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Before the film came out, I read some reviews saying that they felt Woody
was back in top form, but now I'm reading reviews that say otherwise. I
guess many people feel that in the case of a greatly talented filmmaker like
Woody, after wooing audiences with his earlier works like "Annie Hall" and
"Manhattan," there's nowhere left to go but down. So whenever people bash
his films, they don't bash them in the same way they would the next
SNL-inspired dud. They bash them even more brutally simply because he's
Woody and they can't help but expect more from him.
"Hollywood Ending" is no gem, with moments that obviously drag, but I felt it worked. It's an excellent premise for a farcical comedy, and it played out fluently. My only criticism about the "blind" element of the film dealt with Woody's performance. Each scene where he talks to someone, he purposely turns away from that person. He was obviously trying way too hard to stress the fact that his character's blind (I guess in case the audience somehow forgot halfway through). People who are blind actually have a strong sense of hearing. Like the comic book character of Daredevil, their other four senses are heightened. When they're first faced with the blindness, it's hard to cope, but after a short while they get used to it.
Like most of Woody's films, the cast is an ensemble of multi-talented actors who each contribute more than their own five cents into the work. There was even an funny unbilled cameo by Isaac Mizrahi. A lot of people project snobbery upon Woody's recent work, but I happened to enjoy this movie very much, and the same goes with "Small-Time Crooks" and "Curse of the Jade Scorpion." As long as you don't proceed with gigantic expectations, you should have a lot of fun.
My score: 7 (out of 10)
This one, unlike many of Woody's pieces over the past decade or so, is
neither a failed comedy nor a dullish drama. It's pretty funny all the
way through and lacks any pretense of being otherwise. I won't go into
the story except to repeat that Woody is a film director here, given a
last chance, trying to direct a remake of a 1940s film. He suddenly
suffers from hysterical blindness and must make the movie without
seeing any of the performances, the rushes, the production design, the
promotional material, or anything else. His agent is the only one in on
the secret. They enlist the help of a Chinese translator to act as
Woody's guide around the set and the rest of the world, but the
translator is fired by the Chinese cameraman. So the agent must spill
the beans to Woody's separated wife who then acts as her husband's
eyes. It all ends happily.
This is a consistently amusing movie. There is even the occasional pratfall that hasn't been seen in a Woody movie for a long time. There are, to be sure, serious undertones that surface from time to time, but they lie lightly on the narrative line. One of these is the still-fuzzy relationship between Woody and his separated wife, Tia Leoni, who is engaged now to Treat Williams, grown bulky and authoritative. The other theme deals with Woody's relationship with his son, Tony. Tony has joined a rock band, if that's the term. His hair is a sickly dark green piled up in an improbable sculpture atop his head, like a Yurok Indian's. He eat rats on stage and has changed his name from Tony Waxman to ScumbagX. Tony once threw his father down a flight of stairs. But, "That was then," says Tony, easily forgiving himself, "and it was stupid." Tony doesn't have the funniest lines in the movie but in one way he gives the most interesting performance in the movie, because he's just about the only actor (not including the two Chinese) who doesn't speak the way Woody does. The nervous mannerisms we've come to recognize are all here in everyone else, and they're funny too, because they fit the characters so well. (They were appropriate to his character in "Broadway Danny Rose," too. And as they weren't when Branaugh used them in "Celebrity.") Here, just about everybody's got them. Hardly a sentence is completed with someone else interrupting or the sentence itself wandering off into space, lost, having forgotten its own beginning. I didn't bother to do a content analysis of the dialog but if "y'know?" isn't the most common utterance I'd be kind of surprised. Stuttering is endemic to the cast. People ask, "Whaddaya mean?" And somebody replies, "Whaddaya mean, whaddo I mean?" Hands flutter as if with lives of their own. The blind Woody praises a promotional poster for the film while admiring its blank back.
He himself is older here, noticeably, but not depressingly. His hair is now gray and his bald patch more pronounced. But he's in good shape and his wit is keen. He plays the blind man in a hilariously exaggerated fashion -- never looking directly at the person he's conversing with, constantly holding his open palms up in front of his chest as if carrying an invisible pumpkin. A writer from "Esquire" tells him fawningly how much she's enjoyed his work while taking notes for a tell-all scandalous hatchet-job about everyone involved in the production, kind of like the number Lillian Ross did on Hemingway for the New Yorker profile or on Huston's "Red Badge of Courage". Unluckily, she wears the same perfume as his wife and, thinking he's talking with Leoni, Allen tells her everything. And it isn't as if the whole film depends on the odd one-liner, although those one-liners are there too. (After regaining his sight, Woody views for the first time the footage he's shot, and he looks stricken. "Call Doctor Kavorkian," he says slowly.) The premise is absurd, of course. No one could pass himself off as sighted under these conditions. But joke follows joke unerringly, sometimes building on one another. Before an important meeting with the film's producer, his wife takes him to the guy's apartment to familiarize him with the layout. This way, you see, he will know where the chair is located, the desk, and the other items of furniture. She tries to be as helpful as possible. While he's wringing his hands in the doorway, she paces off distances in the apartment, telling him, "Okay, now you enter through the door and walk four steps. Then the chair is on your right. But, okay, if Hal is sitting there, you'll take two more steps. Now you turn to the left because that's where the sofa is, but watch out for the lamp." Woody anxiously repeats her instructions -- "watch out for the lamp, and the sofa is, two more paces, no four -- okay -- and then turn left." The instructions become impossibly complicated and confusing and Woody is gripping his head trying to remember them, until everything begins to break down, including the editing, and we get sequences that might have come out of that movie in which Danny Kaye has to remember that "the poison is in the pellet of the picture of the peacock and the flagon with the dragon has the brew that is true." Meanwhile Woody is stumbling around with those forearms stretched before him and a blank gaze, one of Baron von Frankenstein's rejects. During the actual interview he manages to sit on the lamp. You really ought to see this one if you are in the mood for laughs because it's a thoroughly successful comedy.
I really don't understand why your users rated this movie as a mediocre one (when I write this, it has 6.3 points). This is a superb irony on the irrational fashion that runs through the Western Elite (European and American). It's a game between rational and irrational, under the pretext of a blind director who initially wants to make a nonconformist movie and he ends by making it "per accidens". "Thanks God the French exist!" says Woody Allen at a certain moment. Well, we should really thank God for that. The French have style. The French have art (or used to have). What came under my eyes very rapidly was that, although Woody Allen movie is surprisingly commercial, very easy to understand from a superficial perspective, it is a movie about postmodernism, about how art is made. Tristan Tzara, my compatriot and the initiator of the Suprarealist movement called DADAISM would have been very enthusiastic over the movie in the movie (which, a propos, is never shown to us!!!). You should watch this movie with your eyes and ears and with your mind open, because you'll see something else.
Some of the one liners here are so hysterical, you will think about them long after the movie ends and still roar. This is a very funny movie and plays right into the audience expectation Allen is mocking in his script. After the war in Iraq, Woody's comment about "Thank God the French exist" is even more amusing than when he first wrote it. Yes Thank God for the French, they've made some funny movies too. And Thank God for people like Woody Allen. The world needs him. I love how his running trademark showing him with younger women still continues to upset certain members of both the public and critical elite. I think at his age, Allen can pretty much do and write what he wants. Personally, I enjoy the fantasy; it's a sly little dig against the morals of American culture, especially in the Ashcroft/Bush JR era. Older men and younger women have been around forever, and Woody definitely isnt the only one experiencing this condition, so get over yourselves, uptighters, and learn to laugh at life. The dumbing down of society (referred to often in the screenplay) is highly evident after the negative reactions this has received. It's only a movie; it's not the end of the world. You either get it or you don't.
I am overwhelmed with the modern movies' aspiration to rely on new fashions. Thank God we have Woody Allen as a beacon of tradition and craftsmanship in the domain of movie-making. The movie is extremely funny and lacks all the nuisances which plague newer ones in order to make them more appealing to the main core audience nowadays: male teenagers. Woody Allen plays the role of an over-the-hill director which undertakes the mission of making a movie against the wishes of its producer.He receives a blow when he becomes blind right before the beginning of the shooting. The plot revolves around Allen's blindness, which is guarded as a secret by his agent, and the process of the filming with a blind director. I do not have to mention the many a hilarious moments this situation produces.
Allen is a director, and here he plays one as well, who becomes psycho-psematically blind right before he starts shooting his latest picture for 60 million dollars. And so, his agent tags along to make sure he stays on the picture in one piece. The one liners here are classic Allen as there is not one scene that doesn't have them and while they don't all work, when they do it's laugh out loud. The film is also a good dish for movie buffs. The ending itself, by the way, is absolutely appropriate. Favorite lines- the black plague (he calls this as a disease in an early restaurant scene), call Dr. Kevorkian (after the first screening of the movie), and- you should put a full page ad in the DGA cause you'll never stop working (after Thiessen shows Allen her assets). A-
Following a string of flops and a "difficult" reputation, director Val
Waxman is now paying the bills doing adverts or anything else he can
get. When his ex-wife gets her project greenlit by producer boyfriend
Hal Jaeger, she fights for Val to get the job. Despite the personal
issues and conflicts Val knows it is his last chance to get his career
back and takes the job. The personal problems are only the start of
things going wrong whenever Val is suddenly struck down with
psychosomatic blindness. Knowing that this would get him fired and
ruined, Val and his agent try to conceal the fact and continue the
With poor reviews and no good signs about it, it was no surprise that this film never came to any cinemas near me (was it even released in the UK?) and to be honest I wasn't that bothered that I missed it. A visit to Austria recently found it playing in cinema in Vienna and, although I didn't see it then, it put it in my mind to watch it at home and see if it was worth the ongoing cinema screenings that the Austrians were giving it. The start of the film suggests a fairly good film as it is full of the usual Allen wit even if it felt a bit like him on autopilot. However with the "blindness" section things seem to falter and fail a bit at first it is funny but quickly it gets tired and there is nothing injected into the film to shore it up. The reason for the blindness is suggested as interesting but it is barely done and not taken anywhere other than the most basic development in order to provide a conclusion. The idea is good and the real life parallels are interesting (Allen, handicapped by the American system but still appreciated in Europe even if he doesn't totally understand why) but these are not taken beyond the original concept and never brought out in the script. Instead we have plenty of OK jokes and quips but nothing that approaches an engaging narrative or a developed plot. It is still OK but it is unlikely that any audiences other than real Allen fans will get much fro it; as one I laughed and enjoyed it a bit but am not blind to the massive weaknesses.
Allen does his usual stuff to good effect and if you like him you'll like him here. Leoni acts in his shadow and can't make the role her own she stays very much an Allen creation. Williams is enjoyable; Hamilton is fun and the support cast all do well enough with their various parts. None of them really shine but the script still shares the laughs around and nobody actually gave a bad performance as such just a shame that none of them have a character to speak of either.
Overall this is an OK film but nothing more than that. Even fans of Woody Allen will be at a stretch to forgive a script that has no development, characters or reason. The laughs come in fits and starts and the film rarely satisfies; fun but nothing to write home about and I'm glad I didn't spent my limited time in Austria watching this.
Did your mother ever tell you that it wasn't polite to make fun of blind
people? Well, apparently, Woody Allen's mother didn't, since this is
exactly what he does for a good hour or more in his latest film, `Hollywood
Ending.' (Or, perhaps, he just doesn't WANT to be polite). Whatever the
case, Allen himself stars as Val Waxman, a once brilliant film director who
has fallen on hard times, partly due to his own temperamental nature and
partly to his own tendency for obsessive/compulsive behavior and chronic
hypochondria, all of which have made him anathema to Hollywood's major
producers. Tea Leoni plays Val's ex-wife, Ellie, who convinces her current
fiancé, studio boss Hal (played by Treat Williams), to take a chance on Val
and turn a multimillion dollar film project over to the iconoclastic
director. All is going well until, right on the eve of production, Val
develops a case of psychosomatic blindness, a condition he and a few close
allies try to keep a secret during the making of the film. The majority of
`Hollywood Ending' revolves around Val's attempts to keep people from
finding out the truth and delivering a creditable motion picture to the
studio heads at the same time.
In many ways, this pallid comedy combines the slapstick elements of Allen's early works (`Bananas' and `Sleeper') with the cynicism of his later, more mature explorations of modern urban romantic life (`Annie Hall,' `Manhattan'). Unfortunately, `Hollywood Ending' winds up as an uneasy hybrid of the two forms, mixing lowbrow comic mugging and pratfalls with the customary angst-ridden dithering that Allen has been indulging in (often quite effectively) for well nigh a quarter of a century now. Well, the bloom is definitely off the rose here. Part of the problem is that Allen's neurotic tics are amusing only when he has some serious points to make under all the humor. In this film, however, he is providing no insights to go along with the chatter so that he comes across as whiney and self-absorbed rather than witty and ironical. Val always seems to be blathering a mile a minute, so much so that we finally just want him to shut up and give us a moment's silence. To make matters worse, the scenes of broad physical comedy Allen bumping into furniture, Allen breaking glasses, Allen falling off platforms are not particularly well executed, lacking the kind of adept, split second timing essential to make such scenes comically effective. Thus, the film fails on two levels: both as a work of slapstick and as a verbal comedy of ideas. The film could, potentially, have scored as an acerbic satire on the ludicrous commercial values that define the American film industry, yet even most of these `inside' jokes seem strangely unoriginal and old hat, especially coming from a man as attuned to the industry as Woody Allen.
Although Allen, in his old age, has degenerated into little more than a wan parody of himself, Tea Leoni sparkles as Ellie, creating a character who is simultaneously strong, sensible, insecure and vulnerable. Leoni's performance is, literally, the anchor that keeps this otherwise lighter-than-air trifle from floating away completely. Barney Cheng does a nice job playing a Chinese translator whom Val uses to help him carry off this impossible charade; Mark Rydell provides some memorable moments as Val's helpful agent; and Debra Messing glows as Val's beautiful but bubble headed `significant other,' who is far more concerned about losing her part in the movie than losing her role as bedmate to the neurotic director.
It would be unfair, as well as untruthful, to say that `Hollywood Ending' did not afford a couple of pretty impressive laughs along the way. This IS a Woody Allen film, after all. And even Woody on a bad day is better than many of our Hollywood humorists on a good day. But with so many great films in his oeuvre, one naturally goes into this film with high expectations. When a final assessment is made of all of Allen's prodigious cinematic output, `Hollywood Ending' will wind up somewhere very near the bottom of the list.
Hollywood Ending[First-Viewing, TV](Woody Allen)- Woody Allen, Tea Leoni,
Mark Webber, George Hamilton, Treat Williams
Woody Allen directs, writes and stars in this semi-comedy, semi drama film about a Hollywood director (Allen) who is directing a film, and meanwhile suddenly goes blind. Meanwhile he has to work with his ex-wife(Leoni) who is now dating the owner (Williams) of the studio producing the film. The film has its typical Woody Allen jokes, and delivers in its comedy portions, very funny at times. The plot is also very interesting, especially how Woody goes blind. The film has some very good points that even make much more sense now with what Bush is doing in the world (Woody says `Thank god for the french'). Teo Leoni gives a good performance, and Woody is his charming self, Woody fans will him in this one. Mark Webber also gives an interesting performance as Woody's son. Overall a fresh screenplay from Woody, with decent direction and good performances. 9/10
Woody Allen is a comic genius who plays himself in this film as Val Waxman. I don't believe his on screen relationship with Debra Messing or with Tea Leoni but that's Woody Allen for you. This film has him playing a down and out New York City film director who gets to make a film in the city with a Chinese cinematographer who can't speak English. Just days before filming commences, his character comes down with blindness. He can't let the cast, crew, and backers know he's really blind. But still, I do enjoy a good Woody Allen comedy. It's light-hearted at times in this film. If you don't get Woody Allen, I'm sorry that you probably wouldn't like the film. Anyway, I think it's time he got his Star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame for television; the Cecil B. DeMille Award; the National Medal of the Arts; and the Kennedy Center Honors. It's just time for him to get his rewards.
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