I just recently read something that shed a lot of light on the work of a man who was at one time one of my favorite filmmakers, a writer-director-actor named Woody Allen. Maybe you’ve heard of him?
It was an article in L.A. Magazine by their film critic Steve Erickson. You can find it online here. It concludes with this sentence: "Allen will be 70 this year, and time may have run out on not only his creativity but his integrity; in the end being an artist is as much about character as it is about talentÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã¢â‚¬Ânot character as defined by conventional social mores or their self-anointed caretakers but by the relationship an artist forges with hard truths about himself and the world around him, and his commitment to telling them."
Ostensibly a review of Allen’s latest film, the article is actually a retrospective of Allen’s career and reading it helped me understand on a rational level what I’ve been feeling on an emotional level about Allen’s work for some time. Namely, that his films have become soulless and entirely unconvincing, not to mention not nearly as funny.
I particularly like the commentary on CRIMES & MISDEMEANORS which I feel is the best Woody Allen movie that I’ve ever seen. It’s a strong analysis because it points out that the now tired self-justification that overwhelms Allen’s recent films and my accompanying resistance to it is independent of the fact we all know he sleeps with his stepdaughter. The patterns and themes had all been there for a while. It seems like when the news broke that he was having an affair with Soon-Yi Previn, the daughter he adopted with Mia Farrow, that there was no rush of fans to wish it wasn’t so. I mean, my word, even Michael Jackson has his defenders. Maybe to those of us who were long-time fans it wasn’t much of a surprise. It figured.
In STARDUST MEMORIES Allen’s on-screen persona mocks his fans who wish he’d go back to making pure comedies like his early pictures instead of more serious films. Whatever, Woody. I’d rather watch TAKE THE MONEY AND RUN than your latest rationalization for a life without responsibility or consequence anyday.
Take some time, read the article, and tell me what you think.