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Woody Allen and His Masterpiece

22 Jul 2017Other Essays

His Personal Life

Allen Stewart Konigsberg popularly known as Woody Allen in 1952 was born on December 1, 1935 in Brooklyn, New York. Allen changed his name because he has decided to become a comedian. He thought that Konigsberg is to serious name as for a comedian. He started his career very early. At the age of 15, he started selling one-liners to gossip columns. He hated school and prefered to stay at home, where he could play jazz or make up some new jokes for newspapers. After working a while as a stand up comedian, he was hired to write What's New Pussycat (1965) in 1965. He directed his first film a year later, What's Up, Tiger Lily? (1966) in 1966.

His Love Life

He and ex-lover Mia Farrow had three children. Two were adopted and 1 was a biological son. After his separation from Mia Farrow, they started a long public legal battle for their three children which eventually won by Farrow. Allen was denied visitation rights with Dylan O'Sullivan Farrow and could only see his biological son Satchel, now 'Ronan Seamus Farrow' , under supervision.

His Films

Everyone Says I Love You

Woody was the writer and the director for this film. This is about a New York girl who sets her father up with a beautiful woman in a shaky marriage while her half sister gets engaged.

Featuring a soundtrack filled with beloved "standard" songs such as "Just You, Just Me" and "My Baby Just Cares for Me," this musical comedy by Woody Allen concerns a polite and comfortably well-off group of people and their romantic difficulties. DJ (Natasha Lyonne), who narrates the picture, is the daughter of divorced couple Steffi (Goldie Hawn) and Joe (Woody Allen). Since the break-up, Steffi has married Bob (Alan Alda); their children, DJ's half-sister and half-brother, are Skyler (Drew Barrymore) and Scott (Lukas Haas). Skyler is about to be married to a likeable chap named Holden (Edward Norton). However, her mother Steffi, a wealthy liberal, cultivates people as "projects." Her latest project is ex-con Charles (Tim Roth), an extremely rude and crude customer. At family gatherings, everyone politely ignores his lapses in manners and good taste until Skyler postpones her wedding to have an affair with him. In a parallel storyline, we see that DJ is convinced that her unremarried dad would find a perfect mate in Von (Julia Roberts), and she contrives an elaborate (and successful) scheme to bring them together. In a fashion typical of '30s musicals, this movie completely transcends its fluffy story, using a cavalcade of ballads to send the characters on a chaotic, romantic merry-go-round from New York to Paris.

Allen plays family friend (and Steffi's ex-husband) Joe Berlin, a lonely man who splits his time between Paris and New York, always on the lookout for love. This closely relates with Allen's personal life, specifically about his past love life.

Stardust Memories (1980)

Stardust Memories is an interesting film on many levels. On the surface, it functions as a fantasy/drama/comedy.

Woody Allen's tenth film as writer/director, Stardust Memories opens with a scene reminiscent of the opening of 8 1/2 and continues to use that film for inspiration. Sandy Bates (Allen) sits in a train at a train station, the car filled with very unhappy looking people. In a train on another set of tracks, Bates sees a wonderful party going on. A beautiful woman blows him a kiss as the happy train pulls out of the station. Bates is a famous film director who has been invited to attend a festival of his work being held at the Stardust hotel. He attends the event, but is ceaselessly harassed by fans who accost him and repel him in equal measure. While consistently hearing the complaints from fans, critics, and even space aliens that his earlier comedies are superior to his dramatic work, Bates juggles a trio of women in his private life. His encounters during the course of the retrospective force Bates to take a long look at himself. Sharon Stone makes one of her first film appearances as the woman who blows Sandy a kiss.

The film which deals with a neurotic director who no longer wants to make "funny films" - was seen by many as being a story about Woody Allen.

Manhattan

On the heels of Annie Hall, the Oscar-winning romantic comedy that rocketed Woody Allen to the front ranks of American filmmakers, Manhattan continued Allen's romantic obsessions in a slightly darker, more pessimistic vein. Allen stars as Isaac Davis, a TV comedy writer sick of the pap he is forced to churn out and harboring dreams of being the great American novelist. His love life is in barbed-wire territory: he is tormented by his second ex-wife Jill (Meryl Streep), a lesbian who has written a tell-all book about their marriage, and he is dating teenager Tracy (Mariel Hemingway), to whom he refuses to commit, and keeps hinting that a breakup may be imminent. Isaac's disillusioned (and married) best friend Yale (Michael Murphy) has begun an affair with the cerebral writer Mary Wilke (Diane Keaton). While Isaac makes a last minute, sink-or-swim decision to quit his job and devote all of his time to book writing, and neurotically moans about what the lack of a full time job will do to him ("My parents won't have as good of a seat in the synagogue," he moans. "They'll be far away from God... away from the action") Yale is crippled by his lack of resolve, as indicated by his inability to leave his wife Emily (Anne Byrne). Meanwhile, Isaac and {%Mary) begin to fall for one another. Tracy then tells Isaac the basic truth that none of his hung-up friends and past lovers fully realizes: "You have to have a little more faith in people." Manhattan is both a seriocomic dissection of perpetually dissatisfied New Yorkers and an ode to the city itself, filmed in glorious black-and-white by ace cinematographer Gordon Willis, and set to a score of rhapsodic George Gershwin music.

As interesting and entertaining as the plot often is, Manhattan is ultimately much more than a just a story of neurotic lives lived sloppily. It's a love poem of sorts to New York, filled with tremendous, overpowering images of one of the most famous cities in the entire world. The opening montage of New York locales, with Gershwin's "Rhapsody in Blue" climaxing behind it, is a stylistic black and white ode to the New York that exists in Allen's mind.

Thematic and Stylistic Similarities Among the Chosen Films

What he does shows that he really loves New York. He frequently plays a neurotic New Yorker. A lot of his movies feature at least one character who is a writer and this is often Woody himself. His films are almost all set in New York City. He frequestly casts himself and his characters are often a semi-famous, semi-successful film/tv writer, director, or producer or a novelist.
Allen has proved that he is one of the most hardworking and one of the most inventive directors.

"Making films is a distraction for me. If I didn't have them, if I had nothing to distract me, I would be fighting depression, anxiety, terror. I'm like a mental patient doing finger painting. It's therapeutic. Even if nobody comes to see my film, I've still had the benefit of living in another world for a year, and I've kept myself from having to live in the real world."
-- Woody Allen , May 12, 2005

Refenrences:

1. http://www.imdb.com/name/nm0000095/bio
2. http://www.woodyallen.art.pl/eng/biography.php

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