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June 06, 2011 - Image 8

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Publication:
Michigan Daily Summer Weekly, 2011-06-06

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Monday, June 6, 2011
The Michigan Daily - michigandaily.com

8

Woody Allen makes molecules pulsate

4

ByJENNIFER XU
DailyArts Editor
Guess who's coming to town this
weekend? Why, it's Woody Allen of
course! The bespectacled director's
latest, "Midnight in Paris," his 42nd
feature film in the last 40 years, is
premiering at the Michigan The-
ater this Friday. Now I don't usually
like going to the movie theater and
getting ripped off by Harvey Wein-
stein and his fat cat pals over the
latest IMAX extravaganza, but for
Woody, I'm willing to do anything.
I have taken a day off from work,
gassed up the car and chosen my
outfit. I'll even cook myself a special
breakfast, all for this impending
event.
I've long been a fan of Allen's
work, having followed his career
with the fascination and obsession
as one might have the Beatles in
the 1960s. As of last year, I'd seen
all 41 of the director's feature films,
read all his books, as well as rented
a few other tangentially related
cinematic treasures. This includes
various episodes of his TV movie
"Don't Drink the Water," a docu-

mentary about his relationship with
jazz music and his new wife (and
adopted stepdaughter, yes) Soon-Yi
Previn and a really bizarre short by
Godard called "Meetin' WA,"where
blurry and off-centered frames
combine to make some sort of New
Age nonsense (it wasn't good, don't
watch it).
It's difficult to explain why this
man has affected me throughout
my formative years and how he
remains so inextricably linked to
my life. Since I'm not Jewish, don't
have marriage problems nor do I
live in New York City, alot of people
question my boundless passion for
his oeuvre. There's nothing I can
say to these remarks except smile
and turn away.
My first induction into the Allen
canon was "Match Point." It was a
movie unlike anything I had seen
before, packing such a mess of reve-
lations into so short a space of time,
it took my breath away. I couldn't
get enough. I wanted to live in that
world, partake in pseudo-intellec-
tual conversations about art and
music and Fellini, say la-di-dah,
la-di-dah in big floppy hats and ties

and sit on a park bench swoonily
appraisingthe New York skyline.
I'm not alone in my infatuation.
They say in France people go gaga
over his newest releases, lining up
on every street corner of the Rue
des Bladiguigu (this is not a real
place, by the way) in order to catch
his latest release, almost as if it were
a legendary rock concert. Here it's
not so different, though the way we
approach it is a splash more incog-
nito. I plan on seeing "Paris" at the
Maple Art Theater in Bloomfield
Hills, a deserted brownstone build-
ing with just three screens to its
name, that shares a warehouse-like
parking lot with the Independent
Bank next door. But walk inside the
modest abode and you'll find a veri-
table hubbub of a scene: Old Jewish
ladies, clutchingtheir monocles and
pearls hoarded from bygones past,
that remember going to the the-
ater the day that "Annie Hall" pre-
miered, the magic that seeped into
the dimly lit room when Alvy Singer
bowed his head and faltered, "Annie
and I broke up." It's a little bit akin
to living in an Edith Wharton novel
- without the condescension, of
course.
There's been a lot of talk about
"Paris" being a return to form for
Woody, a zingier, fluffier departure
from his usual work that recalls his
1980s love letters to New York City,
a la "Radio Days" or maybe even
"Broadway Danny Rose." This spot
of news was released in the effort
to get more butts in seats come
opening night, but whether it flops
or flies is irrelevant in the larger
scope of things.
I've touched upon this in a
review I wrote last fall on "You
Will Meet a Tall Dark Stranger"
- namely that my brethren, the
faithful Woody Allen devotees,
will come in droves regardless
of whether we think the movie
will be good or bad or merely OK.
We've become immune to the crit-
ics that grace the virtual pages of
Rotten Tomatoes and turned a
blind eye to the white hairs creep-
ing into the leading man's lustrous
mane. For us it's still 1970, Woody
and Diane Keaton are the Holly-
wood It Couple and Soon-Yi is but
a fetus percolating in some Korean
lady's womb.
It's weird, but this time capsule
effect has become problematic
whenever I've been forced to criti-
cally evaluate these films: Every
single Woody Allen movie I've seen

a

a

a

"Where's my 42nd trophy already? I'm tired.
in a theater, I've loved - whether Ie
ended up giving it 2 stars or 5. Look- I
ing back on my review for "Tall
Dark Stranger," it seems disingenu- S
ous. Sure, I did a fair job of apprais-d
ing why and how such a film failed, t
but I never fully captured what ita
was like living, breathing, sporu-n
lacing inside of that theater. For I
instance, I mentioned that the audi-
ence clapped after the end of thea
movie. What I didn't mention was t
that I clapped. And what's more, Is
cried. I closed my eyes and drankc
in the beauty of the London streetsv
and Freida Pinto's lilting guitar. In I
those moments I was watching thee
best movie in the world. Only afterc
the stupor wore off, after I made the i
walk home to my apartment and satv
down in front of my laptop screen, i
did I realize the movie wasn't actu- I
ally that good.n
Mania messes with your head. If I
you love something - really, truly, f
molecules-on-the-body-pulsating I
love something - can you ever be i

entirely objective? Because who am
I to judge whether a movie deserves
X many stars? I've seen "Tall Dark
Stranger"two more times since that
day in the theater. I loved "Curse of
:he Jade Scorpion" and "Celebrity"
and "Melinda and Melinda." This
might make me terminally unfit to
be a critic, but I don't really care.
If loving Woody Allen films with
all my body and soul subtracts from
the crux of my critical bones, then
so be it. After all, passion sustains
our global artistic community, the
very nutrients of the industry. It's
the reason why Bob Dylan tick-
ets still go for $70 a pop and sell
out two hours after being released
nto the market, despite cries of his
voice going out and his body fail-
ng. Whether "Midnight in Paris"
becomes the heraldic savior of the
millennium or yet another critical
blunder, we'll keep coming back
for him the next year and the next.
Because for us, the legend never left
n the first place.

Good towards use e orjes)
with no limit to nu i .4,4 1

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