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.
Indie films are usually small-scale labors of love compared to all those soulless blockbusters and sequels — but does that mean the stars of these films promote them with any more elan?
Photo Credit: Listal
The tangled love triangle is such a cinematic trope that we could probably put together a list for every year (or a list of Top 10 love triangles with bad ’80s haircuts… or Top 10 love triangles starring Reese Witherspoon…). We decided to limit this list to love-triangle films we actually enjoyed (and not in a guilty-pleasure kind of way) — which is why you won’t find the Bella-Edward-Jacob affair here, despite the ubiquity of “Team Edward” and “Team Jacob” merchandise. Same goes for PEARL HARBOR (2001), which attempted to make the love triangle a heroic response to war; or WILD THINGS (1995), which accessorized the love triangle with hot tubs and champagne (and was really more of a lust triangle, anyway); or INDECENT PROPOSAL (1993), which theorized the love triangle as a financial and real estate decision; or MY BEST FRIEND’S WEDDING (1997), which was a terrible movie despite championing off-key karaoke.
Photo Credit: Everyday Should Be Saturday
Funny sex scenes — at least, those that are meant to make you laugh — are often our favorite kind. Ironically, they tend to portray much more realistic onscreen sex than their serious, sultry counterparts. In funny sex scenes, you get weirdness, kink, awkwardness, jealousy, fantasy — oh yeah, and condoms. For some reason, the only time you see latex onscreen is when the sex is supposed to be funny. Here are ten of our favorite funny sex scenes — though not all of them were initially intended to be funny (we’re looking at you, Clive Owen). By the way, if you’re wondering where AMERICAN PIE and PORKY’S are: We took the liberty of limiting this list to scenes that made us laugh. And we’re not — nor have we ever been — 14-year-old boys.
In December I shined some SUNlight on Nick Carr, who chronicles his interesting discoveries as a film location scout on his blog. Now he brings us a terrific post featuring Woody Allen’s ANNIE HALL (which happens to be one of my favorite films). Many of Allen’s most iconic films were shot years before I ever stepped foot in New York and a lot has changed since then, but nonetheless the lens through which he captured the urbanscape, pace and experiences of the city still resonates with me. It’s one of the reasons I love this film, as well as MANHATTAN and HANNAH AND HER SISTERS.
To quote Woody Allen, “Pizza is a lot like sex. When it’s good, it’s really good. When it’s bad, it’s still pretty good.” Writer John Banville (who won the Booker Prize for his awesomely beautiful and lyrical novel The Sea back in 2005) would agree. And he goes one step further, saying that because of this, it’s impossible to write well about sex. Meaning that because men, at least, tend to enjoy most sex, no matter how bad it is, there is this inherent disconnect: They can’t write about it because they have no idea what just happened. Was it good, was it bad, was it the same old thing, was it earth-shattering? All they know is that they had an orgasm and it felt pretty cool. And as Tolstoy didn’t really say, good sex is all alike; all bad sex is bad in its own way. The latter is worth reading about; the former is just bad erotica.
Not that sequels prequels, slapstick comedies, superhero flicks, and action/adventure thrillers can’t be intelligent, lol. But still, can we expect anything a cut above? Yes! Some warm-weather flicks are filtering in made by actual artistes with real aspirations, at least judging from the heady descriptions. Some of them are even coming before summer’s official start date. Here are some of the most promising looking options for your summer cinema plans:
As a bookend to my previous entry highlighting an archive of classic video game title screens, Boing Boing put together this YouTube video montage of digital deaths from popular video games of the 8- and 16-bit era (or in the case of Pong, 1-bit – Oh snap!). The editing and the accompanying soundtrack to this video lends it a certain tone that suggests a rumination on the meaning of death, which is the not -so-perfect segue to briefly proselytize about the terrific, two-part American Masters documentary on PBS on Woody Allen, a must-watch for fans, writers and cinephiles alike.
I absolutely love this photograph taken of Woody Allen at The Metropolitan Museum of Art by Ruth Orkin in 1963 for so many reasons. How do I love thee? Let me blog the ways.
2011 marks the 20th anniversary of Woody Allen’s SHADOWS AND FOG, meaning, among other things, that the prolific filmmaker has made 20 films since (actually, he’s made 21, but who’s counting?). In 1989 Allen made the much-loved CRIMES AND MISDEMEANORS, followed by the slightly less loved ALICE, and then SHADOWS AND FOG, which was, unfortunately, even less of a hit amongst audiences. The early 90s New York Times film critic Vincent Canby actually ended his review with a ridiculous “note of caution: SHADOWS AND FOG operates on its own wavelength. It is different. It should not be anticipated in the manner of other Allen films.”
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.
MIDNIGHT IN PARIS, Woody Allen’s latest film starring Owen Wilson, Rachel McAdams, and Marion Cotillard, opened in the U.S. on Friday May 20th. The film, a romantic comedy set in Paris, is Allen’s forty-first feature film and his sixth film shot in Europe since 2005.
In MIDNIGHT IN PARIS, Gil (played by Owen Wilson) is on vacation in Paris with his fiancée Inez (Rachel McAdams) and her parents. From the outset, their polar opposite views on Paris are apparent: Gil, a successful Hollywood screenwriter, has a romantic view of the city while Inez, more comfortable with her California lifestyle, sees it as just another place in the world. After dinner with Inez’s overbearing friends Paul (Michael Sheen) and Carol (Nina Arianda), Gil calls it a night as they hit a club. Lost and a little drunk, Gil finds himself on a quiet street as the bells strike midnight. When a car pulls up filled with English speaking revelers, Gil is pulled into their party and circumstances that he never could have imagined.
This is Allen’s second film in Paris, the first “Everyone Says I Love You,” included Paris in only a portion of the film, but MIDNIGHT IN PARIS is Allen’s cinematic love note to the city.
From the film’s press kit, “Of course I’m partial to New York because I was born there and grew up there,” he says, “but if I didn’t live in New York, Paris is the place I would live.” This feeling echoes the sentiments of the film’s main character, Gil, who looks back with regret on an opportunity he had to move to Paris twenty years earlier but didn’t take. Allen himself had a similar opportunity during the filming of WHAT’S NEW PUSSYCAT in the 60’s. “It was an adventure that was too bold for me at the time. In retrospect I could have stayed, or at the very minimum taken an apartment and divided my time – but I didn’t and I regret that.”
Allen sat down with reporters to discuss MIDNIGHT IN PARIS at a press conference for the film on May 17th in New York.
Born in the wrong time: Owen Wilson and Marion Cotillard in MIDNIGHT IN PARIS
Ever since he got his start with the dub-tastic farce WHAT’S UP TIGER LILY in 1966, Woody Allen has written and directed a new film ever single year with only one exception – he took two years to make ANNIE HALL. With that kind of turnaround it goes without saying that not every single film is going to be a keeper. Still, the man is on a 45-year spree. He’s not only prolific, he’s a New York institution, only lately having traveled overseas to make his last several films. So when I say that MIDNIGHT IN PARIS, his latest annual cinematic exercise, is great fun but probably not a great film, it’s with the deepest respect.
It’s called the Clamshell House, the Star Trek House, the Jetson House and the Flying Saucer house, but you might know it best as the Sleeper House, featured prominently in Woody Allen’s 1973 sci-fi comedy SLEEPER. Taking the form of a huge, oblong flattened sort of sphere, the windowed-side juts out over the wooden pedestal it rests on, making it look weird and different from every angle. Sadly, the house, built in 1963 by architect Charles Deaton, is up for foreclosure auction today as the owner is reportedly delinquent on $2.8 mil of his $3.1 mil mortgage. If no one buys it, it will be boarded up and left unpreserved, a depressing finale for Deaton’s best known work, as well as the home of SLEEPER’s Orgasmatron, where Diane Keaton spent two seconds in heaven. Rent SLEEPER today as the proverbial gavel seals the fate on its former home (trailer below).
Anthony Hopkins as Alfie, with his PYT
After 2008′s VICKY CRISTINA BARCELONA and 2009′s WHATEVER WORKS, Woody Allen’s latest release, YOU WILL MEET A TALL DARK STRANGER marks a return to the classic tragicomic films about couples in flux that he’s best known for. You know the ones I’m talking about. Like HANNAH AND HER SISTERS (1986) or CELEBRITY (1998), YOU WILL MEET A TALL DARK STRANGER is a story about a man who seeks refuge from his lifeless marriage in an exciting stranger. Sally (Naomi Watts) is married to Roy (Josh Brolin), a struggling, some might say failed writer who spends his days gazing out his bedroom window at his gorgeous new neighbor, Dia (Freida Pinto). Sally is too absorbed with her new boss, Greg (Antonio Banderas), to notice her husband’s wavering attentions. Their bickering is frequently interrupted by Helena, Sally’s mother, who drops by to impart the wisdom gained from her weekly psychic readings, her only source of comfort after her husband Alfie (Anthony Hopkins) divorced her after 40 years and married Charmaine (Lucy Punch), a blonde, gum-smacking actress/call girl.
Woody Allen Talks About His Latest Film Photo Courtesy of Sony Pictures Classics Woody Allen’s latest film “You Will Meet a Tall Dark Stranger,” starring an ensemble that includes Gemma Jones, Anthony Hopkins, Naomi Watts, and Josh Brolin, opens in U.S. theaters tomorrow, September 22nd. On September 8th, Kultur Kritic excitedly attended a press screening…
In this 26-minute mini-documentary from 1986, the great French filmmaker Jean-Luc Godard interviews Woody Allen. This is from the days when Allen was still making important, hilarious movies, so it’s well worth watching. Meetin’ WA (1986)by Tomsutpen [via Khoi Vinh.]
After reading the reviews for Woody Allen’s latest, I was less than hopeful going into the theatre, and even though I think much of the criticism the film received is true, I liked it anyway.
Transwhat? Transfat? Transgender? No, transmedia. Have you heard of it? It’s one of the latest buzzwords from media guru, Director of MIT’s Comparative Media Studies Program, and Convergence Culture author Henry Jenkins. Jenkins has strong opinions on the future of screen-based storytelling.
In his 2007 article “Transmedia Storytelling101,” he outlines this theory:
Cary Fukunaga (SIN NOMBRE) rode the rails with illegal immigrants in Mexico… Sophie Barthes (COLD SOULS) had a dream about Woody Allen and a chickpea in a box… And Cruz Angeles (DON’T LET ME DROWN) overheard a group of Albanian teenagers in New York City cracking jokes about 9/11…