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January 07, 2006


Interesting reflections here, Danny.

Once upon a time, I thought that I wasn't an opinionated person and believe it or not, it came as a shock to me to finally realize that I am.

It can be hard to separate our judgments about people from their artistic output, especially when they often promote their ideas and project their personalities through their art.

I don't think that it's altogether horrible to form such judgments, though. I don't mean that we should be judgmental in a holier-than-thou way. But I know that I am turned off by people who seem to take the attitude that they have the right to be as exploitative of others as they want to be, for example. When I perceive that as their modus operandi, I tend to refuse to participate in enabling them in that lifestyle.

As to Woody Allen himself, I once was an enormous fan. In fact, as a junior high student, then bent on being a comedian myself. I was very into his comedy. (That was before he got into film.) I used to love his essays and articles, too.

I enjoyed his early films, especially 'Sleeper' and of course, 'Annie Hall.' I liked these films in spite of their frequent technical flaws, like microphone booms that were visible.

But, over time I simply lost interest in his films. It had nothing to do with revulsion. Nor did I think he had to be comedic.

The films didn't appeal to me and that began to happen long before his set-to with Mia Farrow. I don't know why, for sure. One reason though may be that he seemed so intent on being "profound" that he aped Bergman. I hate it when people mimic others. It's true that nobody's artistic output is absolutely new or unique. (Solomon had something to say about that.) But all the clips, previews, and reviews I saw of Allen's post-Annie Hall output seemed so deliberately imitative of Bergman that I couldn't bring myself to get interested. So, I haven't seen any of his movies since Hall.

I can't imagine plunking down good money to see an Allen film today. I guess your review of this new film confirms me in feeling that way. If I'm being judgmental in saying so, I can live with that.

Mark Daniels

Well said, Mark. I agree that total lack of judgment is not a desirable goal, that's why that fantasy version of myself needs a reality check.

I'm also a bit disenchanted with Allen's later work although there were a lot of post-Annie Hall films that I was crazy about. I guess my 5 favorite Woody Allen films would be:
• Radio Days
• Annie Hall
• The Purple Rose of Cairo
• Broadway Danny Rose
• Manhattan

Oh wait, what about Hannah and Her Sisters? Zelig? Mighty Aphrodite?

And, of course, the "early funny ones."

Well, I am so glad I saw "Match Point" before I read anything about it or heard other peoples "Judgements" of it..(lol)...because....I was able watch this film with a completely fresh eye that had not been tainted by EVERYONE ELSES thoughts about it!!! (I'm sure I do the same about films and write about them and influence in a subliminal way the people who have NOT yet seen them..) All this Danny is by way of saying I think most of the people I know have opinions...(if not opinionated...there is a difference, to me....) and I'm glad they do, even when I don't agree with know?

In the specific case of "Match Point", I felt closer to Kendall's view, though I did not think it was so much rehashed, but revisited--once again, sort of--the themes of Crimes & Misdemeabors" a favorite film of Woody Allen's of mine...and I say revisited because I do think Woody has some rather radical thoughts about the M word...and I am fascinated with his thoughts about the outcome of this subject...

You know, I'm trying soooo hard not to give anything away either and so maybe I should just call you and talk to you about this....BUT, leaving messages at the Miller-Hailey Household is like leaving stuff at the dead letter office!!! (LOL)...
But, I will give you a call, cause I think everything you write about is very thought provoking and always fascinating...and I'd love to talk to you about it, my dear...
So, till we can connect by phone...or something...!

One of my favorite Woody Allen movies is "Alice." I haven't heard many people talk about it - an in-depth look at Mia Farrow, scenes of Mother Teresa and a choice towards *goodness* at the end - if you need to "balance" anything out, Danny. And I loved "Wild Man Blues."

I saw "Match Point" last night and all I could do for hours afterwards was sit and smile and think what a brilliant artist Woody Allen is. Sadly, I have never judged him for his life and have always remained a fan even as I didn't *adore* his later movies. Have always wondered what that says about me! But, in my opinion (and I guess I admit openly to being opinionated!) this film is brilliant. It's dark, aesthetic, as subtle as can be, and shocking. And it's oh such an antithesis to all the moral preaching, puritannical rubbish that's rife in our society right now. Once again Allen has made me think, smile quietly in wonder and gasp in amazement and horror.

Brilliant. I'll probably go again quite soon. Lots of wonderful scenes I missed, including two that smacked of Bergman - another Director I adore. I admire Woody for "aping" Bergman, as Mark puts it. I like to incorporate brilliance into my work too - who doesn't?

"Somebody get me a jew" - HIL.A.RIOUS... I am glad you wrote about this film - I want to see it as well, but that should come as no surprise as I have a not-so-subtle obsession with doomed and dangerous love. I really enjoyed your angle, Danny because I hear those voices too - the judgment, etc but think about if the people who made art, wrote, made music, etc if those people all listened to 'their' voices, we may never have any creativity in this world. It might be the fact that these people are 'off' that ignites the pilot of their talent. Excellent post, Danny.

Is it judgment or discernment?

Your closing line is priceless.

Hi Danny, all I can say is...I want to spend just one day inside your brain!

Brilliant, bravo. I love it--and I linked to you. Right on Danny, for telling it like it is. "The heart wants what it wants" is a totally corrupt, morally bankrupt statement. Ick is what I say.

This film was, to me, like watching a root canal. I ran into some friends who were waiting to see it at the next showing, as I emerged from the theatre. I'm afraid I ruined it for them. Not by giving the plot away, but by saying, "It's two hours of agony. Then There's another 45 minutes."

I felt Penelope Wilton's character was a thinly disguised Jewish mother. They excused this by saying it happened when she had too many Gin & tonics; we never saw her in any other condition.

I sort of felt it was Allen trying to be all morally complex, when in fact it was just the story of a guy following his dick around.

On the other hand, the wife and I couldn't stop thinking or talking about the movie. And I'll stop there, lest I give stuff away.

Another provocative post! Blog on!

Woody Allen should never have agreed to film Match Point in England. In doing so, he may have made the movie that finally divides Woody Allen's British fans from his American fans. UK audiences will know enough about the manners and mores of the English upper classes to find watching Match Point a painful embarrassment. American audiences may simply be charmed.

Allen presents a picture of upper class English life that has probably never existed ouside the movies. In particular, his own respect for the arts allows him to imagine but England's wealthy are wealthy in culture too. Not so. The landed classes - what is left of them - operate from a culture of philistinism and anti-intellectualism. That means that the idea of a social-climbing Irish tennis pro working his way into their affections through a shared love of opera is nonsensical. The one moment when Allen gets it right is when Chris Wilton says to Emily Mortimer that he's got tickets to the latest Andrew Lloyd Webber musical, but the film's implied respect for Lloyd Webber - the idea that this too is high culture - is so laughable that it brought guffaws from the audience I saw the film with. (Note: Andrew Llord Webber may be a figure that Americans drool over; back here in the UK, he's regarded as a vulgarian and a figure of fun.)

Allen's wish to root his characters in a cultural setting goes wrong again and again: in starting and ending the movie with little slugs of philosophy - the first in Wilton's voice - and in putting a copy of Dostoyevsky into Wilton's hand. If Wilton's part had been played by Allen, we might just have bought the notion of a sports-playing thinker but there's nothing in the movie to suggests that Wilton's character has anything more going on up to than any of the other characters. Instead, they're all long-winded, unsympathetic bores - even Scarlett Johannson who, after her one moment of flirtation at the start, gives no further evidence for why anyone would want to puruse her. Allen's meant to be a wit, isn't he? Not here.

It's not just the characters that are inauthentic, it's the settings. There was one moment only when Allen's movie registered the reality of modern London: a brief shot of an ugly brick-walled factory unit opposite Tate Modern. For the rest, the film limits itself to the top-ten locations for a one-day sight-seeing tour, with a few international brand names - Aspreys, Ralph Lauren - thrown in. Johannson, a failed actress who struggles to get by as a sales assistant in a small boutique, nonetheless lives in a mansion flat somewhere in Kensington and gets around town by taxi. I don't think so.

The inauthenticity of the film runs so deep that UK audiences will find themselves wondering whether Allen's earlier portrayals of New York aren't equally fabricated. And once they start teasing that thread out, the whole skein of his oeuvre will begin to unravel. And that's a great pity.

The amazing thing is that no one among his backers - mainly, the BBC - had the balls at any time from pre-production to edit to intervene and, in the words of one genuine tennis pro say: Mr Allen, You Can Not Be Serious.

I just saw the movie this weekend and enjoyed it a lot. The only point on which I agree with the previous commenter is that the main character was a bit... what's the word, "vapid"? My friend said as we left the theater that he (the main character, not my friend) was a robot. Perhaps this was part of the point of the film, but it made it hard for me to really get into the conflict inside him. Still, I really enjoyed the film, however.

Have you seen "Crash"? I've been reading all these differing opinions on the film-- some calling the best film of the year, others the worst-- and was curious what you thought of it.

I really enjoyed reading this, very intersting thoughts. I was never a great fan of his movies but always fascinated with him as a person.
The supplied audio linked to my name is another commentary on this subject that you may or may not find interesting. I did though.

I am a Woody Allen fan. I was very forunate to attend one of his early live stand-up comic sessions. It's ashame that Woody just like Django Reinhardt along with their brilliance will never be accepted.Their creative abilities are to complex for the American audience to understand. Their artistic works are way beyond our time.

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