Woody Allen – Shadows and Fog (1991)

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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. Continue reading

Woody Allen – Another Woman (1988)

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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. Continue reading

Woody Allen – Irrational Man (2015)

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A new philosophy professor arrives on a small town campus near Newport, Rhode Island. His name, Abe Lucas. His reputation : bad. Abe is said to be a womanizer and an alcoholic. But what people do not know is that he is a disillusioned idealist. Since he has become aware of his inability to change the world, he has indeed been living in a state of deep nihilism and arrogant desperation. In class, he only goes through the motions and outside he drinks too much. But as far as sex is concerned, he is just a shadow of himself now: depression is not synonymous with Viagra! For all that, he can’t help being attracted to one of his students, pretty and bright Jill Pollard. He enters into a relationship with her which remains platonic, even if Jill would not say no to more. The situation remains unchanged for a while until, one day, in a diner, Abe and Jill surprise a conversation that will change the course of their lives dramatically… Continue reading

Woody Allen – Radio Days (1987)

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Woody Allen’s gentle and nostalgic tribute to the glory days of radio and coming-of-age during World War II plays like Fellini’s Amarcord filtered through Neil Simon. The nominal star is Seth Green as Joe, a teenage Jewish boy, growing up with a house full of relatives in Brooklyn. Allen cuts between Joe’s working class Brooklyn neighborhood and the glittery and glamorous world of radio in Manhattan. Joe’s favorite radio hero is The Masked Avenger, and he dreams of getting The Masked Avenger Secret Decoder Ring. Using all the money they have collected for Israel, Joe and his friends buy the ring, much to the shock of his mother (Julie Kavner) and the local rabbi. His father (Michael Tucker), a business failure embarrassed to be seen driving a taxi, is an ineffective and distant man. His uncle Abe (Josh Mostel) is obsessed with eating. His Aunt Bea (Dianne Wiest) is obsessed with getting married. All together, these relatives make up a rather chaotic life in Brooklyn for Joe. Interspersed with these family relations are vignettes of radio lore –from the cigarette girl (Mia Farrow) who wants to strike it big in radio, to the “Name That Tune” jackpot telephone call answered by a burglar, who guesses the right answer and wins the victimized homeowners a cornucopia of valuable prizes.
Paul Brenner @ allmovie.com Continue reading