Woody Allen is the best director of comedy in our time

Mia Farrow has finally succeeded in destroying Woody Allen — and we should be afraid.

In the scorched-earth campaign to vanquish Woody Allen — a concerted effort to kill his career, destroy his reputation, to go after him with proverbial torches and pitchforks until he has no recourse except to shrivel up and play dead — the mob has spoken. Woody, 84, is a filthy child molester, the woke practitioners of street justice have declared. Damn the truth.

We should all be afraid.

And from deeper into the text:

Among the disturbing revelations we learned at the time was that Mia, in the summer of ’92, videotaped the then-7-year-old Dylan, who was at times naked, over the course of two or three days. The tape was never presented in court, but was leaked to a local TV station. Some who’ve seen the video said Mia coached the reluctant child to talk about the molestation she supposedly suffered at the hands of her father — often stopping and restarting the tape in what appeared to be attempts to get the child to make the accusations Mia wanted to hear. Many observers, including me, concluded that Mia violated her own daughter’s privacy and risked mentally damaging her in a twisted ploy to make Woody pay.

Enlarge ImageWoody Allen, 84, is now married to his adopted daughter Soon-Yi Previn, 49.
Woody Allen, 84, is now married to Soon-Yi Previn, 49.TheImageDirect.com
But he didn’t. New York state sex-crimes investigators decided that no crime could be proven, and dropped their case against Woody.

Experts at Yale New Haven Hospital in Connecticut went as far as to suggest that Mia may have coached her daughter to lie, thereby planting a false abuse narrative in her head.

Mia’s adopted son Moses insists the allegations are preposterous.

“So many times I saw my mother try to convince her that she was abused — and it has worked,” Moses wrote on his blog. “Some day, I hope Dylan can escape from my mother, confront the truth and begin her own healing.”

The custody trial concluded with Mia retaining the kids. But most of us who experienced the spectacle believe that Mia helped emotionally cripple Dylan, and alienated her from her father. She should be ashamed.

Ashamed is hardly the word for it. And although she pans the book, I will read it first chance I get to buy it.

And then this from Cut&Paste a few days ago: A truly great director could make a great film of all this but he wouldn’t, Woody. More slagging of the greatest comic movie director of our era.

Woody Allen has been consistently funny since I first came across him on late night television and I still remember fondly his What’s Up, Tiger Lily?. To go back a year, I saw his What’s New, Pussycat first when it came out, and then in German in Germany around 1972, as Was ist neues, Pussykatzen?, which made it even more hilarious. There was also a time when I would say that my favourite movie of all time was Crimes and Misdemeanors which is described at the link as “a 1989 American existential comedy-drama film“. Whether I would still think it as good as I once did half a life-time ago I’d have to watch it again to find out. Here is part of one of the reviews made when it came out:

The wonder of Crimes and Misdemeanors is the facility with which Mr. Allen deals with so many interlocking stories of so many differing tones and voices. The film cuts back and forth between parallel incidents and between present and past with the effortlessness of a hip, contemporary Aesop. The movie’s secret strength – its structure, really – comes from the truth of the dozens and dozens of particular details through which it arrives at its own very hesitant, not especially comforting, very moving generality.

And if that doesn’t interest you, try this:

The chief strength of the movie is its courage in confronting grave and painful questions of the kind the American cinema has been doing its damnedest to avoid.

Whenever his movies would come to play, I would see it in the very first week since very few of his films would last for even two. It may take a special view of the world to enjoy his films but I definitely have whatever that is. And if I filtered out movies based on the politics of the producers and actors, I would hardly have made it to a single film over the past thirty years.

On the left though he may be, he is no longer in because of the claims made by his former wife. Once again, if I chose my films based on the morality of the actors and producers who made them, I would have seen hardly a film over the past thirty years. In any case, I have followed this story from the start and believe Woody’s side sounds infinitely more plausible. On this, I am on the same side as his son: Woody Allen’s son Moses Farrow defends father over sexual assault claims.

Sadly for Allen, he has fallen on the wrong side of the thought police. This comes at the very end of the C&P.

The Boston Globe, July 19, 2016:

Whether or not he’s the devil incarnate off screen I simply don’t feel I can say. But I can say this: He’s likely the most overrated film director working … I truly believe that in 50 years audiences will look at most of these ­movies and wonder what in hell we were thinking.

He says “in 50 years” because he knows that if you watched any of Allen’s best films today, you would enjoy them and see how much fun they are. So he punts for half a century, but in my view, come back in fifty years and Woody Allen will be among the very few directors from our era who is still remembered.

Groucho and me

An email from my cousin, having sent him an email about Woody Allen about his days as a stand-up comedian, this was part of his reply:

If I¹m not very much mistaken, I spotted you in a Youtube clip, in the audience of a 1971 concert by Grand Funk Railroad. Check out the guy, 4 minutes and 15 seconds into the song. That is you. Digging the groove and slightly affected by mind-altering substances. Am I right or am I right?

 

He might well have been right, although the chap in the video was much too clean-cut for me in those days. I would also have been doing my final exams in my Masters year just as the concert was being held, although at this stretch, who can be sure. But what I do know for sure was that I was never able to listen to the kind of whatever it is that the band is playing. So I wrote back:

That was amazing. We both watched it and while it couldn’t have been me, it was uncanny. I actually had to look up where it was filmed, since 1971 was about right for when I might, just possibly, but only very very remotely, have gone to hear The Grand Funk Railroad. But at Shea Stadium in New York, even as far gone as I am, I was not there, not then. But if I told you I was, who might have doubted it. I can only say, you have more fortitude than I do for getting all the way to 4:15.

But appropriately, given what began this correspondence, I have had another Zelig-like moment. You can see me over Groucho’s left shoulder in Horsefeathers (1932) at the beginning of the clip below, but then from 15 seconds in. It is ridiculous how close I now look to that chap, mortar board and all, unlike that extraordinarily good looking chap sitting in the bleachers watching the concert in 1971.

I sent an actual photo of myself to a number of people that I found on the Camp White Pine website taken when I was 17 and no one recognises me. In fact, almost everyone refuses to believe I once looked like that. A kind of reverse-Zelig.

This is me when I was a mere cherub. I’m the one on the left:

me in 1965

The only certainty I can tell you is that no one who knew me in 1971, or when this picture was taken in the early 1960s, would ever have foretold how I would end up or who I would be today, I least of all.

My favourite Woody Allen film is 25 years old

Crimes and Misdemeanors was released a quarter of a century ago. The link tells the story right through so if you haven’t seen the film don’t read the review until you have watched it yourself. But the quote from Allen at the start of the article is worth thinking about and gets to the essence of the film’s storyline:

I firmly believe . . . that life is meaningless. I’m not alone in thinking this – there have been many great minds far, far superior to mine, that have come to that conclusion. And unless somebody can come up with some proof or some example where it’s not, I think it is. I think it’s just a lot of sound and fury, signifying nothing. I’m not saying that one should opt to kill oneself. But the truth of the matter is, when you think of it, every 100 years, there’s a big flush, and everybody in the world is gone. And there’s a new group of people. And this goes on interminably towards no particular end, no rhyme or reason. And the universe, as you know from the best of physicists, is coming apart, and eventually there will be nothing, absolutely nothing. All the great works of Shakespeare, and Beethoven, and Da Vinci, all that will be gone. Now, not for a long time, but shorter than you think because the sun is going to burn out much earlier than the universe vanishes . . . So all these plays and these symphonies, the height of human achievement, will be gone completely. There’ll be no time, no space, nothing at all, just zero.

All plausible, but the universe we live in seems too perfectly structured to have just been randomly constructed by a series of molecules that happened to cohere in particular ways that led to life. The moment that does shine through to me is the Seder scene (which the non-Jewish reviewer saw as a dinner party!) where Woody Allen’s movie grandfather sees morality in the universe because he chooses to. It is difficult to believe with any kind of certainty that there is, with ISIS running around who also believe they represent justice at its highest level. I believe I share Allen’s own perspective which makes everything possible with a blank empty universe of pain and suffering as likely as anything else. He would like evidence that it isn’t so, but you can see that even if he doesn’t believe there is more because he is unable to prove it to himself, there is that spark of hope that makes him keep looking. And being my favourite Woody Allen film, it is also my favourite film of all time.