Renowned filmmaker Sandy Bates is in a professional transition, directing largely comedies early in his career now wanting to direct more serious movies so that he can explore the meaning of life, most specifically his own. Most are fighting him all along the way, including the movie going public, who continually tell him that they love his movies especially the earlier funny ones, to studio executives who are trying to insert comic elements wherever possible into his current movie in production. He reluctantly agrees to attend a weekend long film festival of his movies. Despite the throng of requests for his time, he is further able to reflect on his life as he addresses the questions at the post screening Q&A sessions. He also reflects specifically on his love life as his current girlfriend, married Isobel, shows up unexpectedly, and as he starts to fall for festival attendee Daisy - at the festival with her Columbia professor boyfriend, Jack Abel - who reminds him of Dorrie, a ... Written by
Woody Allen has always strenuously denied that the film is autobiographical. Allen has said in the book "Woody Allen on Woody Allen: In Conversation with Stig Björkman" (1994): "[Critics] thought that the lead character was me. Not a fictional character but me. Not a fictional character but me, and that I was expressing hostility towards my audience. That was in no way the point of the film. It was about a character who is obviously having a sort of nervous breakdown and, in spite of success, has come to a point in his life where he is having a bad time". See more »
Just a little while back, just before I died in fact. I was on the operating table and I was searching to try to find something to hang onto, you know, cause when you're dying your life really does become very authentic and I was reaching for something to give my life meaning and a memory flashed through my mind: It was one of those great spring days, it was Sunday, and you knew summer would be coming soon. And I remember that morning Dorrie and I had gone for a walk in the park and come back ...
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Reading some of the comments listed here, I'm dismayed by some of the narrowness of the criticisms ("It's shot in black & white for no reason!" "The flashbacks are indistinguishable from the present day!")... as if these were somehow to be construed as mistakes. Jeez.
I love this film. It rambles a little here and there, and sometimes it's so personal I feel voyeuristic watching it. The montage of Charlotte Rampling towards the end is stunning in how it summarizes Allen's feelings about memory, nostalgia, and the ever-present reality that never seems to allow the past to make sense.
One cannot deny that Allen has a very keen understanding of who he is, as a person, comedian, and lover. This is not to say that he is infallible or somehow more evolved than anyone else, but rather - through the retrospective of his "earlier funny films" - it's clear that he understands his strengths, and - outside the theatre - the weaknesses of his emotional life.
A perfect film for a quiet Sunday.
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