The Will to Power-Shakes
New Woody Allen piece in the New Yorker. It's mildly cute, but nothing more. If anything, it inspires you to recall earlier, funnier Woody stuff like the "Fabrizio's" restaurant piece in Side Effects and "The Metterling Lists" from Getting Even.
I Tivo'd Love and Death last week and watched most of it over the weekend. I've probably seen it 100 times since I was a kid and it's still pretty funny. Like it or not, Woody will forever be haunted by the criticism he lobbed at himself in Stardust Memories, favoring his "early, funny" films to his presumably more recent serious ones. Unfortunately, it's a fair criticism. I used to see every Woody movie the day they opened (from Hannah and Her Sisters through Manhattan Murder Mystery), but after awhile they just stopped delivering. Oddly enough, I now consider Stardust Memories itself one of my favorite of Woody's "early, funny ones." As with everything, there are variations in Woody's output, but not nearly enough in terms of quality or approach.
I haven't seen Match Point yet, and even the comparisons to one of Woody's latter-day successes, Crimes and Misdemeanors, doesn't really entice me that much. C&M has been better regarded than many of Woody's movies from that era, but I think for the wrong reasons. Simply put, Woody's strengths are not in drama. The dramatic elements of C&M aren't that compelling; what's powerful about that movie is the juxtaposition of his rather obvious, melodramatic appropriations of Dostoevsky (the Martin Landau plot, complete with ponderous Schubert string quartet) with the far more effective, acerbic humor in the parallel story featuring himself and Mia Farrow. Even the ending of the humorous storyline has more punch than the murder plot. From what I've heard, Match Point is drawn more from the dramatic thread of C&M.
I find that my opinion of every Woody movie is based on how funny it is. I think he succeeds most, though, when he leaves at least some of his taste for silly verbal slapstick and erudite horseplay behind for something more bitter and caustic. The sad thing is that his harshest feelings are usually reserved for himself, while his standard approach to humor is as something light and harmless. Thus, the two don't meet very often.
Oh yeah, it's been quite a while since my last post. I wasn't going to mention it if you didn't.