15 July 2010

Woody Allen: Day Eighteen

As I said previously Bullets Over Broadway is the film that introduced my to Woody Allen. I was twelve the first time I saw it and I remember seeing it repeatedly after that. It was because of this film that I ever saw Mighty Aphrodite and Everyone Says I Love You. It is one of Woody Allen's most outrageously funny films with a brilliant performance from Dianne Wiest, who won her second Best Supporting Actress Oscar for the film. Bullets Over Broadway also features brilliant performances from Jennifer Tilly and Chazz Palminteri, who were both awarded Oscar nominations, and John Cusack, Tracey Ullman, Mary-Louise Parker and Jim Broadbent. This is absolutely one of Woody Allen's funniest films and a must see for any fan.

David Shane (Cusack) is a struggling playwright married to Ellen (Parker). In order to get funding for his play he is forced to agree to give one of the lead roles to a gangster's girlfriend, Olive (Tilly). He only agrees when he learns he can cast Broadway legend Helen Sinclair (Wiest) and Warner Purcell (Broadbent). Olive lacks a considerable amount of talent and is always accompanied by a bodyguard (Palminteri), who is always criticizing David's play. David must contend with his growing affection for Helen, the talentless Olive, Warner Purcell's compulsive eating and his affair with Olive before the show is able to open.

Bullets Over Broadway is wonderfully funny and inventive and is a return to the brilliant genius of a Woody Allen comedy.

Don't Drink the Water is a television film that aired in December 1994. It is based on a play that Woody Allen wrote in the 1960s about a family of American tourists that get trapped behind the Iron Curtain. In 1969 a feature film based on the material was released that starred Jackie Gleason. The film was such a disappointment to Woody Allen that 25 years later he felt the need to film his own version. Don't Drink the Water has a very funny premise with a great performance from Julie Kavner, but by the middle of the film I found Woody Allen's performance to be too over-the-top and it distracted my focus.

Sometime during the 1960s Walter and Marion Hollander (Woody Allen and Julie Kavner) and their daughter Susan (Mayim Bialik) are victims of an international incident when Walter takes a photograph of a sunset. The military of the unnamed country thinks that the Hollander family are a group of spies. The Hollanders take asylum in the American Embassy that is run by the Ambassador's son Axel (Michael J. Fox). Axel is seen as incompetent and has been removed from all previous posts in other embassies.

Don't Drink the Water is funny enough but lacks the focus and control that is evident in Woody Allen's successful comedies. It is unfortunate to have to watch this film after Bullets Over Broadway because the first film is wonderfully funny with a fantastic screenplay. It just seems like there is a reason Don't Drink the Water was made as a television film.

Next up: Mighty Aphrodite.

My list:
1. Hannah and Her Sisters
2. Manhattan
3. Bullets Over Broadway
4. Annie Hall
5. Crimes and Misdemeanors
6. Radio Days
7. Husbands & Wives
8. Another Woman
9. The Purple Rose of Cairo
10. Broadway Danny Rose
11. Love and Death
12. Interiors
13. Sleeper
14. Manhattan Murder Mystery
15. Zelig
16. Stardust Memories
17. Everything You Always Wanted to Know About Sex* (*But Were Afraid to Ask)
18. Take the Money and Run
19. Oedipus Wrecks from New York Stories
20. Bananas
21. What's Up, Tiger Lily?
22. Alice
23. Shadows and Fog
24. Don't Drink the Water
25. September
26. A Midsummer Night's Sex Comedy

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