Click to Skip Ad
Closing in...
Harvey Weinstein Says Quentin Tarantino Has Changed The Last Chapter Of 'The Hateful Eight' Harvey Weinstein Says Quentin Tarantino Has Changed The Last Chapter Of 'The Hateful Eight' Sundance Review: ‘Slow West’ Starring Michael Fassbender, Kodi Smit-McPhee & Ben Mendelsohn Sundance Review: ‘Slow West’ Starring Michael Fassbender, Kodi Smit-McPhee & Ben Mendelsohn Sundance: Keanu Reeves Opens The Door To Trouble In Teaser Trailer For Eli Roth's 'Knock Knock' Sundance: Keanu Reeves Opens The Door To Trouble In Teaser Trailer For Eli Roth's 'Knock Knock' Watch: 8-Minute Video Essay Argues Steve McQueen's 'Shame' Is Actually A Critique Of The Modern Metropolis Watch: 8-Minute Video Essay Argues Steve McQueen's 'Shame' Is Actually A Critique Of The Modern Metropolis Watch: The Tampon Scene From 'Fifty Shades Of Grey' You Won't See In The Movie Recreated With 'The Sims' Watch: The Tampon Scene From 'Fifty Shades Of Grey' You Won't See In The Movie Recreated With 'The Sims' 'Death Proof' Star Zoe Bell Leads Latest Additions To Quentin Tarantino's 'Hateful Eight' As Filming Begins 'Death Proof' Star Zoe Bell Leads Latest Additions To Quentin Tarantino's 'Hateful Eight' As Filming Begins Ranked From Best To Worst: Every Sundance Dramatic Grand Jury Prize Winner Ranked From Best To Worst: Every Sundance Dramatic Grand Jury Prize Winner Watch: 'Saturday Night Live' Sketch 'Fanatic' Written & Directed By Paul Thomas Anderson And Starring Ben Affleck Watch: 'Saturday Night Live' Sketch 'Fanatic' Written & Directed By Paul Thomas Anderson And Starring Ben Affleck The 10 Best Films Of 2003 The 10 Best Films Of 2003 The 10 Best Films Of 2002 The 10 Best Films Of 2002 Check Out These Minimalist, Old School Paperback-Style Posters For The Films Of Wes Anderson Check Out These Minimalist, Old School Paperback-Style Posters For The Films Of Wes Anderson First Look: Leonardo DiCaprio Gets Grimy In Alejandro González Iñárritu's 'The Revenant' First Look: Leonardo DiCaprio Gets Grimy In Alejandro González Iñárritu's 'The Revenant' The 30 Most Anticipated Movies Of The 2015 Sundance Film Festival The 30 Most Anticipated Movies Of The 2015 Sundance Film Festival 2015 Oscar Nominees Get The Honest Poster Treatment 2015 Oscar Nominees Get The Honest Poster Treatment "Carry Bolt Cutters Everywhere": Werner Herzog Has 24 Amazing Pieces Of Advice "Carry Bolt Cutters Everywhere": Werner Herzog Has 24 Amazing Pieces Of Advice The 25 Best Horror Films Of The 21st Century So Far The 25 Best Horror Films Of The 21st Century So Far Watch: 3 Graphic, Very NSFW Clips From Lars von Trier's 'Nymphomaniac Vol II — Director's Cut' Watch: 3 Graphic, Very NSFW Clips From Lars von Trier's 'Nymphomaniac Vol II — Director's Cut' The 20 Best TV Shows Of The 2013/2014 Season The 20 Best TV Shows Of The 2013/2014 Season From Worst To Best: Ranking The Films Of Hayao Miyazaki From Worst To Best: Ranking The Films Of Hayao Miyazaki Christopher Nolan Says His Howard Hughes Film Is Dead, But He'd Still Like To Do A Bond Film At Some Point Christopher Nolan Says His Howard Hughes Film Is Dead, But He'd Still Like To Do A Bond Film At Some Point

The Complete Woody Allen: A Retrospective Pt. 2 (1992-2011)

The Playlist By The Playlist Staff | The Playlist May 20, 2011 at 7:54AM

Woody Allen's latest, "Midnight in Paris," begins its roll-out in theaters today, and with it comes the second part of our complete retrospective on the great writer-director's work. (check out yesterday's Part One here). We pick up in 1992, with "Shadows and Fog."
20

“Hollywood Ending” (2002)
When you shoot a movie a year, there’s no level of genius that can keep their inspiration that strong every time out. So yes, you get the occasional “Hollywood Ending,” a remarkably tone-deaf Hollywood satire that is both too inside-baseball and overwhelmingly broad and useless. Allen plays a celebrated director well past his prime (hmm...) who gets back into the industry by teaming with an ex-wife, a high pressure situation that causes him to become psychosomatically blind. Did you guess that the punchline involved him directing the film anyway? “Hollywood Ending” isn’t helped by the fact that Allen is working with one of his least-qualified casts, giving major screen time to the manic Tea Leoni and the bronzed, oblivious George Hamilton, resulting in a film that wants to take advantage of the lower standards of today’s yuckfests while also maintaining that classical Hollywood vibe. [D+]

“Anything Else” (2003)
There are a lot of things wrong with "Anything Else." Jason Biggs halts his speech more than Jerry Stiller after root canal surgery, and often looks blankly off-camera like he’s after a batch of pastries to hump. His girlfriend, Christina Ricci, seemingly cast to type as a pathological neurotic with body dysmorphia and an “offbeat sexual quality,” is largely awful too. Only Stockard Channing‘s Paula -- an outrageously volatile former interior designer desperate for Biggs to write her new “nightclub act” – can inject this leaden affair with any life. A couple of one-liners fly by (“I should have known something was wrong on the wedding night when her family danced around my table chanting, 'We will make him one of us!'”), but Allen casts himself as reckless, apocalyptic grouch who drops in for random acts of opprobrium about rampant anti-Semitism, the meaninglessness of our daily existence, and is prone to increasing acts of violence against suedeheads that give him grief. Far from perfect, the film’s unrelenting and mirthless post-911 anhendonia is nonetheless compelling; one of Allen’s angriest films that uses the futility of romance as a sideshow to flirt with what Philip Roth called “the indigenous American berserk.” Simultaneously flawed and underestimated. [C+]

“Melinda and Melinda” (2005)
Conceptually, “Melinda and Melinda” is a charming doodle – the titular character (played by the perpetually underrated Radha Mitchell) goes through mirrored storylines, both romantic, with one played as a comedy, while the other is a tragedy. So far, so good, right? Well, it’s much more tedious than it sounds, and besides some occasionally sparkly performances (Will Ferrell makes a better Woody Allen surrogate than you’d think, his nervous tics blown to oversized proportions), it’s mostly a drag. Before the second half of the movie concludes, you’ve already grown weary of its conceptual trappings, and the rest is just sort of boring, this despite supporting turns by Amanda Peet, Steve Carell and, in the rare instance of an ethnic actor in a Woody Allen movie, the wonderful Chiwetel Ejiofor. His velvety smooth performance is almost enough to save this movie from banality. We said almost. Fun fact: the Ferrell and Mitchell characters were written for Robert Downey Jr. and Winona Ryder, both of whom were uninsurable at the time. [C+]

“Match Point” (2005)
Woody Allen's first foray into Europe in 2005 marked a decidedly different kind of Woody Allen movie, demonstrating that he could come out of his wheelhouse and deliver a straight up, juicy genre sexual thriller. It's also a relief that Allen's hyperneurotic id has no direct stand-in here -- of course it is present in the themes of sex, infidelity and control, but there's no Allen himself fretting and pondering out loud, just the dangerously sensual Jonathan Rhys-Meyers. As opposed to Allen, who as a performer wears everything on his sleeve, Rhys-Meyers is a placid lake simmering with sex and intrigue right below the surface. The audience never knows what he's going to do, and the actor achieves a performance that leads us to believe he doesn't know what he's going to either, until the moment he does it. Allen creates a world filled with beauty and money and class that never feels comfortable -- there is a constant tension vibrating throughout. Some have muttered about Scarlett Johansson's performance, but she's ideal for the beautiful, fragile vessel on which Rhys-Meyers' Chris projects his visions and fantasies of another life. Emily Mortimer and Matthew Goode are excellent as the foils to the leads, but this is Rhys-Meyers' film; he's rarely been as good. While some may argue it's the poor man's version of "Crimes and Misdemeanors" (and they might not be totally off base) Allen skillfully creates such a taut suspension in "Match Point" that it isn't until the credits roll that you remember to breathe. [B+]

“Scoop” (2006)
Coming after what many considered a late-career triumph in “Match Point,” most with short memories were disheartened to see Allen return to madcap slapstick. And while the story -- involving a junior reporter tailing a handsome potential serial killer thanks to clues from a ghost -- seems pretty slinky, “Scoop” is actually surprisingly winning. Among Allen’s films, there haven’t been a more attractive pairing than Scarlett Johansson and Hugh Jackman, and Johansson’s beleaguered, somewhat dimwitted turn is matched in comic anarchy from a spirited supporting turn by Allen as a likely-doomed magician. “Scoop” never feels like there’s a clean balance between the chaotic supernatural elements of the story and the main serial killer narrative, but the whodunnit structure is carried by the comic work from the strong cast and Allen’s light, typically-bouncy direction. [B-]

This article is related to: Feature, Midnight In Paris, Woody Allen


The Playlist

The obsessives' guide to contemporary cinema via film discussion, news, reviews, features, nostalgia, movie music, soundtracks, DVDs and more.


E-Mail Updates