Movies and a Play

Despite what I’ve said about the risks of connecting author attitudes and writing, it’s impossible for me not to see connections between Woody Allen’s work and his later marital messes, whether or not the connection is actually there. For example, when Michael Caine says in HANNAH AND HER SISTERS (1986) that the heart has its reasons, it’s hard not to see a connection with Woody Allen’s later similar statement why he divorced Mia Farrow in favor of her adopted daughter (and like Allen and Farrow IRL, Caine and Farrow in the film have a blended family). That being said, this is a really good film as sisters Farrow, Barbara Hershey (playing what I’m starting to realize is one of Allen’s stock characters, a talented woman with no focus or direction), Dianne Wiest and Carrie Fisher try to work out their love lives among Caine, surly painter Max von Sydow, neurotic TV director Allen and opera buff Sam Waterston (Joanna Gleason, Tony Roberts, Lloyd Nolan and Maureen O’Sullivan round out the cast). Unusual in having a completely happy ending, with even Allen’s character not showing his usual ambivalence (which is partly because he’s farmed out his usual romantic insecurities to Caine’s character). “I think you love Hannah more than you realize.”
WINGS OF DESIRE (1987) is Wim Wenders memorable art film in which angel Bruno Ganz wanders around Berlin listening to people’s thoughts before “taking the plunge” (“It’s an expression I learned from them.”) to become fully human and hook up with a trapeze artist, with the enthusiastic support of ex-angel Peter Falk (added to the film when Wenders realized he wanted a more comic element). Very good, though definitely not for everyone’s taste (I’ve never wanted to try the sequel, Far Away, So Close, which allowed Wenders to add stuff running time would not permit in the first film). The Making Of documentary reveals Wenders originally hit on the angels’ eye view as a way to capture the full scope of Berlin, though it rapidly evolved in directions he didn’t expect, and that the hearing-thoughts aspect was as tough for his actors as performing before blue screen (from the point of many of the mortal characters, they’re just sitting there doing nothing).“Was I the only one who wasn’t serious?”

THE PIRATES OF PENZANCE, or The Curse of Duty is an interesting example of how parody can survive the thing its sending up (something I’ve touched on before). This Gilbert & Sullivan show (the local Durham Savoyard show is my birthday gift from TYG every year) sent up most of the cliches of pirate-adventure plays popular back in the day, such as pirates who believe in fair play (and turn out to be English lords), a hero torn between love and duty, pirate kings—and the pompous major general is based on Sir Garnet Wolseley, a prominent military man of the day (at least according to the book The Washing of the Spears). Nevertheless, the story of a young indentured pirate struggling to free himself from his profession and find True Love works very well even if you’ve never seen a Victorian pirate melodrama (and I’m going out on a limb and guessing none of us have). Having the movie-version soundtrack on my iPod, this is the show I’m most familiar with, so I was curious if that would stop me enjoying the stage version—but no (though Kevin Kline remains the definitive Pirate King). “We do not insist—we leave it to your sene of duty, to which we have never appealed in vain.”

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Filed under Movies

4 responses to “Movies and a Play

  1. Pingback: TV and Movies | Fraser Sherman's Blog

  2. Pingback: Movies | Fraser Sherman's Blog

  3. Pingback: First a Word About Woody Allen and Sex Abuse | Fraser Sherman's Blog

  4. Pingback: Movies That Aren’t About Time Travel (#SFWApro) | Fraser Sherman's Blog

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