Letty Aronson - World premiere of Mike Nichols: American Masters held at the Paley Center for Media - Arrivals at Paley Center for Media, - New York, New York, United States - Monday 11th January 2016
After the high of last year's Blue Jasmine, Woody Allen is back in playful mode for this rather goofy comedy, which only works for audience members willing to abandon their cynicism and just go with the flow. A solid cast makes the most of Allen's cleverly barbed dialogue, even if the performances and filmmaking sometimes feel a bit slapdash. And Allen's deeper existential themes add a hint of depth to the silliness.
It opens in 1928 Berlin, as the magician Stanley (Colin Firth) is convinced by his friend Howard (Simon McBurney) to travel to the South of France to debunk a young American mystic named Sophie (Emma Stone), who has a wealthy family in her thrall. Not only has Sophie convinced the matriarch (Jacki Weaver) that she can communicate with her dead husband, but she has also attracted the puppy-dog devotion of Brice (Hamish Linklater), the sweetly dim heir to the family fortune. But no matter how hard Stanley tries, he can't prove that Sophie is a fraud, and accepting her supernatural powers completely upends his relentlessly pessimistic view of humanity. Although it's even trickier to convince himself that he might be falling for Sophie.
Allen sets all of this up in a very simple way, prodding Firth to a hilariously ridiculous performance as a repressed Englishman for whom life has to be completely rational. Facing him off against Stone's young, free-flowing American is a bit obvious, but the script makes sure that their barbed banter overflows with witty repartee. This includes astute commentary on Allen's favourite theme: exploring the meaning of life through the contradictory blending of science, religion and human emotion. So even if the performances are rather oddly matched, Firth and Stone find some superb chemistry along the way. Although the snappiest role belongs to Eileen Atkins, as Stanley's beloved aunt, who has a wonderfully dry way of speaking the truth.
Continue reading: Magic In The Moonlight Review
With a riveting performance, Cate Blanchett creates one of Woody Allen's most memorable movie characters in years. And it's also the writer-director's strongest film in recent memory, as it balances comedy and drama in an engaging story that has a kick of resonance as it explores fall-out from the current economical recession.
Blanchett is Jasmine, a New York socialite who has fallen from grace after her husband Hal (Baldwin) lost control of his dodgy financial empire. So Jasmine is forced to move across the country to live with her sister Ginger (Hawkins) in San Francisco. Although she misses her high-society lifestyle, Jasmine gets on with things, finding a job with a local dentist (Stuhlbarg) and a flicker of romance with a rising-star politician (Sarsgaard). But living in Ginger's small apartment with her two kids and her blue-collar boyfriend Chili (Cannavale) takes its toll. And while smoothing the edges with alcohol and Xanax, Jasmine begins to lie to herself and others about her past.
All of the characters here are jaggedly complex, interacting with hilariously observant dialog as their relationships get increasingly messy. But while Jasmine is snobby and prickly, Blanchett also reveals her fragility as she tries to get back on her feet. And Hawkins is just as revelatory as the tenacious and much more generous Ginger. The men around them are just as complicated: Cannavale is hot-tempered but charming, Sarsgaard is kind but a bit slippery, Baldwin is charismatic and over-confident. No one fits into a simple box, which keeps us on our toes and lets the characters worm their way deep under the skin.
Continue reading: Blue Jasmine Review
The mayor of Rio de Janeiro, who has been courting Woody Allen for the past four years in hopes of persuading him to make a film in his city, now says he'll pay whatever it takes to do so. I'll pay 100% of the production, Eduardo Paes told Sunday's O Globo newspaper. In 2009, Paes met with Allen's sister, Letty Aronson, and his agent/executive producer, Stephen Tenenbaum, and together they reportedly scouted possible production sites in Rio. At the time, the English-language Rio Times reported that the two said that it would cost $20 million to produce an Allen-directed film in Rio. A Brazilian-funded Allen film does not have universal support in the country, however, Brazilian director Cavi Borges wrote in Rio's Jornal do Brasil newspaper that giving Allen public funds to make a movie in Rio was incoherent. He added, If he likes the city and wishes to show Rio in his film, why not do it with his own money? But Mayor Paes said on Sunday that he would put up with such criticism. Two years ago Allen told Britain's Guardian newspaper that the 19th-century Brazilian novel The Posthumous Memoirs of BrÃ¡s Cubas by Machado de Assis was among his top-five favorite books. You would've thought he wrote it yesterday. It's so modern and so amusing. ... It was about subject matter that I liked and it was treated with great wit, great originality and no sentimentality.
Baldwin plays an architect who returns to his student stomping grounds and meets Jack (Eisenberg), who seems to be living his old life, even as he falls for a friend (Page) of his girlfriend (Gerwig). Meanwhile, there's Leopoldo (Benigni), a dull businessman who suddenly becomes a celebrity for no reason he can see, is pursued everywhere by the paparazzi and starts to enjoy the high life. Across town, Jerry and Phyllis (Allen and Davis) arrive to meet the fiance (Parenti) of their daughter (Pill). Then Jerry pushes a future in-law (Armiliato) into becoming the latest opera sensation. Finally, a young couple arrives from the country to start a new life in the city, but the husband (Tiberi) ends up having a farcical day out with a sexy prostitute (Cruz) while the wife (Mastronardi) meets her favourite actor (Albanese).
Continue reading: To Rome With Love Review
Meryl Streep will go up against Rooney Mara, Glenn Close, Michelle Williams and Viola Davis in the Best Actress category at this year's Academy Awards.
The two-time Oscar-winning star has won a nomination for her portrayal of British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher in the Phyllida Lloyd-directed 'The Iron Lady'.
Continue reading: Meryl Streep Receives 17th Oscar Nomination
Blocked writer Gil (Wilson) is visiting Paris with his wife Inez (McAdams) and her high-achieving parents (Fuller and Kennedy). When they run into Inez's know-it-all ex (Sheen), Gil starts having second thoughts about everything. He also begins to wish he'd lived in Paris in the artistic heyday of the 1920s, and is stunned one night to find himself in some kind of magical time-warp, rubbing shoulders with F Scott Fitzgerald (Hiddleston), Gertrude Stein (Bates) and Ernest Hemmingway (Stoll). He also begins to fall for Adriana (Cotillard), a muse for Picasso and Modigliani.
Continue reading: Midnight In Paris Review
Jesse Eisenberg and Ellen Page have joined the cast of Woody Allen's next project, which will be set in Rome but is yet to be titled.
All that is known about the film so far is that it will be set in Rome, Italy and is being produced by Letty Aronson and Helen Robin - and Woody, who wrote the screenplay himself, is keeping the plot under wraps.
Continue reading: Woody Allen Movie To Star Eisenberg And Page
Ellen Page is the latest star to sign on to Woody Allen's next project, an untitled piece set in the Italian capital, Rome.
The plot of the project is being kept under wraps, but it is known Woody has written the screenplay himself.
Continue reading: Ellen Page Joins Woody Allen's Rome Movie
Taking a page from his last truly funny frivolous comedy, Manhattan Murder Mystery, Allen puts a pair of fairly clueless but nosy characters in the middle of a murder mystery and hopes that their bickering will carry the day. It almost does. Johansson is a long way from her previous Allen role as a soulless social-climber, playing this time American journalism student Sondra Pransky, who's so awkward and out of her element that, in order to get a story, she sleeps with a famous actor, and then forgets to get the interview. Johansson's better at playing daffy than one might expect, and unlike films like The Devil Wears Prada -- where a bad sweater and bangs are supposed to make Anne Hathaway some sort of hideous ogre -- this one doesn't pretend that she's unattractive behind the big glasses and careless hair.
Continue reading: Scoop Review
I like almost all Woody Allen movies: When he's in them, when he's not in them, when he's being funny, and when he's being serious. But aside from a couple of classic straight-up comedies -- Annie Hall and Hannah and Her Sisters -- Allen is at his very best when he's being slyly funny and deadly serious at the same time.
Continue reading: Match Point Review