I’m not really known as a ‘completer finisher’, I’m more of an ‘ideas man’, who throws random thoughts into the ring in the hope that one eventually takes hold and catches the imagination of someone else, who will actually do the work. Dirk Towers is littered with half-completed projects. My shelves are lined with half-read books. My initial enthusiasm for anything usually fizzles to a stop after a period of time. Search the internet and you’ll find evidence of my incompleteness.
It’s something of a shock to me and my family that I have managed to complete the Woodython.
What’s more, in addition to watching all of Woody Allen’s films in 2013, I’ve gone above and beyond the original scope of the idea and immersed myself completely into his output. There have been weekly deliveries of new material coming through the door, much to Mrs Dirk’s consternation, expanding my collection of rarities.
I considered myself a fan at the end of 2012. I was wrong. To be fanatical is to have an obsession about a body of work and to relentlessly seek more and more stuff. I don’t think I could even count myself as an enthusiast before I embarked on this mission to watch, read and listen to all of his output.
I’ve put the time in, so what have I learned from the experience?
One of the reasons I went for the Woodython project in the first place was to revaluate my relationship with his work. I called myself a fan, yet I did this largely on the basis of my love of ANNIE HALL. It’s well documented on this site that I believe this to be not only his best film, but probably the best film that has ever been made.
My view hasn’t changed; it’s still a great, great film, filled with wit and charm that is all too lacking in much of modern cinema. Overall, my list of my favourite Woody films have remained the same as when I started. For the record, my top 5 films are: Annie Hall, Sweet and Low Down, Husbands and Wives, Zelig and Stardust Memories.
Mere Anarchy (2007)
“I am greatly relieved that the Universe is finally explainable. I was beginning to think it was me.”
Woody’s prose pieces are the most pleasing discovery of the Woodython. He has continued making the occasional contribution to The New Yorker magazine, among others. These are witty, sharp, short pieces that have been largely inspired by cuttings found in The New York Times and other suitably parochial sources. For example, a brief column on an expensive Truffle available on eBay was the spark for HOW DEADLY YOUR TASTE BUDS, MY SWEET about the international trade in truffles and how to spot a fake.
Many of these ideas are slight, but they are very skilfully handled and highly recommended (the audio-book versions are a worthwhile investment, however the sound on some of the early stories in the collection appear to have been recorded in the bathroom).
Sounds from a Town I Love (2001)
The terrorist attacks on New York City in 2001 brought a number of artists and rock stars together in a concert to acknowledge the efforts of the emergency services on the day.
This very short film was Woody’s contribution to the telethon. It follows characters walking and talking, into their cell-phones, through the streets of Manhattan. The context around its exsistence is probably more significant than the film itself.
In a bid to boost tourism, in 2012, Woody made his first appearance at the Academy Awards ceremony to remind everyone about the town he loves.
Woody Allen Stand Up (2010)
I’ve mentioned his STAND UP COMIC CD previously, but if you are down with the kids and want to look on iTunes you’ll find some more material to download and include on your chosen portable device. I have grown to enjoy his familiar delivery working his way through discursive material with witty pay-offs. He is very different from the fashionable Stand Ups these days. He has a natural deference and a mix of Tall Tales with sharp one-liners. Some of the political references are now out of range, but it doesn’t affect the overall delight of the album.
I mention it now because last year he began to talk about hitting the stage once again and performing a stand up routine. It may have been a chance to hit the headlines with an eye-catching promise that could amount to nothing. I’d sell my kids to get a ticket. If it does happen, I expect I’ll probably have to.
Melinda. Melinda. (2004)
I put this one off until the very end (10.30pm on New Year’s Eve to be precise) because the first time I saw it, I thought that it was a pile of contrived nonsense. On second viewing, I didn’t think it was too bad as a concept: two writers take the idea of a woman turning up at a friend’s house, during a dinner party, in total disarray, seeking help from them. One writer spins out a tragedy, while the other does a sort of comedy. Radha Mitchell is captivating playing Melinda in both versions, but the whole thing is a bit soggy in the middle.
My favourite pictures have not changed during the Woodython, but this one would no longer reach the turkey list, there are much worse than this! For the record, the list of five films I think are his worst are: What’s New Pussy Cat, Casino Royale, What’s Up, Tiger Lily, Curse of The Jade Scorpion and Cassandra’s Dream, also, if I could have an extra one, Mighty Aphrodite.
Let’s change the subject. We came out to have a fun and relaxing evening.
Let’s drink to good times. Comic or tragic,
The most important thing to do is to enjoy life while you can because we only go round once, and when it’s over, it’s over.
And, perfect cardiogram or not, when you least expect it, it could end like that.
Clicks fingers. Cut to black. Roll credits.