So. I just got out of the midnight showing of Melinda and Melinda
. I loved it. I mean, I truly loved it. I was in love with the concept when I finally heard about it (as Woody's films are always under strict wraps) and the execution of the concept was pretty great. I will admit, some of the elements in "tragedy" portion of Melinda's tale could have slightly more polished, as some parts seemed a bit forced into the story, but the sum of the parts add up to something very moving, and a nice disturbing side of Woody that hasn't come out since his darker late 80s-early 90s work. The "comedic" portion of Melinda's tale was golden. Doubt Will Ferrell
playing a character in a Woody Allen film? So did I. Now...not so much. There's a reason I used to stay up to watch SNL
just for this guy when I was younger, now I realized it, he's got an incredible sense of comedic talent and unlike most of those late-90s SNL cast members, a nice sweetness about him along with a twist of brilliant cluelessness. The entire cast was fantastic, yet kudos to Ferrell (I know that sounds odd, but trust me, it worked), Chiwetel Ejiofor
and Radha Mitchell
, who has been unfairly reduced to "the girlfriend" in most movies she's in. The entire setup of the film's plot (four people in a restaurant) is entirely lifted from one of my favorite pieces of Allen's written work, a short story called The Shallowest Man
that appears in his book Side Effects
, and it worked so well. From start to finish. God...I loved it.
Now, although I don't like to be influenced by the opinions of critics, I have always enjoyed reading reviews on works after enjoying them for myself. I'd like a quote from a man who has earned his fair share of respect over the years. Roger Ebert:
"I cannot escape the suspicion that if Woody had never made a previous film, if each new one was Woody's Sundance debut, it would get a better reception."
Finally. Somebody to back what I've been thinking ever since I became incredibly obsessed with Mr. Allen. And tonight, towards the end of the film, as Allen brilliantly was piecing together yet another masterpiece, (no less his THIRTY SIXTH masterpiece) I couldn't help but think to myself "Wow, this film could've been a hit at Sundance this year..." and "If this was a filmmaker I didn't know a thing about, I'd instantly want to know more about them." How odd to see that Ebert writes pretty much the same exact thing in his ***1/2 star review of the film.
Woody Allen may never run out of great ideas. Sure, he hasn't been nominated for an Oscar in eight years (despite being nominated 20 times prior), and yes, he hasn't had a genuine hit film since, well, one could say he's never had a REAL hit film. Yet at this, the winter of his life (he's 69 folks...sixty nine), Allen has made a film as enjoyable, smart, captivating and hilarious as Melinda and Melinda. Not to mention that while Woody isn't exactly one to be associated with box office records, this film gained him his most notable box office record to date, having its opening weekend at one theatre in New York earn $74,238. The 15th largest average-per-theatre opening weekend in Hollywood history and the 18th largest for any weekend, putting it ahead of other limited release experiments such as I Heart Huckabees, The Blair Witch Project, Kiss of the Spider Woman, The Royal Tenenbaums, The Crucible and Punch-Drunk Love. I think that company says something about the longevity of Woody Allen: It may not seem apparent with the constant mixed reviews he gets lately and the tabloid stories that have long past yet still give some a "yuck" response when they hear Allen's name, but he's still the one and only.