The Explanation
(for those who require one)

And, of course, that is what all of this is -- all of this: the one song, ever changing, ever reincarnated, that speaks somehow from and to and for that which is ineffable within us and without us, that is both prayer and deliverance, folly and wisdom, that inspires us to dance or smile or simply to go on, senselessly, incomprehensibly, beatifically, in the face of mortality and the truth that our lives are more ill-writ, ill-rhymed and fleeting than any song, except perhaps those songs -- that song, endlesly reincarnated -- born of that truth, be it the moon and June of that truth, or the wordless blue moan, or the rotgut or the elegant poetry of it. That nameless black-hulled ship of Ulysses, that long black train, that Terraplane, that mystery train, that Rocket '88', that Buick 6 -- same journey, same miracle, same end and endlessness."
-- Nick Tosches, Where Dead Voices Gather

Woody Allen Turns 70 Today


Yes, it's true. He has not made a film worthy of remembrance in over a decade (I've yet to see Match Point so this may no longer apply), he's been essentially chased out of the American film industry into the shelter of the BBC, and . . . if certain testimony in certain child custody hearings is to be believed . . . he has some very unappetizing things crawling around in his head. But we here at If Charlie Parker Was a Gunslinger choose to remember those moments of errant glory, when he was a writer and director of striking skill and ambition; and with such memories do we wish Woody Allen all our best as he turns 70 today and sails into the mystic tides of a still discernible future.

6 comments :

swac said...

I liked Sweet and Lowdown...

Vanwall said...

The joke used to be about his early work being so good compared to his later stuff, and sadly it's become the accepted reality. I prefer to remember him for his groundbreaking writing and his gift for dark humour, which is slavishly immitated today. Some of his films seem to suffer from a lack of inspiration, and seem to be kinda by the numbers. Gimme the young Woody, full of, if not always rapier-like, at the least a poinard-like humourous jab 'twixt the ribs.

BCNU

Tom Sutpen said...

I liked it too; and even from an objective standpoint it has some extremely fine moments (I think the same about a lesser film from this period, Celebrity). But if you set it beside a compartively minor work from the 80s like Broadway Danny Rose or September, it seems awfully slapdash, with a fake documentary structure that was clearly born of an incoherent rough cut. Those earlier films didn't have its jarring shifts between the comic and the melancholy (and both films have those elements to greater or lesser degrees), or the distracted feel to them.

I'm looking forward to Match Point, because Woody Allen's a filmmaker whose work I do often admire, and his decline in the last decade has been quite dismaying. If the reviews out of Cannes are an indicator, then he's still got something to offer . . . if not, well, he's had a better run on the wheel than most. I can think of a dozen filmmakers one can justifiably beat up on without it seeming like elder abuse.

Richard Gibson said...

http://www.bbc.co.uk/radio4/woodyallencabaret/

Last night on Radio 4 they had a show about his stand up. they played some clips, maybe you have the LP/CD of his stand up. I think there is only one available. I like the sketch when his parents give him and ant and tell him it's a dog. He calls it 'Spot'.

I actually quite like 'Broadway Danny Rose' but agree the last 2 films I saw that I really liked were 'Bullets over Broadway' and 'Manhattan Murder Mystery', not as good as 70's and 80's films but probably, for me when he was last 2 good films were released.

swac said...

I was one of the handful of people who liked (okay, appreciated) Shadows and Fog. On the other hand, I have a DVD of Alice that I have yet to watch. I'm looking forward to Match Point though, but it probably won't feel like a "Woody Allen film".

I love his standup, I took the CD combining his three LPs to Montreal with me last month, most of it still holds up. I also have a VHS copy of his late '60s TV variety special with Candice Bergen, the Fifth Dimension and Billy Graham (with an added bonus of Allen telling his moose hunting story on the Andy Williams Show). Pretty discombobulating stuff, although his recreation of a silent movie with Bergen is unique for the time.

Yan said...

I liked Bananas best. Its wit was banana-like. Like a well-sharpened banana.