Fuck, after seeing nearly 30 films by Woody Allen (I honestly don’t remember how this happened), I’m more annoyed by the fact that he’s a shitty director. His films don’t speak for themselves either, they speak for Bergman’s, and rather poorly. BAM.
Bank Dick: That’s not a good comparison…. if you are using Bergman to compare with Woody Allen.
I was watching “Sleeper” last night and absolutely loved the physical comedy and the quick quips of dialogue from Allen but my gosh, I would never ever compare his films with Bergman, Antonioni or Truffaut or anything like that.
As for the special features and for the discussion of “films speak for themselves”. I agree to some point at what some of you are getting at but being spoiled by the Criterion Collection releases, special features have made me understand the director and his/her mindset.
Godard films, are a perfect example. It’s one thing to watch those films but also knowing the behind-the-scenes of Godard’s motivation. In “2 or 3 Things I Know About Her”, there is also some contempt with the director as he tried to get close with the actress and she blew him off and thus, took an effect on the director and his feelings towards Marina Vlady.
“Made in U.S.A.”, knowing the context of the kills made by Anna Karina’s character to “Contempt” and knowing how the words and mannerisms of Anna Karina were used in that film.
From a recent release such as “The White Ribbon” from director Michael Haneke and many critics saying “the films is about fascism and children become Nazi’s when they grow older” and Haneke saying in the special features about how it’s not about nazi’s or “fascism” but follow blind idealism that can plant the seeds to terrorism.
or a classic silent film such as Harold Lloyd’s “Safety Last” which is a straightforward film but it was great to learn through the commentary of how Lloyd had only a few fingers to climb with (he used a prosthetic glove that looked like a real hand) because years earlier, a bomb blew his fingers off during a photo shoot.
Now going back to “Woody Allen”, I haven’t watched every film in the director’s oeuvre but I have bought all four box sets, all his currently released Blu-rays and a few individual films on DVD (so, a total about 28 films I have from the director) and I enjoy the humor of his films.
But the thing is, there’s not many American director’s who get to do what they want to do, success or failure, Woody Allen is one of those rare director’s who is able to get that freedom to do what he wants to do. That’s why in some way, I’ve found “Jean-Luc Godard Meets Woody Allen” so interesting:
You can watch it here: http://www.openculture.com/2010/05/jean-luc_godard_meets_woody_allen-2.html
But as for special features for Woody Allen films…I’m sure we will see them…albeit post-posthumously.
I’m not comparing the two, HE is. He desperately tried several times to remake Bergman films and failed. Miserably. He’s a funny guy but his films are cheap and corny.
What does your opinion of Allen as a filmmaker have to do with the quality of his films’ home video releases and/or his attitude about director’s commentaries?
Every one of his films is available on DVD, and quite cheaply. The transfers aren’t that bad at all starting from Manhattan. I always suspected Annie Hall was just badly photographed, like a TV show or something.
A lot of great directors films aren’t even available on DVD, like some Bresson stuff. And some of the Tarkovsky transfers are much much worse than Annie Hall in the transfer department. I know it’s pointless to compare, but Woody Allen doesn’t want to put special features on his discs and I doubt the people that fund his movies want to either, after seeing junky shit like Cassandra’s Dream. His movies are bad enough to sit through once, why anyone would worry about him telling us which Bergman, Fellini, Chaplin or Godard film he was “inspired” by on the commentary is totally beyond me.
“I always suspected Annie Hall was just badly photographed, like a TV show or something.”
yeah, that Gordon Willis had no idea what he was doing
woody allen also doesn’t have any interest in the movies he’ s made anyway. he said that you could throw away all his past movies forever and he wouldn’t care.
i love audio commentaries. of the ones i’ve checked out i’d say about 60% were interesting and informative.
“woody allen also doesn’t have any interest in the movies he’ s made anyway. he said that you could throw away all his past movies forever and he wouldn’t care.”
Yeah, that’s another thing. He notoriously (like Jim Jarmusch) watches the film once, then never ever revisits it, under any circumstances- EVER. He’s quite neurotic about it, but I’m glad he and I have the same philosophy about his films!
And Gordon Willis or no Gordon Willis, nothing, save one sunset shot, stood out for me from Annie Hall. I vaguely remember the last shot having something to it, but the cinematography was pretty pedestrian, partly do to Allen’s direction. Manhattan has some fantastic black and white by the same DP and Love and Death has some nice drained colors and lighting. Just because someone is technically or artistically proficient doesn’t mean they can’t due boring work, and AH wasn’t about cinematography.
I never thought Annie Hall was supposed to be a standout for cinematography. If you bring that up to suggest that a better transfer isn’t merited, I’d be flabbergasted. It looks ugly on DVD; with a good transfer, it could at least look plain. Seriously, good transfers are worth it for the grainy and the plain, too.
On second thought, Diane Keaton and Shelley Duvall. I think they justify a good 1080p Blu-ray. They are beauties both in their own right.
Hey, since when is it up to uncaring directors whether their movie gets a release on home video? The studios invested the money; I don’t see why they don’t try to get better returns with more and better releases.
Sorry, one last, short thing. It is troubling to think that a filmmake whom(?) I admire may be a seriously pretentious douchebag. Should such affect the admiration?
GRAWFORD: Of course not. There are many filmmakers who are not sociable and have alienated many people…Jean-Luc Godard and Marco Ferreri are perfect examples. You respect their work and they will be remembered for their work and their style.
As for Blu-ray, you never know. I have two of Allen’s Blu-rays, no special features (trailers and previews) but I’m sure they would revisit a film like Annie Hall for BD.
JOHNNY: I think that’s why I enjoyed the Godard/Woody Allen Short film because it was interesting to see two people who are unique filmmakers sitting in one room together. Godard is not big about talking about his past films at all. There are many times when he is shocked why people enjoyed films such as “Contempt”.
BANK DICK: To each their own. Personally, I would watch a Woody Allen film over a Soderbergh film. Hehe…(that’s just me).
-since when is it up to uncaring directors whether their movie gets a release on home video?-
That’s true, of course, but at the same time, an filmmaker of Allen’s stature certain could exert an influence on how his work was handled in the home video markets, if he chose to do so. The fact that he doesn’t(or, at any rate, doesn’t appear to) is lamentable.
I think many people on here are forgetting that Extras on dvd/blurays are optional and are not required. If you do not want to spoil the magic of the movie, don’t watch it! Simple. If you want to learn more about it, then do. Simple.
I, myself, would love to know more about Woody and what went into his movies and wishes he would indulge a little more in extras.
there’s a good book of interviews with woody that goes into detail about almost every movie he had made to that point. the late 90s i think. forgot what it’s called. saw it at barnes and noble and read a few chapters. very good.
conversations with woody
by eric lax
One of the best books about Allen and his work is ‘Woody Allen on Woody Allen: In Conversation with Stig Björkman’. It was actually the book that I read when first discovering Allen’s movies and it offered a great insight into his thoughts and inspirations, likes and dislikes, and all related to the films themselves. An excellent series of discussions and certainly a great deal more fulfilling than any director’s commentary or behind the scenes EPK.
As for the points raised by “KNDY”; all that biographical stuff is pointless in appreciating any film. I mean, it’s all speculation and gossip really. Richard Brody’s book on Godard for example is arguably guilty of turning the filmmaker’s career into a kind of soap-opera; simplifying themes and disregarding completely relevant plot-points, references and political elements in favour of a “oh, he and Anna Karina had an argument that day so he decided to punish her character” style approach. It’s almost as if he wants Godard to be dismissed as an artist.
All that kind of stuff is just pure tabloid; and like any tabloid exposé, belongs in the rubbish bin.
LIGHTS IN THE DUSK: A lot of these are talked about on the Criterion special features ford Godard releases as well. Not just Brody’s book. For example, Anna Karina has said in a number of interviews that the character in “Contempt” was based off her actions (and her mouth), Brigitte Bardot has said that she felt as if Godard was trying to make her character like Anna Karina. Of course, some may see these outside elements pervading Godard’s filmmaking style and some may find that blasphemous but for me, it shows a humanside that many people are not used to hearing about. I was watching “Band of Outsiders” again the other day and watching the special features and Anna Karina was talking about how in one scene during a shot, Godard was in tears because they were unable to capture a scene. Does it make you lose interest in him because the man shed some tears… for me it doesn’t.
But in terms of the biographical content (or special features in general), it doesn’t make me judge a film but it sure does enhance my appreciation of it. I’m sure there are some where a director’s commentary can ruin an experience for a viewer.
Matt, I agree that Woody could influence his movies to get more, better video releases. My point is to spread the blame around. Surely there are many people in various positions at different companies who could get the Annie Hall/Manhattan/Bananas Blu-ray & DVD release train chugging along. Shall we write our congressmen?
Yeah, it’s unfortunate, and with the economy still struggling, there’s probably not going to be a sudden surge. I read, for example, that Warners spent something like a $1 million preparing North by Northwest for Blu-ray, so it’s not like you could get away with just tweaking the source of the VHS for a Blu-ray release.