Archive for January, 2014


Sweet & Lowdown is a film, which showcases Allen’s obsession with Jazz music. It takes on a strange style which is a combination of documentary and half fictional story.

THE STORY

The main story follows the tribulations of the second greatest guitarist in the world Emmett Ray (Sean Penn). It is set in the 1930’s and although Ray is a fictional character much of the story follows around his obsession with real-life musician Django Reinhardt. Intermittently cut into this story are interviews with more current celebrities (including Allen himself) discussing the Ray as if he was a real person.

THE GOOD

The film is well written and well-performed. Samantha Morton who plays a mute love-interest named Hattie standing out particularly well. It is also interesting in style as to be honest (not being a massive fan of 1930’s Jazz) I was always unsure whether it was a true story or not.

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Many of the scenes reach towards farcicality however the serious scenes balance these out tremendously and give the film a great sort of momentum that keeps the viewer intrigued throughout. The characters are just eccentric enough to be deemed realistic caricatures for people at the time although do stray close to the line of ridiculous.

THE BAD

The style of film which is strange also messes with the tempo. The cuts back to interviews with Allen and others seem out of place and take away from the main story. I’m not entirely sure they are needed and exactly what they add to the story.

My other disappointment with this film is that it is not based on a true story and person. As discussed I was unsure the entire film whether it was a true tale exaggerated or entirely made up and towards the end I was wishing it to be true; however when I later found out it wasn’t the magicness of the story also dissipated. The events in retrospect seem forced together and don’t work as well as they could.

ALLEN SCALE

The film scores a relatively low 6 on the Allen scale.

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FINAL THOUGHTS

An intriguing idea the film lacks a pizzazz that can allow it to be considered Allen’s greatest work. I therefore give it three Woodys, allowing a total of 6.

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Again I must apologise for the late posting of this blog but I have had an incredibly taxing work schedule as of late. This weeks film was Small Time Crooks and follows Woody in as a low-beat conman who accidentally makes it famous.

WHAT HAPPENED?

Ray (Woody Allen) is a small-time crook who scrapes a living and dreams of riches. When he accidentally manages to gain a legitimate fortune he and his wife (Tracy Ullman) begin to enjoy the high-life. However the lifestyle soon becomes taxing on their marriage as Ray fails to embrace the expenses money has to offer and his wife begins an affair with money grabbing David (Hugh Grant).

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THE GOOD

The film is good in the sense that is does not mess around as some of the other Allen films have. There is very little exposition in this film; the audience is driven straight into the centre of the plot and that’s fine as the characters are all fairly archetypal and don’t need to be fleshed out to a major extent.

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Woody is once more on top form with his witty, narcissistic opinions on the upper-class society making for some great comedy moments. Hugh Grant is also pleasant in his role as a money-grabbing art dealer. The film is underlined by the fast paced narrative meaning that the audience has no time to think about the problems of the film as they are swept away by what is happening.

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THE BAD

Although the characters are great, they do feel at time a little too stereotypical; there is always a sense that the world created in this film is not real. Yet the film attempts to strive for realism; giving it a very odd tone.

The film is a also a little too ridiculous at times; yes it is consistently funny but moments of the film turn into a complete farce and take things a little bit too far.

ALLEN SCALE

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The film scores 8/10 with only sex and Jews missing.

FINAL THOUGHTS

Small Time Crooks is a fast paced romp of film which borderline the line of ridiculous and hilarious. Three Woody’s, giving it a total of 7.

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