09 September 2010

Woody Allen: Day Thirty-One

I have accomplished my task. This summer I watched all forty-one Woody Allen films in chronological order, starting with What's Up, Tiger Lily? (1966). Whatever Works is his most recent film, released in June of 2009. Part of my decision to begin this task was to prepare myself for the fall release of You Will Meet a Tall Dark Stranger, not to mention my love of Woody Allen.

Whatever Works marks Woody Allen's return to New York after four films in Europe. Anxious to finish filming before the writer's strike he used a script from the 1970s. This may be one of the major faults of the film because Whatever Works often feels dated. Another problem is the casting of Larry David. He is great at playing a fictionalized version of himself on the improvised Curb Your Enthusiasm but putting him in the role of an actor for an entire film is asking too much. Evan Rachel Wood performs reasonably well but the best performance is by Patricia Clarkson, who is always wonderful in every role.

Larry Davis plays Boris Yelnikov, a misanthropic older man who is surprised to find Melodie (Evan Rachel Wood) lying at his doorstep. Melodie, a young runaway from Louisiana, invites her way inside and soon finds herself living with Boris. She is drawn to his intelligence and despite his resistance they get married. Their lives are disturbed when Melodie's mother Marietta (Patricia Clarkson) arrives with the belief that Melodie has been kidnapped. It turns out that Marietta is eager for a new life after her husband (Ed Begley, Jr.) left her. Marietta is not at all pleased with her daughter's choice of husband and constantly tries to set Melodie up with younger men. Things are further complicated when Melodie's father shows up and discovers how much his family has changed.

I believe that Whatever Works could have been one of Woody Allen's better comedies had he worked harder to refine the script and cast someone other than Larry David.

I have seen all the films that Woody Allen has directed and released thus far. I have ranked them in my order of preference and I am sure that the list will change at some point, though I know that Hannah and Her Sisters has a firm grasp on the top spot.

My list:
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. Vicky Cristina Barcelona
10. Another Woman

11. The Purple Rose of Cairo
12. Broadway Danny Rose
13. Match Point
14. Love and Death
15. Sweet and Lowdown
16. Mighty Aphrodite
17. Interiors
18. Sleeper
19. Manhattan Murder Mystery
20. Zelig
21. Stardust Memories
22. Everything You Always Wanted to Know About Sex* (*But Were Afraid to Ask)
23. Take the Money and Run
24. Deconstructing Harry
25. Oedipus Wrecks from New York Stories
26. Bananas
27. Small Time Crooks
28. What's Up, Tiger Lily?
29. Melinda and Melinda
30. Alice
31. Cassandra's Dream
32. Shadows and Fog
33. Don't Drink the Water
34. September
35. A Midsummer Night's Sex Comedy
36. Celebrity
37. Scoop
38. Whatever Works
39. Hollywood Ending
40. Anything Else
41. The Curse of the Jade Scorpion

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