Dedications: My four late friends Rory, Stan, Bryan, Jeff - shine on you crazy diamonds, they would have blogged too. Then theres Garry from Brisbane, Franco in Milan, Mike now in S.F. / my '60s-'80s gang: Ned & Joseph in Ireland; in England: Frank, Des, Guy, Clive, Joe & Joe, Ian, Ivan, Nick, David, Les, Stewart, the 3 Michaels / Catriona, Sally, Monica, Jean, Ella, Anne, Candie / and now: Daryl in N.Y., Jerry, John, Colin, Martin and Donal.

Monday, 10 October 2011

Woody in Paris Barcelona London ....

The latest Woody Allen has attracted raves, one cannot wait to see MIDNIGHT IN PARIS - though I will have to for the moment (until my knee operation recovery is over). Instead I caught up with his Barcelona film VICKY CHRISTINA BARCELONA - it too attracted a lot of good notices, being at the time, 2008, his best in ages. I like the colours and the look of the film, it certainly captures the Catalan capital, as we follow the two American girls Scarlett Johansson and Rebecca Hall in their entanglements with painter Javier Bardem and his complicated ex, Penelope Cruz. Lots of delicious moments here, the music is perfect too. A soundtrack album to investigate then. It cements Bardem and Cruz as THE Spanish couple. Prior to that I suppose the last Woody I totally enjoyed was EVERY0NE SAYS I LOVE YOU, in 1996, also with it's delicious Paris scenes.

Next up, his recent London effort YOU WILL MEET A TALL DARK STRANGER, another of his complicated comedies, but with another interesting cast. Good to see that great actress Gemma Jones in a good role, and also Pauline Collins (forever SHIRLEY VALENTINE). We follow two couples and their entanglements: wealthy Anthony Hopkins leaves wife Gemma Jones as she has got old and marries Charmain, a call-girl bimbo, and then realises he has made a ghastly mistake, Gemma though won't take him back as she has moved on with her belief in reincarnation; their daughter Naomi Watts married to dull writer Josh Brolin fantasies about her art gallery boss Antonio Banderas - she tries on a pair of expensive earrings for him which she later sees on her friend and then her mother won't lend her the money she needs to start her own gallery, while he, Brolin, has stolen the manuscript of a new novel (which he passes off as his own and is being published) written by a friend whom he thinks has been killed in a car accident only to find he is in a coma and may be recovering, as he also takes up with the girl in red across the road. Cue lots of comedy-drama then as these characters try to find their way through life. Not laugh out loud but wryly amusing. But, in the current American cinema, how many film-makers are getting to even try and address the complex questions of grown-up relationships, aging and the fear of death, and the lies we tell ourselves to get through it all? - without having to make comedies for juveniles. Or deal with the paradox that humans seem to need something to believe in, and yet that same belief can also lead us astray? Or give great older actors like Anthony Hopkins and Gemma Jones really meaty roles? As long as Allen keeps asking questions, he'll remain a voice worth listening to. Some interesting British locations and interesting familiar players in small roles: Pauline Collins, Celia Imrie, Anna Friel, Meera Syal, Joanna David, the old guy from BENIDORM etc.

It seems ages now from the early funny ones like LOVE AND DEATH, and that great run with ANNIE HALL, INTERIORS, MANHATTAN, STARLIGHT MEMORIES and then oddball delights like PURPLE ROSE OF CAIRO, RADIO DAYS, HANNAH AND HER SISTERS, CRIMES AND MISDEMEANOURS, then those later films like SEPTEMBER, ANOTHER WOMAN, ALICE. The other London films did not really work, we even hardly got a chance to see them .... but Woody keeps on in his 70s. Is it really 46 years since he was chasing Romy Schneider around that library in WHAT'S NEW PUSSYCAT - my insane delight from 1965.

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