 15th best movie.”



I haven’t seen the movie, but I have no reason to doubt him.



I came of age during the Golden Age of Woody Allen. He’d emerged from his early experimental period – “Bananas,” “Take The Money and Run,” “Sleeper” – to create one of the most perfect comedies of all time: “Annie Hall.”



If you don’t agree with me on this point one hundred percent, watch it again. And then again.



Back in the 1990s, a friend of mine would call me, and instead of saying “Hello,” she’d give me a line of “Annie Hall” dialogue. I was expected to respond with the following line. I don’t think I can do it anymore, but I could do it instantly back then. “I don’t get a period! I’m a cartoon character!” “We use a large vibrating egg.” “Love fades.”



After “Annie Hall,” Woody made “Manhattan,” which I liked, but which felt – artsy. Artificial. And it still does.



Then he made “Interiors,” his first drama. I have seen it dozens of times. I love it, but I cannot recommend it to you, unless you like beige décor and Mary Beth Hurt. It is not a comedy. It is full of angst and stiff dialogue and homages to Ingmar Bergman. Unfortunately, it is also full of uncomfortable echoes of Woody’s own (very funny) Bergman parody, “Love and Death.” Sometimes I think “Interiors” is one of Woody’s funniest comedies. I’d never say it to his face, though.



I am fond of “Stardust Memories,” which came next, but I’ll tell you why later.



After “Stardust Memories,” he made many duds. Many, many, many duds. “The Curse of the Jade Scorpion.” “Mighty Aphrodite.” “Hollywood Ending.” “Celebrity.” Some were supposed to be serious, or at least tragicomic. Oh, dear god, “September”!



But there were still moments of glory. “Broadway Danny Rose” is a thing of beauty, and go see it please, it is too funny. The first time I saw it, I did not realize it was Mia Farrow behind those big dark glasses. Woody and Mia were still together then, and (the story goes) they were in a restaurant, and Woody said, “What do you want your next role to be?”, and Mia pointed at an Italian woman in the next booth, with dark glasses and a floppy hat, and said: “I want to play her.”



And she does. And she is wonderful.



Oh, that’s right, I need to tell you about why I love “Stardust Memories” so much.



In it, Woody fantasizes that he’s talking to aliens, about how he wants to communicate something important – something lasting – to the human race. And all he can do is make these stupid comedies.



And the alien says: “But we like your movies. Especially the earlier funnier ones.”




About Loren Williams
Gay, partnered, living in Providence, working at a local university. Loves: books, movies, TV. Comments and recriminations can be sent to futureworld@cox.net.

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