THE OBENSON REPORT

Covering Cinema From All Across The African Diaspora

Dear Woody Allen...

Dear Woody Allen,

I know you love cinema just as much as I love cinema. You expressed it so wonderfully in several of your earlier works, like Annie Hall, Stardust Memoriesand Manhattan- all classics that even the flightiest of film lovers will agree on. So, it is with much affection and genuine concern for you when I say the following:

STOP MAKING MOVIES!!!!

Of course, I don't mean stop entirely... but rather, take a break. Enjoy your successes. You'll be 73 later this year, and as callous as it may sound, you know what that means... your time is almost up! I know you must be anxious, especially as several of your idols and contemporaries have left us, especially in the last few years (Bergman and Antonioni, notably). Trust me, I felt their losses too and I'm probably just as anxious, so believe me when I say that I understand your need to make full use of your talents and your time while you still have them.

But, Woody, do you realize that you've made 1 film every year, since 1992? That's 17 films over 17 years. I don't know how the hell do you do it, but it certainly partly explains why your recent films are starting to blend into one another, looking and sounding alike, as the quality of each effort gradually declines.

It's not fun anymore Woody! In fact, it's actually becoming somewhat embarrassing. I knew it was over when, in 2003, I saw a theatrical promo for your then upcoming film, Anything Else, co-starring Christina Ricci and Jason Biggs. The studio that released the film obviously thought it best to not include you in the trailer, since you weren't anywhere to be found in it, even though you were the star of the film. Instead, we got shots of both Ricci and Biggs in various scenes, leading anyone watching the trailer to believe that you weren’t in the film. And they also didn't even put your name on the title marquee! That was rather sad Woody! How could you let them do that to you? You're Woody Allen - well-respected filmmaker of several award-winning and/or critically acclaimed films. They can't do that to you - make you disappear from your own film! But they did! And I felt so bad for you then Woody. You used to be able to get your way, but it looks like your value isn't quite what it used to be.

Listen... dude... you've made 44 films in 42 years! That means there were a couple of years there when you made 2 in a year! Let me repeat that - 44 films in 42 years! And a lot of them are unbelievably similar in terms of style and theme - you (or a replica of your usually neurotic self) waxing philosophic on male/female relationships, God, death, and Freud. And now I hear you're tackling lesbian relationships in your next film! I'd like to say that I'm intrigued by this, but I'd be lying if I said I wasn't doubtful of the outcome... but I'm hopeful.

In comparison, the late, great Stanley Kubrick made just 14 feature films in 46 years, about a third of your output! But the man and his films, even the least appreciated of them, left an indelible mark on the face of cinema. We can all learn something from him, I think.

In closing... you know I love you Woody! Several of your films sit comfortably in my fledgling DVD library. I've seen Annie Hall and Stardust Memories countless times. Husbands and Wivesis a masterpiece that will likely never age. And coincidentally, that 1992 film is the last of your works that I can say I truly, genuinely enjoyed and appreciated. Since then, it's been a rather questionable run! And according to your IMDB page, you're continuing your prolific trend with releases each year, for the next 2 years... tut-tut-tut. You're apparently not listening! Do yourself a favor Woody... take a few years off... you might surprise yourself and return with some new perspectives on the process. I think you and your films will be better for it. Trust me! Maybe consider directing someone else's script, even if it's just for sheer variety... after all, it is the spice of life.

Your friend,

Tambay


14 comments:

  1. Anonymous said...
     

    Naaaah! Don't put him out to pasture just yet TAO. I actually enjoyed Match Point...one of his most recent efforts (around 2005ish). It wasn't one of his best, but I thoroughly enjoyed it. Well, that could be my Jonathan Rhys Myers hangover talkin' :o)

    - P

  2. Invisible Woman said...
     

    Yeah I liked "Match Point" waaaay better when it was made the first time---as "Crimes And Misdemeanors"!

    But I must say I am curious to see what the other super Jew, Larry David, is gonna do in Woody's new one. Could be interesting...

  3. The Obenson Report said...
     

    @ P - It was enjoyable, but when it looks and feels like previous films you've done, it loses much of its appeal. I'd love to see him do something completely unlike anything he's done before... maybe go crazy and take on the next James Bond movie for example. Ok, an extreme example maybe, but actually, I'm serious... something to take him out of his comfort zone. A Woody Allen directed James Bond movie would tickle my curiosity!

    @ IW - Larry David will assume the usual neurotic male type that Woody Allen normally plays when he stars in his films. Essentially Woody in a different shell.

  4. Ferocious Kitty said...
     

    I have never seen a Woody Allen movie.

    *shrug*

  5. UK Black Chick aka Wendy said...
     

    OK, I'll say this very quickly and run...

    woodyallenismorethanatadbitoverratedandalwayshasbeen!!!!!!

    :P

    PS: While you're at it, write MVP a letter too!

  6. The Obenson Report said...
     

    @ FK - For shame!!! :o) You should check out Husbands and Wives as your intro. Most would probably suggest something like Annie Hall, but I think you'll like Husbands & Wives. It's funny, sharp, well acted, and quite realistic. If you liked my film, which I know you did, you'll love H&W. It was an influence.

    @ Wendy - No, I wouldn't say he has ALWAYS been overrated. Lately, maybe. But definitely not earlier in his career, especially during his run in the late 70s. He's made a few gems along the way.

  7. Ferocious Kitty said...
     

    TAO: The things I do for you...sigh.

    Adding to the Netflix queue...

  8. theblackactor.com said...
     

    I particularly enjoyed Match Point as well.

    Sometimes less is more.

  9. UK Black Chick aka Wendy said...
     

    @ TAO: When middle aged, middle class, male jewish angst was a new thing on the silver screen, then yes, I guess his witticisms and sharp observations were a welcome departure from the usually relatively staid Hollywood narrative.

    But, with time, it's quite obvious that he played his hand early on and has had nothing particularly new to say or way to say it ever since.

    Novelty is great, but it's not necessarily genius. Brave, yes, genius...?

    As you suggested in the post, maybe he should have just spread out his first 15 films over a 40 year period... At least then we'd have the illusion of freshness from time to time.

    As it is, he now seems to insist on doing a rather poor imitation of himself.

  10. The Obenson Report said...
     

    @ Wendy - "... middle aged, middle class, male jewish angst"? HA! Waaaaay to simplistic a classification of his films. As far as the romantic comedy genre is concerned, 2 eras exist: pre-Annie Hall, and post-Annie Hall. It was a groundbreaking and quite influential film in that genre - not just in terms of content, but also style and technique. It essentially turned the romantic comedy on its head!

    But that was 30 years ago, and he’s pretty much been resorting to what worked then, which doesn't quite work today, unfortunately for him. And that's why I'd like to see him shift and get out of his comfort zone altogether.

    Nobody is calling him a genius, but one cannot ignore the accomplishments and influences of some of his earlier films. But I'd also say that there really aren't any geniuses in this medium - not even his predecessors.

  11. UK Black Chick aka Wendy said...
     

    So like I said, his reputation is built mainly on novelty not genius.

    He tried something new (groundbreaking) that set him apart from his peers but which wouldn't age gracefully or stand the test of time.

    Much kudos to him but, as you've already pointed out, he's a bit of a one trick pony and needs to get a new party piece/trick.

    I recognise his 'greatness' and contribution to cinematic history, but it wouldn't hurt him to recognise his limitations already...!

  12. The Obenson Report said...
     

    Like I said... there really are no geniuses. One could say that every filmmaker who's been labeled as such was simply being recognized for doing something novel... like Godard and everyone who followed. Even the earlier filmmakers prior to Godard.

    What is genius anyway?

    Maybe one answer is that there is genius in trying something new, over-turning accepted standards, and creating a new path that others then willingly follow - something very few artists can claim to have done, and something that he managed to do. That's essentially what every film movement (the French New Wave, the Neorealists, et al) was lauded for.

    But I suppose it's also subjective.

    Regardless, he's in pretty good company.

  13. UK Black Chick aka Wendy said...
     

    @TAO: I understand you bemoaning the demise of one of your cinematic heroes (though I see your film as more Cassavetes than Allen - I'm guessing you transpose his non-mainstream jewish identity with your own black/African identity) but even you concede that he only ever really seemed to have one good idea that he remakes over and over and over and over...

    Paradoxically, he has used wit and humour as a guise to take himself way too seriously and, while this approach may have been appreciated in the past, no one else is taking him half as seriously anymore.

    Being in good company is one thing, but knowing when to leave rather than over extend your stay is another... especially if you're not exactly brimming with diversity of thought.

    And, to use a political (and African) analogy, for those of us that weren't particularly enamoured of him to begin with, he's beginning to feel a bit more Mugabe and a lot less Mandela...

    :P

  14. UK Black Chick aka Wendy said...
     

    Oh, and with regard to genius, I would say that, in reference to the penultimate paragaph of my last post, knowing when to bow out is what marks the genius.

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