Monday, August 12, 2013

Anything Else

Written, directed, and starring Woody Allen, Anything Else is the story about an aspiring writer who falls in love with a woman while in New York City as he has hard time trying to figure out what to do with his life in love and as a writer where he gets some bad advice from a struggling artist. The film explores a young man’s life as he tries to find himself in New York City. Also starring Jason Biggs, Christina Ricci, Stockard Channing, Jimmy Fallon, Adrian Grenier, and Danny DeVito. Anything Else is a horrific film from Woody Allen.

The film revolves around the life of a writer who is at a transitional point in his career while his relationship with his girlfriend is becoming rocky due to his neuroses and her craziness. Meanwhile, the writer takes some very bad advice from a struggling artist, with a history of mental illness, over what to do with his life and career. It’s a film that explores a man trying to find out what to do with his life and career as it’s going into some trouble as it’s all told from his perspective. Woody Allen’s script unfortunately creates a story that is messy where he has this young writer dealing with the decisions of his life as well as his relationship with this young woman who is very fleeting in her decisions and never sticks to anything. It’s a story that has this very troubled narrative told by its protagonist where it would have flashbacks but never makes sense of what is happening.

Allen’s direction has him trying to bring back elements of some his earlier work in terms of storytelling where its protagonist would break the fourth wall down to talk to the audience about what he’s thinking and such. It’s a device that doesn’t work where it tends to bring a lot of unnecessary exposition as well as dragging the story a bit. The direction does have some nice moments in the compositions including a scene where Allen’s David Dobel character snaps after being denied a parking space where he destroys that person’s car. Yet, there’s a lot of moments in the film where things do get out of control where the protagonist Jerry Falk (Jason Biggs) has to deal with his girlfriend’s messy life including a visit from her boozy and unstable mother (Stockard Channing) as it gets old at times and the comedy just doesn’t work. Overall, Allen creates a very awful and nonsensical film about a man trying to find his role in life.

Cinematographer Darius Khondji does excellent work with the film‘s cinematography as it‘s got some gorgeous shots of the New York City locations as well as some of the film‘s interior settings. Editor Alisa Lepselter does fine work with the editing to play out some of the drama including a few montages but couldn‘t tighten up some of the messier moments in the film. Production designer Santo Loquasto, with set decorator Regina Graves and art director Tom Warren, do nice work with the set pieces from the apartment that Jerry lives in to some of the places he goes to in the city.

Costume designer Laura Jean Shannon does superb work with the costumes as it‘s mostly casual with more stylish clothes worn by the female characters. Sound editor Robert Hein is terrific for some of the chaos that is played out in some of the locations and parties the characters go to. The film’s soundtrack includes a lot of jazz music and standards from Billie Holliday, Lester Young, Peggy Lee, Diana Krall (who makes an appearance in the film), and Teddy Wilson as it’s one of the highlights of the film.

The casting by Laura Rosenthal and Juliet Taylor is pretty good as it features appearances from Adrian Grenier and Erica Leershen as a couple of actors Jerry meets, David Conrad as a doctor who examines Amanda who raises Jerry’s suspicions, KaDee Strickland as Jerry’s ex-fiancĂ©e who he dumps for Amanda, and Jimmy Fallon as Amanda’s boyfriend Bob before she meets Jerry. Danny DeVito is terrific as Jerry’s loyal agent Harvey Wexler as he has some funny moments except for a scene late in the film that is just overdone. Stockard Channing is excellent as Amanda’s boozy mother Paula who is often full of drama as she’s trying to get herself back up only to create more trouble for Jerry.

Woody Allen is OK as the very troubled David Dobel who offers Jerry some bad advice about everything in life as he creates a lot of trouble where Allen also show some moments where he can go really crazy. Christina Ricci is terrible as Amanda as she’s this flighty woman who is always doing something crazy while complaining about how fat she is and such as it’s just a performance that is grating to watch. Finally, there’s Jason Biggs in an absolutely dreadful performance as Jerry Falk as Biggs is just very awkward to watch at times while he overdoes the nebbish persona that Allen has perfected for so many years as it is just very bad and extremely un-funny to look at.

Anything Else is a fucking terrible from Woody Allen that features dire leading performances from Jason Biggs and Christina Ricci. The film is definitely one of Allen’s worst films in terms of its attempt to rehash old ideas without really doing anything new with some very flat humor. In the end, Anything Else an appalling film from Woody Allen.

Woody Allen Films: What's Up Tiger Lily? - Take the Money and Run - Bananas - Everything You Always Wanted to Know About Sex* (*But Were Afraid to Ask) - Sleeper - Love and Death - Annie Hall - Interiors - Manhattan - Stardust Memories - A Midsummer's Night Sex Comedy - Zelig - Broadway Danny Rose - The Purple Rose of Cairo - Hannah & Her Sisters - Radio Days - September - Another Woman - New York Stories: Oedipus Wrecks - Crimes & Misdemeanors - Alice - Shadows and Fog - Husbands and Wives - Manhattan Murder Mystery - Bullets Over Broadway - Don't Drink the Water - Mighty Aphrodite - Everyone Says I Love You - Deconstructing Harry - Celebrity - Sweet and Lowdown - Small Time Crooks - The Curse of the Jade Scorpion - Hollywood Ending - Melinda & Melinda - Match Point - Scoop - Cassandra’s Dream - Vicky Cristina Barcelona - Whatever Works - You Will Meet a Tall Dark Stranger - Midnight in Paris - To Rome with Love - Blue Jasmine - Magic in the Moonlight - Irrational Man - (Cafe Society)

The Auteurs #24: Woody Allen Pt. 1 - Pt. 2 - Pt. 3 - Pt. 4

© thevoid99 2013


Alex Withrow said...

With the exception of To Rome with Love, this is easily my least favorite Woody Allen film. Dreadful.

thevoid99 said...

I'm going to see To Rome with Love next week as I'm currently doing The Decalogue right now. Then a week after that, the final part of the Auteurs series will be released.