As promised, this review will encompass two never-before-attempted tasks on this site: 1) two disparate movies under one umbrella, and 2) a timed writing done before going to see UP at the dollar theater. The wife gets off work in 25 minutes, so let's get cracking!
It's easy enough to say that loss comprises a good deal of human existence. This morning, I awoke to find myself minus a left arm, completely numbed from laying on top of it for who knows how many hours. As I mulled over the implications of being the next Dave Mustaine, the next artist having to retrain his limb from having slept on it wrong, I realized that if indeed this arm was gone for good, leaving me with a phantom for a left appendage, I'd be up a creek. Sure, I'm right-handed, but really--I thrive on speed. I thrive on being able to get thoughts down in one shot, and not having to do second-takes in my writing. As the blood resurged to my arm, leaving me pins shoved under my nails, joy returned, and the feelings of loss ebbed.
But faithful readers, this post has little to do with loss of feeling, and more about the loss of pretty much everything else non-appendage. Loss is a downer, and we all know what it's like, so why dwell on the fact that yes, Woody Allen's probably going to do something massively stupid to mess it up with Diane Keaton (looking even more splendid than her turn as Mrs. Godfather--for the record, Diane Keaton is a good-looking older woman; I'm throwing that out there for consideration). History is written, and we're marginally sure that, yes, Manchuria is going to get its touchey kicked from opium field to opium field by the Japanese. So, what's to say about these films together? How can we speak of them?
We speak of these two good films BY PITTING THEM AGAINST ONE ANOTHER IN THE ULTIMATE GRUDGEMATCH OF SORROW! Embrace their message and medium, I say!
Point: Diane Keaton and Woody Allen share sweet intimate, powerless moments, culminating in one of greatest analogies of a terminal relationship: the dead shark. I loved it.
Counterpoint: little babies getting put in places of power is totally tragic. They cry and pout and poop their pants, and come off looking completely weak on the world stage.
SCORE: HALL 0, EMPEROR 1
Point: Diane Keaton looks like New York bohemian for the majority of the film, spotted with moments of New York hip. This is juxtaposed to Woody Allen's generally schleppiness.
Counterpoint: the emperor constantly looks constipated, wrapped up in way too many layers of yellow chiffon and sashes.
I have to give it Diane on this one. Woody just brings her attitude down splendidly.
SCORE: HALL 1, EMPEROR 1
Point: Woody Allen's neuroses are truly tragic. Normally, I find them overwrought and banal. But in this flick, the fact that he falls for an activist moments after he breaks it off with Annie Hall is too much. You find yourself rooting for him to just be found out and get some professional help.
Counterpoint: the emperor gets deposed by the Chinese army while playing tennis in white trousers, AFTER LABOR DAY. The ultimate combination of bad style and ironic juxtaposition of brute force and refined out-of-touchness.
Point to the emperor on style sense. SCORE: HALL 1, EMPEROR 2
Point: Annie Hall and Woody Allen truly love each other, making their interactions that much more heartwrenching. Their neuroses subconciously seek each other out at a subatomic level, and make truly beautiful, Freudian music together. I gave this one 5 dead sharks out of 5.
Counterpoint: the emperor is a truly selfish individual, turning his country into an opium den for the Japanese and selling out the ones who ever cared for him. I would have shoved him in the Forbidden City with a tube of toothpaste and a bamboo salad and told him good luck long before the final credits. Cinematography: 6 rising suns out of 5; overall film: 4 cheating mistresses out of 5.
FINAL SCORE: HALL 2, EMPEROR 2
In the final tally, you can't compare sadness or spoils. The philosopher Marilyn McCord has this brilliant book called CHRIST AND THE HORRORS in which she makes this point: that some tragedies defy our categorization of them, and need to not be explained, but rather outlived.
With that in mind, I'm still hoping that sometime in the near future, Woody Allen calls Diane up, having ditched his adopted daughter/lover, and tries to resurrect in reality what on the screen was truly neurotic and flickering beauty. Point, set, match: ANNIE HALL.