I’ve been posting to this blog for a year now, most intensely for the past few months. And in that time I have but 2 subscribed readers. Thank you Aaron and Paul. It is a special albeit silent relationship the three of us have…until now. Today I dare to respond directly to half of my fanbase. This is for you little Paul of Los Angeles.
I’m not writing for the New Yorker because MySpace pays better. Obviously. The truth is that I write here to practice in hopes of one day being as prolific as a Seth Mulliken. If you haven’t read the knowledge that spews out of his head, I highly recommend it. hopefully he’ll be writing books and New Yorker columns and such real soon. I’d be first in line to get an autograph from the man who taught me the concept of the panopticon and turned me on to Frank Zappa.
Now, Paul, “Melinda & Melinda” was Allen’s last film in New York, and by last I hope I simply mean most recent. I’d have to disagree with your assessment of “Deconstructing Harry” as irrelevant to New York. FYI, Allen made about 5 Manhattan films between “Harry” and “Melinda”, so you may want to do your homework you crunchy left-coast cog in the Hollywood machine. Move back here where there’s less smog and more crime or I shall taunt you again!
“Harry” shows Allen’s continuing inability to function outside of Manhattan. Half of the film takes place on a road trip in which he ventures further and further into the depths of his own mind, but only when he returns to Manhattan can he organize his thoughts into a coherent story. In his studio apartment (where he nearly loses his life at the beginning, seemingly setting off the quest for discovery) at the film’s completion he find his relevance again as a writer, as a creator. this is something that could not be done by an award from his alma mater, the cause for the road trip.
This functioning idea of New York is a straight line that goes through all of his work, even in his latest “Scoop”. As a Brooklynite abroad, he is hardly able to function (even as a libidinous old coot: he doesn’t go after the voluptuous Scarlett Johansson, seemingly because something in the London water keeps him from getting it up) doing magic tricks overseas.
the issue is that at some point, he lost touch with the people on the ground, the storm troopers of New York. He’s at an age where if he makes films for his contemporaries they wont make any money, and he is disconnected from younger New Yorkers, although if you see “Anything Else” you’ll see he does an exceptional job relating. The result is something of a fantasy world. He’s no longer the awkward middle aged man in Cargo pants and a plaid shirt (though you’ll see this aging character trapsing all over Manhattan in “Harry).
Like I said before, he’s experimenting with other cultures now, which forces him to adapt and become even more original than he’s been in the past. I haven’t been too impressed with the work of Remi Adefarasin as DP on his last 2 films. Allen has enjoyed a career of working with the best DPs on earth, including two long relationships with Gordon Willis and Carlo Di Palma. Willis had the Allen monopoly in the old days, except for when Sven Nykvyst came on board. And after Di Palma, Darius Khondji took the reigns, and then Vilmos Zsigmond, who thankfully will be returning this fall with Allen’s newest “Cassandra’s Dream”. But Remi, it seems, was part of Allen trying to take full control of his craft, being able to mold the DP. Or rather he was trying to throw out the visuals and focus more on directing (see the double date scene in “Match Point”).
Back to Allen’s New Yorkness, just look at “Annie Hall”. He is less of a man in LA, and the closest he comes to overcoming impotence is getting into car accidents.
Paul, if there’s any filmmaker that’s fun to study, it’s Allen. He’s got a long list of films, and almost all of them are cheaply made. I consider him to be the progenitor of our modern (class of ’94) independent film movement giving how important it was for him to be writer/director and making small dialogue based productions. If you highway driving brushfire prone kids ever have any retrospectives that don’t involve John Huston or John Wayne, maybe you can see the classics on 35mm as I did this past January.
For New York, this Jon Poritsky signing off.