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I was forced to watch this movie for college. It was the most vulgar, unnecessary piece of junk I have ever seen. This is a perfect example of the demoralization of America....more info
- NOT YOUR USUAL STRAIGHT-AHEAD BRAINLESS HOLLYWOOD NARRATIVE
the title ought to tip you off that an approach to viewing this film is required more sophisticated and acute than the usual Hollywood bright mights and mirrors delusions which accompany or popcorn.
In fact the first ten minutes of the lucious Louise DReyfuss pleasuring the elder Richard Benjamin are awful in itself, especially as an introduction to this film. Only later does it begin dimly to dawn upon us that these intriguing characters (just what is Dreyfuss's MOTIVATION here?), plus the iconic blind grandmother witness, are merely characters in Woody Allen (Harry)'s commercial rewrite of his life. In fact, we vainly come to miss the presence of some of these characters with concern for their outcome.
Once you get a hang of the narrative structure, it's pretty clear what is going on. In fact it is not far from Play it again sam, when fantasy (here formalized in writing) crosses with reality. I find this character of course more pathetic than any earlier character, and more true. THe whole episode of the lost son is especially telling, when one considers Mr. Allen's and his son Satchmo's suffering at the eccentric and vindictive hands of the bizarre and abusive Mia Farrow. And so the reality of Mr. Allen's life crosses the reality of his character Harry's life, which is further crossed by Harry's fantasizing into his writing as a means of making reality more bearable.
I really wish nondrinkers would not overestimate their capabilites after chugging various whiskeys.
The editing was so jarring it seemed amateurish and I thought my new DVD was choking on my brand new used disk, with several incomprehensible jumps, until I realized that was part of the deconstruction message as well.
THere is much to like and to think about here. How could a grown man believe a real out there street whore could hold the secret to peace and happiness and the resolution of our tragedies, and yet so much of us do just that, or they would have no job.
But those first few minutes one would not wish to see again. I can never look at Seinfeld in the same way, where the wonderful Dreyfuss is always the pratfall for the callous jokes of others.
A very nervous and jarring and challenging film, one worth seeing, but I would prefer to see Sam, or The Front, or take the money and Run
- Under all this amazing storytelling, the story is a bit weak
Technically, a masterpiece of modern hypertextual cinema: a choppy, in-your face editing style & the narrative blur of fantasy and realism (between the stories of the main character and the "real life" of Allen's writer going to pieces) make the authorial voice of Allen himself and the act of film creation visible. And this technique is not arbitrary; ideally, the resultant confusion acts as a metaphor for the internal turmoil of Allen's main character, or at least that is the intent we attribute to Allen.
At times it works. We get a clear portrayal of the chaotic frazzle of the artist's mind, and the parallels of role and character between his life and his own fiction give us a great, layered depth of character. We also get a rare, complex story told in both first person and third person, through Allen-as-character (for all of Allen's roles are ultimately facets of himself) and Allen as actor/director, driving the camera view and the manner of presentation.
But the story behind all this storytelling mastery is weak and fragmented, dissolves instead of resolving, seems negligible and lost inside some great character work and rhetorical mastery. There are too many characters, plot-driven deaths which rip significance from the dying persona; too much sound, not enough fury.
In all likelihood Allen intended this -- intended us to see his character fall apart in the way his own story and film fell to pieces around him. And there is no denying that, although we see it more in written literature, film is an excellent medium for such narrative breakdown. But although told in the extreme here by Allen, this, the man in his midlife exploring how he got there, is no unusual theme (see, for example, Garp or Updike's Rabbit), even if it is a new way of telling it, using the mechanics as well as the narrative itself to make the point -- and by now the genre brings with it some expectations, I think, which Allen fails to serve...hence the sense of imbalance.
Also, the end of the film seems so rushed I wonder if perhaps Allen's director's cut is four hours long. If so, I long to see it -- this Updikean tale deserves the time it would have taken to tell it properly instead of dribbling away the end to fit the "hollywood film" format.
We expect this of Allen, by now, unfortunately -- great storytelling that never amounts to anything -- it is a great way to make astute and revelatory observations about the universe, as Allen the Chronicler has always given us so well, but it is a hell of a way to tell a story....more info
- One of Woody's Best Films
I am a huge Woody Allen fan, more for his ability to delve into the urban and sometimes urbane lives of very flawed people than his slap stick comedy. Looking at his corpus of work, it is hard to believe that movies like Bananas, Everything You Wanted to Know About Sex (But Were Afraid to Ask), Husbands and Wives and, my favorite, Crimes and Misdemeanors could come from the same person.
Deconstructing Harry remains true to the title as the viewer is given a wild postmodern view of a man who wrestles with his own identity amidst the numerous identities he has created around him. Allen's character is, as is often the case with Allen, startlingly autobiographical, while the character also suffers from the fact that his stories are also insultingly biographical.
While Celebrities may surpass this film in vulgarity, Allen comes pretty close in this one, with a level of humour that is almost crude, even with a touch of rare anger. There is no "simple" adultery here; the character is blatantly sexually obsessed. It makes for simultaneously hilarious and sobering comedy.
At the time of watching the film, I wondered if this was perhaps Allen's last film. The moving tribute he gives to the characters he has created over the years is touching, and would have been a good exit for a man whose careers has spanned decades. Retrospectively looking at films Allen has made since then still makes me think it would have been a good end....more info
- Harry Block Lives in a Fellini Movie
An homage to Fellini with dream sequences in which Harry Block's fictional characters from his short stories interwine with his real-life characters, Deconstructing Harry is about a writer who cannibalizes his life experience, using his loved ones and family as fodder for his fiction and who in the process alienates, humiliates, and enrages those people who prefer their secrets not be featured in published fiction. Amongst this turmoil the writer Harry is obsessed with freeing himself from himself--a sixty-year-old man who never grows up but who remains fixated on his childish ego, his raging lusts, and his incurable narcissism. Divorced several times, barely able to see his young son, and resenting that a lover whom he scorned is now marrying, he must negotiate between the people he has alienated and the fictional characters who merge with reality as he goes on a soul quest to answer the question: Can I ever grow up? I can't reveal the ending but will say that the film maintains a Fellinisque, comic tone that has a hint of magic. The film does an excellent job of showing Harry's real-life adventures and weaving them with dramatizations of his stories that parallel his condition. ...more info
- Journey to hell with your inner demons
In a rare case of art imitating life, Woody Allen gives us his comedy Deconstructing Harry, where we meet Harry Block, a neurotic writer unfaithful to all of his wives, addict to sedatives, obsessed with sex and prostitutes; a man who shamelessly offends family members and friends with his books. In a jiff, a classic Woody Allen character, but darker, sadder, more isolated and more immature.
Now, on the verge of a famous University tribute, Harry must deal with his insecurities, bad habits and nerves while he begins a journey where he will interact with dual realities -the ones in his agitated life and the ones reflected through the characters of his books- and will show the audience with very black humor his incapacity to have honest relationships and his absurd excuses to defend his nasty actions. He will revolve in the deepest caves of his destructive side until literally go to hell, as never had done an Allen's character
To recommend Deconstructing Harry implies to warn you that you`ll be part of a sordid world of phobias, obsessions, fear of death, hypochondrias and neurosis, all of this wrapped up with a coat of vulgarity and repulsiveness that won't run out through the 96 minutes of the film.
It's a respectable, intelligent, witty and crude work. Here, Allen has consumed himself as an irreverent. Honest and brutal, he gives us a stellar cast with colorful characters, with Harry as the center of everything. The dialogs are quick, witty, full of cynicism, and will get as many laughs as many stomach kicks. But let's appreciate his honesty, not criticize it.
It's inevitable not to compare Allen's life and personality with his Harry: his ability to create memorable and valuable works, in spite of the scandals surrounding his life, his personality, a little neurotic and lonely. "Why can't I function in life I only function in art"...His willingness to use himself as a joke, his toughness with himself is a hit in Deconstructing Harry, even when it brings him near to self-destruction.
Allen`s creative genius and his talent as a filmmaker once again are here on the top. Just like Harry, Allen's life has been full of chaos and scandals, but he has proved, if anyone had a doubt, to be an exceptional artist. And that's the only thing that should matter to the audience.
- Life as text
Woody Allen scores again with this mordantly witty comedy-drama. As usual, he presents scathing satires of, among other things, sex, marriage and the Jews. Being a Jew, of course, Allen can get away with being an anti-Semite with a good conscience: -- as Henry Miller has said, "Who hates the Jews more than the Jew?" He pillories Judaism and Jewish familial values with a passion. The only shortcoming with "Deconstructing Harry" is that it was too short; it didn't seem to be in the same league as some of his earlier pictures. I greatly appreciated the Derridaean parallels in the film: Harry Block, a depressed writer whose surname is an eponym for his writer's "blockage", borrows incidents from the lives of his friends and acquaintances and scandalously transposes them onto his fiction. He begins to live a strangely unreal existence, holding conversations with his characters and so forth, in other words, he lives his life as an enormous literary text. The erratic editorial "cutting" throughout the film brilliantly draw attention to how Harry is undermined, or "deconstructed"....more info
- One of Allen's better films of the nineties...
Deconstructing Harry is one of Allen's better films released in the nineties. (1997) Harry Block also is one of the more neurotic characters that Allen has ever created, as a neurotic writer with writer's block is the film's central theme. Harry is alcoholic, pops pills and prefers to have sex with prostitutes because of the acts lack of emotional commitment. Like many writers, he uses the people he knows in reality, their quirks, mannerisms, physical appearance and lives, as models for his fictional characters, which get him into a lot of trouble. But is this really fair to the people one knows, to use them in one's novels, sometimes negatively, to sell one's books?
The film is cleverly edited between the writer's life and the fiction he creates, as the audience can see his exaggerations, embellishments and his lack of responsibility to the people he hurts. The film also uses flashbacks in the character's life to show us why he is the way he is now. He uses a theatrical technique used by many great playwrights such as Chekhov and Arthur Miller, putting fictional or dead characters into a dialogue with the central protagonist as a tool of reflection and realization, giving the audience a different perspective of the story.
The amount of talent in this film is extraordinary: an older more distinguished looking Richard Benjamin (Catch 22, Goodbye Columbus), Kristie Alley as Joan, Billy Crystal as a friend, Larry, and the charming and understated Devil; Judy Davis (Husbands and Wife's) an excellent if not grating performance as Harry Block's jilted lover; and a young Toby Maguire (Spiderman) portraying a character, Harvey Stern in one of Block's short stories. The list continues from there - Marial Hemmingway, Demi Moore, etc. Some critics commented that he wrote the script to give all the great female actors a job in one of his films as defence against the criticism that he uses the same cast for all his movies. In fact this film is an attack on film and book critics generally. As there depicted as being on the same level as thieves and murderers. The nineties was not a good critical time for Woody Allen films.
Harry Block realizes that his real live is lacking due to his failed marriages and numerous affairs - that he can only live a fulfilling life through his art. As he is greeted in a dream by all his characters in his books, hundred's in fact, I was reminded of a story that Charles Dicken had a similar dream at the end of his life, where all the characters (Two thousand) from his many novels come to greet him before he leaves the earth. This purportedly gave the 19th century author meaning to his life during a severe depression. Interestingly the same can be said of Allen's character, Harry Block. Once he comes to terms with his shortcomings, it is his art, his writing that truly gives his life meaning.
Although not one of Woody Allen's best film's, it is certainly one of his better one's.
- A Movie With a Message
Like a lot of writers, Woody Allen puts a little bit of himself into each of his films. If you pay attention, it's easy to see that beneath the humor, he usually has something to say that is most likely a reflection of his own beliefs about life, love, religion, or whatever else might be on his mind. The characters often resemble the writer/director and events often reflect what's going on in his own life.
Along that line, "Deconstructing Harry" might be Allen's most personal film. Harry, the main character, is a writer who creates dark, humorous stories. He typically draws on his own experiences in life, including his relationships with a half-sister, three former wives, and a young mistress. Of course, most of them aren't happy to find out they've become novels in his latest stories.
The movie has a large ensemble cast that includes Allen, Julia Louis-Dreyfus, Billy Crystal, Elisabeth Shue, Kirstie Alley, Tobey Maguire, Robin Williams, and Demi Moore. Some of the actors are playing characters in Harry's life, and others are characters in his stories. The movie takes a page from "Wild Strawberries," with the author going back to different times in his life as he prepared to be honored. But instead of flashing back to things that actually happened, the history is often given through the stories that Harry wrote. It's an interesting, novel, and humorous way to put together a film.
This is either a "love it" or "hate it" type film. Many critics considered it vulgar and profane, but they've really missed the point. The movie is tasteless at times, but that only helps to illustrate the theme of the film: that Harry is a despicable person in real life, but that doesn't mean he can't be a great artist. Since this movie was released at a time when Allen was being tried in the media for events in his personal life, the message seems very clear....more info
- Why I love Woody Allen
I love love LOVE this film. Again, Woody Allen provides some sense of security to those who are disillusioned about their own lives as he is. If Tragedy is the mother of Humor, Allen is the baby daddy, and this film is proof. ...more info
- a masterpiece
One of the funniest movies ever made.
Woody Allen is an acquired taste, like oysters. If you like'm on the half shell, he hit this crustacean out of the lagoon.
The "elevator to hell" bit had me in tears. Pookie the hooker, and the whole crew on the road trip to the university -- well, who else but Woody Allen conjures up this kind of stuff and puts it on film?
Writing, acting, directing...everyone was in synch with Mr. Allen's history, angst, sturm, drang and reputation.
An absolute masterpiece.
Thanks, Woody....more info
- Nihilism, cynicism, sarcasm, orgasm
In his prose writing, Allen superbly skewers the neuroses, ambitions and dysfunctions of major writers - 'and then Hemingway put on boxing gloves and broke my nose'. In Deconstructing Harry, Allen plays Harry Block - an alcoholic, neurotic, cowardly, pill poping, sexually deviant writer, on the back of three failed marriages, who incurs the wrath of his family and friends by using thinly veiled portraits them in his fiction.
This is a case of art imitating life. Allen's own life is similarly contorted and complex, and it is common in America for its greatest novelists to have readers buzzing like private spies around their works trying to extract what is real and what is made up. Philip Roth in particular has mined rich fiction out of such workings. Allen, in similarly intellectual, self reflexive style gives us a fascinating movie where Harry Block is confronted by ex wifes and family members who despise his selfishness, his lack of human sympathy. This leads to some great dialogue. Try this for a classic Allen line when he goes to visit his sister Doris, who has reverted to traditional Judaism:
Doris - 'You have no values, your whole life, it's nihilism, cynicism, sarcasm and orgasm.'
Harry: 'Y'know, in France I could run on that slogan and win.'
The movie is clever, but not without flaws. As with other Allen films, the female characters are not well developed. The whole movie is about Harry. Women are portrayed as one dimensional, intellectually subservient beings who fall in love with the great artist and have no other recourse other than to become hysterical when it all goes wrong. Harry sleeps with a lively black prostitute and persuades her to come with him the next day on his trip to his old college to be honoured. The whore is potentially a great character, but she doesn't really have a role to play once the trip is underway, she just hangs around in pink leather hotpants making the odd comment in reaction to Allen's neuroses, basically just a character to highlight another of Harry's flaws - the great artist trawling around with whores stereotype.
Also the film is terribly edited - scenes jerking awkwardly into others. Perhaps this was due to a huge cast of high profile actors so a tight shooting schedule entailed insufficient time for quality filming. Not a big negative, but a shame nonetheless.
All in all, an entertaining, funny portrait of the artist as flawed man.
- A wonderfully constructed comedy that helps us deconstruct ourselves...
Getting to know Woody Allen's filmography as of late has been a real trip, and while there have been some misses for me, for the most part I have become a real fan of his work. `Deconstructing Harry' may very well be one of my favorites. The film is an uproarious look at the struggle one makes to create something, about the fact that fiction truly imitates life and that life, in its rawest of forms, is truly remarkable.
Woody Allen stars as Harry Block, a famous writer who is suffering from a serious case of writers block. While he's struggling with this artistic roadblock he is also presented with the honor of being the center of a University tribute, as the school that once threw him out wants to give him an award. Now, more than ever, Harry is faced with his own slew of insecurities as he contemplates why no one in his life likes him. As he struggles to find someone to accompany him to his awards ceremony he realizes that the decisions he has made in life has segregated him from those he loves, or at one time loved. He's been unfaithful to every wife he's ever had and has single-handedly destroyed the reputations of his family, friends and lovers in his novels. No one can stand him and this forces Harry to reach down inside himself to find the reasons why.
The process he uses is what really makes this film so unbelievable good.
Telling the story of his life through a series of short stories he in fact wrote, Harry exposes his inner feelings through characters based on himself and others around him. He explores his romantic relationships and his countless infidelities; his feelings on marriage and loyalty and even success. He tackles his views on religion and culture and family, all of which help construct (or deconstruct) this man from the inside out.
The film is littered with countless supporting actors who just devour the screenplay that Woody delivers to them with such conviction and comedic excellence. Even actors who have very small roles (Robin Williams) make the most of their limited screen time to deliver performances that elevate the films core. Billy Crystal and Elizabeth Shue are phenomenal and Demi Moore and Bob Balaban (of Christopher Guest fame) are both scene stealers. The real standout here, aside from Woody himself, is Kirstie Alley who just dominates as Harry's ex-wife Joan. She has only a few scenes, and in each scene she is ranting and yelling and throwing a fit, but that fit is seriously comedic genius, rich with honest emotion and brutal delivery.
The real star of the show is Woody's brilliant script (which really should have won the Oscar) for it is rich with wit and a truism that makes the film so much more effective than your average comedy. Harry Block is far from a likable guy, but underneath it all he is an extremely relatable guy, someone who we can see within ourselves. `Deconstructing Harry' is a smart and successful look at deconstructing ourselves....more info
- Woody Allen travels into the mind of a writer, excellent!
How can I best describe the story of Woody Allen's 1997 comedy "Deconstructing Harry"? Well, I think that the film does a great job of describing itself with some of the final words of dialogue that we hear spoken by Allen's on-screen protaganist Harry Block, "It's about a really interesting character, a guy who can't function well in life, but can only function in art". This is not the first or last time that Allen has taken on the subject of creative personalities in his work, look at the jazz musician in "Sweet and Lowdown", the playwright in "Bullets Over Broadway", or the documentary fimmaker in "Crimes and Misdemeanors". But with "Deconstructing Harry" Allen seems to be at both his most self-revealing AND self-conscience as he tackles the life of a popular (but unhappy) novelist who is experiencing writers block, as well as those close to him who he has literally "used" in his work. It also seems like Allen was in a particularly dark and pessimistic mood when he concieved this piece (as opposed to say, the romanticism of "Manhattan" or "Annie Hall"), but luckily for us that pessimism translates into some hilarious darkly-comic moments. I must say that personally, I love this film and consider it among Allen's best work ever,...but I gaurantee you, it will NOT be for everybody! This film has an unusally complex style of storytelling, even by Woody Allen standards. We see Harry's life and work unfold through flashbacks, scenes from his novels, fantasy sequences, and most interestingly, conversations with the imaginary characters that he has created. Some viewers may also be turned-off by Woody's excessive use of jump-cuts in this film, as dialogue is sometimes cut off in mid-sentence, and scenes jump from one image to another. However, some words spoken by Harry towards the end of the film about his "fragmented, disjointed existence" (as the on-screen picture runs through a series of quick jump cuts), seem to be an attempt by Allen to actually EXPLAIN the film's choppy style to his viewers. I remember that when some people went to see this film in the theater (including a certain big-time movie critic!) they got completely swamped by it's unpredicable, free-wheeling narrative, but for those who are used to Allen's unique brand of storytelling will probably find it to be quite fascinating! It would be amiss of me not to mention Allen's excellent supporting cast. Elisabeth Shue (looking particularly gorgeous here!) is a sheer delight as Harry's much-younger love interest, and their brief scenes together add s real spark to the film, Judy Davis has some great scenes as a neurotic kook ex-lover who has been hurt by Harry's all-too-true work, and TV actress Kirstie Alley almost steals the show as Harry's bitter ex-wife, and a flashback to the literal END of their marriage is one of the films best moments. Allen and Alley are both exceptional in what must be the most hilarious marital argument scene ever put on film! Harry's wimpy backpeddling and self-justification when caught in an exra-marital affair is a classic Woody Allen moment! This film may not be for everyone, but for those who "get it", "Deconstructing Harry" is a great cinema experience!...more info
- Fans of Woody Allen will like it
This was a pretty good Woody Allen film packed with well known celebrities. Woody Allen is playing a novelist named Harry who written books based on people he knowns. He doesn't tries much to disguise them and upsets his friends with his tales. There are funny moments when the movie segues to his fictional characters. My favorite is the one with Demi Moore. The one with Billy Crystal is pretty funny too. In Harry's real life I got a kick out of Cookie the goodhearted prostitute.
- Writer's Block
When a writer faces that inevitable bugaboo...writer's block...he reviews his life, trying to examine all his mistakes, character flaws and foibles. His examination is depicted in a fragmented fashion, as if he is truly "deconstructing" his self.
As the final picture emerges, he is in a position to address his past, and in doing so, he is freed to write again.
Fascinating portrayal of the creative process....more info
- Pretty great, not great
I no longer have any opinion of this pretty good film....more info
- I'm Just Wild About "Harry"
I have been a Woody Allen fan since the mid-60's. I have enjoyed his movies going back to "What's Up, Tiger Lily?" up through "Husbands and Wives." Well, "Deconstructing Harry" must rank right up there as one of his best. Sure, the quirky style and jumpy narrative take some getting used to, and the four-letter words--especially when they come from the mouth of Woody's character, Harry--are initially jarring, but the overall effect is exhilarating. The scene where Kirstie Alley, playing a therapist who was married to Harry, reams him out because he exploited their relationship by having sex with one of her patients, is one of the best scenes in the entire Woody Allen filmography; this is a dynamite scene because of, not in spite of, the fact that we know that a confrontation like this must have taken place between Woody and Mia over you-know-who. As others have said, this movie is not for everyone. It could be said that this is one of the bitterest funny movies ever, or that it is one of the funniest bitter movies ever. Try it!...more info
- THE OLDER YOU GET THE MORE YOU BECOME YOURSELF
You either like Woody Allen films or you don't, in exactly the same way as different personalities either attract or repel. With the same person writing, directing, acting, and selecting the music, Woody's films are definitely "up close and personal." So, the basic question is do you like this "double-talking, wise-cracking, pill-popping, beaver-banging liar" as he is variously termed by the other characters in this film?
Once again we have Woody's obsession with the interaction between art and reality (see also 'The Purple Rose of Cairo'). The story is about a writer who cannibalizes his own life and also feeds off those of the people around him to achieve his success. This mirrors Allen's own habits of 'narcissistic narrative' that is making films about himself and constantly recycling his life on screen. We know that it is not Harry Block who is hypochondriac, psycho-analyzed, sex-obsessed, guilt-ridden and spiritually bankrupt. It is, of course, Woody himself. The characters he creates, even the orthodox Jewish psychoanalyst played by Demi Moore, are merely aspects of himself.
Robin Williams plays a character who becomes blurred so that the people around him have to get glasses to see him properly. Woody wants people to see things his way, or, even better, use this misplaced desire itself as artistic fodder.
Allen seems particularly interested in the contradiction that artistic success brings wealth and fame and therefore desirability, but at the same time feeds on those closest, on those attracted by the artist's genius. Moths to the flame! This is explored to its limits as Harry becomes increasingly isolated. His ex-mistress tries to kill him, his ex-wife (Kirstie Alley) demonizes him, and even his girlfriend is more interested in Larry (Billy Crystal) a man who puts his art into his life instead of the other way round. His low point is reached when he is arrested for kidnapping his own son. This seems symbolic. Perhaps Woody feels his critics don't want him to keep using his own life as material!
Harry Block/Woody Allen internalizes his whole life and experience through the characters he creates, and at the end where they hold a gala for him, they help him reach a sense of wholeness. This is a complex, multi-layered, yet fast-moving, and visually stimulating movie. The editing and flights into fantasy keep boredom well at bay. Deconstructing Harry is perhaps the best Woody Allen film since Crimes and Misdemeanors....more info
- Great Fun!
Woody Allen, as always, a genius that desnudes the humans soul. He tells the miseries and the greats of common people in an ironic but funny way, that we can only laugh of our misbehaviours. Freud would love it! ...more info
- Absolutely five-star classic!
I confess I got into Woody Alen's movies not too long ago (maybe some 4-5 years ago), but up to now I've come to highly respect his work, and "Deconstructing Harry" is simply brilliant.
Some top moments: When Robin Williams has "lost focus" simply WILL make you laugh with a sense of respect for how brilliant Allen can be; the conversation between Billy Crystal (I reserve the name of the character he plays, in order NOT to spoil things) and Woody Allen (Harry) is awesome -your typical male-male chat in a sports bar, maybe, but taking place in a rather bizarre setting...
The story comes down to a writer who has lost inspiration and decides (bad idea, perhaps... or perhaps not!) to write about some of the episodes of his live, putting in the open some things that other people (ex-lovers, friends, etc.) would have preferred to keep in the closet.
Anyway, I shouldn't disclose to much, but one thing I have to say: you oughta see this movie. Bt the way, did I mention, there's (as usual) an incredible cast?...more info
- Not that wild about Harry...
There was a time when the prospect of a new Woody Allen movie was genuinely exciting. Somehow that's changed. Now it seems that critics and--to some extent--audiences accord Allen a certain respect for his wit and intelligence, but no one seems to get excited over the prospect of a new Woody film anymore.
I suspect, in part, it's because he's been almost too prolific over the past decade or so. Someone below suggested that you either like Woody or you don't. But it's not that simple: you can genuinely like someone and get a little sick of his routine at the same time.
In "Deconstructing Harry," Allen explores such familiar themes "art vs. life," "men vs. women," "critical intelligence vs. received wisdom (i.e. tradition)." He engages yet another talented ensemble cast, all working for peanuts and prestige, and peppers the screenplay with enough sharp dialog to keep the viewer engaged. But this is no "Annie" or "Hannah." The contrast of the "fictional" realities from Harry Block's pen and the "real" scenes (from Woody Allen's pen) seems more gimmicky than illuminating.
Therein lies the problem. What was once innovative in Allen's films now seems tired. Moreover, his characters are no longer likeable schlubs trying to make sense out of life. They're, for the most part, unlikeable cynics who have given up making the effort. Sure, the stories of unlikeable cynics deserve to be told too, and no one can deny that an Allen film is always worth a look, but when it comes down to it, what's to love anymore?...more info
- Deconstructing Harry Rocks
This movie is simply the best self-parody ever done. In the poetry world I'm sometimes sneered at because self-parody is considered self-indulgent, usually by pinchy-faced critic types as opposed to the people who don't mind seeing the whole truth, whether that truth allows someone to be egotistical or not. So, predictably, critics were a bit snarly about Woody's new level of self-indulgence. In fact, the first time I saw the movie, I too was a bit upset about it, (and I'm not a literary snob).
In fact, after all these years, it turns out the film is raw talent and genius with some of the funniest romantic-horror-comedy scenes of all time. The highlights of the movie are quite simply two scenes. The first is the argument between Woody and Judy Davis, a real high-energy scene, complete with harrowing action. But the apex of the film is the final conflict between Kirstie Alley and Woody, which is just the best couples' argument scene that has ever been produced. Woody is good in the scene in that he keeps interjecting jokes in what should be a deathly serious thing, and he plays the "calm abuser," a type toward whom I have much bitterness, brilliantly. But it is Kirstie Alley who gives simply the best performance of her life in this scene. She is both frighteningly angry, in a way that is completely believable and yet she does hilarious things.
Of course he ongoing dialogue with his Jewish roots is very evident, and the conflict he has with his Judaic Fundamentalist sister and her similarly-oriented husband is classic.
Oh yeah, and Julia Louis-Dreyfus has a brief appearance that is sheer slapstick. She really is very funny and very sexy in this movie. Woody often disproves the critics, who by the way need to be disproved and mocked at every turn, when he takes actors that have been pigeon-holed by the critics and proves that they are great actors in their own right and, in fact, very convincing in diverse roles. (I'm a left-winger, but so are most of the movie critics. However, my form of leftiness doesn't include this "debunking" of people's careers or art. There is just some cynical urge in the critics to box people in, and it comes off practically like an edict or some authoritarian impulse. Sorry about the political note, but I sometimes have to take my fellow liberals to task, since conservatives do not have a corner on the market of pettiness.)
And, of course, we can never forget how wonderful it is when Woody takes a trip to Hell itself, which, it turns out, is ruled over by Bill Crystal, for subconscious reasons the movie itself will make clear). You never saw a Satan more comfortable in his own skin. The dialogue is funny and perverse, and a bit x-rated, so I can't quote much of it here, but it's some solid locker-room filth delivered by two men in suits looking quite classy as they do it. All of the contrasts here are excellent.
And, throughout the movie, as one who loves Woody would insist, the Psychoanalytic and Atheistic world view as they play out in their journeys through the subconscious and the conscious mind are sheer mythological and philosophical wonders. (I myself and not an Atheist, and am in fact very religious, but I really believes every belief system, including those differing from mine, have something great to give. In truth, Woody would agree with me in saying, whether or not there's a God, most people can't be trusted with religion, as the current wars display all too well. So I'm not at all hostile to Atheists, since they are usually more trustworthy than their spiritual counterparts, and I'm secure in my own spiritual feelings, so none of this threatens me.)
Now, if you are a person whose life is held together, and about to break apart, but not for a thin thread of romantic and philosophical constructs, this movie might not be for you. The first time I saw this movie, I wasn't strong enough to handle the truth of it. (This is very much a "you can't handle the truth" movie.) I have beliefs, but I'm not addicted to them. However, if you need to be right most of the time and you NEED to have your beliefs validated, you may want to skip this film. It's for folks who can be hit with the whole truth of their romantic and philosophical condition....more info
- Woody wins with 'DECONSTRUCTING HARRY'
I absolutely love Woody Allen! I don't care what public mishaps he finds himself in, he still manages to woo movie audiences with the same fiery jocularity and audasity as he has for the past 30 years. Next to "Mighty Aphrodite", and "Manhattan", this is one of Allen's best.
"Deconstructing Harry" could be looked at as Woody's love letter to himself. It's about a divorced writer, who during the course of the movie looks back on his life and his work in all it's facets and flaws, jokes and groans. He is to recieve an award for his work from a university, and in true Woody Allen style, he brings his son, a [prostitute], and a dead man in the back seat. Upon his arrival he is greeted and celebrated by all the people and characters who shaped his life and his work. FANTASTIC! Allen pulls off a hilarious plot tinged with that classic Allen wit and humor that shines through to our hearts and brains!
Packed with a great cast including Robin Williams, Julia Louis-Dreyfuss, Tobey McQuire, and Billy Crystal in a cameo as Satan (a role that he is PERFECT in), Allen once again proves that he always can get the right people for the job.
You could probably rename this movie "Woody on Woody", but that would sound kinda wrong! But it is Woody Allen on Woody Allen, an allegorical film about his own life and work, packed with a great cast, a great plot, fantastic humor and wit, and of course, Woody Allen, the great American humorist, the ringmaster of it all, deconstructing himself to find the true essence of himself....more info
- The Dark Side
This is one of Allen's darker films and immediately any Allen fan can tell because of how raw it is... Allen's films are usually devoid of foul language but this one seems to be cowritten by Quentin Tarantino. Needless to say, this may be the perfect movie for any person who has enjoyed a Woody Allen film but who has said that all of his movies are the same. The plot is clever, a writer makes enemies with everyone he knows because his books are a little too close to fact. As dark as this film is, I must say that it still is hilarious. Another brilliant Woody Allen flick......more info