Anytime Woody Allen releases a new film, moviegoers naturally debate where it ranks on his filmography. Is it a triumphant return to form like last year’s MIDNIGHT IN PARIS, or a dud like 2009’s WHATEVER WORKS? Is it a vibrant echo of his early masterpieces, or a dispiriting reminder that he’s now 76 and his best years may be behind him? There’s rarely a middle ground: It’s either Good Woody or Bad Woody.
This week on Sundance Channel, it’s murder most foul with three films that take a decidedly different approach to exploring crime and punishment. Throw in heavy a bout of soul-searching, a healthy dollop of high-intensity thrills and a creepy doctor or two and you’ve got yourself some serious watching.
In my own filmmaking education, the term ‘floating master’ was floated my way during one fine day of learning, uttered by an esteemed and respected editing teacher. I remember sitting in the classroom thinking … “Huh?” It sounded more Buddha-on-a-lily-pad than technical film coverage term. I believe she referenced the phrase – which is really ‘floating master shot’ in the same breath as the name Woody Allen, and as I watched MIDNIGHT IN PARIS this week, I harkened back to this particular method of working and its effects on narrative. MIDNIGHT IN PARIS, by the way, is a finely charming narrative indeed. And Woody Allen does, by gum, utilize the floating master over and over and over.