07 July 2010

Woody Allen: Day Fourteen

In the midst of this heatwave and with the lack of air conditioning it seemed like the best idea was to hide in the cool basement and watch some Woody Allen films.

The first film I watched was Radio Days. The 1987 film is about the Golden Age of Radio during the late 1930s and 1940s. Radio Days, narrated by an unseen Woody Allen and played on screen by Seth Green, focuses on one family in Queens. The film unfolds with small scenes involving the favourite radio shows of family members. We see Joe's (Seth Green) exploits as a young boy, his aunt Bea's (Dianne Wiest) attempts to find love, and the behind-the-scenes story of Sally White (Mia Farrow), an aspiring radio star.
Radio Days does not have a narrative from beginning to end. The film is about how radio affected the world during the period and the stories are woven together to make a beautiful film.

Woody Allen filmed September twice. He constructed a small cottage on a sound stage and shot the film and then decided to recast certain roles and reshoot the whole film. The film stars Mia Farrow, Elaine Strich, Dianne Wiest, Jack Warden, Denholm Elliott, and Sam Waterston (originally played by Christopher Walken, then Sam Shepard).

Lane (Farrow) moved to her summer house to recuperate after attempting suicide. Her best friend Stephanie (Wiest) is staying with her for the summer. They are joined by Lane's mother Diane (Strich) and her husband Lloyd (Jack Warden). Lane and Diane have a strained relationship because of events in the past. Lane's two neighbours, Peter (Waterston) and Howard (Elliott), are frequent guests in her house. Howard is in love with Lane, who is hopelessly in love with Peter, who is in love with Stephanie, who is married. This causes much tension in the house. To add to Lane's fragile state, Diane has asked Peter to write her memoirs, including painful events from Lane's past. The film explores the pain and the secrets that have ravaged Lane for most of her adult life.

September is not a terrible film but I think it is one of Woody Allen's weakest. The film unfolds too quickly and it takes place over such a short time span with too many events occurring. The film would have been better served, in my opinion, if it had transpired over a longer time period.

Out of all Woody Allen films I feel that Another Woman is unjustly forgotten. It is a terrific film starring Gena Rowlands and Mia Farrow. I am always drawn to this film and it is because of Gena Rowlands. She is captivating on screen and emotes so much with her eyes. We watch films to watch lives unfold. It is very voyeuristic and Another Woman gives us a character who is a voyeur herself. It is a fascinating film, one of Woody Allen's most mysterious.

Marion (Rowlands) is a 50 year old philosophy professor. She is taking a sabbatical to write a book and has rented and apartment so that she can work in peace. Through a vent in the apartment she can clearly hear the confessions of patients of her psychiatrist neighbour. At first she attempts to block the sound using pillows but she events gives in and becomes engrossed. She is deeply affected by one patient in particular, a pregnant woman named Hope (Farrow). Hope's revelations startle Marion and Marion begins to reflect on her own life. She questions her relationships with her husband Ken (Ian Holm), her father (John Houseman), her brother and sister-in-law (Harris Yulin and Frances Conroy), an old friend Claire (Sandy Dennis) and her stepdaughter Laura (Martha Plimpton). She is also reminded of her former lover Larry (Gene Hackman).

Next up: New York Stories.

My list:
1. Hannah and Her Sisters
2. Manhattan
3. Annie Hall
4. Radio Days
5. Another Woman
6. The Purple Rose of Cairo
7. Broadway Danny Rose
8. Love and Death
9. Interiors
10. Sleeper
11. Zelig
12. Stardust Memories
13. Everything You Always Wanted to Know About Sex* (*But Were Afraid to Ask)
14. Take the Money and Run
15. Bananas
16. What's Up, Tiger Lily?
17. September
18. A Midsummer Night's Sexy Comedy

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