Wonder Wheel (2017)
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I am not a big fan of Blue Jasmine or Midnight in Paris, but I do think that both are decent films in some ways. Blue Jasmine was close to being great, but for me that film was histrionic in a way that I found uncaring, cold, heartless and even mocking in the treatment of Cate Blanchett's character Jasmine. Blanchett was wonderful in the role, but the audience was told to laugh AT her and not with her - and that I found to be a serious flaw in that film. To borrow from that film's obvious inspiration, A STREETCAR NAMED DESIRE - "deliberate cruelty is not forgivable!" - and I think Allen was cruel to his flawed protagonist whether he intended it or not.
In Wonder Wheel, Allen borrows obviously from O'Neil and Tennessee Williams, but puts his own dramatic twists to it. This film has humorous elements, but it is absolutely a drama and in my opinion his best drama in over 20 years.
The film starts off a bit clunky for the first few minutes, but if you give it your attention and get past the awkward Justin Timberlake intro, you will soon be engrossed in the characters, the set-up, and ultimately rewarded with a very honest exploration of DEEP PERSONAL DISAPPOINTMENT, jealousy, self-delusion and evil deception. Sound fun? Amazingly, the tragic lead character is actually very fun to watch, but you do feel sympathy for her despite the fact that she is her own worst enemy and in many ways the enemies of others, too. The character development of Ginny (Kate Winslet) is the best thing about the film. She is one of Woody Allen's most interesting creations in his entire career. She is absolutely a tragic character - NOT the hot mess rip off of Blue Jasmine that many critics are claiming! Ginny is a much richer, more sophisticated character, and Kate Winslet plays her with agonizing honesty. This is one of the top performances in Winslet's entire career, which says a lot. Belushi and Juno Temple are very good, too.
The film's biggest flaw is Justin Timberlake. He's not a bad actor, but he is very miscast here. He lacks the charisma for this particular character, and it doesn't help that his character is presented to the audience with a distracting storytelling device - talking directly to the audience as narrator. This movie would have been much better without that, and I wish Allen would have either made the lifeguard more humorous, or taken a sharper turn and made him more cunning. He was neither - too safely written AND portrayed, and it is the film's most obvious and main flaw, sadly.
However, Kate Winslet is utterly captivating and you cannot take your eyes off her. There are many wonderful moments where she reveals Ginny in such sublime ways, in such subtle ways, that the louder moments have greater impact because really see and feel all sides to this tragic, very sad woman. My favorite scene in the film involved Winslet and Temple in a bedroom, just the two of them. The scene was completely breathtaking - and one of Allen's most superb moments in his career. Winslet takes this scene to a level of brilliance, and I don't think I will ever forget how it made me feel. It was shockingly naked and I felt like I was watching an emotional porno with Ginny baring all to the audience while at the same time concealing all and deceiving the character sitting next to her. An amazing achievement in writing and acting there, highlighted by brilliant cinematography.
Vittorio Storaro deserves tremendous credit for his extraordinary cinematography, particularly in the scene mentioned above. Together, he and Winslet have enriched Allen's latest film to a much higher glory that it would have otherwise achieved. The script is underdeveloped in areas, particularly pertaining to the lifeguard Mickey (Timberlake) and in a few other areas as well. That being said, this is otherwise a very good film, and in some moments it is a brilliant film.
The current wave of sexual politics sweeping over Hollywood at the moment has resulted in Allen being swept up, yet again, in sexual controversy. Based on facts made public long ago, Allen does not belong in that category, in my opinion. I believe him and I do not believe Dylan Farrow or Mia Farrow. I believe Dylan was coerced as a child by her vengeful mother, and as an adult continues to believe the lie that was fed to her. I believe the results of Woody Allen's voluntary polygraph test, I believe the findings of the court that found no evidence of wrong doing on his part, and I believe the timing of Mia Farrow's claim against him make it almost impossible to believe her story. I think her motive to destroy his life and career is obvious.
I also think that in a few years time, after Allen is gone, the slew of critics who have trashed this film so unfairly, with such mob-driven, cowardly political blinders on, will look back with embarrassment when they realize it is a very personal and sophisticated drama and will probably one day be seen as Allen's best late-career film.
What a great achievement for Woody Allen, to put out such a great film at the age of 81. He's a remarkable artist.
This is a tragedy of almost epic proportions, as hinted by mentions of O'Neil and Shakespeare. The tragedy of a woman, pushed by the circumstances to act in a despicable way.
Surely we always have a choice to behave fairly, but given our flaws, would we really take it?
Ginny feels trapped: she is married with drunkard Humpty, has a sh***y job and a pyromanica son from the previous, failed marriage. The only ray of sunshine is her affair with the younger Mickey.
She dreams of moving in with Mickey, although it is not clear what would happen to her job and her son - but we gather that at least dumping the husband for more pleasant company would be welcomed.
Enters Carolina, Humpty's daughter, and all of Ginny's dreams are shattered. Carolina was married to a gangster and is now a marked woman seeking an hiding place. Inevitably, Caro falls for Mickey setting Ginny's jealousy in motion.
The story does not work well from the gangster's angle. Real gangsters would have checked Humpty's house more carefully and, once discovered the lies, would have eliminated the whole family.
But the focus here is Ginny's story and Winslet delivers. Excellent photography and soundtrack, too.
the acting is fantastic by everyone - it is sometimes theatrical in purpose - the movie has a theater feel to it.
the shooting is great. simple but beautiful. great nuance and light work to show the changing feelings of the characters .
there are no bad or good here, it shows people with all their flaws, dilemmas, burdens and regrets... like people are. it shows real life.
Story has Winslet unhappily married (to Jim Belushi) and working in a clam house on Coney Island in the 1950s. She meets a lifeguard (Justin Timberlake) and embarks on a doomed love affair with him just as Belushi's daughter (Juno Temple) from a previous marriage returns after her marriage to a gangster has failed. It's sort of a Blanche du Bois meets Eugene O'Neill plot with a twist of the Sopranos.
Everyone is good but Winslet certainly steals the show. The 1950s Coney Island is something to see, and Winslet's house, practically under the giant Wonder Wheel, is awash is garish lights from the ride. Scenes move from orange to blue to red hues. Quite fascinating. Oh, and Winslet has a strange son from a previous marriage. For me this is Allen's best since BLUE JASMINE.
It's such a treat to see good actors actually getting to act in long, uncut scenes and without the camera whipping around and edited into 10-second info-bytes. The soundtrack includes a terrific number by the Mills Brothers I don't think I've ever heard before: "Coney Island Washboard."
Kate Winslet is outstanding, Jim Belushi and Juno Temple are very good, and Justin Timberlake is better than I expected. Great film from a great American filmmaker: Woody Allen.
Wonder Wheel is a wonder of despair juxtaposed with the cheap nostalgia and common lyricism evoked by its 1950's Coney Island setting. Ginny (Kate Winslet) is trapped in a loveless marriage with a Ralph Kramden-like carney, Humpty (Jim Belushi). Indeed, their lives are destined to come tumbling down.
In tragic fashion, Ginny is having an affair with lifeguard Mickey, who eventually falls for her step daughter, Carolina (Juno Temple). Given that Humpty wears wife beaters with a penchant to beat Ginny up, the tragic conclusions seem inevitable. True to an extent, but what writer/director Woody Allen seems to be after goes beyond the cliché into a realm of despair over bad choices and unshakeable fate, where outside forces take over once they are ignited by the principals' decisions.
As if the foolishness of Ginny's cougar relationship were not enough to spark tragedy, Carolina is pursued by the mob, an avenging force hardly to be stopped by minor characters on a boardwalk. None of this melodrama is excitingly different from many black and white TV dramas of the fifties or Allen's own Manhattan, etc., yet Allen infuses it with characters we root for because their pathos is an ingredient of the failed American dream so many of the middle class experience in their daily lives.
Allen has revived the kitchen-sink realistic dramas so successfully launched in Britain in the '50s and early '60s. Apropos of the doomed triangle of Wonder Wheel is an original kitchen-sink called Look Back in Anger (1956). Disillusionment is manifest in ironing boards and kitchen sinks, the hotbeds of despair for disadvantaged women.
Wonder Wheel is his best acting ensemble yet, possibly a result of the director taking unusual care with actors' performances. Hardly worthy of the sometimes magical dialogue of other Allen dramadies such as Midnight in Paris, Wonder Wheel has a raw feel, a realistic tint unlike much else he has created. While rough to see characters go through calamities most of us at least have a faint relationship with, it's salutary to see the Woodman touch down with the real people and make characters that aren't his doppelgangers.
It's not funny Woody; it's real Woody, and it's wonderful.
Woody Allen's script makes several references to Eugene O'Neill, and were they living on Nantucket and complaining about how their lives were ruined because the father had made too much money playing the Count of Monte Cristo to attend to his art, everyone would recognize this as LONG DAY'S JOURNEY INTO NIGHT. However, Mr. Allen has set it in the neighborhood he grew up in and made the fact that they're so broke they're living in a bankrupt freak show house an important plot point, so this will either be overlooked or seen as blasphemy.
This is one of Mr. Allen's serious movies. I join the general population in not being as fond of those as the ones that make me laugh out loud. Yet I take a good deal of pleasure in his recreation of 1950s Coney Island (although his "Greenwich Village hovel" is remarkably clean for the era) and his clear-eyed vision of a world, now vanished, that existed more surely than the one I live in now sometimes seems to.
"Wonder Wheel" is a dramatic unconventional romance by Woody Allen with a storyline of shattered dreams, unrequited love, jealousy and betrayal. The performance of Kate Winslet is top notch and Juno Temple, Jim Belushi and Justin Timberlake have also great performances. They all perform human characters very well developed. The film looks like a play, with few locations, but the cinematography is beautiful. The stylish soundtrack follows Woody Allen high-standard. My vote is seven.
Title (Brazil): "Roda Gigante" ("Ferris Wheel")
Apart from kate other actors and actresses has also done well. The plot set against an Amusement park in Coney Island is real good and it has got good depth in both writing and executing emotions from them.
The time of the plot was in 1950.Always like to see those past times,their existing fashions, motions,life styles,thoughts and backgrounds in films.
Over all a good drama or thriiler you can say that has ability to capture you and your thoughts. Only faults can be said are it is not a fast movie with lot of incidents happening rather it is a movie of friction between minds with a descent angle where you will slowly sink into the moving waves of it.
Unfortunately, it was quite painful to watch. Some of the acting was fine, but they were struggling to deliver a story that went nowhere, contained very little if any of Woody's sparkling wit, and had Justin Timberlake attempting to cut it with real actors. Ordinarily Woody's casting is impeccable, but... JT?? I was thinking OK, I'll give him a chance, but no.
The typical, period music (which I usually love) even seemed tired and uninspired.
There is situational comedy here and there, a lot of itr coming from a young boy with an unhealthy obsession with (setting) fire, but the humor here is not as frequent or maybe even as dark as in other Allen films. This one is definitely more of a family/relationship drama than anything else and then the crime and comedy components follow in second. Really you never get an Allen film without the crime component these days, but I'm fine with it. All in all, it was a success, even if it definitely wasn't as good as his brilliant recent film starring Phoenix and Stone. Maybe the script as a whole was not on par with Allen's attention to detail that is still as good as always and I'm sure you will find something new and intriguing on 3rd, 4th and 5th watch. Temple and especially Timberlake don't impress me either, so other casting could have been favorable too. Still if you like Kate Winslet as much as I do, then this one really deserves to be seen, is almost a must-see in my opinion. And please don't follow the advice of people telling you not to watch it because of decisions made by Allen concerning his personal life. Don't strip yourself of seeing a quality film for such reasons. It would be a bad decision. Watching this one is the right decision and I am positive you will enjoy it. The characters have interesting shades and you really don't need to find them likable to enjoy the watch as a whole. Thumbs up. Go see it.