Is it any Wonder? Wheel

Here’s what I know; my feelings on Woody Allen are that he belongs in that genius trilogy camp few have achieved: brilliant writer, tremendous comedian and excellent musician. I don’t want to believe he molested his children and stand by my stance that Mia Farrow is a manipulative woman scorned. Was it ‘right’ that Woody fell in love with his adoptive daughter? No, but sometimes feelings aren’t ‘right’. Had the Soon-Yi relationship blown itself out, I may be suspect, but how can you argue with enduring love? Alec Baldwin is 25 years older than his current wife, hence he could have been her adoptive ‘dad’.

My son feels polar opposite to me on this issue, so this is for him: Liam, don’t hate me for being an optimist.

And I think Woody indirectly tries to explain that in Wonder Wheel. You may think this is a stretch, and in that case, the film should be called Wonder Oval, but in the film, Justin Timberlake has a monologue where he discusses how little control we have over fate or feelings. Aka, was it Woody’s idea to adopt 9 kids and that due to this an affinity to one of them would develop and ascended the paternal? Sure, Woody could have divorced Mia and moved to Timbuktu (off the coast of Mali, first time in my life when I had time to ask, ‘Where the hell is Timbukto?’), to avoid this ordeal.

And now you’re asking, honey, isn’t this a movie review?

Ok, ok, so I’m avoiding the fact that Wonder Wheel was downright depressing. It’s a story of a family trapped in impoverished conditions making poor choices. And my son might say, Woody Allen is a rich man who made poor choices….but is he miserable? If Wonder Wheel is a scope into his life, perhaps he is…to which all the Allen haters should rejoice. If this theory is true, Allen is downright despondent.

The best thing about the movie, which is a marvel, is the color and lighting, cinematography at its finest. If only some of this beauty could have bled into just one character. It’s pretty sad when the happiest character in the movie is a neglected boy who’s a pyromaniac.

The acting is as good as it can be. I’m a huge Kate Winslet fan, but both her character and Jim Belushi’s were both desperate 2-d material. I never forgot who they were as celebrities. Same with Justin Timberlake, he was too pretentious for me to forget who he is. The highlight of the actors was Juno Temple, who was given a character with the most layers.

So I have requests now: Woody, please make one more comedy, don’t end on this tragic note. And Soon-Yi, please write a memoir defending your husband and setting the record straight.

Now I Get the Hyperbole: L’Iceberg

Ok, last week I saw Lost in Paris and was unimpressed. Yet I now see this as a Woody Allen analogy after seeing Abel’s earlier film L’Iceberg which was a knockout. So, it’s like seeing Woody Allen’s Match Point and going, ‘what’s the big deal about this guy?” and then seeing “Anne Hall”.

L’Iceberg was from 2005 and is the perfect suburban-neglected-wife-and mother-who-runs-away story. While watching this fun film over the course of two nights (I work a lot), I was also reading Horse Walks Into a Bar by David Grossman. Coincidentally, both the film and book had intriguing sub-plots that kept you involved. In the movie L’Iceberg, the story is bookended by a Inuktitut woman explaining how she met her husband. In Horse Walks Into a Bar, while we watch the stand up comic from the childhood friend’s POV, we are also cognizant of the fact that the friend has lost his wife.

Like Lost in Paris, Dominque Abel and Fiona Gordon wrote this film. And now I clearly see the Buster Keaton comparison. The physical comedy in L’Iceberg was phenomenal and I watched with mouth open at how Fiona bent her legs and body (without serious injury). The scenes on the sailing boat were entertaining as well, especially since some of the splashes were clearly produced by a bucket of water thrown in the air. And I’d be remiss not to mention Philippe Martz who plays the sailor in L’Iceberg, an entertaining Peter Boyle in Young Frankensteinesque performance. In Lost in Paris, Philippe is underutilized as the neighbor.

Since this is a foreign film, it may be hard to find on some library systems. I was blessed that Selby Library in Sarasota was able to procure it for me. Next up is Rumba, which I am equally excited about.

I implore Dominque Able and Fiona Gordon to keep writing. Woody Allen kept going after Match Point to find better material and success (Blue Jasmine for example). Keep going, aim higher!

Woody Allen’s Cafe Society, a place I’d commit to: one day at a time

I have added a link at the end of this blog about the pros and cons of the INTP Myers-Brigg Personality type to peruse if psychology interests you. As I navigate new opportunities and major choices of where to live and work in South Florida, I realize more and more how difficult it is for me to make decisions.

This theme fits perfectly with Woody Allen’s latest “Cafe Society” since the protagonist’s conflict longs for the ‘one that got away’. Jesse Eisenberg plays the latest version of a younger Woody Allen character; a personification of frayed nerves, twitch and anxiety. His love interest Kristen Stewart, is equally ver klempt between the purity of Jesse’s love and a long standing affair with a married man (Steve Carell in a very maudlin role, meaning a 2-d character, impotent in range).

The good news is Eisenberg and Stewart have chemistry, even with writing that’s a little predictable. Another positive aesthetic note: Kristen Stewart’s costuming, for those who love 30’s fashions was divine.

The road not taken is a universal theme that will never become extinct. The grass always looks greener on the other side, yet once there, we all know that it usually isn’t much different. Being such a planner (both short and long term) has always been my way of wrestling and ‘winning’ against the unknown. Since moving here to Florida, I have lectured myself on simply taking one day at a time. Perhaps had I developed this patient zen earlier in life, my whole destiny may have been different. But would it have been better?As I navigate new opportunities and major choices of where to live and work in South Florida, I realize more and more how difficult it is for me to make decisions.

Mistress America: Am I Rushing or Am I Dragging?

Savvy readers will know that my title is a quote from “Whiplash”, my favorite movie of last year.

I use it because Greta Gerwig (and I consider myself a fan) seemed to be rushing or lines in the opening scenes, like watching out of sync audio, but with her lips moving in time. I think she was going for a strong goofy premise, but what I experienced was free jazz, not palatable.

That being said, I’d say go see Mistress America since you finally get used to Greta’s quirk , and at the risk of showing off my rhyming talent, and Lola Kirke was excellent playing 7 years younger (she’s an elderly 25 in real life). My only quibble with her performance isn’t her, but the personality given to an 18 year old.
Tell me if you agree: Lola aka Hailey, is shocked at the shallowness of Greta, aka Tracy’s ‘Jacklyn of all trades, master of none’. From my witness of real teens and twenty somethings, I think the majority are right there with Tracy, squeamish about career investment (meaning a 40 hour work week spent perfecting a craft with subsequent benefits of roots and routine ). I’m sure there are some deep, self-aware 18 year old college freshmen, but they are most likely white capped woodpeckers.

The New Yorker (generally snooty in film reviews) gushed that a scene or two were Woody Allenesque. I would concur though one scene does not maketh an Annie Hall. I truly enjoyed the film though and perhaps Greta and Noah Baumbach (writing partners and romantic partners) were attempting to rage against what they view is shallow skittish millennials. While the movie doesn’t condemn Tracy, I believe it shines light on the flaws of employment phobia as well as a social comment on materialistically inspired romances.

Woody Allen’s The Irrational Man, surprisingly not ‘The Donald’s Story’


I went confidently to Woody Allen’s ‘Irrational Man’, thinking, Joaquin and Parker Posey could save any movie. Ugh, except this one. Woody, you need a retirement intervention, focus on your clarinet.

I’m sorry to be so blunt, but when a brand new recliner seat can’t save me from fidgety ennui, I’ve got to speak the truth. Let me be a role model for Mr. Trump in being frank; just state the facts man, no insults needed.

Most scenes were first, acted out, then separately narrated to jazz music. Yes, I get it, Joaquin’s character is nihilistic. Yes, I get it, Emma Stone has a father fixation on her professor. Yes, I get it, her boyfriend is the ‘nice guy’ who’s going to finish last for awhile.

Parker Posey literally had to hide her beautiful quirkiness amidst the bored desperation of an unhappily married professor. Please someone give this woman a script! Let her last great film not be the satirical “Best in Show”.

On Marc Maron’s podcast interview with Parker, she was told it was ok to improvise. When she did she reported that W.A. screamed something to the effect of no, terrible.

Turturro: Woody Allen, a welcome salve. Yes, you read that correctly.

Woody Allen

Listen, I lost two of my favorite funny people this year; Robin Williams and Joan Rivers. And I hadn’t seen Woody Allen do the film persona Woody Allen since the ’80’s.

So thank you John Turturro for writing a directing “Fading Gigilo” which I finally had a chance to get on-demand this weekend.

Finally Woody back in the saddle, flirting with women way out of his range, witty, sarcastic, a mover and shaker as Turturro’s pimp.

And yes, I had read The New Yorker review that the story of JT being a high end male prostitute was too farfetched. And to that I would have said believable on a small scale, leave it to just the wacky dermatologist (Sharon Stone-starting to look her age) and fruity Sofia Vergara and I’m sold. But not droves of women in Manhattan, no no, the buck stops there.

Great jazz soundtrack with many songs by Gene Ammons and despite the corn ball ending, well worth the wit I’ve been missing for a decade or more.