July 25th, 2016 — 1:55am
This movie is set in the 1930’s, which is more of the generation of Woody Allen’s parents than his own. Yet the film is in the voice of Allen who not only actually narrates the movie but also directed and produced it. The central character, Bob, played so well by Jesse Eisenberg, speaks and acts with Allen’s inflections and mannerisms.
The story opens in the Bronx (Allen’s hometown) and we see Bob is leaving to seek his fortune in Hollywood where his uncle Phil Stern (Steve Carell) is a successful movie agent for the stars and he hopes will give him a job. Stern is seemingly happily married for 25 years but he’s having an affair and falling in love with his very young secretary (Kristin Stewart) who no doubt is half his age (sounds familiar?). Complication of complications, young Bob meets Veronica and there is much chemistry between them.
As is typical for an Allen movie, there is an intriguing plot but also great character development. The action of the film shifts back and forth between Hollywood and New York and we get to know Bob’s family. We meet his mother, as you would expect, his father who is a failed jeweler, his sister and her husband who is a outspoken communist, as well as Bob’s brother who is a gangster who occasionally kills people.
Hollywood and New York of the 1930’s are vividly brought to life with clothes, cars, and people as real and true to life as they could be. The casting is wonderful (by Juliet Taylor as usual) and as would be expected, there is period music throughout the movie.
This may not be Allen’s best film but Allen aficionados will not be disappointed and everyone will be reminded about how wonderful and complicated it can be to fall in love. (2016)
Comment » | 3 Stars, Comedy, Drama
August 4th, 2013 — 5:24pm
*** Blue Jasmine rm – This is another Woody Allen movie which is a study of two sisters. It is an in depth character analysis but yet we never really understand the origins of their personality development. Jasmine (Kate Blanchett) who gave up her last year of college to marry the man of her dreams . He is quite wealthy , seemingly devoted to her, gives her everything she could ever desire from clothes, beautiful home, vacations and even a son from another marriage who eventually goes to Harvard. Hal is a smooth and slick as Alec Baldwin who actually plays him but is not who he seems to be (think a younger Bernie Madoff). Her sister Ginger (Sally Hawkins) is a San Francisco waitress, down to earth with two young children who is married to Augie (Andrew Dice Clay) when we meet her. They visit Hal and Jasmine in their luxurious New York City apartment and make the mistake of asking for advice from Hal on how to handle their $200,000 lottery bonanza. Circumstances that you can probably imagine reverse Jasmine’s good life and she now has to live with her sister in a cramped San Francisco apartment where we meet divorced Ginger’s now boyfriend Chili (Bobby Carnnavale). All these characters are very compelling and interesting including Al (Louis C.K.) who has a quick fling with Ginger The story shows the desperate, superficiality of Jasmine’s character and many of women who surrounded her and similarly although to a lesser degree presents her sister as eager, if not desperate to latch on to a man. But if Allen is showing us a weak image of woman, there is not much to say for all the men in the story. They are lying, cheating, crying, groping or phony. However, Woody Allen who wrote and directed this movie gets your attention and holds it. The casting, as usual, is near perfect. The dialog draws you into the characters. He used flashbacks to effectively tell the story so you ultimately understand all the nuances. Allen as a writer gets away with using several coincidences to develop his story line such as characters just happen to witness some indiscretion in a busy city street or just happens to bump into somebody who says something that changes everything. Nevertheless, he gets great performances from the actors including what we think could be Oscar nods for Kate Blanchett and maybe Ginger Hawkins. Chalk this one up to ano ther Woody Allen movie worth seeing. (2013)
Comment » | 3 Stars, Drama
June 5th, 2011 — 6:43am
Midnight In Paris rm- The movie opens with a couple of minutes of various beautiful scenes throughout Paris which made us both independently feel that we are ready for a return trip to the city of lights. Woody Allen wrote and directed the film. You can not help but feel that it is Allen speaking through the main character who is Gil Pender(Owen Wilson), a disenchanted Hollywood screenwriter, who is working on his first novel and is visiting Paris with his fiancée (Rachel McAdams) and her parents (Kurt Fuller and Mimi Kennedy). Gil is enchanted with Paris and would like to live there for awhile but his fiancée thinks that is a foolish idea. She would prefer to go sightseeing with Carol and Paul, good friends who just happened to be also visiting Paris. Paul is a know-it-all (wonderfully played by Michael Sheen) who has the intellectual connection to Paris as compared the emotional attachment which Gil has formed with this city. Paul has the audacity to debate some historical facts with a museum guide who interestingly enough is played by Carla Bruni, well known singer, model and wife of the President of France. Whereas Gil after a few drinks and some wondering the streets of Paris at night is offered a ride by some party going people in what appears to be a 1920s Peugeot Limousine. He finds himself whisked to late night parties where he meets F. Scott and Zelda Fitzgerald, Ernest Hemingway, Pablo Picasso, Alice Toklas, Salvatore Dali and other illustrious persons of Paris of this bygone era. He returns on succeeding evenings where he was picked up to visit to the Paris of old. He even gets Gertrude Stein (Kathy Bates) to read the novel he is writing. He becomes enamored with the mistress of Picasso who prefers to be taken even further back in time as she yearns to be in the Paris of the renaissance. It is then that Gil realize that that it is human nature to want to be back in the good old days and that we never recognize that we all have to live our lives in the present. So maybe after all these years Woody Allen has had a successful psychoanalysis. The result is a very charming, “feel-good” enjoyable movie.
Comment » | 3 Stars, Comedy, Romance
October 18th, 2010 — 4:15am
You Will Meet A Tall Dark Stranger-rm – We have always been willing to see Woody Allen movies if for no other reason then to see where his head is at. He always comes up with an interesting group of characters who are struggling in great angst in which we can some way identify with or at least understand. This time he gives us various configurations of couples who are each having trouble with their relationships and for the most part they each have some very wishful fantasies. The oldest couple has split because Alfie (Anthony Hopkins) feels he should have relationship with hot young blond (Lucy Punch). His disappointed wife Helena (Gemma Jones) falls under the spell of a forune teller (Pauline Collins) whom she believes hookline and sinker. Helena then falls in love with a widower Jonathan (Roger Ashton-Griffiths) who needs the permission of his dead wife to marry her. Alfie and Helena have a daughter Sally (Naomi Watts) who is married to Roy, a doctor (Josh Broslin) who doesn’t practice but is trying to produce a second novel rather than a family and prefers looking out his apartment window at Dia (Freida Pinto), a beautiful woman whom he is convinced would be the perfect partner for him. The doctor – now writer’s wife really imagines that she would be better off with her art dealer boss (Antonio Banderes). If she can’t have him she would hope that her mother would lend her money to open her own art gallery but the mother doesn’t think the stars are aligned right. There are many more twists and turns in this study of the human psyche. There is also a narrator to the movie (Zak Orth) who really doesn’t tell us very much. Allen has a writing style that gives the audience a feel for who are these people and the dilemmas they face from their own point of view. The problem is that when all is said and done, we didn’t really care that much about any of the characters despite the unique story and a great cast. There were some good comedic moments but overall it is a sad commentary about human nature. (2010)
Comment » | 3 Stars, Comedy, Drama
September 6th, 2010 — 2:41am
* * * *
Vicky Cristina Barcelona – rm – This is a recent Woody Allen movie. He is not on screen and doesn’t even narrate it but you can hear his voice in it throughout. Those of us who have appreciated his films throughout the years will enjoy seeing where his sexual fantasies have taken him. It isn’t much further than his earlier films except his characters are closer to acting them out but some of them still struggle with their guilt ridden neurosis. The setting is Barcelona which is great bonus. If you enjoy Woody’s films you won’t be disappointed. 2008
Comment » | 4 Stars, Drama, Romance
September 6th, 2010 — 2:38am
* * * *
Whatever Works – rm – People who like Woody Allen usually like Larry David. Allen chooses David to speak his words and act out his state of mind which basically is “what really matters, we are all going to die “. Thus we see a divorced, could have been a Nobel Prize winning physics professor, after a botched suicide attempt decides to live on his own in Manhattan. Along comes a pretty young girl from Mississippi who ends up living with the good professor. Allen’s current views on love, sex, relationships, death and everything else are seemingly demonstrated through the characters who inhabit this film. Everyone seems to be in an incongruous situation which makes for good comedy at the same time as we get insight into the struggle of the characters and of Woody Allen sitting at his typewriter or ultimately directing his actors. As expected the directing, production and acting by Larry David, Ed Begley Jr. Patricia Clarkson, and Evan Rachel Wood are on target and move this film into the higher level of a must see rating ( unless of course you don’t like Woody Allen ) 2009
Comment » | 4 Stars, Comedy, Romance