Friday, May 13, 2011


Woody Allen, 1979, 93m

Woody Allen made this film at the age of 42. It seems to be very autobiographical and personal in a straightforward way, even though the events may not have occurred. It is a sentimental, nostalgic portrait of the city in which it is set and the dusky black and white photography to the score of George Gershwin, makes the ancient and weathered phenomenon that is NY spring to life, as it could only through the eyes of someone who grew up there. The skyline of tall buildings, the river with it's bridge, the crowds, people drifting along the walkways lost in reverie--everything is lovingly lensed. One of the best sequences is when the lead couple gets caught in a thunderstorm. The film has something of the turgid neon-lit metropolis of Taxi Driver, and something of the beauty of decadence one associates with the word parisienne. After all, NY must be the old world of the New World.

The story is an effervescent romance set among a group of people with minds occupied by culture, books and ideas, and their own fragile affairs--it seems like an accurate portrait of the kind of set of people Woody must have grown up with, somewhat weird in thought and expression, but ordinarily human enough just a bit below the surface. This gives Woody, braniac that he is, ample oppurtunity to exercise his wit and gentle sparkling brand of humor, as the script roves intelligently but shallowly over the fashionable topics of the young academic crowd.The dialog is laced with unselfconscious references to artists, philosophers and books, and the characters are smart enough to recognise their shallowness. It is a good enough movie for similarly inclined folk, who may be kept pleasurably entertained by the unending dazzle of the repartee. Diane Keaton's former husband, whom she extolls in a mixture of awe and hate, as an overpwering prodigy of virility and intellect, "who taught me everything",turns out to be a dimunitive, balding "homunculus". This is obvoiously humorously self referential and shows Woody Allens broad humanity which embraces gays, intellectual morons and homunculi like himself (all manner of peripherals and battered souls). Woody Allen is his good hearted, brainy,creative self. Diane Keaton is brilliant in her emotionally confused, culturally pretentious and high spirited role.

It is a film that often touches the heartstrings. It is a refined, polished yet shallow movie, as perhaps it is meant to be, because Woody Allen is not one to feign profundity about the business of life. It is also a movie about human rootlessness, even in the best of times and places.


Jack L said...

I liked this one, but nowhere near as much as Annie Hall.
To be honest, the whole relationship between Allen's character and the young teenager kind of put me off.
I look forward to hearing what you think about Annie Hall or some of his other films...

S. M. Rana said...

Jack L:

I've lined up a few and Annie Hall, as his best known, is sure to be one.

They say the libido doesn't wane so easily, if you remember the sage advice of the man with the ten foot beard towards the end of Love and Death.

Ronak M Soni said...

"because Woody Allen is not one to feign profundity about the business of life"
One of the things I love about him is that he's one of the few filmmakers/writers who's able to look at the world as a set of randomly interacting processes without feeling in the least discomfited by it; in fact, finding it extremely funny.

In one of his (so considered by us Anglophones; the French love these ones too, I'm told) bad movies "Hollywood Ending," Allen plays a dude who just directed a whole movie blind (it's stress blindness, and he desperately needs the money). And then he moves to France, because the French loved it.

S. M. Rana said...


Interesting facts!

Greg said...

I need to see more Woody Allen, particularly from his golden age, as it was, but I have an interesting story to tell you about Annie Hall. The first time I saw it, I enjoyed it but wasn't impressed. Then I saw the last half hour or so when I was in love with a girl who didn't love me, and I thought it was brilliant. So perhaps circumstances dictate one's reaction to Allen's films. :-)

S. M. Rana said...

You whet my appetit, sir! Woody Allen is really a nice encounter, and just the dialog is worth watching the films for. I'm looking forward to Annie Hall.

Ronak M Soni said...

You might find this interesting:

S M Rana said...


Thanks, Ronak, that was really worth thumbing through and quite a comprehensive overview, that to from a professional.