Sydney Unleashed

Sydney's #1 Entertainment & Lifestyle Publication

Woody Allen: Cinematic Genius

Woody Allen: Cinematic Genius

Written and directed but not starring the cinematic genius Woody Allen, Irrational Man is an absolute delight combining wacky diverse comedy with serious dramatic undertones all soaring to an invigorating finale designed to shock the audience.

Joaquin Phoenix plays lonely college professor Abe, a bleak individual and existential theorist with a heart of gold. A romantic and intellectual storm brews when Abe meets Jill (Emma Stone) a student and admirer drawn to his artistic personality and winning smile. Looking to escape an unhappy marriage, Rita (Parker Posey) is another admirer and colleague. This threesome are a troubled trio in their own ways in what may seem like just another Woody Allen film on the surface with its quirky banter and situations.

Woody Allen is the winner of four Academy Awards from literally dozens of nominations beginning with classic Annie Hall which shocked many by winning best picture over Rocky and Jaws. He never attends the Los Angeles ceremony preferring to play clarinet with his jazz band in Manhattan only to shock everyone by turning up on stage just after the 9/11 tragedy to entice filmmakers back to New York for future projects.

With too many to list individually here, everyone from lovers of cinema to the casual viewer have experienced a Woody Allen film. Making a movie a year has avid admirers hooked with his diverse always interesting characterisations. Although a public affair with his adopted daughter Soon-Yi Previn broke up his long term marriage to Mia Farrow, the who’s-who of Hollywood line up to star in his films whether it be a walk on bit part (Steve Carrell in Melinda and Melinda) or an unforgettable lead role (Cate Blanchett in Blue Jasmine).

Another muse for Allen perhaps, like Diane Keaton and Scarlett Johansson before her, the wonderful Emma Stone implicates an amazing persona in Irrational Man acting beyond her years. Women in all of Allen’s films are prominent and never the same. Australian Judy Davis is a regular, most recently in From Rome with Love but her peak was Husbands and Wives, the film that took on a whole new meaning being released directly after the Mia Farrow furore and featured Allen kissing a much younger Juliette Lewis. It was a hit.

Popularity is never an issue for the often reclusive Allen quoted as saying he thinks of a movie, writes it, films it and moves immediately onto the next one without thinking too much of any before. He has a knack at casting lesser known starlets in formidable roles such as Charlize Theron who appeared in Curse of the Jade Scorpion and Celebrity. The latter is a satire of fame and when Allen doesn’t star himself, he uses an actor basically playing an undefined Allen type persona. Kenneth Branagh plays the agitated lead fast talker in Celebrity – that is all Woody Allen traits to perfection. John Cusack did an Allen in Bullets over Broadway, Will Ferrell in Melinda and Melinda and Alec Baldwin in Alice. On it goes.

It’s not always comedies that hit the mark in the Allen canon, Everybody Says I love You is a musical that saw the likes of Drew Barrymore, Julia Roberts, Goldie Hawn and Allen himself warble tunes around romantic Italian locales. Ironically Madonna was cast in Shadows & Fog but did not sing. Decent thrillers such as Cassandra’s Dream, Scoop and the flawless Match Point are still laced with comedy but touching the heart like he does with Sweet and Lowdown is also a common denominator during most of his movies.

Not always the critical darling, the highs of an amazing career are equalled with lean periods. Those who remember Anything Else, Whatever Works or Small Time Crooks is a true aficionado. Star of the latter, Hugh Grant did an unprovoked impersonation on a red carpet in Sydney while during her Oscar winning speech for Mighty Aphrodite, Mira Sorvino thanked her director for the respect and taking a chance, something Allen does impeccably with every unique frame of film he cuts together. Long before Forrest Gump, he made Zelig using the same concept of a simple man meeting famous historical dignitaries through real news footage.

His love of movies comes across during all of his stories no matter what the subject. In Purple Rose of Cairo the faux lead (Jeff Daniels) within a movie in the movie steps out of the screen into the picture theatre.

Irrational Man will no doubt gain the attention of the Academy Award troupe come voting time, it’s not only an interesting surprisingly tense film, acting is yet again paramount. Parker Posey is the strongest of the three leads complete with a charming personality and undeniable menace.

My Top 5 Woody Allen flicks: Broadway Danny Rose. Manhattan. Match Point. Hannah and Her Sisters. Vicky Christina Barcelona.

Shane A. Bassett

Sydney Unleashed is one of Australia’s premier entertainment publications exploring the latest in lifestyle trends. From Sydney’s finest restaurants, cafes and bars to the hottest in gadgets, products, and home entertainment, Sydney Unleashed is your one-stop lifestyle platform.