Tag Archives: woody Allen

Irrational Man

The small college campus in Newport, Rhode Island, goes along pretty much as usual – until the day a new philosophy Professor starts. His reputation arrives before he does – he’s a brilliant thinker, but a womaniser and an alcoholic. He’s Abe Lucas (played by Joaquin Phoenix). His arrival is much heralded, but the reality is a little different. In class, Abe is as expected – a reliable, fascinating teacher. But in his personal life, he’s jaded, burnt out, negative, drinking too much and seeking something more. A fellow professor, Rita Richards (by Parker Posey) is fascinated by him and doesn’t hide the fact she’s attracted to him, but this washes over him. However, his student, Jill Pollard (by Emma Stone) sparks his interest. She’s smart and unknowingly beautiful – a relationship starts and Jill quickly gets serious about it, but Abe is not committed. One day they are out having coffee when they overhear a conversation in the diner. Abe is captivated and suddenly decides this is a sign, it’s why he was put on the planet in the first place – he must take some action. But what he’s set on doing, whilst straightforward and obvious to him, will change the course of many people’s lives …

This movie promises much, but leaves me a little cold. As usual with Woody Allen movies, you never quite know what you’re going to get – sometimes they are delightfully entertaining, other times they’re a bit drab and uninspiring. This is one of the latter types, but I’m not sure why – the plot has interesting points and both Joaquin Phoenix and Emma Stone are good, but that’s it. Parker Posey’s role is underdone and I get the feeling nobody is really trying too hard in this movie. Wait for this to come on television – and then only if you’ve got nothing better to do.

Made in 2015. Directed by Woody Allen


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Posted by on May 29, 2016 in Movies


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Fading Gigolo

Fioravante (played by John Turturro) loves flowers – he’s enchanted by their delicacy and beauty. He loves to read too – some time ago his love of books lead him to his long-time job at the “Rare Books Store” in Brooklyn, New York. The owner is now closing down the bookstore and his son, Murray (by Woody Allen) is helping Fioravante pack up all the stock. One day, Murray visits his Dermatologist, Dr Parker (by Sharon Stone), and returns to the bookstore with a proposal – he tells Fioravante he wants him to get involved with Dr Parker in a ménage a trios with her partner Selima (by Sofia Vergara) which she will happily pay for. At first he is reluctant, but the extra money is a big drawcard, so Fioravante accepts … and so begins a very successful partnership between the gigolo (alias Virgil) and his manager (alias Don). All goes very well until Virgil meets a new client – striking and lonely Avigal (by Vanessa Paradis), then everything changes. A strict Orthodox Jew, by spending time with Virgil, Avigal breaks the laws of her religion and comes to the attention of her elders. Things start to get very difficult for everyone involved – Murray started this but should it finish? … should they all continue to break basic life rules just to go with their feelings ….?

The poignancy of this movie is far more endearing than its comedy. Like most Woody Allen movies, the scene is classic New York and it’s great, the audience can feel every sensation of the neighbourhood – almost smell and taste the wonderful culture. The comedy is off-beat and entertaining but the emotion and sensitivity in the story is much richer. As Virgil and Don, John Turturro and Woody Allen make a strong and authentic team. They create a successful business and balance well and Virgil is marvellous. He’s a seemingly superficial and straightforward person but is revealed to be a sensitive and deep thinking man. Sharon Stone is good here, she looks great, her style is fabulous and her character is marvellous; as is Selima – she’s really a caricature and well played by the voluptuous entertaining Sofia Vergara. I’m not quite sure of the reason for the presence of Murray’s family – admittedly they add an fresh dimension and an excuse to involve Avigal and her family in the story. As Avigal, Vanessa Paradis is breathtaking – she’s acutely beautiful here and her involvement is done well – she is marvellous. Overall it’s a good movie – very nice with some beautiful scenes and some entertaining comedy.

Made in 2013. Directed by John Turturro.

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Posted by on April 9, 2015 in Movies


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Magic in the Moonlight

In 1920’s France, Wei Ling Soo is a hit amongst his hoards of adoring fans and his notoriety spreads far and wide. He’s a masterful magician who can make the impossible happen, right before our eyes! Actually, Wei Ling Soo is really only Stanley (played by Colin Firth), a veteran illusionist dressed as a Chinese Imperial Master, who stuns audiences with his amazing, well practised feats and tricks. One day, Stanley’s friend, fellow magician Howard Burkan (by Simon McBurney) tells him of a new sensation doing the rounds of the social set in France. She, Madam Sophie, claims she can read people accurately, tell fortunes, observe the spirit world and bring messages from those passed to people still on the side of the living. Stanley instantly dismisses any notion of her being authentic and is invited to France to check her out and prove she’s a fraud. Once in France, Stanley views Sophie (by Emma Stone) with complete suspicion, but slowly, as he gets to know her he starts to think perhaps he’s wrong after all … how could she possibly know the things she does about him and his life? He finds himself strangely drawn to her … but surely she’s a fake, isn’t she?

This movie is sweet, but not quite entertaining. The French scenery is divine and a wonderful backdrop to the story, so in parts it has its moments, but overall Colin Firth’s performance renders the piece a little unbalanced and tedious. I can only hope that Director Woody Allen instructed him to perform in this weirdly wooden and robotic fashion as I’ve never seen Colin Firth act like this in any other work. Emma Stone is good and it’s great to see Jackie Weaver here as one of Sophie’s “clients”, Mrs Grace Catledge. Others are okay and the story has nice twists, but overall is only average. I may have just missed the point, I guess.

Made in 2014. Directed by Woody Allen.

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Posted by on November 11, 2014 in Movies


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Blue Jasmine

Things are going so well for Jasmine (played by Cate Blanchett) – her significantly rich husband Hal (by Alec Baldwin) is a successful businessman, she has a busy social life, a beautiful house, designer clothes, expensive jewellery … but suddenly it all falls to pieces and Jasmine finds herself rather down on her luck. She’s had to move away from her high life in New York to stay with her sister Ginger (by Sally Hawkins) in San Francisco – it’s not quite the life she’s been used to … no money left for rent – and now she even has to get a job!!  She doesn’t really know Ginger very well, except that her husband Augie (by Andrew Dice Clay) was a loser and she doesn’t exactly live the same way Jasmine does. Such is the dramatic come-down Jasmine is enduring. Life is stressful, Ginger’s two sons are utterly intolerable and Augie hasn’t provided well for her – her place isn’t exactly “Park Avenue” either … but it’s at least somewhere to stay until Jasmine gets herself back on her feet.  She’s neurotic and anxious, with the past flooding back to crowd her thoughts when anything tips her memory that way.  She relies on pills and drink to get her through the day. Oh how will she ever survive and adjust to such a comedown?

This is a good movie.  Cate Blanchett is excellent as the self-centred Jasmine – totally focussed on her own life, self and utterly unaware of anyone else’s needs. She is dressed in the finest designer clothes and behaves as the perfect spoilt rich bitch. There is certainly something “Blanche Dubois” from “A Streetcar Named Desire” about her character and to some extent about this story – but only in the opening few scenes – it’s not a remake of that movie at all. I was captivated by them all – it’s easy to get wrapped up in the world of these people. Woody Allen has cast this movie exquisitely – as Ginger, Sally Hawkins is just as strong as Blanchett – she is a marvellous counterpoint to the classically styled Jasmine – these sisters were actually born of different parents and just adopted by the same couple, hence their “sister” status but total lack of anything in common, either physically or in lifestyle. Ginger’s boyfriend, Chilli, is played well by Bobby Cannavale and both Alec Baldwin and Peter Sarsgaard are great. It’s easy to forget that both these lead actresses are non-American, Blanchett is Australian and Hawkins is British but they play Americans with complete conviction. This is one of Woody Allen’s finest in the last few years and as usual he has shot it beautifully. Well done everyone involved.

 Made in 2013.  Directed by Woody Allen.

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Posted by on October 4, 2013 in Movies


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Cassandra’s Dream

Ian (played by Ewan McGregor) is an ambitious cockney lad-about-town with a yearn for big business and big profits, but he only has a small bank balance. His best mate is his brother Terry (by Colin Farrell). Terry’s the same … loves money, works hard, but is a really bad gambler. They are close in age and have virtually spent their entire lives as best friends. One day, after a happy reminiscence of their boyhood days, they decide to pool their money and buy a boat. Terry’s just had a huge win at the track, so they name her “Cassandra’s Dream” after the racehorse. Unfortunately, both boys get a taste for the high life and things get a bit hard when they must find more cash to fund their lavish ways and continue to please their girlfriends Angela (by Hayley Atwell) and Kate (by Sally Hawkins). Then out of the blue their rich Uncle Howard (by Tom Wilkinson) asks for their help on a job with his business colleague Martin Burns (by Philip Davis), which promises a huge payday for the boys … easy money! … problem solved! So the boys agree to do the job, but soon things start to take a turn for the worse ….

This is a solid but unremarkable movie. You could forget that it’s a Woody Allen piece as it doesn’t seem to have the quirky hallmarks or comedy edge that most of his do. It’s more of a television style movie really, but it’s quite easy to watch. The comedy is there, but this as more moral fibre to it – the dynamics of family loyalties, ambition and love. It’s fine, but I’d suggest you wait for it on television.

Made in 2007. Directed by Woody Allen.

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Posted by on May 29, 2013 in Movies


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To Rome with Love

Aahhh … Rome …. The Eternal City …. the place that makes you forget everything and just want to be in love … if only that path ran smoothly.

Here in Rome, people’s lives are played out against the marvellous backdrop of history, monuments, warm weather and pure pleasure in the air. Jerry (by Woody Allen) has travelled to Rome to meet the man his daughter Hayley (by Allison Pill) plans to marry. Jerry has some difficulty accepting his retirement and his wife, Phyllis (by Judy Davis) patiently works through these issues (along with all this other neuroses) with him. Upon arrival, they meet Hayley’s betrothed, Michaelangelo (by Flavio Parenti) and his family welcomes Jerry and Phyllis into their home. Meanwhile, architectural apprentice Jack (by Jesse Eisenberg) and student Sally (by Greta Gerwig), who live an idyllic Roman life together, make room for Sally’s best friend, Monica (by Ellen Page) who comes to stay. Sally knows that usually everyone falls in love with Monica, but she’s just getting over a nasty breakup, so she won’t be interested in a new relationship just now, right?  Jack bumps into his professional idol John (by Alec Baldwin\ and invites him home for coffee. On the other side of town, newlyweds Antonio (by Alessandro Tiberi) and Milly (by Alessandra Mastronardi) have just arrived in town from their coutry home. They settle into their honeymoon suite and prepare to meet Antonio’s uncles, who have paved the way for his stunning new career in Rome. At the same hotel, a mischievous group of friends have prepared a “surprise” for their mate and arranged for call-girl Anna (by Penelope Cruz) to make a “special” visit to his suite, Later that day, everyday family man, Leonardo (by Roberto Benigni) very happily married to Sofia (by Monica Nappo) somehow finds himself surrounded by paparazzi and the next “big thing” in town – yes, it’s just another ordinary day here in Rome really …..

This is a lightweight, daydream through various complex lives and scenarios that play out across Rome. Somehow time seems to stand still while the people involved all get themselves into sticky situations, which magically resolve themselves by the end of the movie. It is a beautifully made piece and easy to watch – what’s not to like about a movie set in Rome?  The styling is wonderful, the colour is uplifting and the characters are all authentic. As Woody Allen movies go – and hot on the heels of “Midnight in Paris”, it’s not nearly as good, but it’s okay. The irritations I usually find with Allen’s movies are lesser here – his propensity to populate his movies with characters who are all New York nerotics who think of nothing but themselves is lesser here – thankfully Jerry (Woody Allen’s own character) is the only one like that. The others are all very enjoyable – I like Alec Baldwin in comedy, he plays it straight very very well. Penelope Cruz is great here (as she was in “Vicki Cristina Barcelona”) and I like the efforts of Jesse Eisenberg too. I think Roberto Benigni is just being himself, but either way he’s entertaining.  It’s a nice movie, with typical but still enjoyable comedy.

Made in 2012. Directed by Woody Allen

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Posted by on April 16, 2013 in Movies


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Play it Again, Sam

Allan Felix (played by Woody Allen) is a shy, neurotic New York film critic who just can’t find his ideal woman – in fact he has trouble just maintaining a relationship with a woman. His favourite movie of all time is 1942’s “Casablanca” and we meet Allan, totally entranced at a screening of this classic movie. Allan’s wife of two years, Nancy (by Susan Anspach) leaves him because she’s “sick of being married” and Allan is in emotional turmoil. He refers to his favourite movie idol Humphrey Bogart (by Jerry Lacy) for advice about how to meet the right woman, treat her right and keep her. Bogart has a habit of “dropping in” on Allan to give him pointers about his behaviour when he needs it. Allan’s good friends are workaholic Dick Christie (by Tony Roberts) and his kindly anxious wife Linda (by Diane Keaton). They try vainly to fix Allan up with a series of women, but each results in a disastrous situation because Allan is so nervous and awkward around them. Then Allan realizes he has a great relationship with Linda and he is becoming attracted to her – she, too, struggles with her constant neuroses and she seems to be the only woman Allan really feels comfortable around. They are both surprised to find the other is attracted to them, but will Linda become the love of Allan’s life?  Can they both put their anxieties and previous relationship issues behind them to make a go of this? …

This movie is a bit unusual in that it’s one where Woody Allen appears, but doesn’t direct. I know it’s a classic, but to me it runs quite hot and cold. The witty dialogue is the hot part, as with many movies featuring Woody Allen, the scenes with great dialogue are treasures – but the slapstick nature of the physical comedy leaves me cold – there are only so many times you can find knocking things over, bumping into people and blurting out the wrong thing as funny. But the witty parts are good and the “workaholism” of Dick is repetitive and funny.  I find the chemistry and balance between Woody Allen and Diane Keaton is great and works very well, but I always find the fact that a woman can find Woody Allen sexy and irresistible quite implausible. But perhaps that’s just me. The way Allan imagines potential scenario’s in his life is very well done and when Bogart and Nancy both regularly appear to him (but nobody else) this is excellent and particularly entertaining.  The movie does have its great moments.

It is an adaptation of Woody Allen’s 1969 hit Broadway play of the same name.

Made in 1972. Directed by Herbert Ross

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Posted by on July 29, 2012 in Movies


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