Wednesday, June 08, 2011
So I watched this Woody Allen film for the second time. Loved it even more the second time. Amazed it only got 6.2 on imdb cos for me it's a full 10. Allow me to be a Londonish Truffaut and give you reasons why.
1. The art not the man.
Nobody with any sense can forgive the real Woody for having sex with his adopted daughter (ok, he married her and stuff but it's still a moral crime for most people). However, Woody is a great film maker being unswervingly honest about his beliefs, his passions and therefore his self.
Is the self a false construct of memories and fantasies? Sure, but we need it if we are to live with ourselves in this post-capitalist capitalist universe.
2. Choosing Ken
Ken Branagh, thin-lipped, tousle-haired Englishman, obsessed with Shakespeare and as English as Hamlet himself. An excellent choice to play the 'Woody' character. He does well, being from the Olivier school, though he may have picked up a few tricks from the Cassavetes / Strasberg / Stanislavsky school.
An aside - real acting is not pretending it is feeling. For example, Tom Cruise is usually crap and Steve Buscemi (in reality he was a fireman in 9/11, in medialand he was Mr Pink and Buddy Holly in Tarantinoland, he was Tony's cousin in that great postmodern gangster epic The Sopranos and his first role a musician dying of AIDS - clearly a bit of a top man) is always great.
Another aside - what rescues Enter The Void from being slightly unsatisfying is the performance of Cyril Roy. Noe, clearly a nutter like Kubrick is an excellent film maker but has no time for morality. So he hired a genuinely hip, cool bloke to be the friend of Oscar. When Cyril / Alex walks down the street (such a great scene - we are there) with Oscar and cries and fucks in the film, he is not acting, just being himself. Just my opinion, don't sue.
Also, regarding Ken's Englishness, I notice Woody tips his hat to the political stand the aesthetes make over here by calling movies films. Everyone in this film says film not movie. Just as Godard pointed out in Elogie d'Amor that in English there is no word for what Spanish speakers call Estadounidense. Thus when we say American we kind of insult Brazilians, Mexicans, Canadians, Jamaicans, Columbians...
3. It's a story about the breakdown of a marriage, but there is (refreshingly) no moral message.
When Ken meets Winona, (Leaving Famke, his new bit) the soaring old-school strings can be read by the Right as ironic and by the Left as post-ironic. Something for everyone.
4. It's a story about how religion can get in the way of sexuality.
Woody is Semitic rather than Jewish (I think). I don't know how much he knows about the 'old religion' but we all know he's been in therapy for ages. Whether it's Freudian, Jungian or Californian we don't need to know.
5. It's a story about a 'mid-life crisis'
Symbolised excellently when Ken gets Charlize in his car and then drives (absurdly) straight into a shop window with a big expensive clock in it.
6. There's a Felliniesque element to it
There are moments when the simple beauty of the images and hum of the conversation remind me of 8 1/2. For example, at the house of Joe the family man who seduces Ken's ex.
7. There's a theory that all art is a projection of the self.
Ken faints when a critic critises his work. I would analyse this as Woody saying his work is his life, his gift to the world. Also, more significantly it's the 'in therapy Woody' saying 'don't worry what other people think, do your thing'
8. Woody still does comedy but the US is divided into Right and Left.
A good right-wing joke (laughing at sexual prowess) is the pro choking on the banana.
A good left-wing joke (controversial, absurd) is in the Springeresque green room the Rabbi saying 'did the skinheads eat all the bagels?'
9. Nice circular format.
Leo di Caprio, a girlboy who Scorsese has unconvincingly casted has a hard man here parodies himself, smashing up hotel rooms, having orgies. It's the only way he can show Gretchen he loves her whilst also enjoying his bromances and other lady love.
Yeah, a masterpiece it is. Fuck the movies.