As we as a culture attempt to course correct and shun abusers and manipulators in favor of vulnerable people and survivors, Tan and Shirkers have provided me with a personally liberating framework.
Susan Seidelman has been making films for over 30 years. Her work includes "Desperately Seeking Susan," the pilot for "Sex and the City," and her new sports comedy "The Hot Flashes." Her story is the story of women in Hollywood: a study in creativity, courage and strength. A profile by RogerEbert.com's Christy Lemire.
"Woody Allen: A Documentary" airs on PBS stations in two parts, at 9 p. m. Sunday and Monday, Nov. 20 and 21. Check local listings for airtimes. Also available via PBS On Demand.
by Odie Henderson
I took this gig as a challenge. It's not that I hate Woody Allen; I just don't adore him as much as you would like. Plus, I live in the Bizarro World when it comes to his films, enjoying the ones most people hate and vice-versa. For example, I hated "Match Point," disliked "Annie Hall," and could never commit to "Manhattan" despite its astonishing, heartbreaking cinematography. Conversely, I loved "Deconstructing Harry," found "A Midsummer Night's Sex Comedy" amusing, and I may be the only sane person who liked "Hollywood Ending." These confessions may disturb die-hard fans, but before you vow never to read anything of mine again, you should watch American Masters' "Woody Allen: A Documentary." There you'll discover that Woody Allen dislikes most of his movies, even going so far as to offer to make a different movie for free if United Artists used "Manhattan" for kindling. Compared to that, my "meh" reaction to the gorgeous-looking film is a ringing endorsement. We now know who should be getting your hate mail, don't we?
Not that Allen would care. Robert B. Weide's exceptional documentary makes clear that critical opinion is the farthest thing from its subject's mind. The prolific writer-director has been too busy cranking out a film a year for the past four decades to worry about what anyone thinks of them. You'd have to go back to the studio system's heyday for that kind of output, work that produced eleven solo and three collaborative Oscar nominations for writing. That's two more than my beloved Billy Wilder, who coincidentally never got a solo writing nomination. Add to those fourteen writing nods his six directing nominations, sole acting nod and the resulting three wins, and you have one of the most honored filmmakers in Hollywood history. He can expect a 22nd nomination for "Midnight In Paris," which I cop to liking but not with the slobbering praise afforded it by most critics. (It's like a cross between Cliffs Notes, "The Purple Rose of Cairo" and a Tea Party rally, with all that "it's so much better in the past" nonsense.) The fact that awards mortify Allen makes these numerous acknowledgements the kind of ironic, funny joke one would find in, well, a Woody Allen movie.
Lesson for the day: How to have fun while wasting time... Marie writes: welcome to DRAW A STICK MAN, a delightful Flash-based site prompting viewers to draw a simple stick figure which then comes to life! Ie: the program animates it. You're given instructions about what to draw and when, which your dude uses to interact with objects onscreen. Thanks go to club member Sandy Kahn who heard about it from her pal Lauren, in Portland Oregon.Note: here's a screen-cap of what I drew; I've named him Pumpkin Head.
David Berkowitz, the Son of Sam killer, sits repentant in his cell and says he wishes that Spike Lee would just let him alone. He does not approve of Lee's new film, "Summer Of Sam," which opens nationally on Friday. Berkowitz, who has not seen the film, no doubt assumes it is about him and his crimes. He may be surprised to discover he is a supporting character with just a couple of walk-ons, and a brief dialog scene in which a dog does most of the talking.
CANNES, France -- Spike Lee's "Summer Of Sam" has the right title. It isn't a film about David Berkowitz, the serial killer who named himself Son of Sam - but about the summer of 1977, when his bloody string of murders coincided with a heat wave and skirmishes in the ongoing American cultural war.
Q. I think I'm the only American to have been bored by "You've Got Mail." I'd love to see a really good film about finding romance online (my wife and I met online about three years ago). I thought the whole "big corporation swallowing little bookseller" angle was dopey. Hey, it's a film about finding love online, so why doesn't Meg's character try to sell books online? That would have been a fun ending, and more relevant to the film's cyber-veneer: Meg keeps the bookstore and thrives, because she's getting customers from the entire planet, while Hanks' megastore only does so-so, because it's just getting people from the surrounding area. (Ed Driscoll, San Jose, CA)
VENICE, Italy When Mira Sorvino was trying to decide what to do with her life, her father advised her not to try acting if there was anything else she liked better. Her father, of course, is the actor Paul Sorvino, a star in "Reds," "GoodFellas" and about 30 other films.
In the autumn march of film festivals, Chicago's comes after Montreal, Telluride and Venice, and is held at about the same time as New York. All of these festivals are essentially fishing in the same pond, so the remarkable thing about the 31st annual Chicago event is how many new or unfamiliar titles have been discovered.