Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Sunset for Woody

A few weeks ago, I walked out of Midnight in Paris and said something I never thought I'd say after watching a Woody Allen film: "Well, that was cute."

And it was, in a literary geek/celeb spotting kind of way. Oh, there's Hemingway. And Gertrude Stein. And Omigod, Adrien Brody makes the best Salvador Dali!


In Midnight in Paris, Woody Allen revisits the magical elements that made The Purple Rose of Cairo such an interesting, compelling film. But in Cairo he seemed to know this: the realism is just as important as the magic. Midnight in Paris is visually stunning and fairly whimsical, but it presents a world populated with caricatures. At some point during this film, Allen decided to sacrifice believability for jokes.

The thing is, he used to do both so well.

I get that he's 75, long past the age when most directors have retired or simply faded away. I also understand that artists evolve and later work may reflect a shift in perspective or a refusal to follow trends. I also suspect some find great comfort in repetition, in watered down versions of older, more successful works. I don't want Woody Allen to be guilty of the latter. It's just too disappointing.

I think he's still got it in him to create movies like the following, movies that made me laugh and think in equal measure, movies that made me want to be a better writer:

Annie Hall


Hannah and Her Sisters


The Purple Rose of Cairo

Radio Days

Crimes and Misdemeanors

Husbands and Wives

Manhattan Murder Mystery

Want to add any to the list?