Monday, August 12, 2013

Rejecting Woody Allen

Dating back to the ‘30s, THE NEW YORKER has always had a feature called “Shouts & Murmurs”, a weekly essay by one of the premier comedy writers of the time. This was the gold standard. Today the best of the best contributors is Paul Rudnick. Always hilarious, head and shoulders above the rest.

Back in the ‘70s when I was starting out and devouring comedy in all forms, I often gleaned inspiration from the “Shouts & Murmurs” pieces. And back then the best of the best was Woody Allen. Two compilations of his NEW YORKER pieces have been published – GETTING EVEN and WITHOUT FEATHERS. I recommend them both. Yes, there will be things that are dated, but his comic premises are wildly inventive and even the stuff that might seem a little stale was fresh back then.

So it was with great excitement that I saw in the August 5th NEW YORKER edition that there was a new piece by Woody Allen. Imagine my disappointment when it was terrible. Instead of great jokes there were random funny words that when put together were supposed to evoke laughter. The premise was wandering and everything about this piece felt tired and forced.

Now I hear all the time that the editor of “Shouts & Murmurs” is very tough on submissions. I find that a little hard to believe when I see that if you starred in SOCIAL NETWORK or GIRLS your piece gets printed even if it’s not in the same league as Paul Rudnick’s.

But what do you do about Woody Allen? Here is an icon, a giant who has brought prestige and notoriety to your magazine. What if the editor read his piece and felt the same way I did? (I would hope that he or she did.) But how do you reject Woody Allen? What is that letter like?

Much tact would be required. This is a writer who deserves the upmost respect. So after giving it much thought, this is how I would write that rejection letter:
Dear Woody,

Thank you so much for your submission, “Now Where Did I Leave That Oxygen Tank?”

First off, let me say that I am in awe of how prolific you are. Considering the number of screenplays you’ve written, it’s commendable that you even had the ten minutes you obviously spent to conceive, write, and polish this humor piece.

If I may, congratulations on your latest movie, BLUE JASMINE. This was a wonderful film, one of your best, and I appreciate how you were able to basically repeat scenes numerous times and yet get away with it because of the performances – especially from Cate Blanchett. That same repetition was in fine evidence in your latest submission.

I couldn’t help but notice that BLUE JASMINE bares a striking resemblance to A STREETCAR NAMED DESIRE, and just as you are obviously paying homage to Tennessee Williams in the film, in this humor piece you are paying homage to Woody Allen.

So, as stated above, there were many positive aspects of your submission. However, I wonder if perhaps this is the wrong department for it. Might you be better served offering it to the “Fiction” section? Or perhaps “Annals of Technology”, “A Reporter at Large”, or “The Sporting Scene? Unfortunately, our upcoming slots have been taken. Lena Dunham has submitted a laundry list that is both hilarious and unique to Millennials. And Jessie Eisenberg has a wonderful piece that we might have considered even if he wasn’t one of Hollywood’s brightest young stars.

Please do not consider this a rejection in any shape or form. In fact, should BLUE JASMINE receive numerous Oscar nominations next January, please resubmit. You are one of the pillars of this publication and are entitled to special consideration. If I have to move Mindy Kaling’s piece back a week I will.

Congratulations again,


Editor, “Shouts & Murmurs”

(You know what? I should probably submit this.)

45 comments:

Johnny Walker said...

Excellent!

From all I've read about Woody Allen, he lives in such a self-obsessed bubble, you could happily reject him without him noticing.

Consider when he sued his best friend of 40 years, Jean Doumanian.

She felt like she'd been stabbed in the back, but he was surprised. "This was supposed to be amusing—-like a Tracy-Hepburn movie—-in court by day, friends by night!", he wrote to her. (Yes, he actually wrote that.)

Or the time he was about to ask Mia Farrow star in an upcoming film, post their acrimonious split. His people talked him out of it, but apparently he didn't understand what the big deal was.

Or the time he sued for custody of his children with Mia Farrow, but when questioned in court he didn't know a single thing about them: Their friend's names, pet's names, how they were doing in school, their teacher's names, their doctors. Nothing.

Woody Allen lives in Woody Allen Land.

Charles H. Bryan said...

Absolutely spot on regarding that New Yorker piece. (Actually, I don't recall laughing much at his other recent-ish submissions, either.)If you read it all the way to the end, I commend you on your persistence.

Paul Simms and Ian Frazier also do some nice work with that column, but if I want funny from the New Yorker, I go straight to Anthony Lane's reviews. I don't always agree with his assessments, but his writing is a pure delight.

The New Yorker's poetry is also sometimes quite humorous, in the same way that listening to someone talk in their sleep is sometimes good for a laugh.

PK said...

Actually, am almost certain I've read somewhere that Woody Allen has been rejected by the Shouts and Murmurs editor quite often in the (distant) past. Apparently even he has no guarantee of being published.

bill said...

Woody Allen at his worst is better than best of 99.9% writers out there. I hope at 77 you'll be still making a movie a year, writing for the new yorker, and playing your instrument once a week at a jazz club.

Got to say, your continued bashing of Woody Allen always strikes me a a low point in an otherwise great blog. It is really hard to see someone rip into the closest America has to a national treasure and not think: professional jealousy.

Take the Money and Run, Sleeper, Annie Hall, Manhattan, Hanna and her Sisters, Midnight in Paris, please let me know another writer, director, actor who comes close to the body of work that Woody has done.

And by the way, almost impossible to keep up that pace unless you have the ability to compartmentalize, so - to the other posters - how about leaving his personal life (which you know nothing about) alone.

One of the greatest film makers of the 20th and 21st centuries.

This is nothing more than a very cheap shot and one not deserving of your usual fine commentary.

gottacook said...

With respect to an above commenter's phrase "custody of his children with Mia Farrow," he had only one biological child with her (originally named Satchel) and never was the adopted father of the others, nor was he married to Farrow; indeed he lived across Central Park from all of them. If he did sue for their custody, it likely was a countersuit in response to Farrow's action against him.

I have owned and treasured Getting Even and Without Feathers for years. The third volume (Side Effects) wasn't as consistently funny.

Barry in Portland said...

I couldn't finish that painful New Yorker piece, but, in the list of great films from Woody, let's not forget 'Purple Rose of Cairo'.

Donald said...

Kaling. With a g.

Ken Levine said...

Long time readers of this blog know that I don't hate Woody Allen. He was my original comedy idol. His early movies, stand up routines, and essays were inspirational to me.

I've often praised some of his movies like ANNIE HALL, HANNAH AND HER SISTERS, and CRIMES AND MISDEMEANORS as absolute masterpieces.

And I could care less about his personal life.

But I do feel his work now is uneven and suspect it would be better if he did less. One movie every two years vs. one every year and you'd have more MIDNIGHT IN PARIS's and fewer TO ROME WITH LOVE's.

That's my opinion. And it's not jealousy. I've known I'll never be Woody Allen from the first time I wrote anything.

Gordon K said...

I have often been disappointed by Woody Allen's work in the last decade or so...

That's because he set such a high bar, even he couldn't always reach its dizzying heights.

And yet, he still occasionally manages....

Midnight in Paris was a delight and I was quite impressed with Blue Jasmine...

No one else in today's world even comes close.


Ken -- I don't know you, but you don't need to defend yourself. This is your blog and we are only invited guests. And I feel privileged to read your thoughts even when I don't necessarily concur.




ChicagoJohn said...

I can't pretend to care less about an artists personal life.
While I don't expect them to be angels, I have to draw the line at sleeping with your adopted daughter. That level of ickiness doesn't wash off. I'll never quite understand why you can get away with doing something in Hollywood that - an any other segment of society - you would be completely ostricized for doing.

Somewhere in California, at this very minute, someone is pitching a Lindsay Lohan vehicle directed by Roman Polanski... and the guy behind the desk is nodding his head wondering if he can get Mike Tyson as the love interest.

Roger Owen Green said...

"This is a writer who deserves the upmost respect." Upmost?
That said, I used to go to all of Woody's films, and now I wait for the good reviews.

Stephen Robinson said...

Ken --

I'm not sure I agree with the argument that a prolific artist with a varied output could have a stellar track record if he just produced less work.

It *makes sense* but I think it requires that the artist have the judgment to know what is dross and what's not. If he made a film every 4 years, you might get INTERIORS, ANOTHER WOMAN, SEPTEMBER, and TO ROME WITH LOVE and no ANNIE HALL (almost abandoned), MANHATTAN (almost rejected), HANNAH AND HER SISTERS (he doesn't like the ending), and MIDNIGHT IN PARIS.

I have the same discussion with friends about another favorite of mine -- Prince -- who releases music at a similar pace as Allen makes movies. I don't think SIGN OF THE TIMES would be better if Prince hadn't made AROUND THE WORLD IN A DAY and PARADE. From a commercial standpoint, sure, SIGN OF THE TIMES might have sold better as a follow-up to PURPLE RAIN (especially if it contained RASPBERRY BERET and KISS from the other albums). But I don't think his mind really works that way.

Stephen Robinson said...

CHICAGOJOHN: I can't pretend to care less about an artists personal life.
While I don't expect them to be angels, I have to draw the line at sleeping with your adopted daughter.>>

SER: I don't defend Allen's actions but I will point out that SoonYi Previn was not Allen's adopted daughter.

But Ronan Farrow's POV that Allen showed no respect for the familial bond (SoonYi was his sister -- even if Allen hadn't adopted her with Farrow) is hard to dispute.

The SoonYi Scandal is now about as old (21 years) as SoonYi was at the time. Allen has made 22 films since then (any other director's entire lifetime output!). He's won an Oscar for Midnight in Paris and his films have won Oscars for their stars (Penelope Cruz, Dianne Wiest, Mira Sorvino). I'm not talking about the 70s/80s. I'm talking about his career POST SCANDAL. There are directors who would kill just for those past 21 years.

Chicodee said...

@bill...ease up on the great Ken Levine I say. Even our idols are fallible. Willie Mays stunk at the end of his career - does that not still make him the greatest player of all-time? Paul McCartney, another idol of mine whom I worship, should stop singing or at least performing live. He's not the same Paul I love. And so on. Some criticism of the great Woody Allen is ok. He'll live. Ken's take as usual, was spot on, funny and honest. To me, Ken is one of the great's of our time. I admire his written touch and can only hope to become half as good as him. So ease up big boy.

Paid for by the friends of Ken Levine :)

Trey said...

Chicodee: Ken would like to sit down now, so you can stop kissing his ass.

Johnny Walker said...

gottacook: Woody Allen sued Mia Farrow for custody of their two adopted children (yes, they adopted two children together), and their one biological child.

Incidentally, none of these children, now adults, have any contact with their father, and don't talk publicly about him (although his biological son did famously Tweet: "Happy Father's Day, or as they call it in my family, happy brother-in-law's day.")

People always point out that Soon-Yi was the adopted daughter of Mia Farrow, and that Allen was not a father figure to her, but that isn't disputed. The issue was mostly about the damage it did to those around them, and his apparent lack of concern.

Allen claimed to the press during the court trial that the most important things in the world to him were his three children (the ones it was later revealed he knew nothing about).

He not only tried to pull them away from their established family, but he also couldn't understand why they'd be upset that he married their sister.

Indeed, if there was one thing that all the psychologists that had worked with Allen and his children agreed upon, it was that he was completely incapable of understanding how his actions were inappropriate.

Anyhoo, I didn't mean to sidetrack the comments. I didn't think pointing out that Allen was self-absorbed (as so probably immune to rejection -- and I mean that in all earnestness) would be so contentious.

ANNIE HALL is still a wonderful film.

Not a Jery Lewis Fan said...

Friday question for you, Ken: Now that a sneak peek of the world's most infamous unreleased movie is up on YouTube, what's your thoughts on "The Day The Clown Cried"?

Johnny Walker said...

Stephen Robinson: Interestingly, Prince is another completely self-absorbed individual who lives in his own world. If you haven't heard Kevin Smith talk about working with him, you're in a for a treat.

I love Prince's music too :)

Cap'n Bob said...

Once more, with feeling: It's I COULDN'T care less.

As for The Woodman, I envy that he can do just what he wants and ignore the critics. I'm not saying I like all of his decisions, but if he can live with himslef, who am I to carp?

Anonymous said...

Johnny Walker:

"From all I've read about Woody Allen, he lives in such a self-obsessed bubble, you could happily reject him without him noticing."

Yeah, Johnny. If only Woody Allen could be more like you. Everyone would be so better off. Just think! He'd have to stop making movies, and begin sharing his wisdom almost exclusively on Ken's website.
Ahhh, the exponential artistic benefits of living in Johnny Walkerland!

Marty Fufkin said...

I say this as a great admirer of Woody Allen -- Ken, this is one of your best posts.

Back in the day, when Woody was great, he was an original. Nowadays, when he's great, he's imitating his own great works. (I haven't seen Blue Jasmine yet, but your observations don't ring false given what I've seen in his other movies.)

I refuse to read his occasional New Yorker pieces, because one I saw a few years ago left me so disillusioned, I don't want to experience that disappointment again.

The problem you note, Ken, about how The New Yorker can't reject him because of his iconic status -- that's become his problem overall. His scripts (like his New Yorker pieces) need editing or outright rejection, but no one will tell him. In his heyday, he collaborated with other screen-writers and seasoned film editors who would challenge him, and his work was better for it. Today, he's surrounded by Yes Men.

The frustrating thing about him, as someone who admires his art, is that he constantly puts himself down, saying he could never make a film as great as one by Bergman, Fellini, etc. So why doesn't he try? Instead of doing one film a year, how about taking two years to work on something great, and collaborate with others who help him achieve that? His lack of effort is puzzling.

Dodgerdog said...

I feel the same way about Stephen King: enormous quantity, variable quality. And, sadly, the same pronouncements about not having the time to do things as well as he might like. (Why not? What's the pressure to publish just to have something this year?) I admire the urge to create and the clearly enormous talent that gives these folks carte blanche, but I don't admire the "no time" excuse or the seeming unwillingness to evaluate or revise.

"Anonymous" also has a tremendous output but I don't think the work holds up.

bill said...

"His lack of effort is puzzling."

I should suffer from such a lack of effort. Lack of effort! Because Woody doesn't think he has made as good a film as Fellini doesn't mean that others don't think so.

Maybe this is an LA thing. I like to think in New York we celebrate the artists we've been blessed to have watched in our life time. I don't think anyone asked for their money back when Elaine Stritch performed her last concert.

But Woody isn't Elaine Stritch. Some might argue that with Midnight in Paris and now with Blue Jasmine are some of his best mature works and certainly better than almost - scratch almost -every other movie in the theaters today.

And lets face it: To Rome With Love might not have been one of his greatest but it had some wonderful comic moments and it was an amazingly well crafted film: the film of someone who knows exactly what he is doing.

His movies are making money, the bring great enjoyment to many people who look forward each year to the next Woody Allen film, they are all intelligent and entertaining.

So, he gets a piece in the new yorker. Haven't read it. Maybe its crap. But why would I choose that to write about? How about : he paid his dues. He doesn't have to prove anything. People like him they go see his movies and he knocks them out of the park MORE in recent years than at any other time in his career.

Give the guy a freaking break.

Dorkenheimer, King of the Squid People said...

I'm a devoted Woody Allen fan, but, in fairness to all (because clearly I'm the arbiter of such things):

The reason Ken gets accused of bashing Woody Allen is not that he criticizes Woody, but that the posts seem to have a snarky quality to them that greatly outweighs their humorousness. For Ken to be more obnoxious than funny, naturally people may take that as simple bashing. I just take it as below-par writing for Ken (which is circumstantially ironic given the nature of the post, if circumstantial irony really does exist and isn't just something made up by people ashamed to admit they don't know what dramatic irony is).

Woody Allen's work has always been uneven, but it has certainly become moreso over time (despite the fact that "moreso" isn't actually a word). He would clearly benefit from making fewer movies and writing more than three drafts of each instead of making every movie that comes into his head. I think the problem, both in terms of the quality and quantity is that he's come to look at filmmaking as his hobby now instead of his career.

Woody clearly did hurt several people by marrying who he did. It's a shame, too, because it's the first time in history that a love affair caused collateral damage. Humanity had a perfect record until then. Incidentally, they're still married after 16 years.

To Anonymous: 1) Seriously, with all the times Ken has asked people to leave SOME name, you couldn't even make up some ridiculous fake name? 2) So, Johnny Walker isn't allowed to voice his opinion or report information he's read without being personally attacked?

Now, I'm bored with my own comment at this point (I'm no Woody Allen, clearly) so I'll just put this comment out of its misery and post it if I can read the fucking "prove you're not a robot" thing.

See, wasn't that fair?

bill said...

Well, I've been inspired by this blog post to attempt to deconstruct one of Woody's lesser triumphs, To Rome with Love, in order to make the case that even with a uneven effort, there is still a lot going on.

First: a big portion of the movie IS IN ITALIAN. exclamation point implied.

It is a vignette movie that uses a very simple device to pull all the stories together: the Rome traffic cop who sees all of humanity each day, both literally and figuratively and who provides the function of connecting multiple stylistically different elements and providing the exposition into each story.

The stories themselves are each from unique influences. We have the Restoration comedy/ traveling salesman / light comedy of the newly wed bumpkins coming to the big city and having a comic sex romp.

You have an experimental section that plays with structure with the Alex Baldwin character perhaps imaging himself and trying to advice his younger self on life and love. No explanation is given for his comings and goings from a scene but it still works in telling a tale of sexual manipulation. narcissism, betrayal, weakness.

The section with Roberto Benigni as a person who suddenly finds himself famous for no other reason than he is famous. Benigni's comic timing is brilliant as always. It is a wonderful dadaist homage as well as comic brilliance that couldn't sustain an entire movie but works wonderfully in the context of a series of stories.

And finally, taking that one comic idea that we all relate to: only being able to sing in the shower to its wonderfully absurd conclusion.

four examples of story telling, wrapped in the convenience of the traffic cop who bookends the movie, it is a gem of film making, story telling, experimentation, and in ITALIAN and all in his late 70's.

And to top it all off....it looked beautiful.

willieb said...

Ken, Just got back from a road trip and caught a Frasier from the last season written only by David. When did you guys decide it was okay to write individually instead of as a team? And what have you written without David?

gottacook said...

J. Walker: Thanks for the correction. I an usually a careful writer (and editor, my profession) but in this case didn't care enough about the details to look it up.

Farrow married Frank Sinatra when she was 21 and he was 51. Perhaps she shouldn't have been totally surprised that Allen in his 50s also would develop an interest in a 21-year-old.

Marty Fufkin said...

bill ... you really know how to take a line out of context and run with it!

Mike said...

Next week: Jerry Lewis.

Ellen said...

Your rejection letter was far funnier than Woody's piece, which read like it was written by someone with a tin ear (and no sense of humor) trying to imitate Woody Allen's style. Disappointing to say the least.

Tom Swofford said...

So Woody Allen is the closest thing we have to a national treasure, huh? That must leave people like Jonas Salk, or Neil Armstrong, or Chesley Sullenberger (or about 10,000 other people) feeling like they couldn't make the cut.

We get it, Bill. You like Woody Allen. That doesn't mean for a second that Allen is above criticism. Don't have a seizure; it's ok to think that something Allen has created isn't perfect. It doesn't negate his entire body of work because one thing doesn't match up to his previous quality.

Sometimes people produce dreck, and it doesn't mean that someone else is jealous when they point out that it's dreck. And disagreeing with your opinions about someone's work isn't a personal attack on them, and it's not an attempt to invalidate YOUR opinion of them, so why do you seem to take it so personally? I've been reading Ken's blog for years, and I haven't noticed any Allen bias. He smacks Judd Apatow around a whole lot more than he ever did Woody Allen.

Johnny Walker said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Alan C said...

In all fairness, I haven't read Allen's piece, but even geniuses can produce crap that shouldn't see the light of day. Case in point: The Day The Clown Cried. BTW, there's some footage (apparently from a Dutch TV documentary) relating to it that just surfaced; check it out if you haven't seen it.

Johnny Walker said...

Not sure what I've done to deserve that attack, Anonymous. I loved Ken's post and enjoy Allen's films. I just happen to have read a great deal about Woody Allen, and I've never met anyone who's done the same and not come to the same conclusions. Allen talks openly about being happy to work with Farrow again in Woody Allen on Woody Allen, for instance, and he's said in many other interviews that he doesn't understand what the big deal is.

"The heart wants what the heart wants" is his common refrain.

But I think Judd Apatow had a good response:
"Yes. The heart wants what the heart wants, but that doesn't mean you have to give it what it wants."

As for me: Don't worry, I know I'm far from perfect. I try to do my best, though.

Dixon Steele said...

I think complaining about Allen's steady output somehow misses the point.

Allen makes a picture every year because A.) he wants to, and B.) the worldwide marketplace wants him to.

So he does. If Ken, or any other creative types here on the board, were in the same position, you might do it too. Including me.

Having just finished and enjoyed Burt Bacharach's new candid memoir, and watched many of his clips on YouTube, he's the first to admit he's written a lot of stuff that isn't very good. And he's a Master. It's just the nature of the beast.

Over the last ten years, WA has done four pictures anyone might be proud to have their name on: MATCH POINT, VICKY CRISTINA BARCELONA, MIDNIGHT IN PARIS and now BLUE JASMINE.

Sure, we had to get through the dreadful HOLLYWOOD ENDING, and I thought Woody himself came off badly in ANYTHING ELSE and SCOOP.

WHATEVER WORKS was a "trunk" script, that should have stayed in the trunk.

That leaves MELINDA & MELINDA, CASSANDRA'S DREAM, YOU WILL MEET A TALL, DARK STRANGER and TO ROME WITH LOVE. None great, but all worth watching to some degree.

And this is a fallow decade?

Sign me up.

bill said...

"Anonymous Tom Swofford said...

So Woody Allen is the closest thing we have to a national treasure, huh? That must leave people like Jonas Salk, or Neil Armstrong, or Chesley Sullenberger (or about 10,000 other people) feeling like they couldn't make the cut"

Sorry, my reference was to the Japanese Living National Treasures which are all drawn from the arts. should have been clearer.

As for Ken's Woody bias, the thing that finally ticked me off was this was the third article on Woody in a row that basically had the same argument: he writes too much.

From "http://kenlevine.blogspot.com/2012/07/review-to-rome-with-love.html"

we read his review of To Rome with Love "How many movies does a writer/director have to make before he no longer has to follow any rules of logic or good storytelling? "

from Vicky Christina Barcelona/Woody Allen Badwriting : http://kenlevine.blogspot.com/2009/01/vicky-christina-barcelonawoody-allen.html

we have "
It’s just that he hasn’t been his best for a really long time. Year after year he cranks out movies faster than Apple rolls out new iPod models. And like iPods usually it’s the exact same product with a different size or color. Even his best received film of late, MATCH POINT. was just recycled CRIMES & MISDEMEANORS. "

from Match Point "I know I’m spitting on the cross but I didn’t love MATCH POINT. I liked it…parts of it…and this was the first Woody Allen movie in five years that wasn’t lame, pathetic, and embarrassing so that’s a good thing – but it sure wasn’t CRIMES AND MISDEMEANORS. And it was easy to compare because…."This film is just Woody Allen resorting to old tricks (albeit some of his best old tricks). All that’s missing is Tony Roberts. "

http://kenlevine.blogspot.com/2006/01/match-point.html

I got it. Ken doesn't think Woody is any good any more and should stop writing the same thing. I'm suggesting that Ken might be in his own little rut when it comes to writing about Woody.

Tom Swofford said...

And I would suggest to you Bill that it isn't Levine that is in a rut as far as writing goes; it may be Woody Allen. Ken Levine isn't the only writer who criticizes Allen's movies over the past decade.

Once again, Levine doesn't think that Allen's latest efforts are stellar. You do. When Levine writes that he doesn't think they are stellar, well, that's what writers and critics are supposed to do. You don't agree with him? Great. That's your right, just like it's Levine's right. You lose me when you claim that Levine has a personal bias against Allen because he writes bad reviews of Allen's movies "too often". You aren't willing to concede the point that maybe Levine writes many bad reviews of Allen's movies because Levine believes Allen makes too many bad movies as of late.

You evidently think that Allen hasn't made any bad movies, only some that aren't as excellent as others. One could accuse you of the same myopic viewpoint as that which you're accusing Levine, only in reverse.

You have a right to your opinion, just as Levine does. It's your "if you don't like Allen's writing, you must be jealous of him" viewpoint that rankles me.

bill said...

But Ken, I really do love your blog otherwise. Well...except the sports ones.

bill said...

Tom,

I guess your point would have some validity if Ken had reviewed the two recent films that have been universally praised: Midnight in Paris and Blue Sapphire. He didn't. And I think most people would disagree about Match Point and Vicky Christina Barcelona.

Ken's entitled to his opinion as are you.

and I never said "if you don't like Allen's writing, you must be jealous of him" . If you are going to misquote me out of context, please don't put quotes around it.

Tom Swofford said...

Bill, here's your quote:

"Got to say, your continued bashing of Woody Allen always strikes me a a low point in an otherwise great blog. It is really hard to see someone rip into the closest America has to a national treasure and not think: professional jealousy."

If your meaning wasn't that Levine, a professional writer, was jealous of Allen, another professional writer, then what did you mean?

My point about Levine's reviews of Allen's movies are no less valid because Levine didn't agree with the majority of critics. My point was that Levine can hold the opinion that a Woody Allen movie sucks without accusing him of professional jealousy. Levine can even hold the opinion that the majority of the movies that Allen made over the past decade sucked, without his opinion being based on the theory that he was jealous of Allen's....what? Ability? Notoriety? Prolificity?

bill said...

Yes that is my quote and it has no bearing on what you quoted me as saying.

Do I really need to explain the difference to you?

I never said ""if you don't like Allen's writing, you must be jealous of him." My girlfriend doesn't like Allen's writing and she is certainly not jealous of him. I'm sure lots of writers don't like Allen's writing, and I don't think they are jealous as a result of that.

What I said and meant was that it would be hard, in my opinion, not to look at Ken's continued bashing of Woody Allen and not think professional jealousy.

Those writers who don't like Woody's writing are not compelled to write about Woody's writing so consistently and so negatively, skipping over the biggest success of his career "Midnight in Paris" and choosing to write about a bad article he wrote while ignoring the latest movie that is doing bigger business than Midnight in Paris.

My point is that it would be hard for a reasonable person not to think that the person who did that, regardless of who that person was, was not a bit jealous of the clear current success of the person who he feels (my opinion) somewhat betrayed by.

so....not the same thing at all.

bill said...

And let me add (and I promise I'll stop) I don't know if Ken is jealous or not. I don't Ken from Adam, other than what I read here. I don't know what compels Ken to write about Woody Allen the way he does.

All I was saying, regardless of the reason, to an outsider like me (and a loyal reader) it is beginning to sound like something less than savory.

Call it feedback from a fan.

VP81955 said...

Yes, Woody makes plenty of films and doesn't bat 1.000. So what? It's obviously something he enjoys doing, and most of his movies at least have a little bit going for them. ("Midnight In Paris" was a delightful film.) There's something to be said for such a prolific output; it's sort of reminiscent of the old days of the studio system, when Joan Blondell or Glenda Farrell was invariably working. Can anyone demonstrably prove that the quality of Allen's movies would measurably improve if he cut back? As long as his health is up to it, more power to him.

Brian Doan said...

Not to get us off-track from getting off-track, but am I the only one who read this piece less as an 'attack' on Woody Allen, and more as a very funny takedown of THE NEW YORKER's tendency to kiss the asses of well-connected, self-serious celebrities? Whether or not Woody Allen is still funny is beside the point, isn't it?

(He is, though).

Anonymous said...

Johnny Walker Said:

Not sure what I've done to deserve that attack, Anonymous. I loved Ken's post and enjoy Allen's films. I just happen to have read a great deal about Woody Allen, and I've never met anyone who's done the same and not come to the same conclusions. Allen talks openly about being happy to work with Farrow again in Woody Allen on Woody Allen, for instance, and he's said in many other interviews that he doesn't understand what the big deal is.

"The heart wants what the heart wants" is his common refrain.

But I think Judd Apatow had a good response:
"Yes. The heart wants what the heart wants, but that doesn't mean you have to give it what it wants."

Sorry for getting pissy with you, Johnny. My bad.

As far as Woody, you and I both don't know all that was happening over there, but I'll bet it's a lot more complicated than what Farrow's stooges (or Woody's) could "leak" to the press. I've heard secondhand from someone I trust that the Farrow household was quite... eccentric. I've heard it said, and I could be wrong, that even though Farrow thinks of herself as a great mom for an army of kids, some with handicaps, she preferred to get up daily at the crack of 2 pm, and no earlier, leaving the child raising to the nanny. I've heard more than that, but I won't share it.
She has also made allegations of child molestation of, unless my memory betrays me, at least one of Woody's biological children. If that was a false allegation, wouldn't the person who made it be considered... evil?
With that in mind, it seems odd that the "molested" children, now adults, have never filed charges, or made any hint of a claim that those allegations were true.
If you were to say you believed both parties might be a bit of an asshole, I would say "fair enough," but it's not fair or accurate to put the whole load on Woody.
Again, sorry I jumped on you like that. It was wrong. I guess I'm a bit of an asshole too at times!