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.
New York City. Forty year old Lee Simon, a critically panned two time novelist who works as a travel writer (a job he hates) to earn a steady living, tells his shocked wife of sixteen years, English teacher Robin Simon, that he wants a divorce. Although he had not been happy with Robin for some time, she who he feels is a bundle of Catholic repressions and neuroses especially when it comes to sex, Lee finally came to the conclusion about wanting a divorce upon attending his high school reunion and seeing a roomful of losers, he believing he turning into one of them if he didn't make a drastic change. He gets a job working as a journalist for an entertainment magazine, while he writes screenplays on the side, he believing the latter a good stepping stone to finishing his third novel if the screenplays works out. The journalist job includes conducting interviews with celebrities, not only to who he can pedal his completed screenplay, but also what he quickly learns to who he has easy ... Written by
A lot of the reviews have said that this film is one of the weaker recent Woody Allen movies, but I actually thought it was his best since Husbands and Wives. It's much more subtle but every bit as scathing as Deconstructing Harry. Everyone says Woody's films just aggrandize himself, but I feel that his latest few have been exercises in self-loathing.
Certain people (in these very pages) have felt that one is supposed to sympathize with the Branagh character. Certain people, we must remember, are on crack. Branagh plays a low-life louse who gives the word narcissim a whole new meaning. He is looking to revitalize his life by entering the world of celebrities. He is contrasted with his ex-wife (the always amazing Judy Davis... who doesn't she do more films?) who is also looking to change her life, but not necessarily by becoming famous. She does become famous, and near the end she says what I think is the key line: "I've become the kind of person I've always detested, but I'm happier." My friend and I had an argument later about what the film was saying: a) that Judy has given up on seriousness and meaning by becoming a celebrity, but now she's happier, or b) that the "entertainment products" that these people turn out don't matter at all, and that if one can find personal happiness (Judy eventually becomes much more social and comfortable with people) by doing them, then that's great. I don't know, but this is a far more interesting treatise on finding happiness than the dreary "Happiness" was.
This is also the funniest Allen film in years, with two total laugh-out-loud lines which I won't spoil here.
Overall, I felt the celebrity part, and all the walk-ons we not at all the focus of this movie, it just uses that world as a backdrop. This film is also very sweet and real, with the scene in which Judy Davis visits a psychic being one of the most intimate and touching I've seen.
One last thing, it's fun to see a Woody Allen film in New York City, because you can watch the audience trying to identify all the places where the scenes are set.
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