Culture war issues aside, there are many reasons to dislike Woody Allen these days. It’s frustrating, as regardless of his less than healthy attitudes to women and certain ethnic groups (what did Armenian people ever do to him? Seriously?) he made some good films from the seventies -nineties, and did great stand-up in the sixties. It was the start of comedy as neurosis, nebbishy people mining failure for laughs.The joke was always on them. It’s on us now, I fear.
These days, he relies on increasingly younger (ahem) actors. The male leads just play versions of him, right down to accent, coughs and stutters. Increasingly,his films are like clapped out singers doing Vegas residencies for the money.
But where he most fails is in his dialogue. From the risible Match Point, where Jonathan Rhys Meyers’ character Chris Wilton says to Scarlett Johansson ‘s Nola Rice (honestly) “You have very sensuous lips” ( the whole cinema shook with laughter, and it wasn’t meant to be a humorous line) to the dire A Rainy Day in New York where Timothee Chalamet’s Gatsby Welles (yes, really) tells his bimbo Ashleigh Enright (Elle Fanning,)”New York, great, we can go to that piano bar where this guy plays old Broadway tunes”- he’s completely lost the plot. How many young people talk like this? No cool nightclubs in New York? Go and get drunk, see some DJs and get a tattoo, FFS (just don’t get a tattoo while drunk).
When not enthusing about lounge singers and other Allen – esque passions (what’s with the endless references to blow jobs?) the characters also talk in highly expositional ways. I don’t know how many times someone will say, ” I’m so looking forward to your wedding next week “, or “my father lectured at Yale twenty years before retiring.” Show, don’t tell.
Don’t get me started on the way they dress, all preppy autumnal clothes. They’re just Russian doll versions of Woody, Mia and Diane. No-one wears T shirts, jeans, anything remotely contemporary or even luxe in Woodyworld.
Ahh,the good old days.
Allen, completely out of touch with modern life (he always was, but that was charming in his peak seventies period) seems to have run out of ideas, and reiterates the same themes and dialogue ad nauseam : nervous rich guy has blond girlfriend, cheats with brunette, nervous rich guy’s blond girlfriend is inexplicably attracted to older creepy guy and has affair, family issues, everyone has lots of angst in picturesque autumnal settings. Rinse and repeat, jazz tunes, end.
Does he really need the money anymore? Seriously, what’s the point? Yet, still the actors clamour for roles in his latest half baked nonsense, as he trades on his long gone glory days. It’s such a shame. Ah well, we’ll always have Annie Hall. La di da.