Wednesday, February 12, 2014

A look at Woody Allen...

I'm usually one who has an opinion about everything, and I've never been very shy about sharing it.  I don't care what the rest of the world thinks, especially when it comes to film, and even with regards to life in general I have been known to put my foot in my mouth.  I call it like I see it.  So, it may be a tad surprising that I haven't even broached the subject of Woody Allen and the scandal brewing thanks to the open letter posted by his adopted daughter Dylan.  There is no denying that the letter is a harrowing account of abuse and one that sends shivers down the spine.  These allegations were originally heaped upon Allen back in 1992, during a vicious custody battle with his ex, Mia Farrow.  He was cleared of the charges and has since moved on with his life (married to Soon-Yi for 16 years now) and his career (he just won an Oscar and is nominated for another this year), while Farrow has pretty much disappeared.  With this letter being published, lots of people have been weighing in on the case, and Woody has finally answered with his own open letter.

I haven't said anything on this, because this is such a no-win situation.  It was said better by someone else, so I'm going to para-quote a friend of mine:

Does it change anything if Woody Allen is a pedophile? Of course it does. He has in all of his movies been toying with his persona dating younger women. You can try to take the art away from the artist, love the sinner not the sin, but for an artist who has poured so much of himself and his own life and personality into his work there is no denying that if these allegations were true, we would have to reevaluate his contribution to this industry. Does it mean that his films are less brilliant? Probably not. But it may cause in me a nausea that I would not want to encounter again. Deconstructing Harry, Mighty Aphrodite, Husbands and Wives, Manhattan, Whatever Works, and probably more movies than that, will all of a sudden arrive to me with the story in mind.

THIS is why I am sad. Nobody can win this. If what Dylan writes is true, then nothing can give her back her childhood or take away the trauma. If that is true, then Woody Allen is a gross, horrible criminal. If what she says is untrue, she will still live her life with something she perceives is right, and Woody Allen will never be able to shake off that suspicion. There are no winners here. Mia, Dylan and Ronan will probably outlive Allen so this is not the last we have heard of this story, and Woody will probably, as expected, reject all Dylan's claims and hold on to what the court said. Nobody will be wiser, nobody will find more peace.

This is so sad.

I can't say that I can physically form an opinion on this one.  I find it unfair to judge either of them, because there is no firm conclusion that can be drawn.  As a parent, my first inclination would be to take Dylan's side and hate Woody Allen (form a picket line, preach to the choir, go out all The Hunt style), but for some weird reason I have not done that yet.  In fact, I've sort of been, from the very beginning, #teamwoody.  I don't know if this is because I'm a huge fan of his work and just want to turn a blind eye (isn't that wrong in itself?) or if it is because everything about this feel so manipulative and calculated.

But really, I don't want to get into this.

Hot button AVOIDED!

But here is the thing.  BEFORE this was unleashed on us, I had put together a Woody Allen Top Ten because of a conversation that I had between some friends regarding his work.  We were discussing essential Woody Allen, and the debate was raised as to what his best film was; Annie Hall or Manhattan.  I wouldn't say either of them are his best work, and yet so many people do.  They are his most well known works and the two that seem to signify who he is as a director.  They are universally loved and respected, and yet I prefer quite a few others.  In fact, I found ten Woody Allen films that I like more than the two in question.

I wanted to post these then, but wondered if it would  be seen as inappropriate...and then this happened and I couldn't think straight for a few days.

Woody's filmography is a bounty of riches, so I just wanted to take this post to celebrate his career.  With regards to the allegations, I hope that they are untrue.  I would hate to know that a man I respect and adore is a pervert.  I feel sad, either way, for Dylan who obviously believes these claims.  Like was mentioned, this is such a no-win situation for all involved.

But to everyone calling Woody Allen a pig, pervert and child abuser; spewing those viscous accusations without having the FACTS is wrong and quite frankly disgusting.

Consider my two cents given.

MOVING Top Ten Woody Allen Films!

Now, this list is in now way, shape or form meant to degrade the brilliance of both Annie Hall and Manhattan, and I do love Annie Hall quite a bit and may actually prefer it to the #10 and #9 films listed here, but I do legitimately prefer all of these to Manhattan (a film I really like but have never loved) and just wanted to compile this list to show the vast range of this man's career (to anyone calling him one-note, consider this your education) and show that there are so many films to choose from that narrowing his 'best' down to two is just ridiculous.


  1. I did a four-part Auteurs piece on Woody Allen last summer as it's something I will never do again. As of last summer, here is my list of all of the films that Woody Allen made from best to worst.

    As for the whole thing that's going on now. I just want to see some facts before I can make an assessment on the whole thing.

    1. I really need to get a Letterboxd account.

      And I applaud your line of thinking with regards to this situation. Facts are important when concerning someone's reputation. It's a shame that more people don't feel as you do.

    2. Yes, get a Letterbox account!

    3. I will eventually. Like, maybe next week :-P

  2. Really cool list and so glad to see Stardust Memories here - it's one of his most underrated films.

    1. Thanks Sati! I agree, such a brilliant film (so low key and subtle) and yet no one talks about it!

  3. I completely agree with your thoughts on this whole rotten situation. It's a no-win situation for everyone.

    Nice list. Hannah and Her Sisters would top mine, along with Manhattan and Annie Hall. ;) I have less than 10 Allen films to watch, but I really need to see Zelig and Sleeper.

    1. I flip flop between my #1 and #2 all the time. They are both masterpieces and they both win BP for me so it really is a toss up. For right this moment, 'The Purple Rose of Cairo' is resonating with me on a deeper level, but 'Hannah and Her Sisters' has one of the greatest ensembles of all time.