Archive for December, 2013


Firstly apologies for the lateness of this posting but with Christmas and a taxing work schedule it was difficult to find the time to write things up. The Curse of the Jade Scorpion is a film which sees Allen parody film-noir in his unique style and is as always an odd interpretation. 

WHAT HAPPENED?

CW Briggs (Woody Allen) is a top investigator at an insurance firm; however after being hypnotised he finds himself under the spell of the ‘Jade Scorpion’ and forced to commit crimes. When he awakens from the spell he is then asked to investigate the crimes that he has forgotten he committed.

THE GOOD

The film is fairly well written for what it is. It takes the typical kind of film noir narrative and characters and adds a unique twist that only Allen can provide; however the best moments come in a series of insults which Helen Hunt’s character hurls at Allen. 

Everytime Allen exits a scene with the two characters she sends him an insult that go from hilarious to ridiculous and make the scenes with these characters extremely interesting. 

THE BAD

The insults however are a tiny part of the film which drags out; mostly due to the laborious attitude of Allen’s character. Apparently Allen only acted in this film due to being unable to find a suitable actor and this makes perfect sense as Allen is far too old for the part and his stuttering attitude does not work with the serious character. This sets the tone of the film off as I was unsure whether the film was a farce of simple parody.

ALLEN SCALE

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FINAL THOUGHTS

The film is tiring and suffers from terrible casting; upon watching I simply found myself waiting for it to end. 3 Woodys. Giving a total of 7.

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WHAT HAPPENED?

Woody Allen once more plays an exaggerated version of himself; this time portraying a filmmaker, Val Waxman, who is past he peak and is given a last change to make a name for himself. However production of the film becomes filled with problems such as a non-english speaking cameraman, an over-the-top set designer and the fact it is produced by his ex-wife! These problems add up leading to an extremely entertaining and over-the-top twist.

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THE GOOD

The twist of the story is by far the best part of this film. It is hard to discuss exactly what happens without producing a spoiler and therefore dare not say much.

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Allen is as usual the most interesting character and gets his satire spot on as he parodies the entire film industry and filmmaking process to a near perfect level; you can see that it is most likely based upon true stories that have happened to Allen over the years and that makes it all the more entertaining.

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THE BAD

The film although entertaining at points does span out slightly too long; many characters and scenes could be much shorter and more impactive and if I’m honest I have already begun to tire of Allen’s nihilistic character style.

ALLEN SCALE

The film scores 7.75 on the Allen scale with Jewish references being the main features missing.

FINAL THOUGHTS

Hollywood Ending is an ok film that is however nothing special; it has an interesting story but does however drag out a little. I therefore give it 3 Woody’s allowing it a total of 7.

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Anything Else is a film which demonstrates all typical Woody Alleneque features that can be expected but also one which fails to engage its audience and shows the pitfalls of his filmmaking style.

WHAT HAPPENED?

Jerry (Jason Biggs), a up & coming comedy writer, is afraid of being alone and is thus stuck in a relationship with a woman who cheats on him and in a contract with an unhelpful agent (Danny DeVito). When he meets an older comedian David (Woody Allen), Jerry begins to take his life into his own hands.

THE GOOD

The film is extremely similar to the previously watched film Whatever Works with the only real difference between the two being that Jason Biggs is much younger than Larry David’s character and that this film is rescued by two performances; those of Danny DeVito and Woody Allen. Every scene involving either of these actors is fantastic; particularly those with DeVito (whose part is small but vital); they get their characters correct to the tee and create some great comic moments.

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The film also highlights many of Allen’s obsessions namely psycho-analysis and Jewish oppression which are constantly referenced. The plot is all over the place with large periods of dull conversations followed by scenes that are extremely chaotic. These chaotic scenes are well out together using split-screen to show several different conversations going on at the same time.

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THE BAD

The problem with the film is that it is simply boring. The characters are caricature like and dull; the story isn’t much better and the dialogue seems forced. The film raises questions about life, death and love; but doesn’t make an attempt to make them seem legitimate. Jason Biggs looks like he is out of his depth in the role and this is felt as scenes often feel slow and tedious.

 

ALLEN SCALE

This film is the first film in the challenge to score a 10/10 on the Allen scale as it epitomises everything that is to be expected in an Allen film.


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FINAL THOUGHTS

Anything Else isn’t a great movie and to be honest it isn’t even a good movie. It is probably one of the worst I have seen thus far in the challenge and is therefore awarded just 1 Woody which gives it a total of 6, something far higher than it really deserves.

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This weeks film was entitled Melinda and Melinda and prior to watching I had not heard of it and made sure to avoid all research into it in order to give me a surprise.

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WHAT HAPPENED?

The film explores the same story told in two contrasting ways in an exploration of whether comedy or tragedy makes for better storytelling.

THE GOOD

The film is interesting in terms of the story as you have the two narratives playing out simultaneously. The two are consistently referencing each other in both events and phrases used however contain two entirely different casts with the titular Melinda (Radha Mitchell) being the only character in each.

The premise of the film also works well and there are sporadic flashes of brilliance in the dialogue and certain events; the cast also performs well with Will Ferrell surprising in a slightly more serious role.

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THE BAD

The film is let down by the fact that it is simply boring. After watching similar scenes repeated it doesn’t seem to move anywhere and feels very shallow; the two sections are also not different enough to truly impact an audience. The comedy is not funny enough and the tragedy not tragic meaning that both are very middle-of-the-road films.

ALLEN SCALE

The film scores a mid-way 5.75 on the Allen scale.

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FINAL THOUGHTS

Although it has an interesting premise the film lacks any sort of depth and the two narratives remain too similar for it to truly function. I therefore award it 2 Woody’s giving it a total of five.

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