June 9, 2003

To Allen, Or Not to Allen


Woody Allen is the sort of director who polarizes people -- you either love him to death, pattern your mannerisms around him and fetishize New Yawk like he does OR you think he's a dirty old man, over-rated director and generally ick. Cinecultist happens to fall into the former category but until recently, had given up on the Wood-man's current work which seemed to be mostly miss.

The man's getting up there in age, 68 this December, and frankly, its just creepy to see him paired with the young and not so young engenue's of Hollywood. Also, real fans of his films tend to just ignore his private life (sort of like Democrats who support Clinton) which seems to be the best policy in terms of appreciating his quirky sensibility. If CC does not fault Woody for some of his characters onscreen ticks, knowing they are part of the albeit flawed yet charming package, then its best to carry this attitude over into the whole view of the man.

If you're looking to get reaquainted with his pictures, might CC suggest Small Time Crooks, a relatively recent production from 2000. Woody plays a paroled bank robber who convinces his manicurist wife, played by Tracy Ullman, to open a cookie shop two doors down from a bank so he and his buddies can tunnel underneath into the vault. Of course, things go hilariously awry. Elaine May, who is one of cinema's most brilliant writers and comedians, plays his dumb cousin and the movie is worth watching for her performance alone. Tracy's also great as is Michael Rapaport, an Allen regular also in Mighty Aphrodite.

While Woody Allen may not be making the series of masterworks that he did as a younger man, its still too early to write him off as a director of merit when he can still churn out Small Time Crooks and Sweet and Lowdown.

Posted by karen at June 9, 2003 2:31 PM