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Popcorn & Prejudice: A Movie Blog

Seattle Times writer Moira Macdonald muses on moviegoing. Email Moira: mmacdonald@seattletimes.com.

July 2, 2009 at 10:25 AM

As I exit (for a week), let’s talk Woody Allen

After today, Popcorn & Prejudice will be on hiatus for a week while I’m out of the office; back on July 13. (Don’t get too envious; it’s a mandatory week of leave without pay, a.k.a. furlough. As an optimistic friend noted recently, all the cool kids are doing it. I will be spending the week entertaining my visiting 12-year-old niece and trying not to spend any money. If you have any ideas for attaining those mutual goals, let me know.)
So let’s talk Woody Allen. “Whatever Works,” in theaters this weekend, is his 40th feature film. To my mind, it’s a disappointing retread of themes he’s explored many times before, and would rank pretty low in any listing of my own Allen favorites. Oh, you want to know what they are? In no particular order: “Annie Hall,” “The Purple Rose of Cairo,” “Hannah and Her Sisters,” “Manhattan,” and two that nobody ever lists among his best: “Manhattan Murder Mystery” and “Everyone Says I Love You.” The latter is, I think, the happiest movie Woody ever made; a goofy, joyous ode to movie musicals and to the universal urge to burst into song. The clip below, from that movie, is perhaps the most vulnerable Allen’s ever been on screen as an actor. It’s a lovely song, and a lovely moment:

And, just for fun, here’s the terrific backstage-at-the-moviehouse sequence from “Manhattan Murder Mystery,” with “The Lady from Shanghai” on the big screen — and in all those mirrors. (Spoiler alert: Don’t watch if you haven’t seen the movie and intend to; it reveals details about the mystery.)

So — what are your favorite Allen movies? Do you like the “early funny ones”? Do you miss Diane Keaton? (I do.) Have you had the joy of seeing “Manhattan” on the big screen? (I did, back when I was a teenager.) Are you heartened, as I am, to hear that he’s headed back to London for his next movie? Or have Allen’s movies never quite done it for you? Talk amongst yourselves, and have a lovely week. I’ll be back on the 13th, and we’ll talk “Harry Potter.”

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