Saturday, August 31, 2013
HOLLYWOOD ENDING (2002)
Written & Directed By: Woody Allen
Cinematography By: Wedigo Von Schultzendorff
Editor: Alisa Lepselter
Cast: Woody Allen, Tea Leoni, Debra Messing, Tiffani Amber Theissen, Treat Williams, Mark Rydell, George Hamilton, Douglas McGrath, Greg Mottola, Issac Mizrahi, Aaron Stanford, Erica Leerhsen, Mark Weber
Val Waxman is a film director who was once big in the 1970's and 1980's, but has now has been reduced to directing TV commercials. Finally, he gets an offer to make a big film. But, disaster strikes, when Val goes temporarily blind, due to paranoia. So, he and a few friends, try to cover up his disability, without the studio executives or the producers knowing that he is directing the film blind.
Watching this film is like being in a car that is about to die, because it has run out of fuel. It's practically running on fumes. While the ending to this film is brilliant and can be seen as autobiographical.
The set up is classic woody Allen of the seventies only updated. All the elements are here to make a good film.
Seems like an inspired idea that had air of possibility slowly leak out. It's broad when it should be small and meticulous and small and meticulous bogged down with dialogue when it should be grand and visual.
He has a cast that could have made this one of his most mainstream movies in awhile, they feel more cast as media friendly then for actual talent, Though they aren’t noteworthy they are younger and more photogenic then his usual, but somehow he dropped the ball. Using old and tired California jokes, bad Hollywood stereotype jokes. Non-biting filmmaking jokes and commentary. That might have worked more in the late seventies or early 80's when filmmaking and the Hollywood process wasn't so known and open to the masses.
The film is a reminder of Allen’s Dry spots where these days for every acclaimed film that he makes there seem to be a few clunkers that might have started off as a great idea but misfired somewhere along the way. Either half baked or maybe just dashed off due to productivity. The weird thing is that no matter if the film is acclaimed or not it usually feels like Allen puts the same kind of energy into either. Which feels more like a light touch. It doesn’t feel workmanlike nor does it feel passionate. It almost feels more like a hobby in the middle ground. Something he wants to put out there, but once he’s finished no interest. Like a test he has to take but once he’s done nothing you can do about it. So pass Fail he lives with the consequences. The first Woody Allen not to receive a cinema release in the UK.
The film feels like he dusted off an old screenplay and added some more current material then filmed it. Not fully understanding the material from when he wrote it.
As he usually makes a new film each year. Some of his films are amazingly beautiful and brilliant. Then there are some that feel of an assembly line. Nothing quote special or original about them. This is one of Those assembly line Films. With the move to DreamWorks from Orion, Woody Allen had to submit to budget cuts. One of the casualties was his regular editor Susan E. Morse.
The film also has a strange ensemble for him ranging from noted actors to how the hell did he decide to use them for this film casting. Also as usual which can be distracting is how old was he and at what age was she when he met and seduce his leading lady co-star Tea Leoni. They have chemistry. She is cast to her strengths quick witted and smart. An older type of attractive more middle aged.
Haskell Wexler was fired a week into production as he and Woody Allen couldn't agree on how to film certain shots. He was replaced by Wedigo Von Schultzendorff. Although one of Hollywood's most respected cinematographers, this is not the first time Wexler has been fired from a production, ONE FLEW OVER THE CUCKOO’S NEST being a notable example
This film is a let-down as when it came out looking at the advertisements. I thought not only was woody back, but back with a hit. How wrong i was. It's not horrible, but it is bad. It feels like one of those films touchstone Hollywood pictures would release in the 90's. Which as long as it had a star. They didn't see the need to read the script and gave it a basic mid-budget then just release it with little fanfare just to pad their release schedule unless you are a woody Allen completist you can definitely skip it