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.

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