Two girlfriends on a summer holiday in Spain become enamored with the same painter, unaware that his ex-wife, with whom he has a tempestuous relationship, is about to re-enter the picture. Read More »
Lenny and Amanda have an adopted son Max who turns out to be brilliant. Lenny becomes obsessed with finding Max’s real parents because he believes that they too must be brilliant. When he finds that Linda Ash is Max’ real mother, Lenny is disappointed. Linda is a prostitute and porn star. On top of that, she is quite possibly the dumbest person Lenny has ever met. Interwoven is a Greek chorus linking the story with the story of Oedipus. Read More »
The omnibus film New York Stories is the product of three powerhouse filmmakers, with the best saved for last. The film is divided into three stories, each exploring a different aspect of life in the Big Apple. Life Lessons, directed by Martin Scorcese, is a Dostoevsky-like tale of the rarefied Art World, with Nick Nolte as a self-indulgent abstractionist who loves Rosanna Arquette, but can’t bring himself to lie to her about her negligible artistic talents. Life Without Zoe, directed by Francis Ford Coppola, is more than a little reminiscent of Kay Thompson’s Eloise stories, with 12-year-old Zoe (Heather McComb) running amok at the Sherry-Netherland hotel while her parents are embarked upon a world-girdling vacation. The last and (as we said) the best is Woody Allen’s Oedipus Wrecks, wherein a schnooky Jewish lawyer (guess who?) inadvertently “creates” the Jewish Mother From Hell: thanks to a misguided magic trick, Allen’s mama (the incomparable Mae Questel) becomes a huge spectral vision on the New York skyline, telling everyone within earshot about her son’s inadequacies! The cinematographer lineup on New York Stories includes Nestor Almendros, Vittorio Storaro and Sven Nykvist, whose very different photographic styles blend with for more harmony than the three directors’ approaches. Read More »
The second film to be made from Woody Allen’s successful stage comedy (following a 1969 feature starring Jackie Gleason), Don’t Drink the Water is a made-for-television adaptation directed by and starring Allen himself. The fish-out-of-water premise remains the same: Allen plays Walter Hollander, a caterer from New Jersey who takes his family on vacation to a fictional Eastern European country. The trip turns sour when, thanks to a series of misunderstandings involving some inopportune snapshots, they are accused of espionage. The family goes on the run, taking refuge in the American Embassy. There, with the help of a wily young diplomat, they try to figure out a way to return to America without sparking an international incident. Though this version is set 25 years later than the original film, the changes are mostly cosmetic: the visual style is hand-held and more frantic, and the script replaces numerous references to the Cold War with a few glancing nods to present-day politics. Another notable change, the addition of an opening montage parodying newsreels, was reportedly the result of network pressure after Allen’s initial cut proved too short for the planned time slot. Read More »
In the 1930s, a young Bronx native moves to Hollywood, where he falls in love with the secretary of his powerful uncle, an agent to the stars. After returning to New York, he is swept up in the vibrant world of high society nightclub life. Read More »
As Wolcott Gibbs once said to Shakespeare: Kafka, here’s your hat.
That’s just one of the deliciously eccentric messages being sent out by Woody Allen in his rich, not easily categorized new black-and-white comedy, “Shadows and Fog.” Among other things, “Shadows and Fog” contemplates life, death, love, literature, movies, American humor in general, the gags of Bob Hope in particular, the music of Kurt Weill and the changing fashions in B.V.D.’s.
Kleinman (Mr. Allen) is a timid clerk in the kind of unidentified Middle European city once so beloved by Kafka, Kafka’s imitators, the masters of the German Expressionist cinema of the 1920’s and their imitators. It is always night in this closed world of miasmic fog, cobbled alleys and street lamps that shed too little light but cast photogenically deep shadows. Read More »
It’s worth noting that in 1978, ten years before he made “Another Woman,” Woody Allen created another quiet film, a drama with prominent Bergmanesque influences. The film was called “Interiors,” and it was a tribute, or an American take on Bergman’s “Cries and Whispers.” “Interiors” examined the relationships of three sisters and their husbands in the face of the divorce of their dominant mother and detached father. The film essentially detailed the fall of “interiors,” or illusory worlds created by the dominant mother in the face of tragedy and loneliness. Read More »