I recently saw Woody Allen’s Manhattan. The reason I couldn’t stand it, just like the Annie Hall movie is obscure though some of the wet blanketing could be because:
- He talks a lot.
- All the women have a drawling accent, as if they are permanently drugged.
- The women have no interesting dialogues, or quirks, or revelations to make. So does everyone, but still they are kind of impoverished in some way. They are either forever confused or highly sensible. I don’t know from where I am thinking up all this. But the bottomline is this, gear up for it: the women are simply unnecessary in the movie.
- Woody seem to come across as confident, bold and fun to the rest of the characters; I find him in both movies a jumpy, narcissistic wreck (slightly exaggerating).
- Everybody talk at the same time. They don’t stop when someone else starts to speak. As if they are all in love with their own voices and their own thoughts, that they harp on it all the time. It seems realistic, but I don’t think that’s always true.
- Another thing is the cinematography. The camera has no connection to what’s going on in the film. It stands where it is, stubborn and bored while the characters go places, even off-screen (well, that might be exaggerating a bit because I really have no evidence to make this accusation).
- The constant focus is on relationships. The characters constantly work on their current situation, status, and thoughts regarding the relationship, so much so that it is tiring to keep up with the tide.
This next movie I saw, as in the Manhattan movie (I forget Annie Hall), began with the establishing shots of tourist landmarks in the city; I recognised the Louvre, Versailles Palace, Notre-Dame, I read “Moulin Rouge” and “Le Monde”. And the final clue was the Eiffel, I felt that’s a really good thing that the director did, leaving the most obvious and easiest clue for the very last. I marvelled at my shrewd and informed discovery and the director’s sense of economy and whatnot, when memory struck me – the name of the movie was Midnight In Paris. Well, that was a blow; it shook me to the utmost core of my critical capabilities. I wondered why someone would waste so much screen space to capture clichéd snaps, when he could have been more imaginative and enterprising.
But then, the director’s point was to capture the beauty of the city and paint the atmosphere for the story with that warm sepia colouring that gave the shots its nostalgic air. Because at least in this film, the protagonist is the place, Paris itself. The central character (Owen Wilson) still talks a lot, but luckily he is stopped short almost always by his fiancee or by his own diffidence, and the other characters and the beauty of the shots are infinitely more interesting that it’s a relief watching finally one Woody Allen movie without feeling crowded with his usual dose of words, words, and more words.
CLOWNIN’ score for Midnight in Paris: 4/5
Annie Hall: 2/5