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Entries in Woody Allen (6)

Friday
Jun222012

Movie Review: "To Rome with Love"

TIZIANA FABI/AFP/Getty Images(NEW YORK) -- Perhaps the only refreshing thing about To Rome with Love, Woody Allen’s follow-up to his most successful film of all time, 2011's Midnight in Paris, is whenever Alec Baldwin looks in the direction of a camera, the audience will not feel physically threatened.

Yes, it's a cheap joke, but it turns out Baldwin is a standout in Allen’s nonsensical but dulcet meditation on love, regret, narcissism and banality. More on that later.

Our story begins with a traffic guard in Rome, standing upon his pedestal directing traffic as he directly addresses the audience, setting up the four stories we’re about to endure. I interpret this character as a bit of a dramatic crutch for Allen, who perhaps was feeling a little less confident in both the script he wrote and his direction, because he was also acting in the movie.

Here’s the rundown of our four stories: 

American tourist Hayley (Alison Pill), in Rome for the summer, falls in love with a Roman lawyer. Allen and Judy Davis play Haley’s parents, Jerry and Phyllis.  Turns out Jerry is a retired opera director -- wouldn’t you know it! -- and his future son-in-law’s father, Giancarlo, a very happy mortician, has an incredible singing voice (it helps when you're played by leading Italian tenor Fabio Armiliato).  It's a chance for Jerry to come out of retirement by staging an opera featuring Giancarlo singing in the shower.

Young Italian couple Antonio and Milly travel to Rome to meet with tightly-wound Antonio’s extended family, who are on the verge of helping Antonio land the job of his dreams.  Those dreams turn into nightmares when Milly wanders from the hotel, loses her phone, gets lost and winds up hanging out with the most famous actor in Italy.  Topping things off, a hooker, played by Penelope Cruz, walks into Antonio’s hotel thinking he's her john for the day, and Antonio’s stodgy old relatives walk into the room while she’s attempting to take advantage of him.

Roberto Benigni’s Leopoldo is a clerk, described as an “average man” with a wife and two kids.  He also becomes famous for no reason: Suddenly reporters follow him everywhere, he’s a sought-after guest for news programs and he’s having threesomes with famous actresses.  This is clearly Allen’s commentary on popular culture, its obsession with fame, and people who are famous just for being famous. The timing is coincidental but arguably fortunate in light of this past week’s highly-publicized New York City encounter between Alec Baldwin and a photographer. 

And then there's Baldwin’s John, a successful commercial architect who once lived in Rome. When he attempts to find his old stomping grounds, he runs into Jesse Eisenberg’s Jack, a young architect who's clearly supposed to be a younger version of John. Jack takes John back to his apartment and introduces him to his girlfriend (played by Greta Gerwig), who reminds Jack that her actress friend, Monica (Ellen Page), is coming to town, having just broken up with her boyfriend. John tries to warn Jack about Monica -- it’s everything John would’ve said to himself had he gone back in time to prevent his own personal heartbreak.  Inexplicable time travel worked in Midnight In Paris. Not so much here.

Baldwin garners To Rome with Love's film’s biggest laughs. Allen, one of my favorite writer/director/actors, isn’t as impressive. He’s committed to his on-screen role but his trademark over-the-top neuroses are actually a distraction, making Allen seem a caricature of himself.  As for the film overall, too many themes and too many non-linear stories make To Rome with Love feel a bit disconcerting.  If those stories had a connection other than taking place in Rome, I missed it. 

Two-and-a-half out of five stars.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

Saturday
Feb252012

Woody Allen: Oscar No-show for Biggest Box Office Hit of Career?

(LOS ANGELES) -- Woody Allen famously once said that "90 percent of life is just showing up."

Now, with Allen's Midnight in Paris nominated for four Academy Awards, including best picture, a lot of people are wondering if Allen might actually show up at this year's Oscars, being broadcast this Sunday night on ABC.

But, if past awards ceremonies are any indication, don't bet on it.

Midnight in Paris, which charmed critics and audiences alike, also earned Oscar nominations for best director, original screenplay and art direction. The tale of a modern-day Hollywood screenwriter, Gil (Owen Wilson), who travels back to the Paris of the 1920s to mingle with Ernest Hemingway and F. Scott Fitzgerald, is Allen's biggest box office hit ever.

Since opening last May, it's taken in more than $56.5 million in the United States, and almost $92 million more worldwide. And at age 76, with 41 movies to his credit, Allen is enjoying some of the best reviews of his career, after a string of films that garnered lukewarm reviews.

Peter Travers, whose program Popcorn airs on ABC News Now, named Midnight in Paris to his Top 10 list, saying, "Allen's love letter to the City of Light is his best and most beguiling film in years." In his Rolling Stone review, Travers wrote, "Not since 1979's Manhattan, in which he rhapsodized over the New York of his black-and-white dreams, has Allen used a camera to make such urgent, passionate love to a city." He added, "For all the film's bracing humor and ravishing romance, there are also haunting shadows. That alone makes it a keeper."

And what has made this particular romantic comedy and fantasy such a hit with audiences?

On the website Metacritic, one moviegoer said, "I'm ashamed of myself that I never watched a single Woody Allen movie until now. Midnight in Paris is just simply dazzling. The script is smart and provokes intriguing ideas."

But through all the decades of accolades, Allen has consistently shunned awards shows. Already this season, he skipped the Oscar nominees' luncheon and took a pass on the Golden Globes, where Midnight in Paris won best screenplay.

Back in 1974, when his funny, futuristic hit Sleeper was ignored by the Academy, Allen was quoted as saying, "The whole concept of awards is silly. I cannot abide by the judgment of other people, because if you accept it when they say you deserve an award, then you have to accept it when they say you don't."

But there has been one, and only one, time that Allen appeared at the Oscars. He took the stage at the 2002 ceremonies, to show his support for New York in the wake of the Sept. 11 attacks and urge the industry to keep making movies in the Big Apple.

In his own kind of personal love letter to the wounded city, he said New York was still a great, romantic, exciting place. In more typical Allen fashion, he acknowledged the standing ovation by quipping, "Thank you very much. That makes up for the strip search."

Now, Allen's Midnight in Paris, his love letter to the City of Light, has him front and center at Oscar time once again.

And will Allen be a no-show once again? When ABC News contacted his publicist's office on Wednesday, we were told they were not able to comment on that.

But, if 90 percent of life is showing up, when the awards are handed out Sunday night, Woody Allen will likely stick with the 10 percent.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

Tuesday
Jan102012

Martin Scorsese, Woody Allen Snag Directors Guild Award Nods

ABC/Ida Mae Astute(LOS ANGELES) -- Martin Scorsese and Woody Allen earned nominations Monday for the top prize at the upcoming Directors Guild of America Awards.

Scorsese received a nod for Hugo, and Allen is in the running for his work on Midnight in Paris.  The other nominees are David Fincher, for The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo; Alexander Payne, for The Descendants; and Michel Hazanavicius, for The Artist.

Absent from the list is Steven Spielberg; he most recently directed The Adventures of Tintin and likely Oscar contender War Horse.

The DGA award for outstanding directorial achievement in a feature film is considered to be a reliable predictor of who will win the Academy Award for best director.  Only six times since the DGA Awards began in 1948 has its feature film winner not gone on to win the best-director Oscar later in the year.

The TV nominees will be announced on Tuesday.  The 64th Annual DGA Awards, hosted by Kelsey Grammer, will be held in Beverly Hills on Jan. 28.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

Tuesday
Nov152011

Diane Keaton Says She Was Bulimic While Dating Woody Allen

Annie Hall(LONDON) -- Diane Keaton, bulimic? It’s hard to picture the self-assured woman of wit abusing her mind and body, but in her new memoir Then Again, out today, the actress reveals that she binged and purged for years while dating Woody Allen.

According to the Daily Mail, Keaton writes about trying to leave dates with the filmmaker so she could go home and consume “barely imaginable quantities of food.” Dinner was a bucket of Kentucky Fried Chicken, several orders of fries, TV dinners, all kinds of candy, a Sara Lee pound cake and three frozen banana-cream pies. Afterwards, she’d make herself throw up.

“The demands of bulimia,” she writes, according to the Daily Mail, "outshone the power of my desire for Woody. Pathetic, but true.”

Keaton, now 65, became bulimic in 1968 at age 22, when she was cast in the Broadway musical Hair.

Three years of binging and purging approximately 20,000 calories a day left her with irregular periods, heartburn and 26 cavities in her teeth. She writes that Allen didn’t confront her about her disease but sent her to a psychoanalyst, whom she saw every day for 18 months. At 25, she began eating normally again.

Keaton also goes into her romances with Al Pacino and Warren Beatty. But it’s Allen who remains on her mind.

“I miss Woody,” she writes. “He’d cringe if he knew how much I care about him, but I’m smart enough not to broach the subject. I know he’s borderline repulsed by the grotesque nature of my affection. What am I supposed to do? I still love him.”

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

Tuesday
Nov012011

Scarlett Johansson on Nude Pics: It's Not Like I Was Doing Porn

Kevin Mazur/WireImage(NEW YORK) -- The things that come out of your mouth, ScarJo.

Scarlett Johansson sat down with Vanity Fair to discuss her recent nude photo hacking scandal and her ability to look great naked.

“I know my best angles,” she said. “They were sent to my husband,” she said, referring to her now ex-husband Ryan Reynolds. “There’s nothing wrong with that. It’s not like I was shooting a porno....Although there’s nothing wrong with that either.”

But the really weird thing that the interview unearthed was Johansson’s revelation about how she and Woody Allen, who cast her in Match Point, Scoop, and Vicky Cristina Barcelona, became close: hypochondria and a penchant for Purell.

“He shakes a lot of hands,” Johansson said. “I’ll squirt some [Purell] in my hand and then squirt in his.”

“The only reason why Woody and I are still friends is because I’ve diagnosed all kinds of his skin tags, lesions, ailments,” she added. “I’ve prescribed things for Woody that he’s then asked his doctor to prescribe for him.”

After years of this, apparently Allen’s ready for another actress/nurse friend.

“I have every intention of working with her again, but I just didn’t think it was a great idea for either one of us to work together too intensely, picture after picture,” he told Vanity Fair. “I didn’t want her to be burdened by, ‘Oh, she’s in all the Woody Allen pictures, it’s so predictable,’ and she’s my new muse, and all that silliness.”

Johansson doesn’t see what the big deal is.

“I don’t think anything’s played out,” she said. “I’m waiting for him to write my Citizen Kane.”

In the meantime, she’s shooting Under the Skin, in which she plays an alien sex predator who harvests human body parts.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

Wednesday
May182011

Michael Sheen Reveals Romance with Co-Star Rachel McAdams

George Pimentel/FilmMagic(NEW YORK) -- Tuesday night at the New York premiere of Woody Allen's new movie, Midnight in Paris, Michael Sheen, one of the film's stars, publicly acknowledged for the first time his real-life romance with co-star Rachel McAdams.

Last week, at the Cannes film festival, McAdams and Sheen were seen arm and arm on the red carpet. Tuesday night, miles from the media frenzy in the French Riviera in an intimate basement at the Tribeca Grand Hotel, when asked about McAdams, Sheen told ABC News, "We've been a couple for a while now."

Inspired by the romantic sights while filming on location in France, Sheen admitted that, "I'm sure [Paris sparked our romance]. That's where we met...[and] got to know each other but … [we didn't start dating until] much later on…in her home city of Toronto."

It is not the first time in recent years that two actors have fallen in love after filming a Woody Allen movie. Oscar winners Penelope Cruz and Javier Bardem starred in Allen's Vicky Cristina Barcelona in 2008, were married last July, and recently gave birth to their first son, Leo.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio







ABC News Radio