Day 183: The Curse of the Jade Scorpion

51FB1Y08H4LThe Curse of the Jade Scorpion, the 32nd movie Woody Allen directed, is my sixth favorite film by this legendary American director.

It is a great comedy, with lots of Woodyisms (stammering, gesturing, nervously cracking jokes), and a fun storyline.

The Curse of the Jade Scorpion is about a “dinosaur” insurance claims investigator (Allen) who becomes the unwitting accomplice of a hypnotist (David Ogden Stiers) who plants subliminal suggestions into his mind, as well as in the mind of a new addition to the insurance company (Hunt).

Like all great screwball comedies from Hollywood’s heyday, The Curse of the Jade Scorpion pits a man and a woman against one another who, at first, fight like cats and dogs. As time goes on, however, they fall for one another.

Jade Scorpion also features leggy, sexy, sultry Charlize Theron playing a leggy, sexy, sultry Veronica-Lake like floozy who comes on to Woody’s character.

Woody was 66 when this film was released.

Day 178: Everyone Says I Love You

51K44K4EQCLEveryone Says I Love You is a musical, of sorts.

It’s kind of a throwback to the old-school musicals of Hollywood’s heyday (think MGM in the 1950s). But I’m not sure all of the cast actually sings. The voices that come from their mouths don’t seem to match what I thought they’d sound like.

Oh, I can recognize Edward Norton’s voice. And Alan Alda’s. And a few others.

But does Tim Roth really sound like that? If so, he’s pretty good.

This is another huge, star-studded cast.

Too huge, in my opinion.

When the cast gets this big, I don’t think Woody knows how to film it well. Everyone Says I Love You comes across too jumbled, too jam-packed, too frenetic.

This is a new twist on a Woody Allen film. In fact, it’s an ambitious Woody Allen film.

But it’s a typical Woody Allen film in that it’s filmed in New York, it’s chock-full of neurotic characters, it’s about relationships, and love, and death (the ghosts dancing at the visitation, for example).

Woody was 61 in this picture. His love interest (Julia Roberts) was 29.

In other words, Woody gets older. But his leading ladies do not.

It starts to look a little creepy after awhile (especially in an upcoming movie, The Curse of the Jade Scorpion when Woody – then 66 – is paired with Helen Hunt – then 38).

By the way, I love the Captain Spaulding number, which is an homage to the Marx Brothers.

And the dance number beside the river with Woody and Goldie Hawn was magical, a really well-constructed scene that astounds and delights.

Everyone Says I Love You isn’t a bad movie. In many ways, it’s a very fine movie. It’s just not one on my Best-Of-Woody list.

Day 177: Mighty Aphrodite

51P59FDPC8LMighty Aphrodite, the 26th movie Woody Allen directed, is a return to form.

It’s a more focused, clever film, which – amidst the previous couple of dogs, and followed by another couple of really awful movies – makes it stand out like a diamond on black velvet.

Which is not to say Mighty Aphrodite is the best Woody Allen movie. In fact, it’s probably right about in the middle, perhaps just a tad above average.

Even at that, it’s a far better movie than most made these days.

Mighty Aphrodite is the story of a New York couple – Lenny Weinrib, a sportswriter (Woody Allen) and Amanda, his S.O. (Helena Bonham Carter) – who decide to adopt a child.

At one point, Lenny starts to feel disenchanted with his relationship (big surprise there, right?) and he seeks out the adopted boy’s real mother, who turns out to be a hooker/porn star named Linda Ash (Mira Sorvino, who won an Academy Award for Best Supporting Actress for her performance).

Woody has a knack for writing bimbo characters, and Continue reading

Day 168: Another Woman

510CBVA0W0LAnother Woman, Woody’s 17th turn behind the camera, is another film about relationships.

And infidelity.

And awkward, uncomfortable moments.

The movie opens with the shot of the inside of a house, a corridor. Empty.

Then, voice-over narration – this time, from a woman, whom we discover is Marion (Gena Rowlands, 1930- ), a professor of philosophy on sabbatical writing a book. Marion’s apartment butts up against the office of a psychiatrist and she discovers that she can hear the sessions going on next door.

One voice from the psychiatrist’s office – sounds like Mia Farrow to me – causes Marion to listen more intently, and then begin to question her own life’s choices.

The cast is amazing:

Gena Rowlands … Marion
Mia Farrow … Hope
Ian Holm … Ken
Blythe Danner … Lydia
Gene Hackman … Larry
Betty Buckley … Kathy
Martha Plimpton … Laura
John Houseman … Marion’s Father
Sandy Dennis … Claire
David Ogden Stiers … Young Marion’s Father

But this is another very intense film about break-ups and regrets and living lives of quiet desperation, usually with the wrong person, that requires Continue reading