Thursday, June 2, 2011

Today and Tomorrow

"I'm doomed to want things that aren't things," Ofelia Hunt writes in Today and Tomorrow.

There are plety of things that aren't things in the book. Actually, there isn't anything that is something. There is only ever nothing. Lisbon, New Mexico, Bill Murray are like mantras that are not real that get said to placate reality.

Ofelia Hunt, if she existed, wrote something about metaphor and meaning. She hates them. Metaphors are fake things because they make everything more meaningful than it is. And meaning is meaningless unless it is a lie. And a lie is a metaphor for things that aren't true. And so on.

I felt more strongly about some parts of the novel than others. I wasn't sure about the thin man. And at certain points as it went along it felt more arbitrary than necessary. In her blog, Ofelia often says that she writes and rewrites. And usually that editing process is obvious with precise word choice. But in her novel, she seems to get away from that process. Just a rush of words, a waterfall of sentences. Sometimes.

I felt overwhelmed by it. I wanted to stuff it all inside my brain, but it wouldn't fit. I tried to make a flow chart, but everything flowed into everything else and then into nothing and then into a trash can.

A lot of other reviews like to give a little plot outline about the things that puport to happen in the novel. They are wrong. The trick of the book is to create something out of nothing and vice-versa.

Rendez Vous d'Anna

I've seen a couple of movies by Chantal Akerman. They are all like this. Long and mostly plotless. It's like she likes to push the bounds of cinema, taking it into new directions that are simultaneously banal and beautiful.

Her scenes are more like moving paintings. I kept on thinking of Rothko's subway and Lucien Freud.

She skips over the things other films concern themselves with, focusing on the interim.

There is one scene in which Anna lies in bed listening to the radio for a solid two minutes, which in film feels like forever.

There are a lot of trains and traveling, but also four major conversations.

The first is with a German she picks up and almost has sex with. He tells her about Communism in the 20's and then Nazism in the 30's and all of the aftermath that changed his country.

The second conversation is with her friend Ida who talks to her about the importance of having children.

And then she gets her turn to talk, to her mother about maybe being in love with a woman, or at least kissing her.

The fourth conversation is with her boyfriend or husband, Daniel. "We can't affect what happens. We're just carried along by the current," he says.

I really wished she had never gotten a chance to speak, because I wanted to use this quote from Apathy and Other Small Victories by Paul Neilan: "I've been accused of [being a good listener] all my life. It's like someone who prays every night saying God's a good listener. Just because you're talking to us doesn't mean we're listening." Because basically all four conversations are actually monologues. They just talk and talk.

There are some interesting moments to watch that feel like they are orchestrated to complement the characterization. Like the automatic doors that open and close. Or when she's walking in the train and she seems to get smaller and smaller going through smaller and smaller doors like Alice in Wonderland. Or how there are so many shots of the backs of people's heads. Silhouettes back-lit by lights the car is driving towards.

(Painting credits: George Tooker - Subway, Mark Rothko - Entrance to Subway, Lucien Freud - Girl in a Blanket, Rene Magritte - Not to Be Reproduced, Edward Hopper - Morning Sun)

Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Un Amour de Femme

Jeanne (Helene Fillieres) and David (Anthony Delon) are a happy couple with a son until a chance encounter with a dancer at a party introduces the potential for something more.
Although it is clear that Jeanne is immediately struck by the free-spirited Marie (Raffaela Anderson), their mutual seduction of each other takes more time because if Jeanne’s relationship with her family and the stigma of homosexuality.
“I always order what I don’t like,” Jeanne says about her food which is an obviously thin metaphor for her life choices. She must decide what is best for her and her family: To pursue her own happiness and love or to sacrifice herself to a twisted and broken construct.
The film evokes these complex emotions without relying too heavily on direct discourse. It focuses on the way people look at each other, their body language. Dance is just one of the languages of this nonverbal communication.

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Le Cercle Rouge

The red circle, according to Buddha and the film's epigram, is where everyone who is destined to meet each other will finally meet. In the film, we are introduced to various men at certain arcs of their trajectory towards that circle.

The day before his release from prison, Corey (Alain Delon) is given a tip by a guard on a job once he's out. Corey goes to Rico, his old partner who has repaid his loyalty by stealing his woman. In return, Corey helps himself to the money in Rico's safe. Which obligates Rico to send some thugs after him. One thing always leads to another.

Meanwhile, Vogel (Gian Maria Volonté), the perpetrator of some unknown crime, escapes from custody and hides in the trunk of Corey's car. Corey provides Vogel's freedom and Vogel returns the favor by killing Rico's thugs. They win each other's trust the only way criminals can, by further implicating themselves in crime. It is a single-direction trip that can only gain momentum.

Inspector Matthei (André Bourvil) is the Spencer Tracy look-alike who was supposed to be guarding Vogel when he escaped. He is the Lt. Philip Gerard to Vogel's Fugitive. He is a good guy, but he has to prove himself to the head of Internal Affairs who asserts, "No one is innocent. All men are guilty."

To round out the team implementing the plan leaked to Corey in jail, Vogel recommends Jansen (Yves Montand), an alcoholic ex-cop with demons and issues of his own to work out.

And last there is Santi (François Périer) who is sort of the bridge between crime and punishment, as it were. He's the bar owner/ mob tie that is Matthei's best link to finding Vogel. Like all of the men, he operates by a code, honor among thieves, and won't rat them out. Unless, of course, he does.

Director Jean-Pierre Melville (Bob le Flambeur, Le Samourai) is very good at taking each man at an exact moment somewhere in the middle of their stories and very subtly exposing their entire history.

Coming towards the end of his career, Le Cercle Rouge is supposed to be a culmination of everything Melville has learned from his experiences making crime films. It's his own private red circle, so to speak.

In terms of pacing and mood, it is much more akin to The Asphalt Jungle than The Italian Job. It is not focused on action, but slowly and evocativley building real characters. They may be guilty but they are not amoral. It is each person's sense of duty or honor which propel them to their ineluctable end.

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

You Will Meet a Tall, Dark Stranger

An older couple going through their 3/4-life crises turn to spiritual and physical respites. She turns to a psychic and he marries a girl half his age. But the spirituality is occultic hocum and the girl ends up sleeping with men her own age.

Meanwhile, one generation down, they are having their own 2/5-life crises. But this time they both dabble in the hopes of love outside of marriage with the addition of literature and art. He struggles to make good on the promise of his first successful novel and she wants to open her own gallery. But neither one succeed.

It's like there are no solutions.

"Sometimes the illusion works better than the medicine," the narrator says at the end of the movie. But in the end, the illusions fail as well. The writer thought that by being with the girl next door and stealing a dead man's novel, he could have it all. But he ends up looking back across the way at his own wife, and the dead man turns out not to be dead. The artist thinks that all she has to do is express her desire for her boss and borrow money from her mother, but her boss doesn't reciprocate her feelings and her mother doesn't loan her the money.

It was all an illusion: eternal youth, spirits or stars guiding the future, the notion of romantic love, the ability to express oneself through art. And how much good did any of it do them?

It's kind of a cynical message, given the bulk of Woody Allen's work.

Whatever Works

"You gotta take what little pleasure you can find in this chamber of horrors," Larry David says for Woody Allen at the beginning of the movie.

The solution to the silence of god and the terror of death is love, or sex, whichever you can manage.

The problem with this movie is the jokes. They're just not funny. They are either throw-away quips that are only funny on paper, like when Larry gets a panic attack and Evan Rachel Wood turns on the television to calm him.
"I saw the abyss," Larry says.
"Don't worry, we'll watch something else."
Whereas the other jokes get hit repeatedly on the head with a dead fish.

This isn't my favorite movie of Woody Allen's. Usually when he returns to older material it is during a period of stagnation. But he'd just been putting out some really mature and worthwhile movies. So it's suprising this vehicle originally written for Zero Mostel flopped so badly.

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Vicky Cristina Barcelona

Vicky has normal values, Cristina pursues the alternative lifestyle and Barcelona is the place that offers the opportunity to remain exactly the same.

"[Cristina's] contempt for normal values is boring and cliche," Vicky's husband says. But it is he who is boring, talking trivially over the beautiful Spanish guitar.

It's ironic that Woody Allen uses a narrator who just sounds like he is saying: "Blah blah blah." I mean, why was it necessary for him to narrate that they walked around taking photographs, when it is clearly depicted by the scene? The use of narration was over-bearing and might have been the things keeping me from truly enjoying the film.

It's ambivalent what the moral is supposed to be. I'm tempted to say "whatever works" because it's a line from not just this movie but a couple of Woody Allen's others. But what is working in this movie? Does it mean whatever is working in this particular moment? Ignoring the inevitable ruin that is being driven towards? Because none of the relationships that arose were really working or could have worked for a prolonged period. And so everyone just goes back to status quo. Maybe that is what works. Some people live according to social structures, some pursue romantic passion and others are chronically dissatisfied no matter what they try.

"We are alive," Javier Bardem says, which seems to be the only common bond. Life is too short to worry about how other people choose to pursue happiness. It is too fraught with pain and the fear of death. This moment is the one in which we live. And yet most of us are too scared to be alive in that moment.

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Cassandra's Dream

There is a different feeling to Cassandra's Dream that I couldn't quite identify at first. Something new for Woody Allen. I thought it was the English locale, but this was his third movie there. I finally figured out what it was: the score. I'm pretty sure this was his first film with new music scored for it, and by Philip Glass no less.

"I think it's a very moral play [or film]... about evil, about fate. I do think that the writing is very pessimistic. And all that stuff about life being a tragic experience."
"I think we make our own fate," Ewan McGregor says. "I believe that."

Ewan McGregor and Colin Farrell are two sides of the same coin. They're both in need of help. But where Ewan wants to springboard a new career and love life, Colin needs to dig himself out of bad gambling debts. The themes of chance, luck and fate are all tightly interwoven so that the seemingly only window for freedom is the very means of entrapment.

Their uncle is the family benefactor who is always at hand to improve the lives of his family. And now, when they need him more than ever, he needs them as well to get himself out of some very serious trouble. It's a kind of Hitchcockian quid pro quo scenario.

But because Colin is the dark side of the force, his brooding undoes him. He is racked with guilt until he forces a confrontation, pitting the sides of the coin against each other.

This seems a companion piece to Match Point. It is tonally and thematically similar with the lighter, creamier Scoop sandwiched in the middle.

Sunday, April 10, 2011


Joe Strombel is a journalist who's just gotten the scoop of a lifetime. The only problem is, he's dead.

On the other side of the grave he gets a tip that Peter Lyman, famous and politically-aspiring son of Lord Lyman, may very well be the as-yet-uncaught Tarot card killer.

This movie may be full of improbabilities, but I still like it. I'm not just talking about the beyond the grave stuff. First: why is Scarlett Johansson hanging out with a magician? Second: besides that it's Scarlett Johannsson, it is a little unlikely that Peter would just happen to fall in love with her.

This isn't one of Woody Allen's serious movies, nor does it plumb his personal relationships or neuroses. It's just a good old fashioned murder mystery.

Monday, April 4, 2011

Match Point

Woody Allen returns to the theme of Crimes and Misdemeanors: a man kills his mistress because he can't leave a wife he doesn't love. "Despair is the path of least resistance."

Every flaw I saw in Crimes and Misdemeanors was tightened for Match Point. It was more subtle if maybe a little too drawn out.

Jonathan Rhys Meyers never made it successfully as a tennis pro because, as one of his opponents pointed out, the ball fell too often on his side of the net. Luck, Jonathan would call it, or the lack of it. But it is this very failure of his that makes the difference in the end. What is unlucky in one situation might be lucky in another. Coming right after Melinda and Melinda, Match Point seems a much better contemplation on how one moment could be considered either tragic or, if not comic, at least lucky.

This is Woody's first serious movie in thirteen years and I think he really made the most of it.

Sunday, March 27, 2011

Melinda and Melinda

The first thing someone (me) might notice about Melinda and Melinda is the person of color on the DVD cover. It brings up a complex issue of race and Woody Allen's vision of New York (and the world). I don't particularly feel up to the task of pursuing it, but I did find this dialogue between two random and anonymous strangers that I will let stand in place of any comment I might make. I do think the issue is an interesting one, and my contribution to the conversation, if I were technologically savvy, would be to embed a clip from Everyone Says I Love You right here: [x]. Obviously, I am not technologically savvy, so I will have to describe the scene. First of all, Everyone Says I Love You is full of diverse ethnicities. But my favorite example is from the very end where the narrator says she has recently been seeing a rapper and there's a shot of him with actual rapping which is so unconventional for a Woody Allen movie.

Now that that's over with, we can look at the actual movie which has nothing to do with race. The premise is that the same story can be told as a tragedy or a comedy, depending on your outlook. The ramification being that it is a microcosm of life. But first of all, it isn't the same story, and secondly, I didn't find the tragedy to be tragic nor the comedy funny.

I don't know if this movie would have been better if it had obeyed its own premise more precisely. It would have become redundant with slight differentiations enhancing each element. Or it could have been Rashomon. Because the idea is that you can read the same story as either tragic or comic. Not that you can retell the skeleton of a story two completely different ways with different results. But that was what Melinda and Melinda did.

Tragedy, in the words of Richard Dreyfus from Rosencrantz and Guildenstern Are Dead, is when "the bad end unhappily, the good unluckily." I'm not going to say that the Melinda of the tragic story deserved what she got, but she did drive herself there. I failed to find it compelling or convincing as a tragic story. "I'm one of those heroines too high-strung for existence on this planet," Melinda admits. "Although I brought my worst troubles on myself." And the only thing funny about the comedy part was Will Ferrell who probably would have been even funnier if he hadn't just been doing Woody Allen.

You'd think that this would be the ultimate expression of Woody Allen's oeuvre considering he is always pitting his humor against pathos. There are his funny movies and there are his serious movies. But never before has he so extremely attempted to divest them of each other diametrically. Which is what, unfortunately, keeps it from congealing into a whole.

Anything Else

Jason Biggs plays a character who is a bear rug in a grizzly bear world. He just lies down and lets everyone walk all over him, and they take every opportunity to do so.

My theory is that Woody Allen has traveled from the future to alter his own history. That was why they were wearing the same outfit when they met. Woody wants to impart some post-9/11 constructive paranoia in himself so that he will get out of New York before the planes hit the fan.

"It's very important you learn to depend only on yourself," Woody says about masturbation. But he intends for Jason to apply it to his life.

There are some pretty funny quips peppered through the beginning of the movie, but they kind of die out at about the same time as my interest. I think when I first saw this movie I thought it was "not bad." And that's about all I can say for it now, unless my theory about time travel is true. I suppose it is as true as anything else.

Hollywood Ending

It's been ten years since Woody Allen's character has made a good movie. He's derisively referred to as an "auteur genius." But when his ex-wife gives him a chance to make a comeback movie, he's stricken with psychosomatic blindness.

It's interesting to note that ten years is how long Woody has been with Soon-Yi, his step-daughter whom he later married. Also the blindness of the movie was caused by his estranged relationship with his son. Which must mirror Woody's feelings about his own estranged son.

I've often suggested an autobiographical approach to reading Woody Allen's films. And I've been waiting to see how he would depict his relationship with his step-daughter. It's sort of a very delicate issue because on one hand, I know that a lot of people like to dismiss him as a pedophile and refuse to watch his movies on that basis. But I take a more practical view point in which I don't let any error of judgment in his personal life affect my viewing of his movies. Because in the end, I believe that Woody really wants to rewrite his life. To put a kind of Hollywood ending on the messy aspects of life that maybe he regrets. Although I don't really think he regrets being with Soon-Yi. But it is interesting that, given the chance to depict his Hollywood ending, he chooses to return to his ex-wife (whoever that may represent in Woody's actual life).

I don't think my interpretation is far-fetched. "In order to make movies, you have to think about the audience. You have to. Otherwise, you're just making movies for yourself, like artistic masturbation... You're a narcissist," one character says to Woody Allen. To which he replies: "I'm a classic narcissist then." Woody's movies aren't primarily made for us, for me to blog about them. They are made for himself, "to produce a kind of working through-situation so that [he] can get in touch with feelings [he] didn't know [he] had," as he said in Manhattan.

The Curse of the Jade Scorpion

Small Time Crooks only gave the promise of a caper which may have whetted Woody's appetite to make a full-fledged noir/comedy.

You get the feeling that he is playing, having fun with the genre. His back-and-forth bantering is not meant to be taken seriously and is hilarious.

The basic premise is that Woody Allen is an insurance investigator who has run afoul of the new efficiency supervisor, Helen Hunt. She wants to streamline and update things and he lives by his his instincts and street code. But when they're both hypnotized, a pandora's box is opened where jewel thievery seems uncannily unsovlable and laten longing is brought to the fore.

I'm not even tempted really to dig around and see if there is anything to assist my thesis about Woody's autobiographical method of film-making. Ok, so I'm a little tempted. But this is such a fun film. It may not be a great film, but it is light hearted and happy ending, and that is enough for me.

Friday, March 18, 2011

Small Time Crooks

This is the first movie in a long time where Woody doesn't play an urban intellectual. You know, there's always a novelist, editor, director, something. I try not to read too much into his movies, but it makes me think he's gone back to his Take the Money and Run period.

The movie starts out with this Ladykillers-esque idea to buy an empty pizza joint and tunnel into a nearby bank. Woody's wife, Frenchy (Tracey Ullman), would be the front, selling cookies. But the front is an actual success where the robbery is not. They become rich but not happy. Frenchy wants to be civilized and cultured, but Woody misses having cheeseburgers. In the end, everything returns to status quo.

Woody Allen likes the finer things like Brecht and Bergman, but he also likes baseball and bimboes.
I also thought that it was interesting that his character preferred to make an honest living by stealing than to live a fake life off honestly-earned income.

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Sweet and Lowdown

Emmet Ray was the second-best jazz guitarist in the world, according to this faux bio-pic.

"You keep your feelings all locked up and you can't feel nothing for anybody else," Emmet's girl tells him.
"You say that like it's a bad thing. Some terrible things happen to people in love. I know, I've seen it. I enjoy the company of women. I love 'em. It's just that I don't need 'em. I guess, you know, that's the way it is when you're a true artist... I let my feelings come out through my music."
"Maybe if you let your feelings out in real life, then your music would be even better."

This sounds like echoes of Woody Allen. But it is also genuine to the character.
Emmet is the lowdown part of the movie. He is crass and emotionally withdrawn. Until he meets sweet Hattie. Hattie possesses the one quality I prefer in women: speechlessness. Just kidding. Samantha Morton is terrific as the mute girl who is the only woman Emmet ever loves, if he would only admit it to himself.

This movie is one of Woody Allen's saddest for me.


Every decade, Woody Allen is in fewer of his own movies, but there is always a surrogate. This time it is Kenneth Brannagh and he is a struggling writer. He goes from travel writing to screenplays and then a novel. He also can't stick to any woman. There doesn't seem to be any real substance in this Altmanesque film. This is supposed to be Woody's take on "a society in which everyone is famous," to borrow a line from the movie. And it is full of celebrities. But they don't do anything. Maybe that's the critique. That celebrity is a facade and the notion of notriety is shallow at best. Even if that were true, I don't know if it makes the movie exactly a scathing commentary. I think that the later Small Time Crooks, although not directly about celebrities, is a much more astute indictment of success in the supposed American dream.

Friday, March 4, 2011

Deconstructing Harry

1. Deconstruction in literature is the process of examining contradictions in a text to prove that there is no one truth. There are multiple interpretations of meaning. At the end of the movie, someone says that although Harry's stories are sad, she enjoys deconstructing them to find the happiness that lies underneath.

2. Deconstructivism is a movement (especially in architecture) that focuses on fragmentation as a source of stylistic innovation. The outward manifestation of inner struggle.

3. Woody Allen plays a writer writing about writers who lately has a writing block although he is being honored for his work. The not being able to write about writing about writing telescopes the film so that we look at it very closely, so close as to obscure the metaphor.

4. Through his stories and flashbacks, Harry's relationship with women is seen as a series of failures and now he can't get anyone to go with him to the honoring ceremony except a prostitute.

5. "I can't love," Woody Allen says. He goes from one doomed relationship to another because he knows that if he ever stays with any one person he will be unveiled for the miserable person he is.

6. "You put your art in your work. I put it in my life," Billy Crystal's character tells Woody Allen. He returns to the idea that although he might not know how to live, he can reinterpret things in art and try to redeem himself.

7. "This is not a book. We are not characters in a fictional... thing," Woody Allen tells Elisabeth Shue. Which is simultaneously true and not true. The internal contradiction of the statement proves the deconstruction that Woody Allen is performing in this movie. He is simultaneously hiding himself through fiction and revealing himself. "It's me thinly disguised. In fact, I don't even think I should disguise it anymore. It's me."

Everyone Says I Love You

I'm trying to disentangle my loathing of the musical form from my criticism of Woody Allen. It's almost impossible. I mean, I get the whole suspension of disbelief thing which seems natural to a Woody Allen film. But that doesn't mean I have to like it. But even if I were to disregard the music entirely (which you really can't do; it's not a topical ointment), I still don't think I would have really liked this movie.

There aren't any strong characters. Everyone seemes to be filmed obliquely. I don't think I once saw the narrator's face straight on. Edward Norton is miscast as a sort of Woody Allen impersonator. Natalie Portman just stands in the background eating sandwiches.

There's a lot of puddle jumping from New York to Paris to Italy for no real reason except to provide exotic backgrounds.

It's not very romantic. Granted, there's always a boy-loses-girl moment in the RomCom formula. But when Drew Barrymore leaves Edward Norton for an excon, even if it was compulsive and ill-planned, she gives a pretty good reason for not being with Norton: he's a gerbil. So that when boy gets girl back, it seems disingenuous. And then there is Woody Allen's seduction of Julia Roberts. He uses information she confided to her psychiatrist to fake his way into her fantasies. And it works. But he doesn't really love her and she doesn't love him, so of course it doesn't last. No relationship really ends up perfectly like in your typical RomCom. I guess for that I can be grateful. But it's just odd that the romantic climax of the movie is Woody kissing his ex-wife who is remarried. Despite all the earmarks of the musical romantic comedy, it never fully is one.

There were a few moments where the format of the musical actually enhanced the humor, like when the homeless bum started singing or the guy in the wheelchair was dancing. So I think I liked the ideas of the movie's premise (which I'm not thoroughly convinced were intentional). Subverting the musical romantic comedy with an imperfect ending and unexpected, maybe even self-contradictory elements. But actually having to watch it made my nose bleed.

Thursday, March 3, 2011


I like Ofelia's description of this cover.


The ninja untied his shoes so fast. The ninja slipped through the door crack and kicked off his slippers. The ninja opened and closed the door so fast it was like he had walked through it, not even a click was allowed to escape from the lock slipping back into its bolt.

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Words Replacing Words Replacing Words

Kenneth Koch (whom Ofelia called the Kurt Vonnegut of poetry) wrote a poem, "The Brassiere Factory" and then Ofelia replaced some of the words in it to make "Government Film Society, or Something," of which I have replaced some of the words.

"One Whore Moans Best"

Is Grover meant to be a flaming gay, he, Liam,
Warmed by a moral waffle zebra, 40 tunes and
Emotional pitchers swamp of soda! Eyes washer and only
If beasts would kink undo Zorro's fine ass
Unto the halo zamfir often armoire
Canned amoebas slain
Icky albumen
Or an age off humble oaken incest shat
The water's gross butt-white buff, a low wand
Thin a shunned erection ass 'til
4 hours can wide owls, eels, with our licker?
And yell, "Ow!" aches
Staring lightweight foiled zebra farts on you
Offer tits and pies
Alms and our mural
One whore moans best hammered us
Undewed bent harmed bike locks
Width uses daiquiris my sheen gums and dicing thick anglers
Anklers show deli tightful bust ill warfield always
Undo dun bear hair or plain
4 hallways now and riots full of sheepless thistle taste
Them ill attendants chained dwarf angers top oops and
Eye pun is head of ewe euphoria chew chimp
Fort anchors amp crop abscess gout murderess lies in thermal
Underwear then unfill mustard thick radon
The air swims purring total
Lie prone upon the shit
Warmed by our mortal wealth-themed deities
Intoned a hefty beau cherry
And food stank stops for wearing on both breasts Mabeline

Ofelia Should Return My Emails

I don't know who Pirooz Kalayeh is, but he got to interview Ms. Hunt. She has still not returned any of my emails.

He says that her stories "weld together reality and interior examinations." Is that true?

OH says she's interested in lying: "I want my characters to also lie in this way," i.e., in a way that is elaborate and convincing.

She refers to Stephen Dixon, who, ok I get it, is an inspiration and someone I should read.

She talks about the "attempt to get to that level of concentration where writing is very easy and enjoyable." There is nothing more frustrating than not being at that place and trying to ge there. Because then writing becomes impossibly painful.

"I think [it is a distraction] when the sentences consistently have too many words." This is something I've probably utmostly admired about Ofelia, her exactitude in word usage.

"I feel like there is no truth and that all people create their own truth through some kind of personal perception, frame of reference, context etc..." This is almost exactly the idea behind my story, "Maybe Maybe."

We're so alike, Ofelia.

Review of Reviews

Ofelia has reviewed 31 books on Goodreads. I was kind of curious what books she liked and maybe she would say how they influenced her or whatever. So I read her reviews. I'd read 9 of the books she reviewed. Some of her descriptions of books made me want to read them, like What's for Dinner by James Schuyler, The Second Marriage by Frederick Barthelme, Frances Johnson by Stacey Levine, and My Life by Anton Chekhov.

She said that Vacation by Deb Olin Unferth was her favorite book the year she read it and made her write Vacation imitation stories, which means now I'm going to have to read it and see if that's true. "Understanding things is delusional or something," she wrote about Moon Deluxe by Frederick Barthelme, which is something Ofelia seems to want to foster through her own stories.

I think I've tried reading Stephen Dixon before unsuccessfully. But Ofelia seems to really like him. "Stephen Dixon can write how I think," she says.

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Poems That Have the Word Poem in the Title Poem

Poems that have the word "poem" in the title are what?
I'm not really even sure what a manatee is.
In other poems and/or stories, Ofelia Hunt mentions:
Dolphins, elephants, whales, seals and penguins.
Maybe a manatee is a combination of these.
I feel like maybe it is Ofelia's mission
To keep writing until every word
Is cross-referenced in every other
Story/poem of hers.

A Contemplation of Words

This poem has these words.

"Don't" - well, that's 2 words, isn't it, mushed together. do - action,
                 to make an act, factually. not - the opposite of that.
                 taken together = to keep from doing an action, being
                 still or dormant, deadlike

"rob" - that's like stealing, but more precisely, maybe needing a
             weapon, but isn't that armed robbery?

"the" - article (not of clothing) denoting particulation or

"bank" - money-putting place, or side of river

"From" - ok, so that's a preposition, to me it indicates a reverse
                movement, receding away. "used as a function word
                to indicate the starting or focal point of an activity"
                ~ Merriam Webster

"here" - the point or place where one is, any location designated
               by the positioning of the person of reference

"to" - homynym of either 2 or, also, too. the expanse of
           juxtaposing positions, transitioning between

"somewhere" - a vague locale, nonspecific, perhaps unknown

"else" - as opposed to this one; other

"My" - yours, if you were speaking. belonging to the owner of
              this word

"eventual" - wait for it, it hasn't happened yet, but it is going to.
                       future tense of "event"

"bloodless" - no blood, whatever that is. the lack or absence of
                         a thing called blood

"coup" - eg: de ville = not. "a highly, successful, unexpected, act,
                or move; a clever action or accomplishment"

"I" - the person who is speaking, first person singular, presumably
         the author, or some other unknown I (you? me?)

"have" - to be in possession of, to own, to be holding

"a" - this article is one but not specifically

"monocle" - it literally means "one eye," so it could mean cycloptic.
                      but typically refers to a single eye glass worn by
                      fancy pants in the 1800's and Planters Peanut's
                      mascot, Mr. Peanut.

"Smash" - onomatopoeic word for the sound of one hand clapping
                    if it is made of glass

"them" - those other guys

"onto" - kind of like this: an arching arrow with the tip pointing
               down at a flat plane

"windshields" - typically of a car, being the front glass acting
                             as a shield against not only wind but also
                             insects and other potential objects that would
                             otherwise smash into the driver's face.

But then I read what Amber wrote and thought, "oh, shit, me too."

I am Five (#6)

I think there is something about writing more than one story in which certain facts overlap but other facts do not. Ofelia writes about Madison again.

[This is one exhibit of why I think maybe Ofelia is a candy nihilist. She writes about making a boat out of the bones and what-not of a sunbathing lady.]

I think, I think by writing certain things repeatedly, it is assimilating the aspect of fact. So that fact and fiction rub against each other like sexy kittens. One is a cat and one is a fat man dressed in a cat costume.

Or, maybe these things actually happened or are real. There is no symbolism or intention only pure unexpurgated confession. These are the things that happened. This is how they happened. I-5 is not a metaphor, it's a fucking highway.

Expert Hunter

"Sometimes I talk to comfort people," Ofelia writes in "I Take His Picture."

I want to be the foremost Ofelia Hunt scholar. I want people to come to me to ask for elucidation upon texts. I want to be her expert.

I want to know what Ofelia is thinking when she sits down to write a story about killing her brother and boyfriend (not the same person). Even if they aren't her brother or boyfriend.

She thinks, "I am going to write a story."

There are a million stories that could be written. I've written some of them. Ofelia's written some of them. But now she must write another one. Sometimes she writes to comfort people. But now she wants people to be uncomfortable. She wants them to be dead.

She thinks about how you take a shot with a camera but also a gun. You take a picture and you take a life. She thinks about the things that someone might expect her to write about photography and brothers and boyfriends and guns. She writes those things, but also other unexpected things. She writes about the blown-away bits of her brother and the parts of her body where they might end up. I don't know why.

Pop Poetry

Things that are specific make things that are absurd more so. Which is why OH's poems (and others who do this same sort of thing) drop pop culture references like Warhol. And things that are cruel make things that are nice better. And I don't know, something about irony, unless it is not ironic.

Monday, February 28, 2011

Die, Chotomies!

There are all sorts of dichotomies in ""Eat or die" is only an unpleasant threat." There is candy and there is destruction. There is love but also confusion. Prison and Safeway. Eating or dying. What's the difference or significance of apples vs. coconuts. Do you know? Lettuce vs. spinach. Disapproval vs. approbation. The flesh of hands but being oversized and machine-like. "I didn't like being in prison but I lifted weights a lot." What do the dichotomies mean? What does it mean that the last sentence is "I don't know what I mean"?

Baby Quiz

Baby Quiz

1. Name another work of Ophelia's having anything at all to do with babies.

2. Is the lung gray or black?

3. Is the lung a baby or vice-versa?

4. Is the baby a stomach?

5. Why was the baby bleeding?

6. Who is Simon?

True or False:

Babies come from stomachs.

Babies are like meat.

"I Will Video Myself Watching Myself Write This Poem" is a funny poem

"I Will Video Myself Watching Myself Write This Poem" is a funny poem.

"I did not shop on Black Friday" is funny because you're supposed to. "Because little boys would trample me" is funny because they are little boys but they are trampling. "For VCRs at Best Buy" is funny because what year was this written. The XX has a funny song called "VCR" which is funny because they were born after the VCR was extinct. I don't know when Ofelia was born. "I would hamstring these boys" is funny because I like ham. I had a ham sandwich for lunch. Also violence against children is funny. "Then tear their throats out and scream" see? "Until they became zombies" used to be funny but is not as funny as it used to be. "And lurched toward me" is funny because the word "lurch" is funny. It is a portmanteau of lean, burp and crouch. "Through the strip-mall shopping center" might not be funny. If it is funny, it has something to do with "strip-mall." That could be funny. "I would scream and run very fast" is not funny. "And trip over somebody's parents" is very funny. "And the zombies would slowly feast on my blood" is funny even if zombies aren't as funny anymore. It's still funny that they do everything slowly, even feast. "I knew all this would happen" is almost funny. "So I went to Denny's with my boyfriend instead" is funny because Denny's is funny. "For pancakes and coffee" is hysterical. "And we saw Tom Cruise and his baby" is uncomfortably funny. "And I stole his baby I told the baby" is increasingly discomfortably funny. Not funnier, but less comfortable. ""You are important you are a terrorist" is not funny because it is the truth. "Because one baby is like any other baby" is not funny as it was the first time I'd read it in something else by Ofelia. "And baby terrorists are more effective" is not funny again, less funny because we already know that. "Than non-baby terrorists" is actually kind of funny. "But the baby cried for a while" is funny because I hate babies. "So we left it in a bed of lettuce at Safeway" is really really really funny. "And Tom Cruise became a zombie" is not funny because it is true. "And feasted on our blood" is moderately funny. "But I filmed him and black-mailed him" is building up to being funny. "And now I'm on cable television" is the funniest.

Whales Comma Elephants

Reynard Seifert (I think) said about the story, "The Whales and Elephants Were Happier When," that "the style's pleasant and it leaves so much room open yet it gives me the images I need to feel like I'm unwrapping a candy bar..." in his blog Music for Books.
It made me sad a little bit thinking about the pieces of Stanley and the parents being paid to sit in offices. And how quietly it moves forward and up ladders.

Sunday, February 27, 2011

Critical Analysis of a Story

I went to quizzo on Sunday night. There were eight people on my team so they deducted two points from us. We lost by two points.

When I came home it was only midnight-something so I read a story by Ofelia called "Request" or something.

The first word of the story was "Wal-Mart?"

When I was a teenager I worked at Wal-Mart. It wasn't my first job. I worked at a cash register where they kept track of how fast you rang people up. I found that if I signed off and on and off and on, my score would go up. Like a video game.

They moved me out into the parking lot where there was a bunch of overstock merchandise nobody wanted. I didn't do anything for hours at a time.

There is a girl named Madison in the story and I have a sister named Madison. Madison has brown hair and brown eyes. In the story or in my family?

There are white tips of Converses and Converses do have white tips. Some people write words on the white tips. Other people write other things which are not words. I never wrote either words or not words on my Converses because the tips of mine were black.

The "I" character of a story is not necessarily or usually the author. "I explain this to Madison," the "I" character says or is written by Ofelia Hunt. Did she?

There is a man in a blue vest in the story, which is factually accurate for someone working at Wal-Mart. I owned a blue vest, or one was given to me. I also had a name tag that was clipped to the vest. It had my name typed on it in capital letters. When Ofelia writes, "'My name’s George.' George points to the name tag on his blue vest," she knows it is true. The name on the tag was "GEORGE," even though the story doesn't say that.

I had a friend in high school who never went into a Wal-Mart without stealing a tie. He had a lot of ties.

Madison asked if Wal-Mart has pornography. It doesn't. Or, not the one I worked at. Later, when I worked at Starbucks, some female employees got in trouble for posing for Playboy in their uniforms.

Things start getting weird, in case you didn't think there had been anything weird about the story so far. They talk about closet people who might get stabbed with sticks. The closet people are a theme. They recur.

The first time I read this story, something reminded me of a story by Lindsay Hunter but I can't remember what it was or what story. No, I just remembered. It was the thing about the penis. I think the story was called "Peggy's Brother," but I could be wrong.

Some other things happen, but I don't feel like it's the happening that is important. I stopped working at Wal-Mart. I stopped working at Starbucks. I started writing stories. But my stories were never like this story. In this story, like Ofelia's other stories, every word is, if not perfect, perfectly placed.

In her blog, she writes: "As I write a story, I must constantly edit the story. To write anything new, I have to read through everything I've written before, make little changes, and finally add a paragraph or two before I quit. This is taking for-fucking-ever."

I like it when George talks about whether or not the dirt pile is combustible. I wonder if it was. I used to try to figure out which of my household liquids were flammable. Packing peanuts are. They melt and shrivel.

Today I Read 5

I am reading these poems right now as I am writing this, writing and reading at the same time. With my right eye I read about spilt milk and with the left eye I see a spelling mistake I made. I think that these five poems are somehow related to each other, to me. Like maybe a third cousin. "Devour," "Torn," and "Explode" are words from the titles of the poems that support my thesis. "Message," and "Little" are words that might not support my thesis, but certainly don't contradict it. Ofelia's breasts are caterpillars, she says, and she says that her lungs are tiny like little cyborgs, and she says she says that her bones are full of milk and that her quadriceps are torn and her fingers are spare. And I am writing that she wrote that.

4 poems

I like Ofelia's stories better than her poems. Why? I don't know. Maybe I just don't get poetry. That's ridiculous. Well, what then? Surely it has nothing to do with the poems. You're here to laud her work, not disparage it. Oh, no. No no no no no. Definitely not disparage. It's me. It's my fault. I bear the blame of not getting her poems. Every nuance and insinuation.

here is a haiku:
Ofelia Hunt's
Four poems on two websites
Will destroy you

The poems are found in Apocryphal Text (1&2) and Dusie (3&4).

1. "When I'm alone I listen to the radio because there're human-beings there and I/ can feel them radiating around me." This makes me sad and reminds me of some of her other stories in which characters listen to the radio. The radio is sad especially talk radio or stations on the right side of the dial that have too much DJ shout-outs or too many commercials that talk so fast you don't want to know what they are saying but you wish that they intended you to hear it without getting some kind of awful headache. But I guess it is the sound of voices, of other larynxes and esophagi making noises in the cold dark night of your sad and isolated existence that make you want to turn the radio on even if it is only for that, even if it is especially for that.

2. "I'd only destroy" See what I'm taking about when I call her work candy nihilism? Candy that tastes like fried chicken.

3. The comfort of everything contained in self-accomodating that-which-goes-with-you in the face of the end of everything that is comfortable.

4. I think it has something to do with her bikini tan line and a rage that will never go out.

Ofelia Hunt

I discovered Ofelia a few months ago perusing the backwaters of online literary zinedom. I found her in a website called Bear Parade.

She has a collection of stories there called My Eventual Bloodless Coup which is exactly like J.D. Salinger's Nine Stories in the fact that there are nine of them.

I've dubbed Ofelia's writing "candy nihilism" because, although she is sweet, she is also destructive. She tends to write about unhappy relationships and hurting people. But in a nice way.  "I don't think that the little children are thinking about anything because all little children are selfish nihilists because they just want to have fun all the time and ignore the world and drink soda and eat candy, which is why the world is meaningless and boring and stupid." ("I Want the Glass Panel Tinted")

Here are some notes I took while reading My Eventual Bloodless Coup.

"Don't Slide the Couches" - mother's peg leg. recants and negations.

"I Want the Glass Panel Tinted" - "I don't necessarily want to remove these pieces of myself." things about nihilism = soda + candy.

"The Refrigerator Divides Also" - breathing/ not breathing/ air molecules in a refrigerator. "Nobody tells me what to do."

"I Am Happy Today, I Think" - more things about communism. eating peanut butter. "I stepped into a puddle." more Pepsi product placement. the reduction of consumerism to an equivalent transaction of products for currency. is Safeway a pun/metaphor?

"It Is Flat There and You Will Be Happier" - more things about happiness: the desire for lack of desire, flatness, swimming penguins, going to the bathroom, cleanliness, the radio, commercials for wine, windows, waving, ice cream.

"Quietly" - kissing after cutting off cat heads. she writes the word "tongue" as if she had one. kittens as a symbol of something.

"Penguins Swim Around" - more things about zoos, penguins, hondas, npr, i think there is something about being normal in the face of adversity.

"One Baby is Like Any Other Baby" - more things about boyfriends. leather = animal skin. more rain. this time commercials on the radio are sad. "sporadic clumps." the name Christopher Walken ten times. sex in a movie theater? the f word. being kidnapped again but not being a kid. is a burlap bag the same thing as a canvas sack?

"The Room is Full of Me" - "Chris says 'I don't understand.'" why doesn't she ever like the person? lurid brow. i think about the fact that she is sitting on the toilet too much. i wonder if the phrase "I should be disqualified as a human being" is inspired by No Longer Human by Osamu Dazai? "I feel alternately like an alien and like a robot."

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Mighty Aphrodite

Woody Allen and Helena Bonham Carter are married and decide to adopt a child. But then a few years pass and Woody decides to track the mother down. She turns out to be Mira Sorvino and a hooker/ porn star. So Woody tries to help turn her life around and maybe sleep with her.

I think what I don't like about the humor of this movie is that it is frivolous. There might not be anything wrong with frivolity. It may even be vital. But I just don't find myself being pulled along into the conga line. For example, a lot of the humor comes from the Greek chorus. But there's just something about taking a punch line and having it delivered by twenty people in unison that grates my nerves. And the winking nature of the anachronisms. Although I did like it when Woody asked one of the chorus members for a pencil when he was taking a phone message.

Mira won an Oscar for this role. Why, because she had that goofy voice and played a ditz? Sorry, I'm not buying it.

Don't Drink the Water

During the Cold War, an American family is caught in an embassy in Russia. I don't think the plot really matters, as this movie is more like a Marx Brothers' in terms of zany hijinks.

I didn't like this movie the first time I saw it, but it isn't entirely horrible. There were some funny parts. It's light and frivolous (which I will come back to later).

I think that this is a period for Woody Allen where he is really trying to stay away from the material that had been inspired by his relationship with Mia Farrow. He isn't doing the urban marital relationships so much. But, I can't help but think he's thrown the baby out with the common-law wife.

He has two sources of meat, in terms of content: love and death. Those are the two things that really fill up the body of Woody Allen's work. And when he doesn't want to weigh down the plot with the contemplation of either, it becomes airy and inconsequential. Which is what Don't Drink the Water feels like to me.

Bullets Over Broadway

In the 1920's, John Cusack is a playwright who can't get his plays produced because he is too tepid and cerebral until a mobster offers to bankroll the play if his girlfriend is cast. Cusack decides that nothing is perfect in life and this is his chance to finally do something meaningful.

And so he begins with a cast that includes the mobster's floozy, a cooky Tracey Ullman, an over-eater and a drama-queen has-been ala Sunset Boulevard. Dianne Wiest is perfect as the latter leading lady.

But as the rehearsals of the play progress, problems arise and the floozy's bodyguard offers some suggestions. He becomes more and more involved until John Cusack's role of writer has been usurped completely.

There is something about Woody Allen's period pieces that I never really totally buy. They fail to immerse me, maybe because somewhere in the back of my mind the voice of Woody Allen is making snide remarks.

But what I find interesting about this movie is its reversal of one of Allen's main tenets. That art perfects life. Because in the end, John Cusack admits that he's not an artist, and it is this fact that wins back his cuckolding girlfriend. She was in love with the man, not the artist.

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Manhattan Murder Mystery

This may be sticking a dagger into the short ribs of all my future Woody Allen reviews, but Manhattan Murder Mystery may very well be his last perfect film.

Woody Allen and Diane Keaton (Diane Keaton!) play a middle-aged couple who meet their older neighbors and begin to worry that they are becoming boring. So when the neighbor's wife ends up dead, Diane Keaton obsesses over the idea that it is murder. "I don't need a murder to enliven my life," Woody says. Because he doesn't want to go along, Keaton confides in the recently single Alan Alda who does nothing but encourage her.

What starts as a crazy idea becomes more and more serious until a mystery actually does unravel.

I love this movie because it is perfectly paced, it's really funny and it isn't overwrought. It still has all of the archetypal Woody Allen tropes, but it plays them at their best. And at the end it pays homage to Orson Welles' The Lady from Shanghai while that movie is playing. Five stars.

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Husbands and Wives

There are three camera styles that repeat themselves over the course of the film. The first is a third-party, narrative style. I don't know the technical term for it, but it's when the camera acts like an extra person watching the action. It is unsteady and moves around a lot, like a real person. The second style is a steady, documentarian shot and has characters speaking directly into the lens, usually responding to off-camera questions. And the third style is mostly traditional with sort of Godardian jump cuts. And then it starts over with the first style. I'm sure a film student could analyze how these styles support the leitmotif of the film, the fickle nature of humans to stick to one thing, namely spouses. But I just boiled it down to a sentence, so you can take my word for it.

So, yes, Husbands and Wives is about not only husbands but also wives who come to that point in a relationship when the romance becomes stale and they want to pursue their own pleasure.

The best lines come from Juliette Lewis, the twenty-year-old student Woody Allen's character falls for. She has been in a string of relationships with older men and she postulates that she is just a "symbol of lost youth or unfulfilled dreams." I've often tried to suggest that the infatuation with younger women wasn't purely sexual. But it is a little hard to believe when it is not isolated to Allen's films.
"Are our choices really between chronic dissatisfaction and suburban drudgery?" she asks him later.
"No, but that's how I'm deliberately distorting it to show how hard it is to be married."

Ok, Woody, we get it. So how about saying something else? As a film, I was kind of bored with it. There were some ok moments in the middle, but otherwise, not so much.

Sunday, February 6, 2011

Shadows and Fog

Interviewers lacking in mental accuity like to ask of creative types: "Where do your ideas come from?" As if there is some well somewhere at a secret location that they could be convinced to reveal. Where does Woody Allen get his ideas? Well, in the case of Shadows and Fog, I know the answer. It's based on a play he wrote in the 70's called "Death." This is probably why it feels different from other films of this era. It harkens back to his old style of comedy. He takes the typical Woody Allen character and plops him down in the middle of a German Expressionist film. I'm not sure if I read this somewhere or if it's my own thought that this movie is an homage to Fritz Lang. And yet, despite his using older material and referencing older directors, Woody still continues the theme he started in Alice. "He's frightened of his freedom," John Cusack says.

We're right in the middle of Woody Allen's career and at the tail end of his relationship with Mia Farrow. So maybe it's natural that he's thinking about the future and the things he might want to accomplish without the baggage of a family. And maybe he is frightened, which makes him lean against old props. But, you know, I think Shadows and Fog is one of his better lesser-know films. I really would recommend it.


Alice is the wife of a rich man. She wears red a lot, but otherwise is mostly repressed. Like the mistress in Crimes and Misdemeanors, she has sacrificed her ambitions and dreams for a man to become a mother and husband.

There is a certain aspect of magical realism to the movie including such things as ghosts, invisibility, flying, dreams, and love potions.

This is one of the few Woody Allen movies that ends happily for someone single. Usually happiness for Woody means getting the girl. More often he prefers to explore the tragedy of love gone wrong. But here the notion that "freedom is a frightening feeling" does not deter the titular Alice from pursuing that goal once her other options have been stripped from her. And she seems one of the most genuinely happy of Woody's character by the end of the film.

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

New York Stories

Oedipus Wrecks is Woody Allen's entry in the New York Stories collection also featuring Martin Scorsese and Francis Ford Coppola. At thirty-five minutes, it's Allen's only short film and it manages to encapsulate everything that he represents.

It's the story of a New York lawyer who is plagued by his overbearing mother. He confesses to his therapist that he wishes she would just disappear. So, when he takes her to meet his fiancee (Mia Farrow) at a magic show and she's put into a Chinese box, she does.

A week later she comes back, but now she's an apparition in the sky. Everyone in New York gets to have the privilege of her views and opinions, mostly on her son and his life choices. It's a nightmare. He wants to kill himself. Instead, he sees this quack occultist woman who tries through her various means to figure out what is going on and reverse it. Woody's fiancee leaves him and he falls for the occultist. It is only then that the mother approves, returning to earth and status quo.

I think Woody Allen should work in the short form more often because he has really crystallized his message without any of the usual distractions. On the other hand, it may be too safe. He doesn't take the risks that push him into new territory.

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Crimes and Misdemeanors

This movie had a convoluted plot structure. I tried graphing the characters out, but it didn't really help. (see fig. a)

Well, basically a man wants to murder his mistress because she wants him to leave his wife. He doesn't so much want to as sees no way out.

I like the fact that he's an opthamologist and seeks advice from a rabbi who's going blind.

The rabbi is the brother of Woody Allen's wife. Woody and his wife (I forget their characters' names) have been platonically married for a year. He meets a producer who is working with his wife's other brother, Alan Alda, an obnoxious but successful television something-or-other. That's Mia Farrow.

So Mia and Woody seem to genuinely hit it off. But then Mia goes away for a while on business and Woody splits up with his wife. But when Mia comes back she's engaged to Alda.

There are maybe four or five moments where there is really melodramatic dialogue that segue into film footage as watched by Woody and someone else (his neice or Mia or someone). The movies seem to mimic the dialogue that directly preceded it. And in one ocassion, Woody says: "This only happens in the movies," as if acknowledging the melodrama he's pitching at us.

On some level, we are expected to accept this as reality. At the end there's a big wrapping up where someone says that life isn't structured to include human happiness and maybe our only hope is in the future. So that these mistakes, the crimes and misdemeanors we have been witness to, are indicative of current morals. I'm not even going to bother trying to explain who that someone is.

But on the other hand, it's a movie, and Woody never wants us to forget that.

I find this film to be a disturbing turn for Woody. He'll return to this theme of killing off your problems, and it is a dark and foreboding undercurrent.

Obviously, Woody isn't advocating the behavior he depicts. At the end of the movie he says that if he were making the movie, he would have the guy confess because then it would be tragic.

(fig. a)

Sunday, January 30, 2011

Another Woman

I'm trying to think of anything redeeming about this movie. There just didn't seem anything to like about it. Like Hannah and Her Sisters, it is full of people saying exactly what they are thinking. The acting wasn't very good with people just reciting lines that expurgated their psyches.

The same criticisms that were used against various things in the movie, I could use against it: it is overblown, sentimental, theatrical. At one point the main character has a dream in which her life is represented on a stage as theater. It can't be unintentional. And maybe there is an aspect I'm missing. I think it has something to do with Ingmar Bergman's Scenes From a Marriage type films.

I don't require Woody Allen to be funny all of the time. But I can't help but think that this is a very depressing era for him. And he so desperately wants to wring something meaningful out of his experience. Maybe this isn't his experience. Maybe this is fiction or his opinion of society. Maybe it is an indictment.

There is one aspect that I do like about this movie, which I haven't even bothered to summarize. And it is when the main character is renting out the space to get some writing done and she starts to hear Mia Farrow's voice coming through the vents. It isn't overly subtle, but it's the closest thing to subtlety we're going to get, so I'll take it.


September is the future.
Things are coming to an end: a marriage, a book, an illness, a legend, a storm, a month. And despite the fact that almost everyone carries around with them a haunting emptiness, there is still something to look forward to. There is always the next thing that will come whether you're ready for it or not.
This is another of Woody Allen's chamber dramas in which he refuses to let the characters escape the confines of the house or their predicaments. Mia Farrow plays the martyr again in a long string of unrequited love.
Whatever Woody has been trying to express with these similar plots and structures, he probably gets the closest to successfully pulling it off here. That doesn't necessarily make it a great film, but at least there is something happening.

Radio Days

Radio Days doesn't really have a plot and is more of a series of nostalgic vignettes set in Woody Allen's youth of the forties. It is probably meant to imitate the radio shows that the vignettes are structured around. But by putting images to the stories, it does not accurately capture the experience of huddling around a box with a voice coming out of it. It was a different era then, and a lot has changed. "What a world," Julie Kavner who plays Woody's mom says. "It could be so wonderful if it wasn't for certain people." So some things are the same. But it's hard to imagine this generation being able to relate at all to the outdated mode of communication and entertainment which was the radio. I mean, they can hardly even relate to the times when this movie was made, when Seth Green was young enough to play the young Woody Allen. I can hardly relate to it. Which is why, although I found it mildly humorous throughout, I didn't find it to be all that marvelous.