To Rome With Love (2012)

kinopoisk.ruTo Rome With Love (2012)
AKA Bop Decameron, Nero Fiddled

Starring Alison Pill, Flavio Parenti, Woody Allen, Judy Davis, Fabio Armiliato, Roberto Benigni, Monica Nappo, Alec Baldwin, Jesse Eisenberg, Greta Gerwig, Ellen Page, Alessandro Tiberi, Alessandra Mastronardi, Penélope Cruz

Directed by Woody Allen

Expectations: Moderate, but I’m always thrilled to see a new Woody Allen film.

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I liked To Rome With Love more than Midnight in Paris. I thought Midnight in Paris was good and gorgeous and truly inspired, but it didn’t feel like a true Woody Allen film to me (not to mention that it wasn’t all that funny). That’s fine, as it wasn’t that type of movie, but in certain ways To Rome With Love is the Allen film I’ve been waiting for: a light-hearted, straight-up comedy with a distinct Allen feel. If I had believed the press about To Rome With Love, I would’ve missed out on an enjoyable film — good thing I never really cared about the press for Woody Allen films. To Rome With Love is filled with fun scenarios that lead to absurd bursts of hilarity, and while it is a little too unfocused between all its storylines, I didn’t much care as I was having so much fun.

Like many of Allen’s 2000s films, To Rome With Love is set in an iconic European city and it doubles as an incredible looking travel film. This time, instead of a single story, Allen decided to tell four unrelated tales. They never come together, and they never feel like they should. In fact, it’s clear that each one exists on its own timeline, as a couple of days go by in the Roberto Benigni timeline while only an hour or so passes for another of the stories. Odd as it may sound, this is never jarring at all. I do feel like the film is a bit overstuffed — perhaps three stories would have been smoother — but I’m at a loss to decide which one to cut. They all work together well in an abstract sort of way, and provide a lot of classic Woody Allen entertainment.

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Mini-Review: Woody Allen: A Documentary (2011)

Starring Woody Allen, Letty Aronson, Marshall Brickman, Josh Brolin, Dick Cavett, Mariel Hemingway, Diane Keaton, Louise Lasser

Directed by Robert B. Weide

Expectations: High. I’m a big Woody Allen fan.


Woody Allen has been one of my favorite filmmakers since the early days of my film obsession. My first Allen film was Annie Hall, and the first time I saw it I hated it. I was a punk teenager that went into the movie with a chip on his shoulder. I found it wholly unfunny, but in the following months I also found that I couldn’t stop thinking about it. This eventually led me to re-watch the film a couple of months later, and an admiration of Allen’s style and wit has been growing ever since. He’s definitely not a filmmaker for everyone, but for anyone who’s a little neurotic and has contemplated the nature of life and death a few times, it really doesn’t get any better than the thought-provoking comedy of Woody Allen.

Allen is the perfect amalgamation of his two greatest influences: the Marx Brothers and Ingmar Bergman. I was never able to get into Bergman when I was younger, but I have a feeling my adult penchant for deep thought and analysis will reveal many intricacies in his work that were completely lost on me in my youth. Anyway, this documentary is a superb piece of work detailing the path Allen took to becoming a director, as well as examining the perennial themes in his work. I never noticed how many of his films are about choosing between fantasy and reality, but the film does a great job of making that fact readily apparent. Yes, I’d rather have come to it myself via a long, drawn-out review series, but once in a while it’s nice to get something quick and easy.

My main question with the film is whether those not harboring a love of Allen’s work will find anything of worth here. Surely anyone interested in filmmaking will enjoy seeing and hearing Allen talk about his process, and having his 40-year career laid out in front of you in three hours is a quick and easy way to become familiar with his catalog. But then there’s all the masturbatory “Woody is a genius” interviews that get tiresome, even for someone like me that holds Allen in very high regard. My girlfriend — who’s not a fan — watched most of it with me and said, “I still don’t get it” when it was all over. So I guess that’s my answer.

It’s too loving and biased to be a critical examination of Allen’s filmography, and it never concerns itself with delving too deep into Allen’s psyche. I don’t feel like I know him any better (which is fine), and the film didn’t make me love him any more. What it did do was remind me of all those precious Woody Allen movies I haven’t seen in years, and just how much fun I’m going to have when I eventually review my way through his filmography.

You Will Meet A Tall Dark Stranger (2010)

Starring Naomi Watts, Josh Brolin, Anthony Hopkins, Gemma Jones, Antonio Banderas, Freida Pinto, Lucy Punch, Roger Ashton-Griffiths, Pauline Collins, Anna Friel, Ewen Bremner, Neil Jackson, Celia Imrie

Directed by Woody Allen

Expectations: Moderate, heard nothing but bad things, but I love Woody’s films.


You Will Meet A Tall Dark Stranger is not one of the high points of Woody Allen’s filmography of the last few years. It got lots of bad reviews and I have yet to talk to a single person who liked it. After watching it, I kinda get why everyone is against it, but it reminded me a lot of the Louis CK “Miracle of Flight” joke. People complain about the minutia of their horrible flying experiences, but never remember that they are basking in the glory of the miracle that is human flight! You Will Meet A Tall Dark Stranger is like this, where you can complain about parts of it, but at the end of the day, it’s still as gorgeously shot and well-crafted as any other Woody Allen picture and I for one am always happy to bask in his cinematic glory.

You Will Meet A Tall Dark Stranger follows a large set of varied people unhappy with their current situations. Anthony Hopkins has a late life crisis and leaves his wife of forty years, Gemma Jones. Their daughter Naomi Watts is married to struggling writer Josh Brolin, but he’s infatuated with the woman across the way and Watts is falling for her employer. The film hinges around these strained relationships and the varied ways they go, but the heart of the film is Gemma Jones’s character and her newfound faith in fortune-telling.

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Midnight in Paris (2011)

Midnight in Paris (2011)

Starring Owen Wilson, Rachel McAdams, Kurt Fuller, Mimi Kennedy, Michael Sheen, Nina Arianda, Carla Bruni, Yves Heck, Alison Pill, Corey Stoll, Tom Hiddleston, Sonia Rolland, Daniel Lundh, Kathy Bates, Marion Cotillard, Adrien Brody

Directed by Woody Allen

Expectations: Woody Allen films are always fun for me, even the bad ones, so I expect to enjoy this.


(If you’re really anticipating this film, come back after watching because I’m about to spoil it all as I seek to analyze.)

Woody Allen is one of the last classic directors still pumping out films like clockwork. While his output of the last fifteen years has had its ups and downs, he never lost that Allen feeling and voice. Not many filmmakers can say that about themselves. So when a new Woody Allen film drops, I always approach with a distinct love and appreciation of his work, but not a lot of high expectations. I seem to enjoy his recent films a lot more than the average Allen fan, but I still approach with trepidation. Leave it to me to moderately enjoy the newest in the string of “Allen’s best film in decades!” Sure, it’s a solid film, but at the end of the day, it isn’t much more than amusing. It’s one of those Allen films I enjoy with a small smile on my face throughout the film, as it’s not laugh-out-loud funny but it is quite charming.

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