Nestled in between two films that did almost nothing for me is a little-known gem, Anything Else. The film, released in 2003 starring Jason Biggs and Christina Ricci follows a doomed romance between a couple of neurotic individuals as they are finding their way in life chasing careers and happiness. Anything Else, written and directed by Woody Allen, is a prime example that there is something in Woody Allen's filmography for anyone. If you don't care for the reimagining of one life into both a comedy and a tragedy, or a scathing look at the personalities that are behind the Hollywood machine, then there's a romantic tragi-comedy in between. Again I'm stunned at the claim that Woody Allen is a one-dimensional filmmaker who repeatedly tells the same story. Woody has played with his story structure, genre-jumped, and embarked on many artistic exercises all the while maintaining his laser focus on life's big questions through his perfectly-penned scripts.
Jerry Falk (Jason Biggs) is just beginning his career as a comedy writer under the mentorship of David Dobel (Woody Allen). Dobel, as he is referred to, has gone through a couple of careers, successfully holding himself back from pursuing comedy full time. Jerry and Dobel meet daily to discuss avenues for their comedy writing, as well as all of life's many issues. The main issue they seem to always discuss is the fact that Jerry has a problem severing ties with anyone. Jerry's still with the same leach of a manager he's been with his entire professional life, he remains in a relationship that he has been unhappy with for some time and continues to pay for meetings with a psychoanalyst who barely pays attention to Jerry during his sessions. Needless to say, Jerry has a problem cutting off relationships, even if they don't serve him. Early on in the film, we see Jerry meet Amanda (Christina Ricci) who is dating one of his friends at the time, and the two instantly fall in love. Jerry breaks the 4th wall to let the audience know that his relationship doesn't work out, however, and the rest of the film explores what caused their relationship to deteriorate and how Jerry can best approach the rest of his life to avoid reliving the disappointments he has already experienced.
What I wouldn't give to be in Jerry's position and be able to occupy a park bench and have daily conversations with Woody Allen about philosophy. Although I dispel the notion that Woody Allen is a one- dimensional filmmaker, there are certain aspects of his craft that remain the same throughout each of his films, to the benefit of the audience. Certainly, no one would complain that Woody Allen's perfectly biting scripts, or his heavily jazz-influenced scores, or his willingness to explore the medium he chose continue to pop up through his entire filmography. I appreciate that Woody Allen continued to play with the story structure of his films and reuse those experiments that work. I've noted before that I enjoy a well- done breaking of the 4th wall, and Woody is certainly a director that can utilize that method effectively. What I also enjoy that others seem not to, is how Woody is constantly grappling with the issues in life he personally struggles with. Life's meaning has been grappled with through film in a number of different ways, and I don't think Woody's method should be looked down upon because it largely does so through comedy. A few of Woody Allen's films in a row, I've discovered through this retrospective project, have dealt with the idea of relationships and regret. Again in Anything Else we meet a protagonist who admits that he enters a relationship that is doomed to fail before it ever begins. Is this an exploration of the belief that self-sabotage saves us true disappointment? Could it be indicative of an idea that relationships limit the essential human spirit, effectively ending the pursuit of life's meaning because once a relationship begins we fill our lives with distractions and stop considering purpose? I can't pretend to know what Woody Allen is going for in his films, but I can say that I am happy he keeps exploring his ideas through his art.
Comedy / Romance
Comedy / Romance
Jerry Falk and David Dobel, who meet at a business meeting, become fast friends. Their commonality is that they are both fledgling New York based comedy writers, largely writing material for stand-ups, are Jewish (although David is an atheist), and are each of bundle of different neuroses. Their big difference is that Jerry is twenty-one, while David is sixty, with forty more years worth of life experience, knowledge and neuroses. While Jerry writes full time - he also working on a novel - David has kept his day job as a public school teacher just in case. In their relationship, David becomes somewhat of Jerry's mentor, providing advice on Jerry's life issues, most which revolve around the fact that Jerry is a product of inertia, he having trouble leaving anyone. That's why Jerry's still with the one and only manager he's ever had, Harvey Wexler. Jerry not only being Harvey's only client (which is a testament to his effectiveness in the job), Harvey also has a 25% take as stipulated ...
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May 27, 2016 at 04:15 AM