Friday, July 28, 2006

Genius? Hero?

Yesterday at work we had a discussion about the films of M. Night Shyamalan. My contention was that, although the filmmaker has oodles upon oodles of talent and all those comparisons to Hitchcock are justified, maybe, just maybe, it’s time for Shyamalan to stop being such a one-man band and hire on a writer or two to help him out with his next picture. I well understand the great ego-satisfaction one gets from proclaiming, “I did it all myself!” but in this moviegoer’s humble opinion, Lady in the Water would have either (a) been much, much better, or (b) never been made at all, had the gifted auteur submitted to a little collaboration. It still would have been an M. Night Shyamalan movie even though he couldn’t claim he did everything himself, just like Hitchcock movies are Hitchcock movies despite the fact Sir Alfred didn’t write the scripts. Shyamalan could be the idea guy, the vision guy — you know, “story idea by M. Night Shyamalan,” “directed by M. Night Shyamalan,” “catering services provided by M. Night Shyamalan,” “Best Boy: M. Night Shyamalan,” and so on. It would still be his picture.

Then I started wondering who in the cinematic world has been a consistently successful writer/director. I didn’t have to think very long. It’s someone everybody recognizes: Woody Allen.

I can’t recall a single Woody Allen movie I haven’t liked. I love his ideas and I love how he brings them off. The first movie of his I ever saw was Bananas, which was a riot. Annie Hall was a masterpiece, one of the few movies technically a comedy that won Best Picture. He can do any genre you can think of, and, what’s more, they’re never hackneyed or shallow knock-offs, but pictures of quality and depth. I just recently watched Match Point, which I recommend everyone go see. TCM had Broadway Danny Rose on the other day, which was a great little movie. Bullets Over Broadway is a nearly perfect film. Love and Death, Sleeper, A Midsummer Night’s Sex Comedy, Play It Again, Sam, and on and on and on. The dude puts out a film a year, he’s a veritable movie-making machine, and they’re all good.

Every now and again I get asked who my hero is. My stock answer for years has been Benjamin Franklin (and someday I’ll get into why). But I might change that to Woody Allen. I believe he’s a genius — and not just a comedic genius either. What do you think?


Blogger trinamick said...

I have to say, I've never liked Woody Allen or his movies. Course, that whole Soon-Yi thing didn't help with the full body shivers.

I am, however, an M. Night fan and I was hoping this would be another good movie. Glad you warned me.

8:01 AM  
Blogger Scott said...

Woody Allen is hit or miss with me. His movies have suffered a bit from repetition. His schtick as an actor has worn thin on me, as well as that of Diane Keaton. I get it, he's neurotic--for the five hundredth time. That's why, when I saw Match Point, I was blown away at what a wonderful movie it was. No Woody, and totally unpredictable. Not that his movies have been patterned. His acting and his actors acting grate on my nerves.

By the way, Crimes and Misdemeanors is in my basket above the tv. This weekend I hope. Looking forward to it.

8:24 AM  
Blogger Kathleen said...

I can't stand Woody Allen. The only reason I'm even contemplating seeing Match Point is that it comes highly recommended by Scott and that Woody himself is not in it. I totally understand why he wrote and directed his movies for so many years - because nobody else on God's Green Earth would have cast him as the leading man. He annoys me to the nth degree.

8:30 AM  
Blogger Scott said...

Kat, please don't sugar coat it. I need to know how you feel about Woody Allen.

9:56 AM  
Blogger mr. schprock said...

Whoa, the Wood-man taking some hits!

Maybe I'll have better luck with my next post when I ask: who will be remembered 100 years from now — John Lennon or Yoko Ono? I'm betting it's Yoko Ono.

10:39 AM  
Blogger LL said...

" I have to say, I've never liked Woody Allen or his movies. "

As much as I hate to admit this... I couldn't have said it better. Just don't tell KTM, she'll be unbearable for the next week.

Word ver: uplcxcv -- isn't that what superbowl we're up to?

7:36 AM  
Blogger Yoda said...

I have almost nothing to say about Woody Allen. I have seen only a few of his movies and that too in several sittings. I didn't like them one bit, but the circumstances under which I saw them could be to blame too. Nevertheless, I don't think I'd be enthusiastic about watching one of his.

I am a fan of Shyamalan. He got a lot of flak for "The Village", saying it was all predictable and all. I might've known all along what the story was ... but I thought the message of the movie was very strong.

I haven't seen "Lady in the Water" ... I'll go in with lesser expectations. Maybe that'll help me appreciate the move more?


12:37 PM  
Blogger briliantdonkey said...

Hey schprock,

I just found my way here via Flood's site. I have never been too crazy about Woody myself either, though to be fair I haven't really WATCHED much of his other than in bits and pieces. As for MKS, I have been dissappointed in all of his movies so far except for the first(i think).That is one of my favorite movies though the name is completely escaping me at the I will just say "I see dead people" was an awesome movie. Going to go read some more of your posts. Thanks for the read


7:02 PM  
Blogger mcBlogger said...

As a film maker, he's okay. As a person, he's sooo totally not okay. That's my two cents, sorry can't back you up this one.

9:30 AM  
Blogger Irb said...

Woody's all right, especially since he quit trying to remake Annie Hall with every film and started trying new stuff. I'm really excited about Scoop, although I don't know if I'll be able to get used to a less-profane Ian McShane.

8:10 PM  
Blogger NYPinTA said...

I've never been much of a Woody Allen fan either, but I haven't really seen enough of his movies for it to be an educated opinion. Scoop does look interesting though, so I might have to check out some of his other movies.
Can't believe he married his daughter though! How "Bold and the Beautiful" can you get??

3:09 PM  

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