As someone who will always consider Woody Allen a god, I admit that I’ve been pretty grumpy about his movies over the past few years. The last one I really loved was Match Point, the addictively squirmy, London-set drama of lust and ambition and adultery and murder he made back in 2005. It was the rare thriller with a true Hitchcock edge — and, for my money, a more brilliantly insidious (and complex) variation on the themes of Allen’s 1989 Crimes and Misdemeanors. In the seven years since Match Point, however, the press, perhaps grateful that Woody, in his 70s, is still churning out a movie a year, seems to have stopped asking for him to be major again. Audiences, too, have grown freshly fond of Woody as a kind of sweet genius of cosmopolitan fables, a maker of luscious desserts that don’t pretend to be much more than desserts. And so you’d have to be quite a curmudgeon to knock these movies, right? READ FULL STORY
Tag: Andrew Sarris (1-2 of 2)
Andrew Sarris, the erudite and influential film critic and teacher who brought the “auteur” theory to America, died today in Manhattan at the age of 83. Courtly and modest in personal manner, Sarris spoke — and wrote — softly. Not for him the stylistic literary fireworks and from-the-gut pronouncements of his great critical adversary Pauline Kael. But the clarity of Sarris’ identification of a distinctive directorial “voice” as the key artistic element in any film, stands the test of time as a profound organizing principle in the understanding, analysis, and criticism of the movie medium.
Sarris, who held a berth at the Village Voice for decades and later wrote for The New York Observer, was at the peak of his critical firepower in the 1960s and ‘70s, a unique time of great excitement for filmmakers and moviegoers: Intellectual debate about movies was fierce, and the philosophical division between those who embraced Sarris’ auteur theory and those who preferred Kael’s more sensory response to movies was a vital part of the fun of arguing passionately about the medium in the first place. Imported from France, where Francis Truffaut and fellow New Wave critics first developed the philosophy at the influential journal Cahiers du cinema, the auteur theory helped Sarris introduce a crop of stunning new European filmmakers to American audiences. Among them Jean-Luc Godard, Ingmar Bergman, and Akira Kurosawa; Sarris also championed homegrown auteurs who passed under the Hollywood radar as laborers working in the studio system — company men now recognized as giants, including John Ford, Howard Hawks, and Alfred Hitchcock.
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