Woody Allen’s first film of the 90s was not one directed by Allen. It was the brilliant Scenes From a Mall. Woody Allen is somehow the only actor I know who, even when he is not directing, the film feels like his.
1991. Shadows and Fog
Kleinman, Woody Allen, is awoke from his sleep by a mob. They are looking for a serial killer who is on the loose and they need his help. Hijinks occur as Kleinman helps in the search.
Another Allen film shot in black and white, Shadows and Fog was an homage to German Expressionist filmmakers Fritz Lang, GW Pabst and FW Murnau. A maligned film that is not given the credit it deserves.
1992. Husbands and Wives
The film focuses on two couples: Jack and Sally and Gabe and Judy. Jack and Sally arrive at and Gabe and Judy’s announce they are breaking up. Gabe is shocked but Sally takes the news personally. Eventually Jack and Sally get back together but Gabe and Judy split up.
Carlo Di Palma shot this using a hand held camera. The scenes are continuous, without cuts. This adds an interesting charm to the film. I am not one that likes gimmicky aspects to films but this time it works. During filming, the scandal that ended Farrow and Allen’s relationship broke out. They, nonetheless, finished the movie.
1993. Manhattan Murder Mystery
Woody Allen and Diane Keaton play married couple, Larry and Carol. They meet their neighbors, Paul and Lilian, and share a pleasant night with them. The next morning they find out the wife has died of a heart attack. Carol thinks Paul’s behavior is suspicious and begins to suspect Paul murdered his wife.
This is part of what Annie Hall was supposed to be. Alan Alda, as always, is brilliant, as is the film.
1994. Bullets Over Broadway
In 1928, David Shayne, John Cusack, a playwright, has just arrived on Broadway. In order to gain financing for his play, God of Our Fathers, he agrees to hire Olive Neal, the actress/girlfriend of a gangster. She is demanding and talentless, but her gangster escort Cheech turns out to be a genius, who constantly comes up with excellent ideas for revising the play.
A film I need to re-watch.
1995. Mighty Aphrodite
Allen plays Lenny, a sportswriter who adopts a baby. Awed by the gifted child, Lenny sets out to learn the identity of his biological mother. He is disappointed to find out she is a prostitute.
Mira Sorvino won a best supporting Oscar for her role. Deserved best actress. You should own this film.
1996. Everyone Says I Love You
The emotions of an extended upper-class family in Manhattan are followed in song.
A Woody Allen musical? Pass.
The movie follows the divergent paths of a couple following their divorce.
Another of the few Allen films I haven’t seen.
1999. Sweet and Lowdown
Emmet Ray is a jazz guitarist who achieved some acclaim in the 1930s with a handful of recordings for RCA Victor, but who faded from public view under mysterious circumstances. Though a talented musician, Ray’s personal life is a shambles.
Based loosely on the Federico Fellini film La Strada, both Sean Penn and Samantha Morton received Academy Award nominations. Sean Penn is brilliant. He learned to play the guitar, and proficiently, for this film.
2000. Small Time Crooks
Ray, Woody Allen, and his friends want to lease an old restaurant so they can tunnel from the basement of the restaurant to a nearby bank. Ray’s wife Frenchy, Tracey Ullman, covers what they are doing by selling cookies from the restaurant. The bank robbery scheme is a miserable failure, but after they franchise the business, selling cookies makes them millionaires.
A trifle comedy but good nonetheless.