I was watching a Woody Allen movie the other night called "Husbands and Wives" which follows the down and outs, highs and lows, and romantic entanglements of several different couples. The first scene begins at home with Woody and his cumbersome wife, meeting their friends for a dinner party for four. The other couple arrives with a big announcement [***Spoiler***] just when you think the woman is going to say "We're Pregnant!" She smiles and simply says they are getting a divorce after twenty something years of marriage. The announcement is made, followed by shock and silence, then confusion, then the couple asks to forget the whole thing and just 'sit down for a nice dinner'. The hilarity ensues for the rest of the scene as a very neurotic and laughably idiosyncratic Mr. Allen tries to calm his upset wife: "I don't, uh, I just, I don't underst-aaand, why are you, I mean, *reaches out hand for wife* oh my, jeez, why are you so upset about this it's not like we're splitting up, jeez [to the couple] you guys, I uh, I uh just, *shrugs* I don't know why she's so, uh, why this is so difficult for her, [to wife] Sweetheart, wow, I um *scratches head and mutters something to himself* " and it continues on and on until finally it cuts to black.
What a genius way to open a film; Sets the premise for the entire movie, it's so damned clever. Woody Allen's personal life aside, he sure knows how to make movies...honestly, I don't think I've ever watched a film of his I didn't thoroughly enjoy. I love how he never conforms to modern day dialogue but rather consistently pushes the literary envelopes for the viewer... using words like "mellifluous" (my favorite word by the way), "salubrious" , "temerity", "abstemious" ... just words you don't hear very frequently in this generation of narcissistic, abbreviating sociopaths. His references are generally of the same nature as well, something to do with Groucho Marx, Freud, or Ingmar Bergman. What's not to love about that?
If you haven't seen Annie Hall, Midnight In Paris or Blue Jasmine you should drop everything you're doing now and rectify that. Those are by far my favorite and for three reasons whos names are Diane Keaton, Marion Cotillard and Cate Blanchett. I suppose when I got heavily into the craft of acting I had a certain misconception about the work and what it involves. The process is so much more excessive than I had even known, and when I uncovered the truth about acting and movie-making I really felt like such a prize idiot for not uncovering the reality myself - that it is a craft that requires effort and practice and skill just like any other talent or job would. Duh? But it's true, I had never really thought about acting or film-making for that matter in a way other than just "lights, camera, action!". There is so much more to it, more work in telling a story a certain way. Here I was, an avid movie buff and cinemafile my entire life, and it took a quarter of my life for a light bulb to switch on. The down side to this is that I would never be able to watch a movie the same way again. Unfortunately it's like that saying "Once seen, can't be unseen" same thing applies, and now my standard has risen so that when I see a film I am meticulously picking apart the things I like and don't like right down to the way the focus-puller pulled focus onto a subject. Some films it's ruined for me, however I think it's also given me the ability to recognize really good work and appreciate it as such.
I suppose I like Woody Allen movies because they are so simple in telling a story, and they almost always end randomly...sort of like you get just enough of a glimpse into an alternate life of strangers, and then you're pushed back out the rabbit hole. There isn't any flashy cinematography, no special effects to deflect from the characters, which always remain the strongest element of his films. His use of language is impressive and adds to the overall enchantment in watching, but he captures the truth of humanity in small moments of silence in scenes that become more telling than words. When I watch his films I remember why I love acting, why I love stories and films and art; Why I remain the Julia Roberts in Pretty Woman wannabe dancing through the tango of relationships. There are few who have tapped into this kind of rare magic and when glimpsed, it is something to behold.
Anyways, I must go, there's a Bailey's on the rocks with my name on it...