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by Alex Carnevale
10. Celebrity, 1998
An underappreciated classic with an awesome performance from Kenneth Branagh that is by turns weird and wonderful, this black and white beauty is well worth seeking out. Woody cast Branagh as himself, which was such a bad idea that it came around to being good again. Celebrity never comes together as a complete picture, but that’s sort of besides the point. Great Charlize Theron performance.
Kenneth, Leonardo, Adrien, also Gretchen Mol just for funsies
Woody’s way better version of Pretty Woman, this one features a great performance from Mira Sorvino and having her and Woody really click is the difference between this movie, and like, Scoop.
Written quickly to get a production deal going, this one holds up great and probably cost nothing to make. Woody’s better than anybody at making simple characters and situations entertaining.
Sean Penn is Emmet Gay in one of my all time favorite performances. A gorgeous cinematic and musical tribute to a time and place.
from Awake in the Dark: The Best of Roger Ebert (fulltextongooglebooks)
I loved this movie. The singing is far from amazing, but the songs are. Natasha Lyonne is funny as Woody’s daughter, and the fact that you can see an aging Woody and Julia Roberts as a believable couple is a testament to how engrossing and winning this film is. It’s a shame it was a bomb and Woody never did the promised spiritual sequel, as you can learn in Eric Lax’s new book.
My analyst warned me, but you were so beautiful I got another analyst
Why is life worth living? It’s a very good question. Um… Well, There are certain things I guess that make it worthwhile. uh… Like what… okay… um… For me, uh… ooh… I would say… what, Groucho Marx, to name one thing… uh… um… and Willie Mays… and um… the 2nd movement of the Jupiter Symphony… and um… Louis Armstrong, recording of Potato Head Blues… um… Swedish movies, naturally… Sentimental Education by Flaubert… uh… Marlon Brando, Frank Sinatra… um… those incredible Apples and Pears by Cezanne… uh… the crabs at Sam Wo’s… uh…Tracy’s face…
Potato Head Blues:
this is from Melinda and Melinda which is kind of a classic, also Omar Epps is phenomenal in it. Woody is one of the greatest casting directors ever.
Buy Melinda and Melinda here
Allison: I’m in the midst of doing my thesis.
Alvy Singer: On what?
Allison: Political commitment in twentieth century literature.
Alvy Singer: You, you, you’re like New York, Jewish, left-wing, liberal, intellectual, Central Park West, Brandeis University, the socialist summer camps and the, the father with the Ben Shahn drawings, right, and the really, y’know, strike-oriented kind of, red diaper, stop me before I make a complete imbecile of myself.
Allison: No, that was wonderful. I love being reduced to a cultural stereotype.
Alvy Singer: Right, I’m a bigot, I know, but for the left.
Almost every scene of Annie Hall is now iconic. Lacking the depth of Allen’s more substantial masterpieces, it’s still the perfect comedy.
A more serious film for a more serious decade.
At only 103 minutes, it’s a precious little film with a Soon-Yi cameo to treasure. Michael Caine is wonderfully creepy here. The Caine storyline takes over and Woody’s usual fear of death schtick takes a backseat. The amazing thing is that he barely taps the potential of the Caine character, and it’s still one of the greatest things ever done with a voiceover in cinematic history.
mia farrow’s proust questionnaire
Michael Caine uses this poem to seduce Barbara Hershey. It’s also a great break-up poem.
‘somewhere i have never travelled’
by e.e. cummings
somewhere i have never travelled, gladly beyond
any experience, your eyes have their silence:
in your most frail gesture are things which enclose me,
or which i cannot touch because they are too near
your slightest look easily will unclose me
though i have closed myself as fingers,
you open always petal by petal myself as Spring opens
(touching skilfully, mysteriously) her first rose
or if your wish be to close me,i and
my life will shut very beautifully, suddenly,
as when the heart of this flower imagines
the snow carefully everywhere descending;
nothing which we are to perceive in this world equals
the power of your intense fragility: whose texture
compels me with the colour of its countries,
rendering death and forever with each breathing
(i do not know what it is about you that closes
and opens; only something in me understands
the voice of your eyes is deeper than all roses)
nobody, not even the rain, has such small hands
Dianne, Barbara, Mia
Woody’s next film is with Penelope Cruz and Javier Bardem. It is titled Vicky Cristina Barcelona.
Alex Carnevale is the editor of This Recording. He hasn’t seen Play It Again, Sam. He lives in No. 4.
“Jimmy” – M.I.A. (mp3)
“Bird Flu” – M.I.A. (mp3)
PREVIOUSLY ON THIS RECORDING
New Yorkers try and build something interesting.
Movies to intrigue.
We welcome Tess to the proceedings.
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