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Non-Review Review: Crimes and Misdemeanors

I have to admit a special fondness for Crimes and Misdemeanors. It isn’t my favourite Woody Allen film, but it does sit somewhere near the top of my ranking of the director’s extensive filmography. More than that, though, it’s interesting to revisit Crimes and Misdemeanors in light of the director’s more recent work in films like Cassandra’s Dream or Match Point. Indeed, reflecting on it today, Crimes and Misdemeanors seems to occupy a strange middle-ground, literally positioned half-way between the director’s observational comedies and his more sombre meditations on the human condition. Anchored in a fantastic lead performance by Martin Landau, Crimes and Misdemeanors is an intriguing moral dramedy.

Well suited to each other?

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Non-Review Review: Midnight in Paris

A special thanks to the IFI for sneaking us into an advance screening. If you’re interested, they’re hosting a season of actors-turned-directors through October, with Woody Allen’s Purple Rose of Cairo among those screening.

“You inhabit two worlds. So far, I see nothing strange.”

“Of course, you’re a Surrealist.”

– Man Ray takes Gil’s time-traveling confession quite well

Woody Allen has, to a greater or lesser extent, been heavily influenced by Europe in the past few years. Ignoring Whatever Works, he’s clearly been inspired by the great European cities. Vicky Christina Barcelona is perhaps the most obvious, if only because it was perhaps the most critically and commercially successful, but London has also produced works as diverse as Match Point and You Will Meet A Tall Dark Stranger. Still, if you’re going to work with the major European cities, it seems pointless to avoid Paris, the city of lights and lovers, home to generations of artists for decades upon decades, it has earned a reputation as one of the most powerful and inspiring locations on the face of the planet. Allen does his subject proud, producing what is certainly his best film since his trip to Barcelona, and one I’d rank considerably higher in my own estimation. It seems that even the cynical Woody Allen can become something of a romantic in Paris.

The importance of being Ernest...

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Non-Review Review: Celebrity

As I was watching Celebrity, one of Woody Allen’s mid-nineties efforts, two things ran through my head. The first was that the movie was clearly intended to explain why the director had given up on his life in America and moved overseas (sparking his creative rebirth with films like Match Point and Vicky Christina Barcelona). The second, and much more pressing, was the observation that it’s not really fair to write a character with yourself in mind and then expect Kenneth Branagh to step in and play that avatar as you. Not to diminish Branagh’s Woody Allen impression (it’s much better than one might expect), but it tends to draw attention away from the rest of the film.

Woody clearly thinks this Hollywood malarkey is bananas...

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