Suffering from writer's block and eagerly awaiting his writing award, Harry Block remembers events from his past and scenes from his best-selling books as characters, real and fictional, come back to haunt him.
A director is forced to work with his ex-wife, who left him for the boss of the studio bankrolling his new film. But the night before the first day of shooting, he develops a case of psychosomatic blindness.
Harry Block is a well-regarded novelist whose tendency to thinly-veil his own experiences in his work, as well as his un-apologetic attitude and his proclivity for pills and whores, has left him with three ex-wives that hate him. As he is about to be honored for his writing by the college that expelled him, he faces writer's block and the impending marriage of his latest flame to a writer friend. As scenes from his stories and novels pass and interact with him, Harry faces the people whose lives he has affected - wives, lovers, his son, his sister. Written by
Gary Dickerson <email@example.com>
In a string of films that recapitulate familiar themes, this one stands out as perhaps the loudest cry of anguish and self-loathing, and it's a comedy.
Where Woody Allen has paid serious hommages to other artists' bleak "heaviosity" (his word) and inevitably come up short, here he does a blistering comic riff on two of the greatest films of the 20th century, Bergman's "Wild Strawberries" and Fellini's "8½."
The parallels to the Bergman film are obvious and much discussed. The bits of Fellini are less often recognized, including the complaining wife, the impossible mistress, other people's demands creating a totally chaotic existence, closing with a yearning fantasy of getting everybody in his life together in one place and time to create harmony and wholeness. In Woody's version, we even have a double for Mia in the reunion, as if some kind of healing reconciliation were possible.
So Woody hits the wall, looks at his life, can't stand any of it and rips the bark off his own skin. What can seem like self-indulgence in other films is not forgiven here. He writes scathing, vituperative attacks on himself for other character's mouths and the viewer can only gape.
Lots of fun, but not for the whole family.
The only mystery is why, at the time I write this, Imdb singles out such a lame misfire of a slam for the first page of this movie's entry. Just about anybody else who has posted has a better understanding of the film.
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