Woody Allen

Touchstone Pictures

Have you seen the video of Benedict Cumberbatch doing impressions of 11 celebrities in under 60 seconds? Of course you have. As our pal Alexander Huls pointed out on Twitter, “What do we love more than celebrities? Celebrities imitating OTHER celebrities!” It is a strange phenomenon, and maybe we have Jimmy Fallon and his talk show to blame. Ellen DeGeneres is guilty, too. And much of it has to do with Saturday Night Live lately, I bet. But really it’s just always been a thing for comedians to do, and then some of those comedians become celebrities themselves (many of them are the butt of other people’s impressions). What’s not quite as common as the talk show appearances, and therefore more interesting, are the celebrity impressions that wind up in movies. They too are performed by celebrities, but in the context of the movies it’s the characters they’re playing that are technically doing the impressions. That means they’re not always very good. Some of the following favorite scenes involve great impersonations and some are downright terrible, yet even the latter are awesome in their hilariously intentional awfulness. For Cumberbatch, his next step is to do something like this. Preferably doing his Alan Rickman as Dr. Strange. 

read more...

Annie Hall

Ashe never got to see a ton of modern classics from his youth, so we’re making him watch them all as a nostalgia-less adult. Check out the inaugural article for more info. Not only had I never seen Annie Hall before this week, I’d never seen any Woody Allen films whatsoever, which is kind of weird because I apparently share his sense of humor (or so I’ve been told). People have asked me if I’m a fan of his and I always have to tell them no. Not out of any kind of objection to his work, but just because I’d never sat down to watch any of it. The one thing I’d ever seen him in was the old version of Casino Royale, which was… I don’t think we’ve even invented words for what that movie was. Anyway, it’s not a great introduction for him. And, in fact, Annie Hall isn’t necessarily one either. It was his first “serious” film, since his oeuvre before that was primarily spoofs. The switch, apparently, is quite dramatic. And it’s funny, because Annie Hall was meant to be a dramatic murder mystery with a romantic subplot. Allen slowly dropped more and more of the main plot  (this was purportedly after he’d already shot quite a bit of it) until just the romantic subplot was left. And then he and his editor took the whole thing, threw it in random order and won some Oscars (which probably inspired Quinten Tarantino to do the same thing 17 years later).

read more...

Marjoe DVD Cover

Oh hey, it’s that time of year again where we get another Woody Allen movie. What better way to celebrate than to tell people not to watch it and recommend a documentary to watch instead? Even for one of the director’s latter-day films, Magic in the Moonlight is especially airy and forgettable. It involves many of the philosophical ideas with which Allen is so enamored, such as the search for meaning in a godless universe, but makes none of them stick. Which is a shame, since the film’s story, about a 1920s magician who seeks to debunk a young psychic, had potential. As an alternative, check out Marjoe, another film about exposing religious fraud, albeit in a radically different context. While Moonlight is set amidst the spiritualism craze of the early 20th century, Marjoe deals with revival evangelism, which was the choice avenue for hucksters of that era (and whose spirit continues to a certain extent today). The title character, Marjoe Gortner, was a brief sensation in the late 1940s as a child preacher. At just 4 years old, he was preaching complex sermons to the masses, his parents claiming him to be a divinely-touched prophet. In reality, he was just preternaturally gifted in mimicry, memorization and stage acting. Even as a tot, Gortner didn’t believe a word he spoke. When his voice cracked, his gimmick was gone, and his abusive parents absconded with the millions he’d raised, and he spent his adolescence as a hippie. He returned to the preacher game as an adult, modeling himself after rock stars, to great success. But his conscience weighed on him, and […]

read more...

Sony Pictures Classics

Since time immemorial Woody Allen has been entranced by the art of illusions. A proponent of magic tricks as a child, Allen’s affinity for legerdemain has manifested itself throughout his filmography — most notable in his surreal homage to Federico Fellini, Stardust Memories. Now with Magic in the Moonlight the nebbish New Yorker has pulled off yet another impressive act of prestidigitation: making a jubilant and delightful trifle that — much like many of his other 44 films — ponders the rhyme and reason of our existence, however futile or fruitful that may be. To Stanley (Colin Firth) our existence is meaningless. In order to remain comfortable in that unrepentantly bleak worldview, he’s made a career out of exposing pseudo spiritualists — opportunistic swindlers who dupe people into believing they possess divine powers bestowed to them by some omniscient deity. The Englishman’s latest assignment is to debunk the mythical Sophie (Emma Stone), a young American woman who has convinced everyone around her that she’s, as one character exclaims, “a visionary and a vision.”

read more...

Charlie Chaplin in A Busy Day

Tomorrow is the 100th anniversary of the release of A Busy Day, a half-reeler in which Charlie Chaplin plays an angry suffragette (an alternate title was actually A Militant Suffragette) who becomes jealous of her husband during a parade of some kind. It probably isn’t the first instance of a man playing a woman in cinema (there’s no way it took 20 years), but it is the first film that’s really known as the original precursor to something like Tyler Perry‘s Madea character and others like it. Note that this isn’t the same as a Tootsie or Mrs. Doubtfire type, though Chaplin would do parts of that sort, playing a man who dresses as a woman, later on. Interestingly enough, he’s much prettier in one of those parts, that of The Masquerader (100 years old this August), than he is in A Busy Day. When I claim in the headline above that Chaplin began his filmmaking career as the Perry of his time, I am not really just referring to their comparative angry women characters. Chaplin didn’t direct A Busy Day, contrary to some claims, for one thing. However, he did helm a one-reeler around the same time titled Caught in the Rain. That was in fact his directorial debut, and its own 100th anniversary was this past Sunday. The reason I compare it to Perry’s own first film as a director is that both featured the filmmakers on screen as the iconic characters they’re most associated with. For Perry that’s Madea. For […]

read more...

Warner Bros.

I love it when movie news comes with a healthy dose of secrecy. And there’s nothing more secretive than this: Joaquin Phoenix has just signed on to the play the lead role in Woody Allen‘s next film. And, as is typical with announcements involving Woody Allen, we know absolutely nothing more than that. No idea about what the role is, or what the movie is, or if the movie even has a title (I’m assuming it does have a title, but for all we know Allen hasn’t even gotten that far). According to Deadline, the film might start shooting in July, but who knows if that’s true, or just a part of some Woody Allen false flag media blitz. And now for the required “Where are they now?” bit of context. Allen’s current project is Magic in the Moonlight, about an Englishman wrapped up in some kind of crime caper in early 20th century France, involving various Jazz Age luxuries like high fashion, large mansions and people expelling their lungs into coiled pieces of brass. Phoenix’s current wheeling and dealing is Paul Thomas Anderson’s Inherent Vice, in which he plays a pot-infused ’70s P.I. chasing down his ex-girlfriend in the mean streets of Los Angeles. Alright, that’s out of the way. Now onto the fun part.

read more...

Manhattan Movie

Hearts have been rapturously breaking in Woody Allen’s Manhattan for 35 years, and will likely continue to do so for as long as human beings cherish cinema. Last week marked the anniversary of the film often hailed as Allen’s masterwork. It’s easy to see why Manhattan is so beloved. The film is a perfect confluence of story, sight and sound. Gordon Willis’ stunning monochromatic Panavision tableaus, George Gershwin’s rhapsodic instrumentals and an iconic cityscape make a majestic setting for a story of reckless romance. Whatever genre you’re working in, Manhattan remains a trove of inspiration for filmmakers seeking to steal from one of American cinema’s best-loved auteurs. So here’s a bit of free film school (for fans and filmmakers alike) from Allen’s ode to The Big Apple.

read more...

Manhattan Movie

Friday is Manhattan‘s 35th birthday, and while Woody Allen‘s black and white love story may not have the prestige of an Annie Hall or the out and out hilariousness of a Love and Death, it does have one unique aspect — one of greatest May/December affairs in cinema. Plus we’re still three years from Annie Hall‘s 40th anniversary, and we’ve got to kill time somehow. But what is it that’s so special about the love between Allen’s balding, bespectacled Isaac Davis and Mariel Hemmingway‘s genteel young Tracy? Well, part of it is that Manhattan isn’t the story of Isaac and Tracy. It’s not really about anyone. It’s a film about a city; something made achingly clear in the title and the first three and a half minutes. We view the scenery of New York, we hear the music equivalent of New York (George Gershwin’s “Rhapsody in Blue”), and we hear a nerdy, neurotic New Yorker describe himself as having “the coiled sexual prowess of a jungle cat.” Together, those three elements (and Manhattan itself) are Woody Allen’s New York.

read more...

Kinostarts - "Dallas Buyers Club"

All we need now is for Shia Labeouf to streak across the stage of the Dolby Theatre during the 2014 Academy Awards, copying Robert Opel’s famous stunt of 40 years ago as a bold bit of promotion for Lars von Trier’s Nymphomaniac, to make this year’s event possibly the most controversy-laden of all time. Or throw in an honorary Oscar for Roman Polanski, give another special tribute to Elia Kazan or give Best Picture to a Frank Capra film. Let Michael Moore on stage to criticize Obama, Sacheen Littlefeather to protest The Lone Ranger‘s nomination and have Rob Lowe back to ruin his resurrected career by dancing this time with all of the Disney princesses. Actually, we’re probably pretty set with controversies for the 86th Academy Awards show, which will be held only three weeks from now. From a nominee’s disqualification to the usual issues with documentary contenders, from complaints about a specific drama’s depiction of and its actors’ sensitivity to the LGBT population to problems with one of the Academy’s most recognized filmmakers, we might be in store for some extra picketing or contentious remarks or any number of other surprises on March 2nd. Let’s look at what we’ve got so far in the controversy basket below. 

read more...

Emma Thompson 2014 Golden Globes

Another Golden Globes is behind us, and what have we learned? The Hollywood Foreign Press Association is full of surprises. Do they really think Jon Voight is great in Ray Donovan, or will they simply always love him for making Angelina Jolie? Speaking of whom, she and husband Brad Pitt were very much missed this year, even with Pitt getting the last shoutout of the night in appreciation for all he did for getting 12 Years a Slave produced — didn’t the show basically end like the awards ceremony equivalent of that controversial Italian poster for the movie? I may have done really embarrassingly awful with my predictions this year — 11 out of 15 total, 6 out of 14 for movies and 5 out 11 for television — so we’ll see if I’m allowed to do that again next year. Hopefully my live-tweeting was more successful. Give me some feedback, positive or scathing. And also see if you agree with my picks for the best parts of this year’s ceremony and telecast below.

read more...

Frankenstein 1931

The best movie culture writing from around the internet-o-sphere. Just leave a tab open for us, will ya?

read more...

Don

The morning’s best writing from around the movie website-o-sphere. Just leave a tab open for us, will ya?

read more...

Allen and Turturro

“I’ve always been open to acting in other people’s films, but no one has ever asked me to be in their films, only two or three times in 30 years. When John Turturro asked me to be in Fading Gigolo, I said sure.” Not many people can get Woody Allen to play a part in their movie, but I guess all you really have to do is ask. And Turturro’s latest directorial effort, Fading Gigolo, looks like an absolute blast- partly because of Allen’s presence. Even without Allen, Fading Gigolo seems like a very Woody Allen-ish film. Turturro stars as Fioravante, whose friend Murray (Allen) convinces him to become a gigolo for a little extra cash. With a frazzled, bespectacled suitor finding an unlikely (and unconventional) outlet for romance, this one definitely seems like Allen has been rubbing off on Turturro (especially to the sounds of Louis Prima). And the trailer doesn’t ever get to extreme with the sex jokes (save for a brief bit with Sofia Vergara). Fading Gigolo seems to focus on companionship, growing older, and romance, with Allen making continual “I need more money” jokes along the way. Think of it as a grown-up version of Deuce Bigalow: Male Gigolo. Check out the first trailer for the film after the break.

read more...

marion dougherty casting by

One of the best anecdotes in the documentary Casting By, which premieres tonight on HBO, relates the start of Warren Beatty’s screen career on a 1957 episode of Kraft Television Theatre. We’re told that like many young actors of the time he modeled himself way too much on Marlon Brando. Then we actually see a clip, and sure enough the future movie star looks and sounds like he’s doing a comical impersonation. Fortunately, within the next five years he would find his own comfortable style and manage to break out in Hollywood in order to become one of his generation’s finest. And apparently we have casting director Marion Dougherty to thank for giving him his first shot. There are a lot of first- and second-hand stories in the film about a lot of actors and actresses’ beginnings. And a lot of rare clips to prove just how terrible or terrific they really were. There’s Jon Voight‘s embarrassing performance on Naked City in 1963, which actually kind of foreshadows most of his later work (personally, I’ve always thought him to be one of the worst in the business). Jeff Bridges talks about how he witnessed audiences literally laughing at his tearful work in 1970’s Hall of Anger. Bette Midler thanks Dougherty for allowing her to hide her Jewishness and play a missionary in Hawaii and earn a paycheck that would finally get her to New York. And then there’s a claim that Michael Eisner, while President and CEO of Paramount Pictures, kept trying to […]

read more...

Blue Jasmine

The first thing you’re likely to hear from a fan of Woody Allen’s new film, Blue Jasmine, is that star Cate Blanchett is amazing (because she is) and that the perpetually Oscar-worthy actress turns in yet another Oscar-worthy performance in the auteur’s black as night comedy. The second thing you’re likely to hear from that same fan is that co-star Sally Hawkins is also amazing and that she proves herself adept at supporting the work Blanchett does while also imperceptibly straddling the line between comedy and drama with her own performance. Blue Jasmine, on a whole, lives and dies at the hand of its two central female performances – so it’s good news that Blanchett and Hawkins are both more than up to the task at hand, but it’s even better news that the film’s male-dominated supporting cast is also tremendous. A fairy tale about the 1%, Blue Jasmine sees Blanchett as the eponymous Jasmine, disgraced Park Ave. housewife and social gadfly, who decamps from Manhattan after her husband (Alec Baldwin) hits her with the one-two punch of “I’m leaving you for the nanny” (not even their nanny! Someone else’s nanny!) and “Also, I was running a Ponzi scheme and am now going to jail and, oops, now you’re impoverished.” Unskilled, mortified, and slipping into psychosis, Jasmine heads west to the only family she has left, her sister Ginger (Hawkins), who has more than enough problems of her own. The film unfolds thanks to a back-and-forth narrative that flits between […]

read more...

bluejasmine

If a movie was written and directed by Woody Allen, you can pretty much guarantee that its main character is going to be a basket case who’s plagued with neuroses. But while there’s always a dark twinge to the way human beings create compulsions around their past traumas, Allen is famous for being able to look at our foibles from a slanted enough angle to make them funny, even while they’re tearing us apart. His new movie, Blue Jasmine, may see Allen working closer to the dark end of that floating scale that goes from funny to troubling, however, because the work that Cate Blanchett is doing in the new trailer for the film looks to be too raw nerve and edgy to fit alongside much of the patented Woody Allen aloofness that we’ve become familiar with over the course of his career. What happens when a rich and snooty New Yorker loses all of her money and is forced to go stay with her sister in the Earthy, pot smoke-clouded confines of San Francisco? Turns out she breaks down, hard, and though there’s obviously laughs to be had due to her ridiculous behavior, some of her fall can get rough to watch.

read more...

review paris manhattan

Love isn’t always easy, but sometimes the wisdom you need to navigate matters of the heart can be found in the movies. Cinema actually contains the answers to most of life’s questions provided you ask the right ones, know where to look and don’t have terrible taste in films. This is well-established fact. Alice (Alice Taglioni) is a believer in this theory I just made up, but she subscribes to a very specific application of it. Put simply, she loves Woody Allen and his films to the point that she has conversations with the life-size poster of him in her bedroom. She asks for advice, and he replies with dialogue from his movies. The results haven’t exactly been spectacular, but she’s convinced that he knows what he’s talking about. She meets and falls for a young man, but her sister swoops him up and makes him her own. Ten years later and Alice is still single and pining for her sister’s now husband, but things start looking up when she meets a new beau (Yannick Soulier). Except she also meets Victor (Patrick Bruel)… Paris Manhattan is less of a love letter to Allen than it is a mash note as it tries to say a lot in a limited space to varying effect. It finds both romance and comedy in its story, and while they work well enough the 77 minute run-time ensures neither really takes hold.

read more...

stoneshocked

What is Casting Couch? It’s a list of recent casting news. Recent as in, like, the last 24 hours recent. How’s that for service? Today we have news on what’s next for young actors like Craig Roberts and Chloe Moretz. If you were to make a list of dream directors who pretty much every young actor hopes they’re some day going to get to work with, Woody Allen would definitely be near the top of most of them. And if you made a list of all the young actresses who Woody Allen would like to have in his upcoming movies, chances are Emma Stone is somewhere near the top of that one. It’s probably time these crazy kids finally get together then, so Deadline is reporting that Stone is negotiating to star in Allen’s next movie, which is reportedly going to shoot in the south of France. Stone’s charisma and comic timing, Allen’s wit—it sounds like a match made in heaven, doesn’t it?

read more...

easter bunny critters 2

On Easter Sunday, many people watch the old religious film favorites. Just look at today’s TCM schedule to see the epic staples programmed, like King of Kings, The Robe, The Greatest Story Ever Told and Ben-Hur (which Neil highlighted for Scenes We Love last year). They’re also showing the obviously appropriate musical Easter Parade. But there are a lot of other movies that aren’t recognized enough for either being Easter movies or including memorable Easter scenes. Did you know Altman’s Cookies Fortune takes place over Easter weekend? And major events happen on the holiday in such films as Chocolat, Steel Magnolias and Resnais’s The War is Over. Quite suitably, Charlton Heston’s first movie, Dark City, opens with him carrying a gift box with an Easter bunny inside. Six other movies selected here are rarely thought of as Easter movies, if they’re thought of at all. Consider them like hidden eggs ready to be discovered or re-discovered. They’re personal favorites, and we’d like to share them on this holiday to be enjoyed along with your Peeps and jelly beans.

read more...

Culture Warrior

Criticizing the Academy Awards is becoming a tradition as solidified as the Awards ceremony itself. The ink spilled over anticipation of who will come out swinging during Awards season is typically followed by an anticipated – but, when well-argued, often necessary – critique of the pomp and circumstance of the ceremony itself. Now that we’re neck-deep in Presidential election season, the time dedicated to polling, statistics, and manufactured drama all in the service of something ultimately unpredictable resonates alongside the earliest Fall predictions of the Winter’s Awards competitors: no matter the race, we can become hopelessly invested in every detail in the process of competition. As Matt Taibbi stated bluntly in an editorial on the Presidential race, this is not what democratic participation should look or feel like. Nor, for that matter, is immersing oneself in the Kool-Aid of Oscar anticipation what a genuine investment in cinema should look like. While I’ve bloviated more than enough on the Oscars, it’s something different entirely when someone who ostensibly stands to benefit from the institution itself to criticize it, as potential Best Actor nominee Joaquin Phoenix did recently. Perhaps criticizing the Oscars is not the bravest thing a wealthy famous person can do (perhaps), but the exact form that it takes is certainly worthy of attention because such instances evidence certain power relations and possibilities in Hollywood. Why do some Hollywood figures participate in this criticism, and others don’t?

read more...
NEXT PAGE  
Twitter button
Facebook button
Google+ button
RSS feed

published: 12.17.2014
B+
published: 12.15.2014
B
published: 12.12.2014
D+
published: 12.05.2014
C+


Some movie websites serve the consumer. Some serve the industry. At Film School Rejects, we serve at the pleasure of the connoisseur. We provide the best reviews, interviews and features to millions of dedicated movie fans who know what they love and love what they know. Because we, like you, simply love the art of the moving picture.
Fantastic Fest 2014
6 Filmmaking Tips: James Gunn
Got a Tip? Send it here:
editors@filmschoolrejects.com
Publisher:
Neil Miller
Managing Editor:
Scott Beggs
Associate Editors:
Rob Hunter
Kate Erbland
Christopher Campbell
All Rights Reserved © 2006-2014 Reject Media, LLC | Privacy Policy | Design & Development by Face3