Tuesday, March 3, 2009

Woody Allen is a dirty old man.

I took a much needed break from The Criterion Collection last night (this Cocteau is really taking it's toll on me) to indulge in a movie not only made before 1980, but one made in the last year.
Woody Allen has been a favorite director of mine for many many years. His work in the 70s, 80s, and even a few splashed in the 90s and 00s, have been as influential and important as anything every put out. When I first started digging in to film, Allen's name was always the one I was most drawn to. I couldn't help it, neurotic comedies about a bespectacled dork fumbling his way through love - seemed right up my adolescent alley. Thus, as much as I appreciate that this prolific man continues, at the age of 70-something to release two or three films a year, I've got to say, the master has fallen.

Vicky Christina Barcelona wants so badly to be the meandering comedies of Allen's past. It's a slow-rollin' excursion through love and lust amongst all the dramatic beauty of Barcelona feature a trio of three of the more beautiful people acting today. It has Allen's sort of neurotic, idea-based dialogue, it has his drifting camera, and it even has a sort of nebbish narration to help explain the inner feelings of these actors. It's got everything a Woody Allen film should have - and it falls completely short.

It just doesn't have the cynical, neurosis-filled heart of old Allen films. It's empty. Barcelona looks great, all of these beautiful actors seem to be really enjoying themselves, but at the end of the film I just had nothing to say. I wasn't disappointed, I wasn't angry, and I certainly wasn't bowled over. I was just sort of stunned by how mediocre the more romantic elements of the story were portrayed. The love square that exists in the movie isn't hard to watch, these are beautiful people living lives we can only dream of, it just doesn't have even a modicum of spark. The artistic "spirit" communed on screen here seemed superficial and fake, the love forced, and the dialogue (though classic Woody Allen) out-dated and stilted. I couldn't grip or connect with the characters like I could with Annie Hall or Hannah and Her Sisters, I just sort of ploddingly watched their interactions and admired the scenery.

This isn't a bad film, it just isn't a good Woody Allen film.

On another note, does any living person have a better shtick than Woody Allen? He's 74 years old and he's found himself in a position where he just surrounds himself with the most attractive women of the day and is paid ludicrous sums of money to do so. You're a wiley old bastard Mr. Allen, and my jealousy swells and pulses.

Wednesday: Testament of Orpheus (69)

1 comment:

Mattro2.0 said...

I appreciated that Woody seemed to want to make a different type of film. I enjoyed the story, too. But what occurred to me was that the Scarlett Johansson scenes rarely had more than just her in the frame. I assume this is because her acting abilities fall behind the rest of the cast, and to make things easier, she was filmed separately then cut back into the film with the hope that nobody would notice. She is, however, easy on the eyes. "...don't say a word, you'll spoil the moment"