Tag Archives: Mia Farrow

The Set of 400: #99 – My Favorite Pope Pius XI Cameo

Today! Because I myself felt that one could really think of him as the ultimate conformist –

Zelig (1983)

Directed by Woody Allen (x10)

Starring Woody Allen (x7), Mia Farrow (x5), Patrick Horgan, Michael Jeter (x3), Peter McRobbie (x2), Alice Beardsley, Mary Louise Wilson, Deborah Rush (x3), Jeanine Jackson, Susan Sontag, Saul Bellow, John Rothman

My third favorite Woody Allen movie, and my second favorite film of 1983 – if anything he made could be described as visually ambitious, it’s Zelig. Figure, even the other more supernatural/fantasy/science fiction movies he made were still grounded very much in Woody’s comic sensibility or modern day coasting – Sleeper, Midnight in Paris, Melinda and Melinda, Deconstructing Harry. The exception, maybe, is Purple Rose of Cairo, which has very definite visual effects elements and a slightly more elaborate plot than Woody’s films from that point on. But Zelig is the rare triumph of visual trickery in the Allen catalog – I’m not 100% on this, but am pretty confident this is the only of his films to receive Best Visual Effects nominations from anyone (the BAFTAs, incidentally). While he may have never made a good action director, were he inclined, Zelig actually points to a greater capability in complex effects-driven storytelling than you would’ve thought possible from him. Continue reading

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The Set of 400: #180 – My Favorite Freedonia Shout-Out

Today! Because what if there is no God and you only go around once and that’s it. Well, don’t you wanna be part of the experience?

Hannah and Her Sisters (1986)

Directed by Woody Allen (x5)

Starring Mia Farrow (x4), Michael Caine (x3), Barbara Hershey, Woody Allen (x4), Diane Wiest (x2), Max Von Sydow (x2), Carrie Fisher (x3), Maureen O’Sullivan, Lloyd Nolan, Daniel Stern (x2), Julia Louis-Dreyfus, Lewis Black, Julie Kavner (x2), J.T. Walsh (x5), John Turturro (x2), Richard Jenkins (x3), Fred Melamed (x2), Joanna Gleason, Sam Waterston (x2), Tony Roberts (x2)

With one of the best casts ever assembled, Hannah and Her Sisters in a lot of ways is the perfect Woody Allen movie. He made better ones, and he made funnier ones, but this is the rare hybrid between family drama and neurotic comedy, neatly packaged together as one film. Really, there are two plots running alongside each other, knitted together by featuring the extended family of sisters Hannah (Farrow), Holly (Wiest), and Lee (Hershey). Being a Woody Allen film, the B plot is entirely him – as Hannah’s writer ex-husband Mickey, going through a mid-life crisis where he may be dying of a brain tumor (this is the funny half!). The A plot features Hannah’s current husband – Michael Caine’s Elliot – in his escalating disenchantment with their marriage and his lust for sister-in-law Lee. Even this breakdown isn’t entirely fair, as they split time on these stories pretty evenly, plus a good amount of time spent on Wiest’s hilarious Holly, but the Elliot/Lee/Hannah portion does occupy with the emotional center of things.

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The Set of 400: #203 – My Favorite Inter-Celluloidal Romance

Today! Because I don’t get hurt or bleed, hair doesn’t muss – it’s one of the advantages of being imaginary –

The Purple Rose of Cairo (1985)

Directed by Woody Allen (x4)

Starring Mia Farrow (x3), Jeff Daniels, Danny Aiello (x2), Edward Herrmann (x2), Deborah Rush (x2), Van Johnson, John Wood, Zoe Caldwell, Milo O’Shea (x2), Dianne Wiest, Glenne Headly, Peter McRobbie

While his early movies had a greater tendency toward the absurd and the extreme, Woody Allen has never really been a director of all-out fantasy. There are partial exceptions, sure – Sleeper, Midnight in Paris, Everything You Always Wanted to Know About Sex…, Zelig – but it is most pronounced with The Purple Rose of Cairo. Figure, Sleeper is a straight science-fiction comedy, Everything You Always Wanted… is a bag of vignettes, some fantastic, some just goofy, but Purple Rose of Cairo is this wholly unexpected, supernatural thing taking place in the real world – much like Midnight in Paris.

This was also the first comedy Woody made that he doesn’t appear in – and unlike his later comedies, there isn’t even a “Woody Allen character” in the bunch -maybe you could stretch it to say Mia Farrow’s Cecilia fits this bill, albeit just barely. Her depressed, 1930’s movie fan frequents the local theater, where one day – while showing the titular movie-in-the-movie (favorite sub genre!), star Tom Baxter (Jeff Daniels) just walks out of the screen and sweeps her off her feet. And as fun as the fish-out-of-water movie character wandering around the real world is, the reel world section of the film – where the movie inside the theater tries to figure out how to continue after one of the actors disappears – is almost better, and good for plenty of laughs. Continue reading

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The Set of 400: #349 – My Favorite Water Glass Musician

Today! Because the man has an axe, there’s two of us – there’ll be four of us in no time –

Broadway Danny Rose (1984)

Directed by Woody Allen

Starring Woody Allen, Mia Farrow (x2), Nick Apollo Forte, Milton Berle (x2), Sandy Baron, Corbett Monica, Morty Gunty, Will Jordan, Jackie Gayle, Howard Storm, Joe Franklin, Michael Badalucco (x2), Howard Cosell

As intimated way back in #399’s Payback, there is a certain point when a filmmaker/actor/writer’s outside life is going to influence the perception of their work. But what will be a much more prevalent issue on this list is the sheer volume of Woody Allen films, compared to Mel Gibson’s – with which I believe we have already finished. Troubles aside, I’ve been an unabashed fan of Woody’s for most of my life – and didn’t see any of his films until after the early scandal of his imploding marriage to Mia/taking up with Soon-Yi. I know this incident was enough for many people to bail on him entirely, but this was pretty much always built into my knowledge of the guy, given the age I was at when it happened. This, of course, says nothing about the later accusations. Continue reading

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The Set of 400: #352 – My Favorite Driving Miss Daisy Remake

Today! Because I know robot karate –

Be Kind Rewind (2008)

Directed by Michel Gondry

Starring Mos Def, Jack Black (x2), Danny Glover, Mia Farrow, Sigourney Weaver, Melonie Diaz, Jon Glaser, Kid Creole, Steve Cropper, Booker T. Jones

Whenever I watch this movie, I spend half of it imagining how I could create ultra low budget remakes of movies. Like, sure, I’d still need a job – this movie emphasizes you can’t make money from this idea very strongly – but as a pastime? There aren’t a ton of movies covering this concept – this and Me and Earl and the Dying Girl are all that come to mind – but as the acclaimed director of such notable shorts as Antigone: the Musical, Senor Sweeney Gomez, and Russian Bikini Hookers II: Hurricane Ho, I can tell that this movie gets a lot of things right about backyard filmmaking.

I mean, okay, the rest of the plot doesn’t manage to go anywhere of note, but what, were they just going to have Mos Def and Jack Black act out twisted, truncated versions of Rush Hour and Ghostbusters for two hours? Hmm…yeah, they should have, I’d totally watch that (of all the quick remakes they show, Men in Black and 2001 are my favorites). The middle sequences of the film where they are just renting out their videos (the video store’s collection got erased by a magnetized Black – don’t worry about it) and creating new ones couldn’t have been the whole movie without a much different framing plot, but man, if only! Continue reading

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