This week’s spotlight focuses on the ever-tireless filmmaker Woody Allen and his latest film “Blue Jasmine”. The director once again proves that even after 60 years, you can still produce a very contemporary social satire. Woody Allen achieves this with his film being an intense analysis of the modern man’s psyche with a few laughs in between!
The American auteur needs little introduction, however for the uninitiated; here are some focal points of his immense career. He must be one of the most productive directors in cinematic history – he could probably go head to head with Hitchcock, who also produced a film a year until the very end of his career. Woody Allen started his career in the 1950s as a comedian, became a writer in the mid-60s and as the New Wave was starting in the US he made his directorial debut in 1965 with “What’s Up Tiger Lilly?”. His first films were mostly slapstick comedies, but later on, as he was influenced by the European art cinema of the 70s, he moved towards more dramatic films.
His first breakthrough film, that is now considered a classic, is “Annie Hall” (1977), which earned him four Academy Awards, two of them being the prestigious Best Picture and Best Director. From then on he never left the spotlight and has created some of the most iconic films, such as “Manhattan”, or “Interiors” a film heavily influenced by Swedish director Ingmar Bergman, “Stardust Memories” a parody of Fellini’s 8 ½, “Hanna and her Sisters”, “Zelig” an offbeat parody of a documentary that combines tragedy with comedy and many more. He continued to experiment with genres and tones by directing an acclaimed drama such as “Husbands and Wives” (1992) to a musical as “Everybody Says I Love You” (1996). In recent years he started exploring different locations and cities starting with “Match Point” (2005) shot in London, “Vicky Cristina Barcelona” (2008) shot in Spain and so on.
During his long career he managed to explore the human psyche in a funny and at the same time philosophical way. His influences range from the ancient Greeks, to European filmmakers such as Fellini, Bergman, the French New Wave directors as Godard and Truffaut. The world that he usually explores in his films is that of the intellectual upper class and in recent years of the money upper class starting with “Match Point” and now in “Blue Jasmine”.
“Blue Jasmine”, staring Cate Blanchett as the title character, is a New York socialite whose world has been crashed after her husband goes to prison for financial fraud and she has to move in with her working class sister in San Francisco. Jasmine lacks the collectedness at this moment in her life to pick up the pieces, although she makes some efforts to start over; either with getting a job or finding a replacement of her husband in the eyes of an up and coming politician. Her struggles are at times funny and at times border on the tragic. Like another “Blanche Dubois” – many have compared the film to the Tennessee Williams classic – this world seems to be too much for her to bear and for her to cope she always has to rely on the kindness of strangers-and Xanax- until the very end.
As the many hopeful directors spotlighted by the ÉCU, Woody Allen started as an independent filmmaker and despite all the accolades over the years –which he rarely accepts- he remains an independent filmmaker at heart and a tireless worker of the medium. Even now, after more than 60 years, he manages to produce a film each year. So what do you think? Do you see yourself as a new Woody Allen? Submitting your films and/or screenplays to the ÉCU could be a great start!