02 August 2010

Woody Allen: Day Twenty-Three

Woody Allen has had prior success in the pseudo-documentary genre with the films Take the Money and Run (1969), Zelig (1983) and Husbands & Wives (1992). His last film of the twentieth century, Sweet and Lowdown, is the story of a fictional jazz guitarist named Emmett Ray (played by Sean Penn). Jazz is a familiar genre to Woody Allen, who is an accomplished clarinetist and plays in a jazz band. Woody Allen fans know that jazz music is often heavily featured in his films and is often played during the opening credits. Sweet and Lowdown is a beautifully acted and written film and my only fault is that is does not resonate as well as Woody Allen's more successful films.

Emmett Ray is extremely talented but also incredibly arrogant. He is one of Woody Allen's least sympathetic characters. The film is set during the 1930s and Emmett considers himself to be the second best guitarist in the world, second only to Django Reinhardt, who really was a world renowned guitarist born in Belgium in 1910. Sweet and Lowdown presents itself as a documentary by having fictional experts discuss and analyze Emmett's private and professional lives. The film focuses heavily on two of Emmett's relationships, the first with Hattie (Samantha Morton), who is mute, and Blanche (Uma Thurman), an ebullient and vivacious society girl.

The absolute highlight of the film is Samantha Morton. In only her third feature film role she is mesmerizing as Hattie and deservedly won a Best Supporting Actress nomination (losing to Angelina Jolie in Girl, Interrupted).

Next up: Small Time Crooks.

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

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