A few thoughts on the whole Woody Allen situation.

For over two decades now, my official second-favorite film of all time has been The Purple Rose of Cairo (1985). An image from the film’s final scene is embedded in the banner at the top of every post on this blog. Thirteen months ago, I selected this film for a screening and discussion group at a film festival in Texas. Six weeks ago, on Boxing Day, I even got to see the film on the big screen for the first time ever — a 35mm print, even! — as part of the VanCity Theatre’s year-long Woody Allen series.

So I’m something of a fan — not just of this particular film, but of Woody Allen’s films in general, at least for the first two decades or so of his directing career. In truth, the last film directed by Woody that I really enjoyed was Bullets over Broadway (1994), and the last film to star him (or at least his voice) that I really enjoyed was the DreamWorks comedy Antz (1998). Since then, it has seemed to me that most of his films recycle themes that he did a better, more interesting job of exploring in his earlier films; and it has sometimes seemed to me that the moral urgency he brought to films like Crimes and Misdemeanors (1989) has given way to a more cynical complacency in similarly-themed films like Match Point (2005).

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Review: Match Point (dir. Woody Allen, 2005)

Ever since Match Point premiered at the Cannes film festival eight months ago, Woody Allen has been receiving some of his best reviews in years. His new film has been lauded as a much-needed change of pace for a director who has long been stuck in his ways, and in some ways it is that. It is set in England, not in New York (though earlier films like Love and Death and Everyone Says I Love You also took place, at least in part, outside the United States). It is a mostly serious dramatic feature, not a comedy (though earlier films like Interiors and Another Woman were even more explicit in their emulation of Ingmar Bergman’s sobering style). And it dwells just a little more than usual on the actual eroticism of sex, whereas earlier films tended to focus on the social ramifications of adultery rather than the sexual activity itself (though a few, like Husbands and Wives, were a tad more graphic).

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