Woody Allen Wednesdays – Bananas and A Midsummer Night’s Sex Comedy

Every Wednesday, FM writers Simon Columb and Brogan Morris write two short reviews on Woody Allen films … in the hope of watching all his films over the course of roughly 49 weeks. If you have been watching Woody’s films and want to join in, feel free to comment with short reviews yourself! Next up is Bananas and A Midsummer Night’s Sex Comedy…

Simon Columb on Bananas…

Woody Allen, in such a light, comedic tone, takes on politics. “It’s all over for El Presidente” as the beginning depicts an assassination on the news with sports-style commentary before introducing Fielding Mellish (Allen), an invention tester. Marvin Hamlisch’s Mexican music sets the scene as Mellish is caught up in a revolution when attempting to woo a lovely lady in Nancy (Louise Lasser). Amongst the highlights is an homage to Chaplin’s Modern Times, as Allen is caught up in an exercise-in-the-workplace invention while a trial reveals J. Edgar Hoover as large, black woman. Bananas, like Sleeper and Everything You Wanted To Know About Sex, is Allen having fun. Poking fun at fashionable revolutions and using one-liners to nab every opportunity for a gag, Woody knows how to toy with us but flounders when sewing the story together. Also includes a small role Stallone playing a thug tops off Bananas.

Simon Columb 

Brogan Morris on A Midsummer Night’s Sex Comedy…

That a Woody Allen effort can be about something as weighty as metaphysics and still be classed a breezy ‘comedy’ is the mark of the man’s craft. Set in the early 20th century, A Midsummer Night’s Sex Comedy is as wilfully frivolous and farcical as the title might suggest, with a group of three couples – including Allen’s inventor and his wife Mary Steenburgen – romantically intermingling over a heady summer evening by the woods. Performances by Allen, Steenburgen, Mia Farrow and particularly Jose Ferrer (as the pernickety intellectual looking to marry Farrow’s aimless old flame of Allen’s) are stellar, and the cinematography is full of painterly wonder, but it’s Allen’s witty, eccentric, twisting script that deserves most praise. Returning to a style from before the sophistication of his Manhattan, some say Midsummer Night’s is Allen coasting, when really it’s just a director returning to a type of comedy he’s already mastered.

Brogan Morris – Lover of film, writer of words, pretentious beyond belief. Thinks Scorsese and Kubrick are the kings of cinema, but PT Anderson and David Fincher are the young princes. Follow Brogan on Twitter if you can take shameless self-promotion. 
 

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