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! First up is Annie Hall and Midnight in Paris…
Simon Columb on Annie Hall:
Vintage Woody Allen is where you start. Annie Hall is the specific spot. Alvie Singer (Woody Allen) is reflecting on his relationship with Annie Hall (Diane Keaton). By breaking the fourth wall in the first few seconds, you are caught off-guard. Allen is being honest with you; his audience and friend. He is confiding in you with his innermost feelings and personal outlook – cynical, narcissistic and incredibly funny. He darts from his childhood (“I like leather”) through to his New York Jewish family. Gordon Willis captures deep shadows and warm colours and Christopher Walken appears for mere-minutes in an unforgettable appearance as Annie Hall’s brother. Annie Hall hints at a darker edge – a pessimism that often lurks amongst Woody’s films, but it remains timeless – unlike many Best Picture Oscar winners – and comedians including Ricky Gervais and Larry David owe Woody Allen here. Indeed, where would comedy be without Annie Hall?
Brogan Morris on Midnight in Paris:
From vintage Woody to new-age Woody, Midnight in Paris doesn’t reinvent the wheel or define Allen’s oeuvre, but it is one of the writer/director’s most basically enjoyable films, and proof that the man isn’t nearly done some 40+ films on. Sweet and airy without ever turning saccharine or slight, Midnight in Paris swaps as protagonist the neurotic Woody Allen-type for a neurotic Owen Wilson-type (and who’d have thought that would’ve worked so well?). As Wilson’s Gil Pender travels from his angst-ridden present into a fairytale Paris of the 1920s, a place full of exaggerated versions of literary and artistic icons (including a Salvador Dali obsessed with rhinoceroses), the film is – oddly for a Woody Allen film – entirely, charmingly free of cynicism. What you get instead is a movie about searching for the elusive perfect fantasy that itself is an almost perfect fantasy movie. It also has refreshing smarts, and how often do you hear that about modern comedy?
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.