What image is conjured when Woody Allen is mentioned? Some may say controversy over certain matters of the romantic sort; others may say a filmmaker who has created genius. I once heard someone quote Churchill to describe Woody as “a riddle inside a mystery wrapped in an enigma”. To me, Woody Allen is one of my favourite filmmakers around and I know it will be a sad day when reality hits and I realise that there will be no more Woody Allen films to sit and marvel at.
But even I can agree that Woody is consistently inconsistent, where moments of genius are contrasted by moments of despair. Films that have defined the way I live and my perspective on the world have been equalled by films I sit and watch and ponder whether Woody really did sit and write this or whether he has an evil twin brother. It’s common knowledge that Woody Allen has gone through 3 phases as a filmmaker, beginning with his comedic, almost slapstick side in the late 60’s & early 70’s.
His brooding dramas still contain the comedy but evolved more into developing the characters, portraying their story with more focus. Currently it is his European odyssey, which has come under heavy criticism as some say he’s just allowing Mayors of pretty cities to pay him money to make a movie there. While I disagree with this, his next film has been confirmed to be set in North America, titled Blue Jasmine, which may come as a surprise to some.
Ultimately his films contain wit, charm and the characters represented have a loveable quality to them, a quirky, eccentric side that perfectly mirrors our everyday experiences and the use of Windsor EF light condensed font has become his calling card. So, as we like to quantify everything we see, here is a beginner’s guide on what to see and what to avoid when plunging into the 40+ films that Mr Allen has created.
5 That Were Awesome…
5. Midnight in Paris
The best film Allen has made in 15 years. After strong showings in Match Point and Vicky Christina Barcelona, Allen spreads his creativity to the streets of Paris, where Gil (Owen Wilson), a lover of great writers such as Hemmingway and Fitzgerald, finds himself in a creative rut, unable to complete his novel. While roaming the streets of Paris at Midnight he is whisked back in time to meet his heroes. The time travel device, while overused in sci-fi, is charmingly simple here, thankfully never having to explain itself for being used.
Witty, sharp and beautifully shot, the opening montage of Paris is a particular treat, a hallmark of Allen’s work, with performances that are surprisingly strong. Owen Wilson, for example, while straying into Allen-esque awkwardness, occasionally finds a simple niche for him to work off, allowing the story to follow through. Brilliant cameos by Corey Stoll as Hemingway and Alison Pill as Zelda Fitzgerald act as effective ways to create humour. While not his best, it captured the hearts of audiences worldwide with its simple sentimentality, becoming Woody’s highest grossing film ever (before inflation), and one that I hope stands the test of time.
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