Monday, September 22, 2003

Anything else? A review...

I saw Woody Allen's new movie, Anything Else, this weekend. As with his previous film, Hollywood Ending, I saw it alone. Before that, I was with Rosa. In that context, I look at these movies as being akin to one another.

I shouldn't.

Hollywood Ending was a movie about love and struggle, hidden behind the jokes. But Woody seemed to say, "Keep at it. Hit your marks. Do your work. Be true. Things will get better." I walked out of that movie with a sense of hope.

Anything Else speaks in a language so bleak I couldn't make out the words. I'm going to have to see it two, three, maybe four more times before I can hear over the jokes and cynicism, wit and half-wits, pain and paranoia. My initial thought is that Woody is saying to us, "Look out! Be afraid! People will only disappoint you in the end!"

Yes, this movie is painfully dark but, like any good car crash, you can't look away. I wanted to but kept thinking, "Where's he taking us?" But from joke to joke and insight to insight, we went down the rabbit hole.

Woody turns in his best performance in years. This man says he can't act almost like I do - in self-defense! Christina Ricci is amazingly unlikable, a very hard thing to do as an actor - I mean to be both amazing and unlikable! Stockard Channing.... pardon me whilst I melt! And Danny DeVito is positively insane - I loved him! The star of our show, however, Jason Biggs, is one of those actors about whom you can only say, "He tries really hard." Maybe a more competent actor could have turned Woody's jabs with a more comedic turn but, coming from Biggs mouth, they just make things seem more sad. Woody was directing, of course. Maybe that's how he wanted it...

Anything Else is paradoxically beautiful to behold. Woody shoots New York the way a lover caresses flesh. Just as with Ricci, Woody makes sure you can't turn away. I couldn't.

And, mind you, I HATE unhappy endings. Cannot stand them! It was torture as Woody teased me with another insight or another joke or another gorgeous shot of New York as only he can - KNOWING that we were not heading to a good place.

... In the context of my own life, I guess I could say that it left me with some similar feelings - familiar feelings.

It's a difficult movie to watch. This is true of many good films. It challenges you.

And is not like anything else.

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