BlueJasmine

I have made no secret that one of a handful of my favorite movies of the 21st Century is Woody Allen’s Match Point. I liked Midnight in Paris (2011) a lot. I enjoyed Cassandra’s Dream (2007), Vicky Cristina Barcelona (2008) and To Rome with Love (2012). But, for me, 2005’s Match Point is Allen’s 21st century masterpiece.  Why?  Well, it’s not Allen’s usual depressed, anxious and, at times, tedious schtick.  That worked fine in his early films, ala Annie Hall (1977) and Manhattan (1979) but over time, it just got overdone and overused.  Also, Match Point is far from Allen’s usual comfort zone…it’s NOT set in New York and it’s not a comedy —in any way.  Crimes and Misdemeanors (1989) also can be seen as an Allen drama, as could Interiors (1978) and September (1987), but those still have some of Allen’s trademark nervousness (Crimes and Misdemeanors even features Allen in a role where he acts in his usual Allenesque way).  Match Point does not feature any characters with serious neuroses. Yes, they are troubled but they are troubled in a calm, passionate way…not in a psychological, overly-emotional manner.

So, what do we have in Blue Jasmine, Allen’s latest film?

Read more »

Facebook3Google+0Twitter2Pinterest0tumblrEmail

Be the first to comment!


Scoop is no Match Point. Woody Allen’s VERY serious and VERY Allen-less film Match Point was a favorite of mine in 2006 (it was released the end of 2005). So, when Scoop came along, I was excited…I mean it has a couple of the Match Point similarities. 1. It is set in London…of which Match Point was Allen’s first film set outside of the New York area. 2. It stars Match Point’s Scarlet Johansson. And, it also has Hugh Jackman, who I love as a actor. So, three pluses. Now, the minuses. 1. Allen goes back to his COMEDY roots…I think all of his gags have been treaded over one too many times. 2. Allen puts himself in the film. His neurotic New Yorker bit was funny in the beginning but now it’s just annoying. That’s it. So, three pros and two cons. Not exactly a ringing endorsement but enough for a good night in front of the DVD player. The story is the one that really sold this one for me…I was able to over look the neurotic Allen and the bad jokes since the story was pretty fresh and original. It revolves around a dead reporter who gets the “scoop” of a lifetime after he’s dead. He escapes the Grim Reaper just so he can try and get the story in the press through another reporter. He picks naïve Johansson as the person to give to “scoop” to and she tries her best to run with it, even though she falls in love with the person the “scoop” implicates. Complicated? No, it’s just hard to explain…but it is fun to watch. If only Allen would stay behind the camera…and try his hand at a little less humor…his genius for storytelling would continue to shine for years to come.

Facebook0Google+0Twitter0Pinterest0tumblrEmail

Be the first to comment!


I have not liked the last several Woody Allen films. I would have to say the last one I didn’t want to turn off in the middle (or even at the beginning) was Small Time Crooks (2000). And, even that one, I only liked…a little. So, when I got Melinda and Melinda, my first thought was, “Why the heck did I put this on hold?” Regardless of the reason, I decided to watch it…mostly since I had no other DVDs to watch at the time. Had this been a week where my coffee table was filled with piles of soon-to-be-due DVDs, I would have probably passed on this one. Well, I’m glad I didn’t pass. The most striking thing about Melinda and Melinda (aside from the fact that it’s actually a funny, original, entertaining Woody Allen film with him NOWHERE to be found among the cast) is the premise, or the gimmick of the plot. Like another film I really liked from 1998, Sliding Doors, Melinda and Melinda’s gimmick is original…involving how ONE plotline pans out in two different ways. Sliding Doors focused on TIME…how a split second of time difference changes the course of everything that happens after. Melinda and Melinda uses a different but just as original twist…the same story told from two different angles—one, a romantic comedy and the other, a drama. The only “like” character in both story variations is Melinda, played in both the comedy and drama by Radha Mitchell. Aside from her, all of the other characters differ in each story, as not to confuse the viewer. In both stories, Melinda is a troubled soul with a good deal of emotional baggage who finds temporary help with a group of friends. I found it fascinating how her personal troubles easily transformed from comic to serious…just by changing some minor elements. Director Woody Allen is able to turn a dramatic character trait of Melinda’s around and use that same trait for comic effect in the other storyline. Pretty original for Allen…and the end result is a funny, touching film that might not be some of Allen’s best work ever but is some of the best work he’s done in recent years.

Facebook0Google+0Twitter0Pinterest0tumblrEmail

Be the first to comment!


When I took screenwriting classes in college, I always wondered if I would make it in Hollywood. One of the reasons I never did is that I do not write like Woody Allen. I’m not always a fan of Allen…most of his recent films have been so-so comedies (with the exception of the unique Melinda and Melinda), but Match Point is one of the best films I’ve ever seen, and most assuredly the best film of 2005, in my opinion. Why? How about this…not a word is out of place and there is nothing extra that should be in the film and nothing that shouldn’t. It’s a perfectly constructed film all the way around, I attest solely to Allen’s writing. The actors are good in their roles but I wouldn’t say that’s what “made” the film for me. Allen just simply has a way of working a story so it seems so easy and so perfect at the same time. It is a neat, clean circle…the story starts off with one thread and that thread runs through the entire film but in a subtle way until the ending, when you realized, “OH, I get it.” The story revolves around a young tennis pro who gets a job at an upper class athletic club and soon makes friends with one of the members…an affluent young man who has both a pretty, demure sister and a beautiful, sultry fiancée. The tennis pro falls for the sister but really falls hard for the fiancée. What happens from there leads to a complex, intricate series of events that keep the audience guessing at every turn. The ending, unlike most films I’ve seen recently, will not disappoint or ruin the masterfulness of this film. What happens right up to the last second will only increase how strong this film is…which is proof of Allen’s genius.

Facebook0Google+0Twitter0Pinterest0tumblrEmail

Be the first to comment!


For the first time, Woody Allen acting in one of his movies did not annoy me so much that the temptation to turn the film off was almost irresistible. He does not choose, in Husbands and Wives, to play someone who is more neurotic than anyone else in Manhattan. That is not the ONLY reason I enjoyed this film. It is a strikingly open and honest film about relationships. It doesn’t hold anything back and is not afraid to realistically show the anatomy of a break-up, midlife relationship malaise, and the frantic energy of a new relationship. In hindsight (this film is from 1992), it’s a strong subject matter for Allen, who has a young college student fall for his middle-aged professor character. It was not long after this film that Allen, in reality…NOT in the movies, fell in love with his adopted step-daughter. But, leaving that alone, he does an excellent job of being as honest as he can be in this film…as an actor AND as a director. His scenes with Juliette Lewis (the young girl that plays the smitten college student) are filled with frank talk…not with silly dribble that many May-September screen romances sometimes fall for. The other characters’ relationship dialogue is just as true as Allen’s. No one walks away into the sunset in this one. It’s brutal at times, but so is life and love. Right?

Facebook0Google+0Twitter0Pinterest0tumblrEmail

Be the first to comment!


This movie is no Match Point but I found it to be a good thriller that uses family loyalty as the catalyst for a series of wrongdoings. Like Match Point it is a drama, without any hint of Allen’s usual comic banter…also no hint of Allen himself among the cast (also reminiscent of Match Point). Cassandra’s Dream is about two brothers…both with different goals and different lifestyles but who both could need some cash to make their lives better. Enter a rich uncle with a nefarious proposition and the moral dilemma of the story begins. This reminded me a little of Edgar Allan Poe’s The Tell-Tale Heart story about a man who just cannot go on living with what he has done. And like all good thrillers, this one leaves you hanging until the very end. Not Allen’s best (watch Match Point for that — can you tell already I liked that one?) — Farrell and McGregor are not that believable as brothers and Farrell is too over-the-top with his emotions and McGregor is not convincing as a struggling Londoner — but, overall, it’s an entertaining, suspenseful thriller that will keep your nails bitten and your tush at the edge of the seat.

Facebook0Google+0Twitter0Pinterest0tumblrEmail

Be the first to comment!