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.
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.
Al, Louise, Max and Sy - four literary types who work in the theater business - are discussing what they believe to be the real life truths underlying their work, Max who writes primarily tragic plays, and Sy who writes primarily comic plays. Al proceeds to tell them a real story of a troubled woman named Melinda Robicheaux showing up unexpectedly at a door in the middle of an important business dinner party. Melinda long ago left her physician husband to embark on a relationship with who she initially believed to be the man of her dreams, which ended up not being the case. Melinda tries to put her life back together with the help of select people at the dinner party, some who have their own ulterior motives. Melinda's appearance also opens up the cracks existing in the marriage of one of the couples at the dinner party, while it leads to the dissolution of a friendship that has existed since college. With this basic outline of a story, Max and Sy try to make their point of life being... Written by
When Melinda, Walt and Hobie are watching the first race at the race track, Walt says, "No! You did not bet on Bedazzler! That's a nine-to-one horse!" There then follows a scene of Melinda and Hobie talking, following by another scene of them watching a horse race with Walt, in which the dialogue track has been removed from underneath the musical score. However, if you look at Walt's lips during this second scene, he is clearly saying, once again, "No! You did not bet on Bedazzler! That's a nine-to-one horse!" See more »
A bunch of guys are discussing philosophy in a bar. Two writers with opposed views on life argue about it: is life tragic or comic? To illustrate their theories, they imagine a story of a woman. The comic writer presents the optimistic, bright tale of Melinda (Radha Mitchell), who just accepts life as it goes by. The tragic writer gives us a destructive, lonesome and troubled Melinda, who deals with depression and suicide. Around the two Melindas we can find a variety of interesting characters: a sincere and kind of shy actor (Will Ferrell) and his ambitious wife (Amanda Peet) in the comic tale; an intellectual woman (Chloe Sevigny) and the gentle pianist (Chiwetel Ejiofor)she falls in love with.
Woody's recent efforts weren't much impressive (yet me and most of critics here liked them), so everyone was a bit skeptical about his next film. Skeptical because it wasn't a proper comedy and because Woody didn't appear in it. Well, after having seen it, I must say this is the best film the man has directed in the last ten years or so (no, I haven't seen Deconstructing Harry). Not only it is wittier, but more transcendental as well. It feels more personal, and its message is clearer and warmer. Woody teaches us a lesson. Let's not get too excited, though. The film itself is not breathtakingly impressive, but it truly delivers, and is overall rewarding. It features plenty of allenisms and classic Woody situations. Precisely one of the correct complaints about the movie is the feeling of déja vu. The film's premise is original (it might even remind of Crimes and Misdemeanors, but believe me: it's pretty different) and very well executed, but the setting and characters all seem a bit familiar.
Nothing wrong with that, though. There's plenty of characters and they're all very well crafted by the director: the protagonist, Melinda, is both believable in its two sides (tragic and comic). Radha Mitchell is excellent in both parts, switching from comedy to drama smoothly. Will Ferrell is great, and I mean great, portraying the allenistic neurotic - he doesn't merely imitate Woody. Ejiofor and Sevigny are also very adequate in their roles. Overall, none of the characters seems forced; they're all believable and honest. I'd like to comment on the cinematography by veteran Vilmos Zsigmond (The Deer Hunter) in his first collaboration with Allen: the photography is by no means revolutionary, but the way the shots were composed was always interesting (a rewatch will help to reinforce this observation).
Woody's direction is masterful as always. I'm fascinated at how he alternates and mixes both stories. The pace and editing are mostly effective, as is the usual jazzy score. The dialogues presented are human and dynamic. This is a throughoutly enjoyable, pleasant exercise on love, infidelity, marriage, life, and so on, which while not being specially mesmerizing nor powerful, is sure enlightening: life is short. We shouldn't see it in a pessimistic way, because that doesn't lead anywhere, nor in an exaggeratedly optimistic way. We just got to accept it and enjoy it, because it can end... like that.
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